As a holistic nutritionist of over 15 years I am well versed on the benefits of eating a predominantly plant-based diet. Not only does such a diet provide more vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients for your body, is also makes it significantly easier for your body to maintain the alkaline state of your blood which is both critical and essential for life. In doing so, not only will your overall health and energy levels improve, but it will most likely add years to your life and slow down the aging process.
However despite all the evidence to support the benefits of eating a predominantly plant-based, alkaline rich diet, the typical North American diet is actually very acid-forming as a result of consistently consuming an excess of foods like grains, dairy, sugar, processed and animal products. The result is that your body then has to work so much harder to maintain that alkaline state of the blood and to do this it has to use it’s own buffers (alkalinizing minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium for example) to neutralize the acid load.
The result is the contribution to a host of health problems including weight gain, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. On the other hand, plant plant-based foods are known to help reduce the risk of many of these same diseases. It seems a no-brainer!
Acids are a stressor to your body!
Another important fact to keep in mind is that your pH operates on a logarithmic scale with multiples of 10. Meaning, it takes ten times the amount of alkalinity to neutralize an acid. So you can imagine the stress that eating a highly acid-forming diet puts on your body.
In order to restore and optimize your health your diet should therefore consist of even more alkaline forming foods – approximately 70% – 80% – and fewer acid forming foods.
However, food isn’t the only way your body becomes acidic.
There are many other influences and habits that we have that put an enormous stress on our health and well-being. To name a few – toxic relationships, lack of fresh air, lack of regular daily activity, over stimulation, stress and clutter all harmfully impact our health and in some cases literally do alter the pH of our bodies.
Let’s look at each one in more detail.
1. Toxic relationships: Besides negative people bringing you down and affecting your mood, they can actually have an effect on the physical structure of your brain! So who you choose to spend your time with and who you choose to allow into your inner circle matters greatly.
What can you do? Regularly evaluate who’s in your life, and identify which people you kindly and gently need to push to the outskirts, and who you need to draw in closer.
2. Lack of fresh air and deep breathing: The less oxygen we access, the less our body is able to purify our blood. This results in waste products remaining in circulation in our bodies, which in turn causes fatigue and heightened anxiety states (amongst other issues).
What can you do? Be aware of your posture and depth of breathing and get outdoors every day. Inhaling fresh air helps clear your lungs and enables you to take deeper, longer breaths of air – which increases the amount of oxygen that’s transported to your body’s cells. Increased oxygen in your body translates to greater energy and clarity to the brain, which needs twenty percent of our body’s oxygen to function.
3. Lack of regular daily activity: Inactivity and sitting for extended periods of time is so detrimental to your health that it is now considered the “new smoking.” We know that physical inactivity increases the risk of many adverse health conditions, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast and colon cancers – and shortens life expectancy.
What can you do? In addition to regular exercise (at the very least, 30 minutes per day) move regularly throughout the day. Sitting for extended periods of time is as detrimental to your health as lack of regular exercise. Set an alarm on your phone if necessary to remind you to move around regularly (you can also get additional benefits by using that opportunity to drink some water). Let your ‘smart phone’ support you in creating ‘smart habits.’
4. Over stimulation and noise: Both of these increase the pH level of body tissues through the physiological disturbances they create – especially in today’s plugged in world of laptops, smartphones, iPads, ipods, work computers, television, and TiVo. Besides effecting our relationships and social support systems, the constant use of technology has led to changes in our cognitive development.
What can you do? Simply unplug. Develop the discipline to limit your connection to these stressors. Make a conscious decision to unplug for a portion of each day, and even one full day a week. I guarantee you will feel the benefits.
5. Chronic stress: Yes we all know how stress negatively affects both your mental and physical health. But did you know that it can also literally cause increased acidification in your body by upsetting natural homeostasis? And your brain is the first to experience the changes, as a surge of hormones causes intense alertness which prevents sleep and relaxation and suppresses ‘feel good’ hormones.
What can you do? One of the best and easiest things you can do in a stressful situation is to simply breathe. Remind yourself to take a few deep breaths and continue to control your breathing. Anxiety will begin to diminish because you have redirected your focus, and because breathing signals the sympathetic nervous system to regulate blood pressure, heart rate, circulation, digestion and other bodily functions.
6. Clutter (of all kinds – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual): Most people have no idea of the extent and negative effects clutter has in every area of their lives, including weight loss. Getting organized is unquestionably good for both mind and body. If you can’t find your running shoes, you aren’t going to exercise. Your outer environment is a reflection of what’s going on inside you, so when things are cluttered, messy, stressful, and overwhelming in your environment, you have a corresponding level of overwhelm and stress inside as well. This keeps you from living and being your best.
What can you do? Take the time to get your environment, life and thoughts organized. If need be, engage someone to help you do this. Yes it may be challenging but I guarantee you will be happier and healthier because of it.
What area of your life is MOST “acidic” for you right now? And what will you do to change that? Comment below and be entered into a draw to win a copy of my book Change4Good! I want you to make a change, I want you to alkalinize your life so don’t delay in sharing what you are doing!
Until next week – embrace your inner truth, live your purpose and make your contribution in the world.
With gratitude and appreciation,