Why Acid-Alkaline Balance is Important

Our bodies have a natural acid/alkaline balance which should be maintained in order to stay healthy.  You might remember from science class at school, that a pH of 0 is completely acidic and a pH of 14 is completely alkaline.  Therefore (anybody have a calculator? ) a pH of 7 in the middle is neutral.  However, our levels vary throughout our bodies, depending on the functions we need to carry out.  For example, our stomachs require some acidity in order to aid digestion of food but our blood is slightly alkaline at a reading of between 7.35 and 7.45.

Homeostasis is our balanced state, when everything is functioning as it should and we are most likely to feel our best.  If we become unbalanced in any way, this amazing machine will try to compensate.  If for example we become too acidic, minerals such as calcium are leaked from our bones in order to help reduce the acidity.  Our body may also try to protect us from acid by buffering it with fat which is stored in the body.  

However, if our lifestyle continues to drive the acidity, and our body has to keep taking these counter measures, there will inevitably be an imbalance elsewhere, such as problems with our bones due to the reduced calcium levels.  While we need some acidic foods in our diet, on balance we should eat more alkaline because when the body is too acidic, yeast, viruses, bacteria and disease can thrive.

How Do We become Too Acidic?

Medications, processed sugars, poor nutrition and of course stress (which depletes our nutrient status and upsets our hormone balance among other things) can all contribute to making the body more acidic.  

What can we do to maintain our Acid/Alkaline Balance?

Ensuring our diet has a good balance between acidic and alkaline foods:

Eat more green vegetables
Reduce sugary food
Reduce refined grains
Reduce processed meat, poultry and dairy (especially pasteurised)
Minimal alcohol, stimulants
Focus on relaxation methods
Avoid soy products unless fermented (Miso) and organic
Eat Lemons regularly

The last point might surprise you as citrus fruits in general are considered highly acidic and so you might think that they would have an acidic effect on the body.  However, they are actually the best source of alkaline foods.  Lemons, limes and oranges also contain Vitamin C, which helps to detoxify the system and offers respite from heartburn and acidity.

This is just one more reason to reduce processed food, increase whole food and eat more delicious in season vegetables.  I find it useful to remember that everything we eat is either fighting disease or feeding it, so take the long-term view and review what you are eating and drinking daily to ensure you are alkalising!

Lyn Sharkey Nutrition
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