By Dhyana Tribe Naturopath
80% alkaline food and 20% acid food is an ideal balance for an everyday healthy meal, as suggested by Hippocrates in his ancient Greek Medicinal Practises. The bloodstream has to maintain a pH of 7.35 to 7.40 and any deviations from this will cause problems. Luckily our bodies have intricate mechanisms in place to self-correct the changes in blood pH, and active people who are feeling good do not need to worry about changing their diet. 4 portions of vegetables to 1 portion of meat, is an example of a balanced meal in 80/20 terms for Omnivores.
METABOLIC BODY TYPE dictates how you digest foods and while meats are acid-forming for most types, there are a group of Omnivores with excellent digestive capacity whose strong stomach juices will digest meat so well that it causes no acidity and will add to the alkalinity of the body. See my article on Metabolic Body Types on our website.
OVER-ALKALINITY IS DANGEROUS
The condition of over-alkalinity is not as common as over-acidity. Over-alkalinity can be caused by excessive consumption of bicarbonate of soda and other alkaline medicines used to relieve indigestion. Vomiting on a regular basis may also lead to over-alkalinity. Testing urine with litmus paper shows only what is being released via the kidneys and for an accurate reading, venous plasma has to be tested over the course of a few days. See your doctor if you need to get properly tested.
OVER-ACIDITY IS DANGEROUS
If we become over-acidic our cells become sluggish, wastes and toxins can build up and block the utilisation of incoming nutrients. You start to feel unwell and may go to the doctor, who after a series of tests pronounces you as normal and healthy, yet you still feel unwell. This unwellness could be caused by an over-acidic body.
Alkaline foods, also called alkaline-forming foods, are helpful in restoring alkaline minerals, which can easily become depleted by the tides of acidity that will sweep thru the body after meats, poultry, refined carbohydrates, white sugar, alcohol, environmental pollutants and general stress. Alkaline minerals are held in the bones, and these provide one of the important buffer systems in the human body.
BREATHING DEEPLY REDUCES ACIDITY
If you remain active and breathing well, this goes a long way to maintaining good health. Breathing blows off carbon dioxide, and this is one of the main buffering systems that releases acidity. Breathing deeply for several sessions daily will assist this release of acidity and doing some vigorous exercise will encourage breathing to the bottom of your lungs. Shallow breathing is not good for releasing CO2, as it hardly moves any air in and out of the lungs. If you cannot get outside to exercise, then develop a Yoga practise with breathing exercises.
OVER-ACIDIC CHAIN OF EVENTS
When the body becomes over-acidic, a sequence of events occurs. To neutralise the acidity, the body first takes potassium from extracellular fluid, which means there is less potassium to perform osmosis with sodium at a cellular level, hence a slow-down in the fluid turn-over rate. Once the potassium has been used up then calcium is taken from the bones.
In the long term if these buffers are being depleted by a constantly over-acidic diet, then digestive and systemic ailments may start to arise. Osteoporosis is a chronic ailment caused by a long term over-acidic blood stream drawing off the alkaline minerals from bone to neutralise acidity. The bloodstream has to maintain a balance of around 7.36 pH, which is slightly alkaline. At night when you sleep the kidneys monitor the pH and will drag calcium out of your bones if needed. If left unchecked this drain on your skeleton is a danger to your longevity.
The key is to eat enough alkaline foods at times during the week when it suits you. A 100% alkalising meal of raw and cooked vegetables with tempeh, mushrooms and tahini, tamari & lemon juice dressing, will go a long way to load up on alkaline minerals. This is a Vegan protein option. If this type of meal makes you feel good then it must suit your type. If however it makes you feel unwell the next day, then you must be alkaline enough, and you will need to eat more acid-forming foods. Acid-forming foods are listed on my 80/20 Food Chart that be purchased from our website. My Cookbook –‘My Best Alkaline-rich Recipes’ is also available via our website – visit www.betterbalance.co.nz
BALANCING pH with FOODS
To be realistic when looking at balancing alkaline/acid foods in the menu plan, it is best done over the course of a week or two. It is not always possible to make an 80/20 balance for each meal and as our bodies have buffer systems in place, a healthy body will self-correct pH imbalances in the short term, via the lungs and the kidneys. A healthy active body can buffer many tides of acidity, especially when that body has adequate deep breathing – one of the buffers against over-acidity - as part of an exercise routine. Endorphins released after about 30 mins of vigorous exercise will bring the feel-good factor, and if 30 mins of relaxation is allowed, this will enhance the alkalising effect.
If you wish to have enough alkalinity in your daily diet then eat raw vegetables. Vegetables share the same basic DNA with humans and we absorb not only their alkaline nutrients but also their life force. Raw vegetables and fruits are electrically-correct and have optimum life force. See my article on The Electrical Nature of Digestion.
Try eating several 100% alkaline meals each week, along with some 80% alkaline + 20% acid meals, then the rest of the food can be whatever you can organise whether that is eating out or snacking.
These are alkaline-forming foods
All vegetables have alkaline minerals as well as numerous vitamins and phytonutrients. Eat as many raw organic vegetables as possible – especially leafy greens – for fresh enzymes and bio-available minerals. Cooking veggies does kill enzymes, but it makes other nutrients more available so the advice is to eat some raw carrot for instance with the cooked carrot for an all round nutrient and enzyme profile. Other alkaline-forming foods are
- wheat & barley grass juice/powder, bamboo shoots
- olive oil, ripe olives, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar
- fresh young coconut meat & fresh coconut water
- almonds, chestnuts, sesame seeds, gomasio, tahini
- seaweeds, agar agar, arrowroot flour, yeast flakes
- organic non-gmo tofu, natto, tempeh, miso, tamari, umeboshi plum
- salt himalayan rock white/black, or unrefined sea salt
- well-sprouted fresh smelling grains, essene bread, quinoa, millet, amaranth
- raw or soft cooked egg yolks, goats milk & whey
- dates & figs, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, nectarines, kiwifruit, ripe banana, melons
- all fruits are alkaline-forming except plums, prunes, blueberries, cranberries which are slightly acid-forming. Most ripe fruits are alkaline-forming but unripe fruits may cause stomach upset which leads to undigested food that causes acidity. Any digestive upset may cause acidity so make easy to digest food combinations.
Read more about the pH of foods in my 80/20 alkaline/acid Food Theory Chart. Visit www.betterbalance.co.nz For instance - Lemons are an extremely alkalising food. Lemons taste acidic in the mouth, yet after digestion they leave alkaline minerals in the body, so they are classified as an alkaline-forming food or in other words leaving alkaline mineral residues after digestion.
MEAT EATERS 80/20 Balance
So if you are a meat eater and love your cooked steak, which is an acid-forming food, then you could eat that steak to 20% of the meal as seen on the plate and balance it with a big vegetable salad to 80%. The alkaline vegetables will go a long way to neutralise the acidity from the meat, plus the enzymes in the raw vegetables will assist with the digestion of the meat, especially when lemon juice is added to the salad dressing.
Cooked steak or chicken with raw non-starchy veggie salad is an electrically-correct combination. As soon as you add a cooked starchy veg or some other carbo such as rice, the food bolus may be harder to charge up, as there are too many competing food groups in the stomach. Protein with carbs is a hard-to-digest combo and while people with good digestive capacity have no trouble with this classic combo, others with sensitive digestion do better to have steak with a raw salad of non-starchy vegetables and a dressing of lemon juice, xv olive oil and tamari soy sauce.
80% alkaline + 20% acid Food can be, 80/20 part of the week, and even 70/30 at times.
60/40 is also possible and we may eat 50/50 if its chilly weather.
Those living in deep winter Siberia for many months of the year may eat 20% alkaline and 80% acid foods to keep warm, as acidic protein foods are the warming foods. In Siberia they eat raw slightly warmed meat and blubber, which is not as acidic as cooked meats. You see pH is all relative to the climatic conditions we live in.
Healthy bodies can adjust to alkaline/acid swings, and as long as you have no illness or pain then you must be doing something right. But if you feel unwell and wish to brighten up your mood then try a 100% alkaline meal from the alkaline foods listed above.
We do have an inbuilt intuition = inner tuition, that can be developed to guide us as to food intake. Ask your body what it likes to eat, within reason of course because emotional eating may supersede reason temporarily and then too many chocolate biscuits may be on the menu. While chocolate is a feel-good food, excesses of it can be detrimental especially when it has too much sugar. When reason comes back to the table, you realise that a small portion of low-sugar 70% dark chocolate is enough and then at your next meal you will have a big raw vegetable salad with small amounts of protein of choice, to make you feel good.
