In the average Western diet, many consume foods which are too acidic to effectively promote and maintain a healthy body. Some examples of these acidic sources we consume are refined sugars, dairy products, and meat, such as beef and pork. There are also different side effects that result from a high-acid diet, such as a diminished immune system and lethargy.
A sugar high can feel good every once in a while when eating ice cream, but remember that unless you attempt to alkalize your body, such habits can take their toll on your body, your health and your energy levels. I must admit that despite being a self-appointed champion of healthy eating, I do have my weaknesses! Oh yes! For instance I have a sweet tooth and I must admit that I kind of indulge my sweet tooth far more regularly than I should. However, I always try to counter the effects of my indulgence by doing a few things to ‘penalize’ my weakness. Thankfully, I don’t have a sweet tooth for everything sweet like cakes, doughnuts, ice creams, biscuits etc.
What I do have an irresistible sweet tooth for, is a certain brand of chocolates called Minstrels (a UK brand), some squidgy spongy type gelatin-based sweets called Haribos and my local grocery shop’s own brand sweet and salted popcorn! However much I have tried to ‘cure’ my habit I have so far been unsuccessful and I regularly do indulge myself sometimes with carefree abandon, only to hate myself shortly after. I realise its simply a mind thing but I guess my mind is not quite ready to give up on its sweet fantasies just yet.
If you are reading this and you have a definite idea how to cure me of my sweet tooth even semi-permanently, please let me know. Drop me a line and I would be glad to share your suggestions after I’ve tried it and seen the results. Now, there’s a challenge!
Alkalizing the body is not difficult, but in order to understand the benefits of doing so, one must first understand the definition of alkaline foods, how they work with the body, and which foods in particular will counteract the effects of their acidic counterparts.
What Is Alkaline?
Alkaline is defined as that which has a pH greater than 7. Because the body functions best at a pH level of about 7.4, it is important to consume foods which will bring those levels up to an appropriate level. To explain a bit about pH levels, pH levels refer to the degree of acidity or alkalinity of food or liquid. pH is short for Potential Hydrogen. A pH number measures on a scale of 0 to14, how acidic or alkaline a liquid is. Any number above 7 is considered alkaline while any below 7 is acidic. Water has a pH level of 7 meaning it is neutral. This also means it has the same amount of acids and alkalis, which balance each other out. This is especially crucial when consuming foods which are acidic and which will bring the pH levels lower than they should be. Pure, distilled water sits at almost exactly 7 on the pH scale. Foods with a higher number are alkaline, while anything lower than 7 is considered acidic.
Benefits Of An Alkaline Diet
As a general rule, foods can be classified as either acid-forming or alkaline forming.
The human body‘s pH is 7.35, or slightly alkaline. The body is always seeking a state of homeostasis (balance) and it works hard to maintain the healthy neutral alkaline zone.
Now, keep in mind that foods in of themselves cannot change this zone in the body, but, the body does have to work extra hard to compensate for the intake of acid-forming foods that are ingested in excess.
This happens because when your diet is highly acidic the body has to leech calcium from the bones, as calcium is an alkalizing mineral. Over time this can lead to bone mineral loss, which, can result in Osteoporosis. This is just one of many effects that an overly acidic diet can have on the body but this is not to sound alarmist as it is never too late to redress eating patterns and habits that can be potentially harmful to health in the long run
Additionally, as a stressor, acidity can lead to inflammation along with increased cortisol levels, and this can impact overall health in the long term.
Conversely, those foods that are alkaline forming are typically plant based and highly nutrient dense, and also loaded with antioxidants.
Including a variety of alkaline-forming foods in your diet allows the slowing of leech of calcium from the bones, and this results in improved bone health.
These foods also support healthy cell regeneration and fights the effects of free-radicals on the body.
Since it is the pH level of blood which concerns us, putting additional acidic foods into our diets actually works against the human system. When more strain is put on the body to fight sickness and disease, it is no wonder a highly acidic diet might make one feel tired and lethargic.
Benefits Of Alkaline Forming Foods For Athletes And Exercise
There is more goods news and that is the major benefits that alkalizing foods have on athletes and for the human body during exercise in general.
A diet high in acid-forming foods results in reduction of muscle efficiency so more energy expenditure is needed for each and every muscle contraction. Now, during a race or intense activity, this means a lot of extra work for the body.
