“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
Hippocrates was definitely on to something. Have you ever wondered why some people are always full of energy, always on the go, don’t need a lot of sleep and are rarely if ever sick?
Most people don’t realize how much the pH level of the food you eat and your body affects your organs and immune system. The typical western diet of processed and fried foods, refined grains, meat, dairy, and sugar are extremely acidic and result in acidic residues after digestion. As our body is approximately 20 percent acidic and 80 percent alkaline it’s recommended that we eat approximately 20 percent acidic foods and 80 percent alkaline foods too. Nearly all of our physiological functions, including immune system, cardiovascular and digestive functions including most of our enzyme and metabolic processes require that our bodily pH is slightly alkaline. This prevents diseases since most bacteria and viruses can not survive in an alkaline state. Also, organs within our digestive system, such as the pancreas, have functions to balance the pH of the digesting food. The pancreas releases sodium bicarbonate into the small intestine to neutralize the stomach acids. Eating acidic foods puts futher stress on the pancreas and can actually cause diabetes. Eating alkaline foods removes this stress from the pancreas and allows it to function properly. An overly acidic system could lead to symptoms like lack of energy, fatigue, digestive disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, allergies, respiratory ailments, depression, colds, flu and other chronic illness. Another affect of having an acidic body is that calcium is pulled from your bones to balance the pH which can cause bone loss.
It’s worth remembering that the pH of the food item itself may not be accurately reflective of its affect on the body. For example, citris fruits are naturally very acidic, however, when they are digested, they have an alkalizing affect on the body. Therefore, oranges, graprefruits, and lemons are considered alkaline foods because of the affect they have on your body’s pH level, not by their natural pH level.
Here are some of my favourite alkaline recipies:
Tamari Pumpkin Seeds
I love adding pumpkin seeds to jazz up salads and pasta dishes and I recently found out that they have the added bonus of also being the only seeds that are alkaline forming. If you want to give them an extra kick try dry roasting them in a frying pan and then adding 1-2 tsp of tamari or soy sauce.
Lemons are veritable wonders. Not only do they top the list of the most alkaline forming foods but lemon juice is high in vitamin C, B6, calcium, potassium, copper, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, iron and magnesium. If that wasn’t enough it also has great digestive qualities and can help cleanse the body of toxins.
Greens are the highest alkaline-forming foods and they are full of vitamins A, K, and D so adding a spinach salad (spinach, walnuts, lemon juice and avocado) to your meal is an excellent way to alkalize your diet.
Millet is punchy powerfood, the only alkalizing grain and is a great source of protein. It has a sweet nutty flavor and is considered to be one of the most digestible and non-allergenic grains available.
Have fruit every breakfast. Breakfast is the best time to load up on vitamin rich fruits, such as bananas, kiwi, mango, apple, peaches and plums. I like 1/4 of 2-3 of these fruits on a nice bed of raw steel cut oats with almond milk and cinnamon. While fruit is technically high in sugar, don’t be scared of it— it is one of the healthiest things you can fuel your body with for a long day. All the antioxidants and vitamins will ensure you have an amazingly healthy kick-start.
Think of food as vitamins and minerals more than anything. When I pair fruits and vegetables together, I think of it as unlocking different minerals and vitamins. For example, I always put citrus in my spinach salad because vitamin C helps absorb iron. And while it is proven that you do not have to match up foods to unlock their nutritional value, it does help greatly with absorption. It is KEY that you ensure you have a VARIETY of fruits and veggies, so that you are consuming a plethora of different benefits. So instead of eating 3 apples a day, try having a kiwi or orange (vitamin C), Banana (K), and Mangoes (K and Vitamin A). The more variety, the more benefit!
Eat every 2-3 hours to boost metabolism. If you eat proper portions every 2-3 hours, your body will be less likely to go into starvation mode and more likely to feel fueled. You want to ensure your body feels as though you are in an environment where food is surplus— it will therefore be less tempted to store fat by means of having a palpable energy supply.
Limit animal products and by-products. I can not STRESS this point enough. Casein is your enemy, and heme iron as well. You do not have to agree with me— many don’t— but I vouch for a vegan diet when possible. My reasons can be summed up inthis video.
Ditch counting calories. Nothing was more detrimental than counting calories for me. Sure, I lost weight faster. Sure, I learned about the nutritional content of certain foods and learned how to manage my portion sizes— But past that, I got obsessive. Here’s my deal: If you feel like you need to learn what I mentioned above, then count calories (on myfitnesspal, where you can look at your micronutrient values and LEARN about what you consume) ONLY UNTIL you ‘get it’. You know what’s a portion size, you know how many calories a banana is, etc. Once you ‘get it’, just stop. Once I kicked calorie counting to the curb, I stopped bingeing, got more energy, and more confident, and only gained 6 lbs back. And wow— that may seem scary— but eating disorders are much scarier to me than being healthy.
Drink water between meals. Doing this (instead of drinking water only with meals) will allow the body to properly use it’s digestive juices when your finished with your meals instead of being diluted by water. By skipping water at meal times, you will therefore have better absorption of essential nutrients, and digest your food better. That being said, drink tons of water between meals to boost metabolism and more benefits!
Find your staple go-to health foods. Whether it be steal cut oats, a tofu scramble, a special spinach stirfry, soup, or fruit salad, find your favorite staple healthy meals AND ingredients (some of mine are oats, cinnamon, almond milk, tofu, and raspberries) and wa-la, healthy meals come easier!
Refueling is key. EAT after you workout— preferably a vegan protein shake with almond milk (Warrior blend is amazing). If that’s not your thing, try whey. It is essential that the muscles are rebuilt after your workout, it is non-negotiable.
Fiber is your new best friend. Keeps your fuller, longer— helps clear the colon— is amazing for the intestines, extremely high in non heme iron and 0g of sugar. I take rolled or steel cut oats, raw, in almond milk. Pile high with any ingredients of your choice!
Fat is not the enemy, sugar is. Specifically, cane sugar. FAT does not make you fat, sugar is the addictive source of all fat-logging problems. The less sugar you consume, the less you will crave it. Avoid ARTIFICIAL sugars at all cost (this does not include fruits!
Keep your body guessing. Eat different meals every single day, whether it be a new combo on your oats or a new type of veggie. It will ensure your body gets plenty of nutrients and a variety of what it needs— and will be more likely to shed fat because it won’t be in a completely steady state. (Be sure to get vitamin B12 through fortified foods or a vitamin pill, and some selenium through seaweed salad or brazil nuts each week!)
Eat alkaline foods more often. This is key. The more alkaline foods you eat, the better your body will function. There have been many studies done on this— to find a chart of most-alkaline (awesome) foods and most acidic (bad, ie cane sugar) check this out HERE (includes a description of why to eat alkaline). Fyi, lemon and lemon juice have an alkalizing affect on the body— weird, huh? :)
Eat Plant Based >80% time. I think one of the best books you can ready is “Healthy Eating, Healthy World” to promote a plant-based diet at least 80% of the time. When doing so, you’re not only helping the environment, world hunger, and the economy, but you are helping YOUR BODY. When eating plant-based, you expose your body to so many more vitamins and minerals you would otherwise miss when consuming dairy and meat products. Not only that, but the fiber found in fruits and vegetables is incredibly good for your body. It is said that eating 2 handful of nuts is equivalent to running 4 hours a week (via video from #4) and that even 5,000 hours in the gym can not equate to the health benefits of eating vegan for one week. And while plant-based does not mean being completely vegan, making the jump to eating almost entirely plant-based is one of the best things you can do for your body, ever.