Ten easy ways to alkalize your diet
by Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD
What do limes, kale, and sweet potatoes have in common? They’re all fantastic choices
for alkalizing your body and strengthening your bones.
So what does alkalizing (making your blood and tissues less acidic and more basic)
have to do with your bones? Let me explain. Though most of our tissues are alkaline
in nature, by using our muscles, digesting certain foods, and even breathing, we
create acid that needs neutralizing. The body can neutralize about 50 mEq (milliequivalents)
of fixed metabolic acids per day from a “typical” intake of fruits and vegetables,
without going into the alkaline reserves stored in our bones.
But unfortunately, the diet that most people in the US eat (heavy in animal products,
grains, refined foods, and sugars) produces as much as 100 mEq of acid per day —
almost twice what the body can handle. This means that on a daily basis our bodies
have to use the mineral compounds that make up our bones to neutralize the overabundance
of acids in our bodies.
So help your body out with these ten simple dietary tips for shifting your body
back into its alkaline comfort zone.
1. Eat more veggies and fruits. Even if
you don’t go any further down this list, taking this one step can instantly make
a huge difference to your bones. Plant foods contain abundant “basic” or alkaline
particles that combine with “acidic” particles when your body breaks them down,
reducing our total urinary acid load and naturally creating alkaline balance in
the body. If you want better bones, I suggest more than the standard “five-a-day”
servings of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds — nine to ten is better, and focus
on the veggies.
2. Reduce soda intake, or eliminate it altogether.
Aside from its overwhelming amount of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame,
or other chemicals with no nutritive value, soda makes your urine too acidic to
pass safely out of your body. Its high phosphoric acid content requires your body
to sacrifice a great deal of alkaline buffering salts (meaning the minerals in your
bones) so it can excrete the acid without damaging your urinary tract.
3. Replace refined carbs with roots and gourds.
Most grains are somewhat acid-forming — particularly when they are ground, bleached,
and otherwise refined. Root crops like sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, parsnips,
beets, carrots, squash and potatoes are rich in minerals that will alkalize your
blood, plus they’re loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. So instead of eating
pasta, pizza, pastry, rice or bread, try substituting with a dish made from root
crops several days a week.
4. Add fresh lemon and lime to your water.
Though we typically think of citrus fruits as acidic, they’re highly alkalizing
in the body (limes especially). Help balance your acid load by squeezing a wedge
of fresh lemon or lime into your water throughout the day. For that matter, get
into the habit of giving your food a squirt just before serving: lime is delicious
on papaya, melons, salads, and Mexican and Asian dishes.
5. Consider cooking with sea vegetables.
For some of you, I know this is “out of the question!” But if you’re willing to
try new ingredients, why not experiment with packaged sea veggies available in the
health-food or Asian section of your supermarket? While delicious seaweed dishes
are still regularly enjoyed throughout much of Asia, we’ve lost this practice in
the US. It wasn’t long ago that people on both sides of the Atlantic were enjoying
dulse, agar agar, and other mineral-rich seaweeds in soups, stews, and puddings.
6. Drink 64 ounces of high-mineral spring water daily.
So often our public drinking supply is processed and stripped of the minerals that
water naturally picks up from the earth as it percolates through the ground. It’s
also doctored with substances like chlorine and fluoride at levels that many scientists
feel are not healthy for teeth and bones. Natural mineral water contains varying
dissolved minerals and trace elements that have emerged from their sources in the
ground. These include calcium, magnesium, and potassium salts, so drinking mineral
water is an easy way to replenish your alkaline reserves. We like brands such as
Sanfaustino and San Pellegrino. I’d encourage you to sample a few and find your
7. Limit animal protein. Animal proteins
are high in sulfur-containing amino acids and are particularly acid-producing as
you metabolize them. Protein is absolutely required for your bones and just about
every other body tissue, but you can limit your animal protein sources (beef, chicken,
pork, eggs, and dairy products) to 40 grams or less per day and increase plant-based
protein sources. Lentils in particular have a super alkalizing effect on the body
compared to other protein sources — plus they cook more quickly than most other
dried beans, they’re versatile, and they’re also more digestible for many people.
Soy is another high-protein option you can try that’s high in calcium and good for
8. Add cinnamon, ginger, and other herbs and spices.
Cinnamon is a wonderful alkalizing spice that you can add to just about anything.
It’s great with sweet potatoes, apples, or sprinkled in hot tea. Ginger root is
also a great alkalizer and detoxifier that spices up many dishes and makes a tasty,
warming winter tea. Experiment with the spices in your cabinet — herbs and spices
don’t just make things taste better, in most cases they’re good for your health.
9. Monitor your urinary pH. Tracking your
first morning urine pH (after at least 6 hours of sleep) is a simple and convenient
way to know how your nutritional changes are affecting your body. When this number
is between 6.5 (slightly acidic) and 7.5 (slightly alkaline), it suggests that your
overall cellular pH is where it should be — slightly alkaline. Results in an acid
range can suggest that your bones are being depleted of minerals to offset the excess
acid in your system. Our own pH Test Kit is super-sensitive, highly accurate and
designed to test either saliva or urine. A pH Test Kit is part of our
Personal Program for Better Bones.
Our Better Bones Builder and Better Bones Balance are specifically designed to support
your bones and help to keep your pH in balance. Learn more about our
Personal Program for Better Bones.
10. Supplement your diet with a high-quality multivitamin–mineral
complex. No matter how attentive we are to what we eat, where it’s
from, and how we dish it up, we can’t always have a perfectly balanced diet. Gain
peace of mind with a top-notch bone-healthy supplement, like the ones we offer in
our Personal Program for Better Bones. These formulations are designed to enhance
pH balance through an alkalizing nutrient base, plus they provide potent dosages
of the key nutrients required for deep bone nourishment.
Food is nature’s best medicine
The direct relationship between pH balance and your bones reminds us that our bodies
were meant to eat mineral-rich foods straight from the earth and sea. As we’ve moved
away from a whole foods diet, we’ve seen increases in not just osteoporosis, but
cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Though many still believe that the food equation
can be simply broken down to calories-in and calories-out, the micronutrients in
our food speak actively with every cell in the body — including those that build
and maintain our bones. Try these simple suggestions and you’ll preserve bone and
feel better all around.
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Last Modified Date: 05/03/2013
Principal Author: Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD