Alkalizing diets have been growing in popularity over the last decade. The adoption of plant-based diets has great leverage in their high levels of alkaline foods. By making healthy lifestyle choices and being aware of the effects your decisions have, you can help restore the pH balance in your body.
Though our body’s pH balance is crucial to staying optimally healthy, eating alkaline foods is not the cure-all for regulating blood pH.
In this article, we will explain the alkaline/acid balance in the simplest means possible.
Here are six surprising and simple ways to alkalize your body:
- Optimize digestion
- Breathe deeply
- Get your beauty sleep
- Follow a healthy diet
- Light exercise daily
- Lower your stress levels Here are six ways to alkalize your body:
First and foremost, there is a difference in urine pH and blood pH. The pH of our blood is what we want to have balance in, striving for a pH of 7.4, which the body will do naturally when free of pathological conditions.
Most experiments and studies use urine-based test strips to determine the pH. However, much more extensive tests have to be done in order to determine your actual blood pH. Eating an alkaline meal such as a salad or green smoothie will increase the alkalinity in your urine; however, urine pH is not an effective marker of your overall blood pH.
What is pH and How Does it Affect the Body?
The term pH stands for potential of hydrogen. It measures the acidity or alkalinity of the body from 0 to 14. The lower the number, the more acidic the body is. The ideal pH for the body is between 7.35 and 7.45. This number is slightly alkaline.
The kidneys are what determine the pH of our blood. Keeping our kidneys healthy involves numerous factors aside from what we eat. You may have heard somewhere that animal foods, which leave an acidic residue in the body, are damaging to the kidneys and therefore must affect the pH of the blood. I want to clear a bit of confusion here before moving on.
If the kidneys are what governs our blood’s pH, are acidic foods harder on the kidneys and therefore should be removed for optimal function?
The kidneys are well-equipped to digest “acid residues” from acidic foods. Whether these foods are from alkaline proteins such as hemp, broccoli, and quinoa or acidic proteins like meat, eggs, or even buckwheat, the kidneys will process them the same. Therefore, it is not about removing acidic proteins, which can have numerous benefits, from the diet. For example, though acidic in nature, eggs are one of the most reliable sources of fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and D.
Removing something from the diet simply because they are acidic in nature would be silly and in the long-run potentially cause other health-related issues. In the steps below, I will include a proper dietary approach to maintaining optimal pH as well as methods of keeping a healthy and properly alkaline body.
What Happens When Your Body is Alkaline?
Your body has a natural pH balance that’s slightly alkaline. When your body is in balance both pH-wise and hormonally, everything should feel like it’s in working order. Your energy, mood, and digestion should be ticking along, removing toxins from the body and staying balanced. When you experience a slightly alkaline pH, it’s thought to result in benefits like:
- Mental clarity
- High energy levels
- Well-functioning immune system
- Lower risk of inflammation
When your body’s pH is unbalanced and more acidic, your body is no longer in an optimal state. This can leave you feeling a little off. If your body is too acidic, over time, it may lead to problems like constipation, bloating, and fatigue. Fortunately, there are several ways you can get your body back on track and normalize your pH level. You can start alkalizing your body today and begin feeling the benefits.
6 Techniques for Alkalizing the Body
1. Optimize Digestion
Though the selection of our foods is important, what is even more important is how digesting those foods affects our body’s pH. Overeating alkaline food can overburden the kidneys and just as easily, if not more effectively, create an acidic condition in your body. As you learned previously here, it is not your goal to eat alkaline to become alkaline. The key is digestion. You need proteins, and whether you choose alkaline or acid-based protein, your goal is to digest that protein, not just stuff it into your mouth!
Undigested food of any pH will cause an acidic condition in your body because your kidneys will have to work over-time in filtering the undigested waste. Undigested food can also lead to pathogenic and bacterial overgrowth that are essentially what leads to acidic conditions.
To optimize your digestion, try consuming fermented foods like raw sauerkraut with your meals, especially protein meals. Taking herbal digestive bitters or a shot of ginger juice after a meal can help to stimulate stomach acid, improving optimal protein digestion. Eating only when you have truly worked up an appetite, eating smaller portions of proteins with a larger serving of vegetables, or taking a supplement like Enzorb. This breakthrough digestive enzymes product has been clinically proven to enhance the absorption of key ingredients, including amino acids and vitamins, by increasing the transport of these nutrients into intestinal cells where they enter the bloodstream. Trace minerals keep the enzymes working long after other enzymes would quit while antioxidants and adaptogens soothe and protect cells from damage, so they can work harder and faster.
Enzorb is clinically proven to:
- Break down 90–96% of proteins in a pH range from 4–10 within 30–60 minutes
- Absorb more peptides and increase assimilation by 30%
- Increase the absorption rate of amino acids by 61%
Doing these things can all help maintain ideal kidney health and therefore ideal blood pH.