Since alkaline-forming foods greatly reduce inflammation, the muscles work at more functional levels and they also require less force to move.
This allows endurance athletes, such as, those who run marathons and participate in triathlons to push harder for longer. For those who do strength training, and bodybuilders, alkalizing foods will allow you to lift heavier weights with less negative stress on the body.
How To Eat An Alkaline Diet
Increasing the alkaline intake does not have to be extraordinarily difficult, and one must not cut acidic foods entirely from his or her diet.
It is recommended that your diet consist of around 80% alkaline food sources while acidic foods make up the remaining 20%.
This contrasts with the average diet in the West, which often flips that ratio around. There are some changes in the diet which can be made quickly and easily in order to alter your pH level.
Swap Coffee For Green Tea
For example, you might switch from coffee to green tea in order to bring your blood’s pH level higher. Green tea is alkaline while coffee is acidic, so the substitution might make a drastic change especially if you consume coffee quite often. Green tea contains many antioxidants as well. In case you asked, antioxidants help to counteract free radicals in our body systems.
Antioxidants Vs Free Radicals
Antioxidants can be found in vegetables and fresh fruits and are therefore the good guys while free radicals are the bad ones. There are a wide variety of antioxidants that provide great health benefits and I will devote some time to talking about these in the subsequent months ahead. But for now suffice it to know that antioxidants prevent and can even inhibit the proliferation of free radicals (the bad guys) in our bodies and helps to neutralize the effects of free radicals in our blood streams.
Without wanting to sound too scientific, free radicals are occur from normal and essential metabolic processes found within the human body or from external sources such as exposure to various environmental and chemical pollutants, stress, smoking and many other factors. The dangerous thing about these free radicals that occur is that if left unaddressed they can cause a wide range of illnesses and chronic diseases and this is where the power of antioxidants helps to eradicate the effects of free radicals in our system.
Vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables! Always eat your vegetables. The best choice in alkalizing varieties are broccoli, celery, chard greens, collard greens, cucumber, cauliflower, and mushrooms, just to name a few. These foods are alkaline and will not only help reduce stress on the body in fighting acid, but are also highly nutrient dense and plain good for you!
Some of the best fruits are also alkalizing ones, including, melons, lemons, oranges, peaches, pears, apples, bananas, berries, cantaloupe and grapes.
Remember, you do not have to eliminate dairy products, rice, and all protein from animal sources in order to maintain a healthy pH level. However, it might benefit you to substitute your refined sugars with healthy fruits and vegetables more often than not.
Doing that, along with drinking plenty of green tea, will increase pH levels and your chances of finding health-nirvana naturally and easily!
This merely skims the surface on the issue of alkalinity versus acidity and the importance of maintaining good body alkaline levels as opposed to acidic levels. Conventional medicine might disdain claims that disease cannot thrive in an alkaline body environment while it is the opposite with bodies that are highly acidic but it is a widely held belief in the holistic health arena. It is also believed that the aging process is accelerated by free radicals in the body, so there is an incentive to reduce free radical activity in our bodies through good diet, regular exercise and less stress to summarise simply.
I am on this journey with you as my habits are by no way perfect but I do maintain a lifestyle that is highly health conscious of these issues and I spend a lot of time doing research on the latest news and views on holistic and alternative health concerns.
I hope this helps a bit. Feel free to drop me a line to let me know how I can be of further assistance with regards to providing information on other relevant health topics.
Until next time, keep on being special!
From my heart to yours always,
Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and taking care of our emotional wellbeing are all-important elements of living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining an optimal level of health. Medical experts and research has confirmed repeatedly that the lifestyle choices we make are crucial for healthy aging and preventing various diseases that can result in chronic health impairment or even premature death.
Prevention they say is better than cure and preventative health goes a step beyond just addressing health problems that arise but instead serves to alert us to potential health conditions that can lead to serious complications for us in the future. Early detection and monitoring for high-risk conditions is an essential element of good healthcare and this applies to both men and women.
But when it comes to healthcare, men tend to see doctors less and do not pay as much attention to their possible health concerns as women do. They can often go years between doctors’ visits and end up missing valuable opportunities for screening and detection of possible health issues.
