Acidity has been linked to pain, excess weight and many other health issues. Fortunately, making your body more alkaline (the opposite of acidic) is easy. Here are 12 ways to alkalize your body for more energy and vitality.
1. Eat legumes and beans for protein. The alkaline diet forbids many traditional sources of protein, like meat, eggs, and dairy. Protein is an essential nutrient that’s vital for a huge range of bodily processes, which means that it’s extra-important to get a good amount of vegetable protein on an alkaline diet.
- Don’t be tempted to skimp on protein altogether — protein is an essential nutrient that’s used in a wide variety of vital processes, like building healthy bones, fueling growth, facilitating muscle function, and maintaining a healthy weight.
2. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and plant products. The core of any alkaline diet is a strong emphasis on fruits and vegetables, rather than meat, dairy, eggs, and carbohydrates. As a general rule, plant products like fruits and vegetables usually break down into alkalines, whereas the other foods mentioned usually break down into acids. Thus, emphasizing vegetables in your diet is a sure-fire way to start increasing your alkaline intake.
- Alkaline fruits and vegetables include: Apples, broccoli, asparagus, bananas, artichoke, beetroot, kale, grapes, spinach, cantaloupe, cauliflower, and many more.
3. Consider drinking alkalized water. While drinking plenty of plain, unsweetened, ordinary water is something that’s frequently recommended by health experts, alkaline diet practitioners often go as to recommend water that’s been treated to give it alkaline properties. While there is some limited evidence that alkalized water can possibly help limit bone loss, this properly isn’t certain or even particularly well-understood.
- However, alkalized water won’t hurt you, so if you’re interested in going the extra mile, it may be a worthwhile investment.
4. Drink soy or almond milk, rather than dairy. Since normal dairy is off-limits for its acid-producing properties, non-dairy alternatives should be substituted. In addition to lacking the acid-forming property of traditional dairy products, soy and almond milk can be quite nutritious in their own right, as they both lack the cholesterol and calories found in cow’s milk.
5. Drink one or two glasses of organic apple cider vinegar and water daily. Mix one to two tablespoons of vinegar in eight ounces of water.
6. Enjoy a wide variety of other alkaline-forming foods. In addition to the foods recommended above, foods frequently included in alkaline diets are:
- Unsweetened dried fruits: Dates, raisins, figs.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, chestnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds.
- Spices and seasonings: Sea salt, chili pepper, curry, mustard, ginger, cinnamon, stevia.
- Non-meat protein sources: Tofu, soy, millet, tempeh, whey protein.
7. Consider following the balanced 80/20 rule. An alkaline diet doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Some amounts of acid-producing foods are allowed — even encouraged, if they make it easier to stick to your diet. One moderate tactic is to practice the “80/20” rule — try to make 80% of the foods you eat fit your plan for an alkaline diet, but let the remaining 20% be “forbidden” foods.
- For example, you might try planning your meals so that about 20% of your calories from each come from non-alkaline foods. Alternatively, you might try simply adhering to the diet perfectly most of the time while giving yourself a “break” from the diet every fifth meal.
8. Avoid acid-forming foods whenever possible. Though meat, dairy, and eggs may be the things that many people miss most after starting an alkaline diet, they’re not the only things to avoid. In addition to meat, dairy, and eggs, other foods that alkaline diets frequently recommend avoiding are:
- Processed foods: Sugary/greasy snack foods, soft drinks, pre-packaged meals, most desserts, jams and jellies, etc.
- Grains and grain products: Pasta, rice, bread, cereals, crackers, spelt, etc.
- Some fruits and vegetables: Artificially-sweetened juices, blueberries, dry coconut, pickled olives, plums, prunes.
9. Try to minimize your stress. Alkaline diet resources frequently claim that stress is either a cause or an effect of bodily acid levels that are too high. The exact connection between stresses and acidity hasn’t been confirmed by science. However, what is definitively known is that a low-stress lifestyle is a healthy one.
Keeping stress low can be a lifelong challenge. Though everyone’s needs are different, here are just a few solutions:
- Get plenty of exercise.
- Slow down and take deep breaths.
- Talk to friends and family when you’re stressed.
- Spend more time outdoors.
10. Limit alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and drug use. Alkaline diets will often recommend against using any sort of mind-or-body-altering substance with the claim that they are acidifying. In fact, at least for caffeine, this claim is doubtful. However, it’s still a wise piece of advice — these sorts of substances have a range of negative health effects that are well-publicized.
- Even caffeine, by far the least harmful of these substances, can occasionally cause long-term health issues, especially if you’re already predisposed to certain health disorders like heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, and more.
11. Get plenty of rest after exercise. Getting plenty of exercise is a vital part of staying healthy for virtually everyone. However, if you’ve ever had sore muscles after a few hours at the gym, you’ll know that intense exercise can lead to a painful buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. To lessen this acid buildup, make an effort to give yourself time to recover after you push your body hard. Your body needs time to break down this acid and rebuild damaged tissue — if it doesn’t get it, you may be left with painful cramps.
- If you’ve got an intense fitness routine, try working different muscle groups on alternate days to ensure that each group gets a chance to rest. For example, if you work out your upper body on Monday, spend Tuesday working on your lower body.
12. Don’t fall for diet scams. Be wary of any alkaline diet resource that argues that the only way to follow the diet properly is to buy specially-formulated (usually expensive) foods. These are, almost without exception, scams. A simple look at the list of ingredients above should be enough to reveal that it’s possible to get all of the foods you need to follow an alkaline diet at your normal grocery store, so waste your money on dubious alternatives.
Correcting Common Misconceptions
Understand that the human body’s pH level can’t be adjusted. Claims that an alkaline diet and lifestyle will make your body more alkaline are false. In fact, the body has multiple complex mechanisms for keeping the pH level of its blood in a relatively narrow range between 7.35 and 7.45.
- Note that a blood pH level outside of this narrow range can cause dangerous conditions called acidosis (if the pH gets too low) and alkalosis (if the pH gets too high). It’s generally impossible for healthy people to get either of these conditions simply through diet and lifestyle changes.
Don’t bother with urine or saliva pH tests. These fluids can have pH levels that aren’t related to your overall health. The only way to definitively tell your body’s pH is to use a blood test, and since your blood will be around 7.4 unless you’re seriously ill, it’s not worth it.
Understand the danger of alkalosis. A harmful condition called alkalosis occurs when the pH of the blood is too high. This is almost always a cause of disease, organ damage, altitude sickness, or poisoning. Because alkalosis is so dangerous, it’s important to never attempt to artificially raise your blood pH level directly (via injection, drinking a strong alkaline solution, etc.) This mistake can be deadly.
- Symptoms of alkalosis include nausea, confusion, headache, muscle spasms, light-headedness, and numbness in the face or limbs.
Don’t believe claims that alkalines are disease cures. Some sources unfortunately claim that an alkaline diet offers protection against serious health problems like cancer. There is no scientific grounding for these claims. If you have a major health problem, do not prioritize an alkaline diet over proper medical care.