2. Breathe Deeply
The means to perfect health are nearly unlimited and yet one of the simplest means to maintain perfect health is absolutely free! When you breathe deeply you not only work to alkalize your body directly by increasing oxygen intake, relieving stress, and cleansing your body of toxins, you also work indirectly to alkalize your body by improving digestion!
Related: The Importance of Deep Breathing
Breathing deeply is one of the most effective ways to alkalize your body. Breathing too rapidly can cause an imbalanced pH condition by stimulating the nervous system to release too many stress hormones, causing an overactive stress response. On the other hand, shallow breaths can also cause an imbalance by leaving the body oxygen-deprived and leaving excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the blood, leading to an overly acidic state.
Therefore, deep diaphragmatic breathing is the medicine to a healthy pH balance. Taking full breaths that fill the belly has been shown to increase oxygen intake which cleanses the body on a cellular level, improving digestion by lowering stress hormones.
Simply practice deep, full breaths that fill the lower part of your lungs (this will feel and look like your belly filling up with air). Count to four slowly as you inhale, pause for four, and exhale for a count of four. Just a few minutes of this each morning, night, during a workout, or anywhere you can remember will work to keep the body in its slightly alkaline state!
3. Get your Beauty Sleep
Getting enough rest does magic for your health. The list of benefits range from improved skin, better digestion, mental clarity, a balanced hormonal system, and of course to a more alkaline body. Lacking quality sleep can lead to blood sugar imbalances which can contribute to mental and hormonal imbalances that lead to cravings for overly acidic foods such as refined sugar and carbohydrates.
Getting quality sleep will keep you from destructive habits that usually lead to overly acidic conditions. Sleeping according to circadian rhythm will promote natural cleansing of acidic waste accumulated from stress, diet, and environment. Additionally, high-quality sleep will promote a healthy pH by improving your stress response.
Your adrenals and thyroid play a major role in how your body responds to stress. When you skimp on sleep you overwork these glands and make it more difficult for the body to remain calm. Excessive secretion of stress hormones by the adrenals and thyroid will create an acidic condition in the body and counter-productively weaken your digestive system.
As you can see, sleep is the cornerstone of holding together the key components to maintain a healthy body. The best way to promote healthful sleep is to sleep according to a circadian rhythm. That means sleeping before 10:30 pm (or when the sun is completely set) and rising when feeling fully rested (typically after 8.5 hours). The important factor is that you do not force yourself out of bed before it’s been fully rested.
Additionally, not eating or working out too close to bedtime will provide your body with the energy it needs to sleep soundly. That’s right, you actually need energy to have a good night’s sleep, so staying as stress-free as possible with breathing exercises throughout the day is important for a sound sleep. Also, try “blacking out” your room by making it as dark as possible. This will help promote melatonin production.
4. Follow a Healthy Diet
By following a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, you’re naturally eating highly alkaline foods. Fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants and nutrients to help fight inflammation and keep your energy levels high.
Some of the most alkaline foods are:
- Sweet potato
A diet that cuts down on processed junk foods and encourages lots of fruit and vegetables, in general, supports your overall health. Also, following a healthy diet with plenty of fiber supports your well-being and digestive system.
It’s thought that by eating more alkaline foods, it may promote weight loss and improve kidney health. As more research is carried out into this area, it can’t hurt to follow a healthy diet full of all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive.
5. Exercise Daily
When you exercise, your breathing gets faster and so does your circulation. This helps to alkalize your body in a similar way to deep breathing. By removing more carbon dioxide from the body than you would normally, you’re helping to balance the pH levels in your body. Carbon dioxide is very acidic, so removing more of it is beneficial.
Aim to incorporate light exercise into your day. This could be in the form of a gentle walk or cycle. When you move, you’re pushing waste products out of your body. Exercising regularly and keeping your body moving is essential for your overall health. Your body and mind benefit from staying active. Even just a 20-minute walk each day will make you feel good.
6. Lower Your Stress Levels
Stress affects your body in so many ways. When you feel too stressed, it can be hard to calm the mind chatter. This leads to a lack of sleep, anxiety, overeating, and generally feeling overwhelmed. When you’re stressed out, it can upset your digestive system. Your digestive system helps remove toxins from the body. When it’s not functioning properly, the toxins remain in your system, which could result in a more acidic environment.
Reducing your stress levels is an important element when alkalizing your body. Lowering your stress levels will also help you manage the pieces of your life more effectively and feel much more balanced.
Everyone is different; find stress-reducing activities that work for you. Things like yoga, exercise, journaling, stretching, meditation and spending time in nature can all help to reduce stress levels. Anything that makes you feel calmer will help restore the natural balance in your body and mind.
Related: How to Reduce Stress Naturally
The take-home message here is that food is not the most effective way to alkalize the body and that there are simple and free ways to keep the body alkaline and healthy. Generally, the things you would do to feel and look your best also help to alkalize the body. By eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, getting sufficient sleep and reducing your stress levels, you can help restore your body’s natural pH balance. By implementing these six simple strategies into your lifestyle you will reap even more benefits.
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Editor’s note: This article was originally published on April 18, 2014 and has been updated for quality and relevance.