Here are some health concerns worth keeping on top of so that you don’t end up with unnecessary complications:
- High blood pressure: Men are just as prone to high blood pressure as women. High blood pressure is largely hereditary but can be influenced by environmental factors such as caffeine intake, intake of salt, and obesity. Unless the blood pressure is extremely high, you will have no symptoms and the blood pressure may be left unchecked and unnoticed. Depending on age it is advisable to have your blood pressure checked at regular intervals. I would advise asking your physician to suggest a suitable time interval for checking blood pressure and then try sticking with that. Blood pressure readings of 140/90 or greater would warrant a visit to your doctor.
- Colon cancer: Colon cancer is the second largest cause of cancer death among men. Fortunately, it is largely preventable by being screened for colon cancer, beginning at age 50 (and sooner if it runs in the family). It involves having a colorectal specialist insert a camera at the end of a flexible tube into the colon to look for and remove cancer-causing polyps. This procedure is called a colonoscopy and it should be repeated every ten years as a screening measure, starting at 50 years of age. Keeping a high fiber diet that is low in fat may also reduce the risks of colon cancer. More on this in subsequent blogs.
- Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men. There are basically two types of prostate cancer—slow growing and fast growing. Either way, it is worth getting screened for prostate cancer through the use of digital rectal examination every five years at the doctor’s office. Some doctors also draw blood for prostate specific antigen or PSA. This number can be high in enlarged prostate conditions or in prostate cancer. If it is elevated, doctors can try and determine if it is related to cancer or not.
- Smoking Cessation: Lung cancer caused by smoking is the number one cause of cancer deaths in the UK and America. The simplest way to reduce the risk of lung cancer is to never smoke or to stop smoking as soon as possible. There are many ways to quit smoking and many health services and support networks exist to help people who wish to stop smoking. Ask your doctor or make enquiries online for nearest support services
It is recommended that those with a history of heavy smoking, who smoke at present or have quit within the last 15 years and are between the ages of 55 and 80 years of age should undergo yearly lung screenings. Heavy smoking is defined as smoking at least one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. A 30 pack-year history can equate to 1 pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years.
- Heart Disease: Men are at a greater risk of heart disease than women are. Things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise, and family history contribute to a high risk of heart disease especially with men who have family histories. Measures should be taken to reduce the other risk factors. This means adopting a heart healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat. It means a commitment to regular exercise three to five days a week. Finally it means seeing a doctor to find out about risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
If these are elevated, your doctor may prescribe medications that can further reduce your risk of getting a heart attack. I personally detest the thought of having to take prescription medications unless absolutely necessary. I went through my health scare phase where I was on prescription medication for almost four years. My hatred of the experience was part of what spurred me onto seeking an alternative health path. But if you must be on medication to keep health issues at bay then by all means do seek whatever professional guidance is needed and do what is necessary to safeguard long-term health.
- The Family Connection: Besides all the conditions listed above, it is also a good idea to find out about any medical conditions that run in the family as genetics can play a big role in the development of certain diseases. Oftentimes, children, parents, and grandparents share similar health problems because inherited factors put family members at risk through genes. Disease often results from the combined effects of minor changes in multiple genes, and each gene then contributes in a small way to the symptoms of and development of disease. However, there is the new and exciting science of Epigenetics which I will write a few articles on in the subsequent weeks. Epigenetics simply surmises that you can overwrite or override your genetic predisposition by consciously adopting positive lifestyle habits and making healthy lifestyle choices and there seems to be the research to prove it! So watch this space.
Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer account for 7 of every 10 deaths in the United States, and are considered genetic diseases because they run in families. Gathering a detailed family history can give you important information as to your risk factors and that awareness can be used to monitor for and possibly prevent the onset of problems whenever possible.
The bottom line is that factors and conditions for ill-health lurk around almost every corner. It is quite easy when we read blogs, read the statistics, visit health websites and even seek information from off the internet to get really scared of developing some sort of serious health condition or other and we begin to live in fear. I refuse to be a harbinger of doom and my intention is never to induce fear but to encourage you to set health goals and then to take one positive step at a time towards achieving and maintaining these. Not easy I can assure you but very do-able and so infinitely rewarding! Your body will thank you for it.
