ACID OR ALKALINE?
I believe in healthy eating. I’m a whole-grain loving, two salad a day kind of a woman, but I don’t like to do anything in extremes. I don’t have the will power to eat only raw food like my sister Serene, and I don’t have the time to be juicing all day! I’m what you would call a healthy eater who still likes her treats.
HEADACHE SUFFERERS ARE ACIDIC!
But recently I’ve had to face up to some facts. While my moderate eating style has kept me reasonably healthy, I haven’t experienced abundant energy or radiant health. I’ve suffered terrible varicose veins during my last two pregnancies and, in the past few years, I’ve had chronic headaches. The crunch came not long ago when my headaches became frequent and unbearable. Desperately searching for a cure, I read that headache sufferers are most often acidic. I tested myself for acidity and sure enough, I was very acidic.
After researching the acid/alkaline subject, I became convinced I needed to make my body more alkaline, but didn’t know how I could do it. I would either have to make extreme changes in my diet, or spend hundreds of dollars on supplements. Neither option appealed to me!
I was determined to restore my health. After much research and experimenting with various foods I came up with my own plan for an alkaline body. It costs hardly any money and it works.
Before I share this plan with you, I’ll explain a little about pH. The human body contains about ten gallons of fluid. Our cells swim in this fluid. The body’s system works best in a neutral to slightly alkaline environment. When the body’s fluids become acidic, problems arise.
The typical American diet produces acid ash. The body tries to compensate for this acidity by using alkaline minerals such as calcium and magnesium. If the diet does not have enough of these minerals, the body borrows from whatever source it can. This usually means bones and vital organs. Over time this weakens the body and acidity prevails.
In the book, Alkalize or Die, the author, Dr Baroody states that acidosis is the foundation for all disease. It decreases energy in our cells, decreases our ability to eliminate toxins, makes us more susceptible to fatigue and illness and makes cancer cells thrive. An acid pH level is always present with cancer. Our pH levels (potential hydrogen) are measured on a scale of 1-14, seven being neutral. Anything below six is acid. At a pH slightly above 7.4 cancer cells become dormant and at pH 8.5 cancer cells will die.
Diet is the primary cause of acid/alkaline imbalance. However, it is true that people assimilate foods differently. Although I was eating a considerably healthy diet compared to the typical American diet, it wasn’t enough to alkalize me. For some people, simply eating a lot of raw fruits and vegetables is enough to keep them alkaline. That said, acidosis is a problem for most people in this country.
If you research lists of highly alkaline foods, you’ll notice a food at the top of every chart—lemons! They seem out of place! I always thought lemons were acidic. It is true they are high in citric acid, but after being metabolized and assimilated by the body, they leave an alkaline ash. Lemons, in fact, are one of the most alkalizing foods we can consume.
I was astonished to discover the health benefits of lemons. I’d never given them much thought before, aside from plucking them out of my water at restaurants. They have four times more vitamin C than oranges. They enable the liver to make more enzymes than any other food. They relieve indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching. No wonder advertisers promote their cleaning products with slogans like The Power of Lemon! Lemons are an antiseptic for our bodies also. They have the ability to scour toxins from the cellular tissue. They are antiviral, antioxidant, astringent, antifungal, an immune stimulant and diuretic. Limonoids, part of the lemon’s structure, are potent anti-carcinogens that prevent cancerous cells form spreading.
Lemons cleanse the lymphatic system, invigorate skin tissue and increase blood flow. They counteract anxiety and depression, drain excess water retention and reduce uric acid which is responsible for arthritis. They lower cholesterol. Their high mineral content is one reason why they are so alkalizing. They contain 48% potassium which nourishes the brain and nerve cells and 29% calcium which nourishes the teeth and bones. It is important to consume lemons while pregnant for strong bones for the baby.
After discovering all this information about lemons, a little idea formed in my head. What would happen if I drank a lot of lemon water everyday? Would it raise my pH level? I had checked my pH level that morning and it was low--in the fives. I squeezed three lemons into two liters of water and sipped on it all day, hoping my pH would improve the next day. Guess what? It worked! After three days on lemon water I had much higher alkaline levels and I felt better than I had in a long time.
I continued researching and experimenting and discovered more helpful information. Here’s my five step program for anyone who wants a healthy alkaline pH:
Step 1: Test Yourself
To accurately test your pH levels you should do so first thing in the morning. This is your most acidic time. You can test your urine and your saliva. Test strips can be purchased at health stores, some pharmacies, or on line. The cheapest place I have found is www.drclardstore.com You can buy them there for $3.99.
You should aim for your urine test to be higher than 6.2 in the mornings. A healthy reading would be high sixes or low sevens. Your saliva levels will usually read slightly higher. Your levels should spike after meals and go into the high sevens and eights. This shows that you have enough enzymes to assimilate your meals. If healthy, you should stay above seven in the evenings.
Step 2: Lemon Water
Mornings are a cleansing time for our bodies. The first thing you should do upon rising is to drink lemon juice in some warm water. This will aid in proper elimination of wastes. In other words, you won’t be constipated.