KEY TO GOOD HEALTH
For robust health and adequate alkalinity, eat 50% raw vegetables daily, then add whatever other foods you normally eat. If you could follow this practise, this would be the best health insurance you could buy.
ALKALISING WITH FRUITS
Fruit from the low glycemic index group of kiwi, apple & citrus are the best to choose, as high glycemic index fruits of banana, will add too many sugars to the food plan and put a strain on the insulin mechanism.
My Glycemic Index chart can be purchased from our website – www.betterbalance.co.nz
Here is a list of the low glycemic index fruits –
Glycemic Index 0-30 - lemon, cherry, lime, grapefruit, prunes
Glycemic Index 30-42 - apricot, apple, pear, plum, strawberry, most berries
Glycemic Index 43-55 - peach, orange, kiwifruit, mango
Breathing Practises that deepen breath and release carbon dioxide, will release some of the acid burden, plus re-oxygenate the body for all it’s metabolic needs. Slow gentle deep breathing for 10 minutes, can be followed by a fast Energising Breath contracting into the Hara, pushing the breath out from below the belly button, for 1 minute to invigorate. It is known as the Breath of Fire in Yoga Practise. Find a Yoga Teacher to instruct you in breathing and meditation techniques. Relaxation therapy Yoga Nidra, is the gift that Yoga gives us.
Exercise and Relaxation Practises – these two systems used together are essential for a balanced body and mind. Rather than hard-training, which will acidify the body, a mix of moderate to vigorous walking for at least 30 minutes will stimulate waves of endorphins that bring the feel-good factor to the body. As you walk you will naturally start to breath more deeply and this moderate regular breathing blows off carbon dioxide and pulls in the oxygen. When the exercise is followed by a relaxation session, this will allow your body to integrate the effects and bring calmness to your inner being. Relaxation is an alkalising practise that can also be used in a contemplative way. Observe your body as it lies there relaxing on a yoga mat and ask it what it needs for it’s future health and ease of movement. Listen for the small voice of your Intuition and to develop your integrity, take action on the positive suggestions that your inner tuition advises.
Meditation Practises - Meditation - any form that encourages letting go of stress and breathing deeply will alkalise. Monkey Mind Meditation to bring awareness to fluctuations of troubling monkey mind scenarios that may cause stress. Going beyond Monkey Mind to the source of your being will bring the peace that passeth all understanding. Wash your mind with silence and breath into your belly, to give the grounding for your source to reveal itself.
Dancing - any form that is gentle, flowing and rhythmic, such as Tai Chi and free form dancing.
Epsom Salts Bathing for about 20 mins in warm to hot water. Add a half cup of Epsom salts into a full bath and even a half cup of bicarbonate of soda for an alkalising bath. Do not stay in longer than 20 mins as the toxins may start to get absorbed again by your body.
The alkaline minerals are calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, manganese, iron, zinc, boron and nickel.
Alkaline minerals in foods will be more bio-available to the body than minerals in tableted supplements, as the body can recognise and process real foods more easily than inorganic mineral supplements like calcium carbonate. In fact plants transform inorganic minerals from the earth into organic bioavailable minerals as found in herbs, green veggies, all vegetables and fruits.
Kelp powder is the best way to load up on alkaline minerals because it is a whole food that has calcium & magnesium with small amounts of iodine, sodium, iron, zinc, potassium, chromium, boron, sulphur, chloride, selenium, and many trace minerals such as vanadium and germanium. There are 56 minerals in kelp seaweed and these are bio-available to our bodies because these minerals come in the chelated organic form. Other nutrients in kelp include chlorophyll, 20 amino acids and 13 vitamins, which include vit D, vit C, and even vit B12 according to Dr Gabriel Cousens. Kelp powder will protect against radiation poisoning as it occupies the receptor site for iodine and blocks the absorption of radioactive iodine.
Calcium needs magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K2 and boron for its assimilation. Kelp provides magnesium and vitamin D, as well as calcium and boron, so is an excellent food for your bones.
Calcium supplements are best in the chelated, orotate or colloidal form, otherwise they may cause more harm than good, especially if you are deficient in Vit K2, the vitamin that takes calcium into the bones. Calcium may get deposited in the arteries if there is not enough vit K2 in the diet. K2 rich foods are dark green vegetables, natto, cheeses, butter from cows eating lush spring grass but not found in butter from grain-fed cows, egg yolks, fish eggs, organ meats and animal meats from those eating grass.