So let us all strive to take more responsibility for maintaining good health in every way we can. We can no longer afford to depend on some aloof physician to safeguard our health because by the time we get to that point we could be facing potentially chronic or life-threatening health conditions. We can start off each day by incorporating some healthy action into our routine or taking something unhealthy out of it and as we continue to practice this, adopting healthy habits becomes a new lifestyle and you are all the better for it! You can do it. Go on! Be well always! I struggle like everyone else to keep at my goals of any sort but I’m hanging on and after my serious ill health experience years ago, anything to do with good health is now my burning passion. Yes passion does help!
Do feel to drop me a line. I‘d be delighted to hear from you! Until next time, remember you are special, so be well and keep well!
From my heart to yours always,
We have all seen tv commercials advertising some great juicing apparatus and extolling the great benefits of juicing. If like me however you can’t be bothered with all the preparation hassles this tends to involve (although some juicers are very convenient to operate), you could use a blender or food processor instead to blend your preferred selection of fruits and vegetables with added water for a healthy smoothie concoction. The additional fiber (if you aren’t fiber intolerant) gained from the blending rather than juicing makes this a preferred option for me.
Smoothies and juicing can be an excellent method to get one’s daily recommended allowance of healthy nutrients, minerals and vitamins and also a great way to shed a few pounds and detox the body. Always consult a qualified health practitioner or doctor before embarking on any health regime as this is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any health condition or ailment. These are suggestions based purely on my personal experience of the health benefits achieved. In particular if you have blood sugar issues you may wish to first seek medical opinion on whether it is wise to embark on juicing because of the reputed concentrated high sugar levels; albeit natural sugar.
I find that I am quite experimental with my fruit and vegetable combinations depending on how I feel on the day. I tend to have purely fruit combinations in the morning for a delectable morning smoothie while settling for fruit and vegetable combinations for afternoons or evenings. Depending on the fruit and vegetable combinations, I sometimes add coconut milk, organic yoghurt, fresh juice, honey or simply filtered water to achieve the desired consistency. Every few months I’ll embark on a smoothie fast. I mentally prepare myself for this at least a week in advance and ensure I am well stocked up on a wide selection of fruits and vegetables to last me for the duration of the fast which will range from three days to seven days. A word of caution for delicate tummies, a dedicated fast may sometimes produce the undesired the effect of an upset tummy or excessive bloatedness.
To lose excess weight quickly but healthily, simply replace 1 to 2 meals daily with fresh green juice or preferred smoothie combinations. There are loads of recipes available online but you could make your personal recipes by mixing an eco-friendly leafy vegetable or two with one,two or even more fruits or more as you desire. I do have a wide selection of superfood powders that I often add to the blend for an extra turbo energy boost. Stuff like organic sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, cacao powder, baobab powder, acai powder, goji berries, lucuma powder and several more different ones. Your local health store will stock many of these varieties. Where possible, I tend to purchase organic brands or brands reputed for adopting superior harvesting and processing methods. I do a lot of research to try to understand the different methods and which ones offer the best bioavailability to the body. I will be touching on some of these in later blogs but for now instead of giving you prescriptive recipes, just try and experiment with as wide a variety of vegetables and fruits as possible and discover which recipes appeal to your palate. To give you some idea of the range of fruits and vegetables I tend to use:
• Bell Peppers
• Pitted Prunes
• Avocado pears
Where possible, I try as possible to make use of seasonal varieties that are available. If you stick to as wide and as colourful a range of fruits and vegetables as you possibly can you’ll definitely be getting a good range of vitamins and minerals in comparison with the average person on the street as well as reducing your calorie intake in a healthy way. However, just start small in whichever way you can and build up your range over time as you begin to enjoy the benefits and the habit of blending and/or juicing different combinations of fruits and vegetables
Once you form the habit of regularly juicing or blending fruits and vegetable for your smoothies, you’ll be fast on your way to becoming a juicing or smoothie-making expert, able to blend or juice up the most exotically healthy combinations. Your body will thank you for it when you begin to experience the many benefits such as improved skin tone and clarity, weight loss including reduced waist line, better hydration and improved bowel movements and so much more
So, now you know, I hope this motivates you to get out your blender or juicer or to invest in a good one. There are lots of reviews online to help you decide which one is best for you based on your budget. Start making it a regular habit to juice or to make your blended fruit and vegetable smoothies. Drop me a line to let me know how you get on or to share tips on your own experience.
Happy blending or juicing!
From my heart to yours, always