Inflammation is a sign that something in the body is off balance, and it’s not always easy to spot like you might imagine. Many times, it’s not just the plague of joint pain or arthritis, but other forms of disease we tend to overlook or overwrite as other issues. Inflammation can hide under the sneaky mask of digestion problems, chronic fatigue, moodiness, and food cravings, and is the marker for many diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Anytime the body is off balance, inflammation is almost always present.
Acid Versus Alkaline: Why It Matters
The concept of an alkaline/acid diet has been used for years as a popular way to describe the nature of the body’s pH levels. Alkaline foods promote an alkaline body, while acidic foods promote an acidic body that leads to inflammation.
An alkaline body (which is established in the blood where inflammation can begin) feels energetic, free from joint pain most of the time, and will operate smoothly from its digestive abilities to its overall sense of well-being. An alkaline body tends to crave more healthy, fresh foods and feels great most of the time.
An acidic body, on the other hand, is like a slippery slope. One or two habits can quickly lead to a host of health problems. Drinking, smoking, eating junk food, and a lack of rest all quickly lead to inflammation.
Our diet and our lifestyle choices are two of our most powerful weapons for fighting back against inflammation. To help you feel great and have a more alkaline body, here’s a quick checklist to keep with you to make sure you’re feeling your best.
Foods to Avoid (Very Inflammatory)
These foods should be avoided as much as possible. If you’re transitioning into a plant-based diet and having a hard time giving up animal products, see our tips for transitioning to help you out. Also, go ahead and kick the habit of sugar and refined grains now. They serve you no health benefits and have been linked to detrimental forms of disease, not to mention food addictions and weight gain. Energize your life by avoiding these:
- Anything with dairy
- Refined Grains
- Processed Soy
- Processed Sugars and Artificial sweeteners (corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, cane juice, dextrose, sucrose, sucralose, aspartame, and stevia products with added GMO corn sources such as maltodextrin)
- Highly Processed Foods (low-quality cereals, chips, snacks)
- Coffee (we suggest an organic, fair-trade, and even low-acid coffee if you have to have your daily cuppa)
- Fried Foods
- Fast food
- Energy Drinks
Foods to Eat A Few Times a Week or Only on Special Occasions:
These foods are extremely acidic by nature, but some may be fine once or twice a week — take note of how each one makes you feel. If these foods make you achy, tired, or moody, you might want to avoid them. Everyone’s bodies handle acid foods differently, so listen to your body to see how it reacts.
- Vinegar (except apple cider vinegar, which is alkaline)
- Processed chocolate
- Roasted nuts and seeds
- Roasted nut butter (non-raw)
- Soy-based processed proteins (tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers)- Choose whole forms of soy such as miso (fermented) or edamame (shelled green soybeans) instead and try making your veggie burgers at home.
- Non-sprouted or non-soaked grains, except for millet and wild rice (See the benefits of soaking and sprouting here and test your first batch out of overnight oats if you haven’t already!)
- Natural sugars like coconut or maple, agave, etc.
- Dried fruits with added sugars or sulfites
- Salad dressings
Foods to Eat Liberally:
These foods are all incredibly healthy for you! Eat more vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens than others on the list, but all are worthy of a spot in your daily diet. Enjoy them, and be sure to fill your diet with these whenever possible in place of foods that provide less nourishment.
- Leafy greens
- Fruits (all, especially lemons and limes)
- Soaked and properly prepared beans and legumes
- Plant-based whole food-based (non-GMO, preferably raw) protein powders
- Superfoods and green powders
- Raw nuts and seeds
- Raw nut butter
- Dates and Dried Figs (Keep dried fruit to a minimum compared to fresh fruit)
- Soaked and/or sprouted grains (especially wild rice and millet, which need no soaking or sprouting but are alkaline by nature)
- Seaweed (spirulina, nori, kelp, dulse)
- Herbal Tea
- Apple Cider Vinegar (raw, with the mother)
- Sauerkraut and kimchi
- Coconut kefir
- Green Juices and Smoothies
- Liquid alcohol-free stevia or stevia glycerite
- Herbs and spices
There are some middle-ground foods, such as unsweetened non-dairy milk, condiments like mustard or salsa, vegan yogurt, and more, that all have their place in one’s diet. The idea isn’t to make your diet 100 percent perfectly pure, but instead to base 90 percent of your diet off anti-inflammatory foods. That leaves a little wiggle room for your daily servings of processed almond milk, condiments of choice, and yes, your coffee and your tea!
Other Anti-Inflammatory To-Do’s
You should also be sure you get plenty of rest and exercise to keep your blood and lymph flowing optimally. Manage your stress through silent time, daily walks in nature, relaxation, meditation, and/or yoga. Remember that stress can be just as inflammatory to the body as your food. Take care of yourself in all forms to experience the benefits of a healthy, anti-inflammatory life, both on and outside your plate.
Test out an anti-inflammatory diet this week and see how much better you’ll feel in no time!
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