5 Local Spring Foods to Alkalize Your Body by Kate Ortak for #wellbeingwednesday
Is your body too acidic? Are you eating enough alkaline foods? What does alkaline even mean? What does it all really mean?
While, I’m not here to answer any existential questions today, I can definitely help you navigate the whole pH dieting thing.
The alkaline-acid diet, also known as the alkaline-ash diet, is based on pH. Measuring the pH of a substance is a way of determining whether something is alkaline or acidic. A pH of 7 is neutral, numbers above that (8-14) are considered alkaline, while numbers below that (0-6) are acidic. The higher the number, the more alkaline a substance, the lower the number, the more acidic.
So, here’s where it gets a little complicated. Lemons are acidic, right? Well, technically yes, lemons have a pH of 2.2…but when it comes to the whole alkaline-acid diet, lemons are considered alkaline.
Let me explain. In order to determine if a food has an alkaline or acidic effect in the body, we must consider the pH of the residue or ‘ash’ that the food leaves behind after it has been digested and assimilated. This ash is what determines whether a food has an alkaline or acidic effect.
Your system is always trying to maintain a balance, known as homeostasis. Some things in the body, like your blood, must maintain a constant pH in order for you to survive. If the pH of your blood drops below 7.35 or goes above 7.45, without medical intervention, bodily processes slow down to a halt, and bad things happen.
Luckily, your body regulates and balances the desired amount of alkalinity or acidity through your urine. Because of this, your urine varies greatly in pH. Too much acid and your body excretes it in urine, or too much alkalinity and your body will excrete those excess compounds too. This makes urine a good indicator of whether you’re consuming too many acidic foods and placing a burden on your system.
Before you start measuring the pH of your urine, let’s talk about why helping your body to alkalize is important and how it can have beneficial effects on your health.
Proponents of the alkaline diet state that alkalizing foods help to support healthy weight loss, prevent kidney stones, help to reduce inflammation in conditions such as arthritis, acne and lower back pain, improve brain function and heart health, lower the risk of type two diabetes and even prevent some cancers.
While research in this area is still in the early stages, new evidence shows that there is scientific basis to these claims. Since most alkaline-promoting foods tend to be fruits and vegetables and most acid-forming foods fall into the category of meats, dairy, eggs, bread, sugar and alcohol; the connection between the alkaline diet and disease prevention becomes more clear.
Before you run out and fill your fridge with alkaline foods, it’s important to note that just like with everything else in the body, balance is crucial.
In order to provide the variety of vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and nutrients your body needs to be at optimum health, you want your diet to be made up of about 70% alkaline foods and 30% acidic foods, like legumes, meat, eggs and dairy. Very acid-forming foods like alcohol, coffee, sodas and sugar should be kept to a minimum.
Filling your plate with alkaline foods is easy in the spring and summer. With so much beautiful local produce in season in Ontario during the warmer months, following an alkalizing way of eating won’t require too much effort.
Here are 5 local, spring foods to help alkalize your body and leave you feeling good from the inside out
When it comes to alkalizing foods, asparagus is an excellent choice. Not only does it promote a healthier pH balance, it is also a great source of potassium, vitamin K, folic acid, vitamins C and A, and several B vitamins.
Additionally, compared to other vegetables, asparagus has a high ratio of protein relative to carbohydrates. Through digestion, we break down this protein into amino acids.
One of the main amino acids found in asparagus, asparagine, contains large amounts of sulphur. When excreted in the urine, asparagine is responsible for that characteristic smell. While unpleasant, sulphur is a crucial component for proper liver function and detoxification.
Take advantage of this locally-grown veggie in May and June.
Another fantastic alkalizing choice is summer squash. Summer squash is squash harvested early while the skin is still tender and edible. While zucchini falls into the summer squash family, the yellow variety is available slightly earlier in the season in Ontario.
Yellow summer squash is particularly healthy in the warmer months due to it’s high water content, which helps to prevent dehydration. It is also packed with carotenes (the same antioxidants found in carrots) and vitamin C, both of which help to protect the skin from summer rays.
Try it lightly broiled in the oven or substitute summer squash in your zucchini bread.
Available in our backyard (lucky us!) June through October.
Spinach, and leafy greens like lettuce and sprouts, are always a great diet choice. Not only is spinach incredibly alkalizing, it is also packed with nutrients. It is high in vitamin K, antioxidants, vitamin C and folic acid. Spinach is also a great source of magnesium, iron, some B vitamins and vitamin E.
To get the full alkalizing benefits of spinach, make sure you’re eating your leaves raw. While spinach is very alkalizing when consumed raw, once cooked, it is actually mildly acidic.
To pack more raw spinach into your diet, throw a couple of handfuls in a smoothie or whip up a beautiful spring salad with beets and radishes.
Locally-grown spinach is available in Ontario May through October.
While radishes are considered to have a low alkalinity, this still gives them a pH of approximately 7.5. On the scale of alkaline to acidic, this nutrient-dense little root is still pretty awesome.
Not only are radishes so pretty in salads, they have such a zesty, spicy flavour and pack a health punch. They’re full of vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. And don’t forget about the radish greens! Add them to your salads and enjoy the benefits of even more vitamin C and calcium.
Available in our neck of the woods May through October.
While local strawberries don’t technically hit the farmer’s market stands until June; they deserve a mention because who doesn’t love sweet, red, juicy, Ontario strawberries? But let’s not get carried away. Since we’re talking about alkalizing foods, these little berries are the way to go.
Their high sugar content gives them a lower alkalinity rating then some of the veggies above, however this still puts them at a pH of about 7.5, well on the alkaline side.
They are also full of vitamins C and K, fibre, flavinoids, iodine and vitamins B1, B5, folic acid, biotin and B6.
Local candies…umm, I mean strawberries, are available in Ontario June and July.