Remember when you learned about pH levels in high school chemistry? We learned about how there’s a pH spectrum from 1 – 14 with acidic to alkaline measurements. Well, what if I told you that learning about pH does apply to life after graduation?

Our body has its own pH levels, and maintaining a slightly alkaline balance, preferably between 7.30 – 7.45 on the pH spectrum,  can help your body stay in good health. With the standard American diet, many people suffer from a pH imbalance by ingesting too much acidic food. Too much acidity can weaken the body and throw you into a whirlwind of problems, including digestive, immune, nervous, and reproductive issues.

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Side effects of too much acid within the body, or acidosis, can cause “inflammation, dry skin, bleeding gums, brittle nails, thinning hair, irritability, fatigue, energy loss, joint pain and weakness, decreased immunity, psoriasis, yeast infections, kidney stones, gall bladder and liver congestion and arterial damage,” according to The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide via The Good Witch.

Most people have a small reserve of alkaline in their body, which can counter this over-acidity, but that reserve may not always be enough.

Luckily, many plant-based foods are already alkaline! Take a look at these 5 plant-based foods that can help balance your body’s pH scale and bring back your vitality:

1. Cruciferous Vegetables

Vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower are alkaline-promoting foods. These vegetables are known as probable cancer-fighters. Many studies, including this one, show a positive correlation between cancer prevention and cruciferous vegetable consumption.

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Add some cruciferous veggies into your diet with this Raw Cauliflower Creme Soup or this Vegan Broccoli Mushroom Rotini Casserole. Short on ideas? Check out these 11 Awesome Recipes with Cruciferous Vegetables.

2. Leafy Greens

Greens like kale, spinach, lettuce, and collard greens are great alkaline foods to incorporate into main dishes, smoothies, or maybe even hidden into desserts (Hey, it’s worth a shot). All of these greens boasts their own wonderful benefits; take, for example, kale. Just one cup of this superfood can give you over 1,000 percent of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin K. That’s a whole lot of vitamins!

Try this Kale and Golden Beet Salad or this Raw Vegan Veggie Stuffed Collard Wrap. And you won’t forget spinach with this Vegan Spanakopita – Greek Spinach Pie.

3. Lemons and Limes

This one might come as a surprise to you. Lemon and limes are acidic, right? Well, yes they are, but they become alkaline within the body. Lemon and lime juice go great in salads by itself or mixed into this Creamy Lemon Herb Dressing.

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For a little more lime in your life, try this Lime and Coconut Panna Cotta or these Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lime and Chili (the second recipe is a double-whammy. You get two alkaline-forming foods in one!).

 4. Nuts

Nuts, such as almonds, cashews, macadamia, and chestnuts are another great alkalizing food group. They are great to munch on as a snack and are a big component of raw vegan dishes. They also help make one heck of a vegan cheese, like in this Raw Vegan Creamy Cheese.

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Add this protein-packed nuts to salads for a satisfying crunch like in this Minced Tempeh Salad with Lemongrass, Sesame, and Cashews or mix them into granola bars like these “Energency” Bars.

5. Root Vegetables

Root vegetables include sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, and carrots. These alkaline vegetables are perfect to enjoy during the colder months, as many of these are in season (To find out what produce is in season this winter, check out these Seasonal Produce to Buy and Eat.)

Make heartier fare such as this Traditional Vegan Beef Stew or delicious Seitan Pot Roast. For a simpler recipe, try roasting your root vegetables in the oven by drizzling some olive oil and adding a dash of sea salt and pepper. Set the oven to 400 degrees and roast for about 30 minutes (give or take, depending on your oven). And voila, beautifully roasted root vegetables!

Remember: what you eat plays a crucial role in your overall well-being, whether you feel fatigued or are bursting with energy. If you’re curious, you may test your current body’s pH level with litmus strips, either through saliva or urine (I suggest the first. I still remember the day when my high school teacher asked us to, if you will, “test our pee.”). Let’s be in control of our body’s pH level and tip the seesaw back to its neutral horizontal plane!

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