The human body – at birth – is a perfectly alkaline pH of 7.4. In this state, the body is able to perform its necessary functions: cells receive the oxygen they need, nutrients are delivered efficiently throughout the system, energy is converted smoothly and the immune system effectively fights off disease.
Why is pH Important?
An acidic pH – which is anything lower than a 7.0 – can lead to a host of health problems. The body is designed to thrive in an alkaline state; in an acidic one, tissues don’t repair and regenerate as well (leading to things like signs of premature aging), elimination from the system is not conducted as efficiently (causing a backup of toxins throughout the body, which further impairs functioning) and cells don’t receive the oxygen they need. A cell without oxygen is like a fish without water… and we know what that means. Excess acid has also been linked to insulin sensitivity (read: weight gain and its related issues) and excess cholesterol accumulation in the arteries.
How Does The Body Become Acidic?
Over time, the introduction of outside substances changes the body’s pH. It’s no surprise that food – and the quality of it – will have a substantial impact on the body’s acidity. A diet of fast food, meat, dairy and excessive sugar and alcohol can increase the body’s acidity exponentially. Because the body seeks its ideal pH, it will pull alkalizing minerals from organs and tissues to buffer and remove acid from the system. If this carries on, cells and structures start to corrode and fall apart.
The Good News
Choosing a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle not only protects you from a host of other ailments, thanks to the plethora of powerful disease-fighting compounds, but plant foods tend to be the most alkalizing of anything we can consume. Reducing meat and dairy intake and increasing the amount of alkaline plant foods you eat each day has been shown to decrease the risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. The reason for this is two-fold: disease cells require an acidic environment to proliferate, and an alkaline body has more robust immune defenses.
An alkaline body is a thriving one, so read on for some delicious plant-based foods to work into your life today!
Some Foods That Enhance Alkalinity:
Lemons, limes, and grapefruits may taste acidic, but when they’re broken down in the body, what remains are buffering alkaline minerals. Whip up these Raw Vegan Meltaway Balls, drink lemon water every morning, or use them in your daily smoothies. Or, feel free to snack on oranges as easy snacks or add a squeeze of lemon or lime to any dish of choice. They can also be used to make salad dressings for a tart, pleasing taste.
Green Vegetables, Especially Ones Pressed Into Green Juice
Perhaps more readily available than in any other food, the minerals found in fresh-pressed green juice travel quickly throughout the body and offer a buffering effect against acids. One Green Planet has a great Green Juice Guide to get you started, and also some tips for why green juice is so good for you.
Put parsley in juices, salads, or use as a garnish. Not only is this herb high in Vitamin C and K, it’s powerfully alkalizing thanks to its tremendous mineral content. Combine it with powerfully alkalizing pear in this Not Too Sweet Pear and Parsley Smoothie.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic absorb a wide variety of nutrients from the soil in which they grow. Look for organic versions of these allium veggies: the minerals will do your body good! What better way to have garlic and onions than in this Roasted Veggies with Buttery Garlic and Spinach Salad?
Yerba Mate and Herbal Tea
Ground root teas and herbal infusions are packed with minerals and antioxidants that buffer against acid. Some, including yerba, are naturally caffeinated, which makes them a great substitute for coffee (which is highly acidic). See this other great post on healthy caffeine options for more ways to work yerba mate – and other alkalizing teas – into your routine.
This, of course, is not an exclusive list of all the beneficial alkaline foods to add to your diet. All fruits and vegetables benefit the body’s pH levels for the better. Work as many into your day as you can and be sure to reduce or eliminate animal products.
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