Since the beginning of my experiments with lemons I have discovered it is best to use one lemon at a time to ensure their optimum healing power. Now, instead of juicing all three lemons at once, I fill a quart jar 3\4 full of water, add the juice of one lemon and drink this in the first part of the morning. I sweeten this with either stevia or maple syrup. It’s delicious. I drink another one in the afternoon and another in the evening. It is okay to drink this during meals as the enzymes help digest heavy foods. It is also best to drink through a straw to save the enamel on your teeth.
Note: Maybe your body doesn’t need three lemons to become alkaline. You may want to use less or more as needed. There is a condition known as alkosis when the body becomes too alkaline. This is rare and is usually caused by certain types of prescription drugs or antacids.
Step 3: Go for Greens
After lemons and watermelons, the next most alkalizing foods are greens. Don’t forget to eat your green salads! Use lots of parsley. It is not just for garnishing! Parsley is cheap—only 50c a bunch at WalMart. When chopped finely, it is irresistible. My sister-in-law. Monique, comes to my house for lunch most days and we eat a scrumptious parsley salad together which she has created. We try to eat parsley every day for lunch as it is such a miracle alkaline food. We often accompany the salad with baked sweet potatoes, another yummy alkaline food. Tabouli is a great way to get your parsley and your lemons at the same time.
It is helpful to use green supplements to become more alkaline but I have found them too expensive for my budget. They usually cost between $25 and $40. Ouch! There is one exception-- alfalfa. It is known as the father of all foods for its high mineral content. I love it because it is cheap. You can buy a month’s supply of capsules for $3 - $7. Alfalfa’s roots grow 250 feet deep. No wonder it is so full of vitamins and minerals like iron and calcium, magnesium and potassium. All these minerals combat acidity. It is nature’s best source of vitamin K which helps protect against osteoporosis. It is a great source of chlorophyll and is up to 50% protein.
Step 4: Choose Millet
I am in love with this grain. It is an ancient grain, used in China before rice became available. It is a highly alkaline grain and inexpensive. Use it instead of your regular grains. Sorry, most grains are acid forming, even whole wheat. Millet is very versatile. We make delicious breads with it. It can be made fluffy like rice or creamy like mashed potatoes. My mother likes to put millet in the crock pot over night with raisins and cut apples. In the morning it is soft and aromatic.
Monique and I find a new use for millet almost everyday. Today for lunch we cooked it like rice and topped it with diced cucumber (highly alkaline). We then poured flax seed oil, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and hot sauce over top. It was so delicious we couldn’t stop congratulating ourselves. It’s fun to team up with a friend who also wants to become more alkaline.
Millet is the least allergy forming of grains and will not ferment in the stomach. It is a good food for babies and children as it is easily digested and will not cause intestinal distress. My children, including my one-year-old love their millet porridge in the morning. I quickly grind the grain up in my Vita Mix (you could use a coffee grinder) and put it in the saucepan with water, stirring until thickened. You can sweeten with maple syrup or stevia.
Millet has the highest calcium content of all grains and is rich in B vitamins. When eaten regularly, millet provides natural rebuilding of bone cartilage and connective tissue, giving relief to arthritis sufferers and other painful conditions.
The only other alkalizing grains are buck wheat and quinoa.
Step 5: Find the Balance
I’m sure you are wondering which the most acidic foods are. The highest is artificial sweeteners. Don’t dink diet sodas. They are acidic and dehydrate the body. Coffee and black tea are also acidic, whereas Green and herb teas are alkaline.
All sugar and refined foods are extremely acidic.But there’s no need to panic--maple syrup is alkaline and so is raw honey. My favorite sweetener is stevia.
Not all acidic foods are bad. We must have a healthy balance of both alkaline and healthy acidic foods. Most experts agree that in order to heal your body you should eat 80% alkaline and 20% acidic. To maintain health you can have 60% alkaline and 40% acidic.
Meat and cheese are acidic. Don’t eat too much meat although I still include it in my diet. Most nuts are acidic, except almonds and Brazil nuts but all nuts are still beneficial in their raw state.
Cold pressed oils are alkaline. Use plenty of extra virgin olive oil and flax seed oil. However canola oil and peanut oil are acidic. Avoid what is termed ‘vegetable oil’ as it is not as good as it sounds.
Almost all raw fruits, dried fruits, raw vegetables and steamed vegetables are alkaline. If you have the time, juicing is another great way to increase your alkaline levels.
Note: A woman’s menstrual cycle often has an effect on her pH level. My body drops into acidic levels during my period and I have to be more aggressive in fighting acid during this time. I believe this was the major cause of the terrible headaches I suffered on those days. Since my body has become more alkaline, I have been headache free.
Primm Springs, Tennessee, USA
Monique’s Parsley Salad
1 bunch parsley
4 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped finely
3-4 hard boiled eggs, chopped finely
Handful of finely chopped nuts, walnuts or pecans
Pour Olive Oil over the mixture
Sprinkle in cayenne pepper and Creole seasoning
A squirt of Braggs Liquid Aminos
Stir together. Taste and adjust.
Serves two people.