Do you know the alkalinity of the foods you eat? Why should you care? We know the food we eat has a huge impact on our health and wellness, and incorporating whole, alkaline-rich foods can keep us feeling our very best.
The basic premise of the alkaline diet is that your body functions better when your pH levels are slightly alkaline. When digested, some foods leave either acidic or alkaline by-products in the blood that are then kept in balance by the kidneys and respiratory system. Our kidneys produce bicarbonate ions to neutralize acids in the blood and also filter out and excrete acids. The lungs exhale carbon dioxide, which is created when bicarbonate ions from the kidneys bind to acids.
Alkaline foods are considered to be protective against illness and diseases. Studies vary, though, on how or why eating alkaline foods might affect particular physiological processes or help treat common ailments. What is agreed upon by most doctors and nutritionists is that alkaline foods are whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, thereby being essential to a healthy diet.
Certain food groups are considered alkaline, neutral or acidic.
- Acidic: Meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, grains and alcohol.
- Neutral: Natural fats, starches and sugars.
- Alkaline: Fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.
Most proponents of the diet recommend eating as much alkaline-rich food as possible throughout the day, aiming for at least 70 percent. They report that the diet helps increase energy and relieve conditions such as acne, joint pain, digestive issues and anxiety.
Take Stock of Your Pantry
Since the alkaline diet doesn’t require elimination or perfection, keep in mind an 80/20 rule when grocery shopping. Purchase loads of fresh produce, nuts and beans while allowing up to 20 percent to be acidic foods like meat, coffee, dairy and sweeteners.
In order to successfully shift your lifestyle, you may need to do a little more preparation than you’re used to. Starting out with a healthy breakfast like chia granola or a fruit and spinach smoothie will ensure you have a boost of energy, especially if you decide to forego coffee. You can also swap your morning latte with green tea and almond milk, or energizing kombucha.
If your weekly habits necessitate lunch meetings and questionable menus, you should learn a few easy substitutes and adjustments to stay on track when eating out. Choose a vegetarian salad with no cheese, leaving the salad dressing off or subbing in a light vinaigrette. Dairy-free soups and stews, veggie wraps and stir-fried vegetables with quinoa are other great options to look for.
If you have more flexibility, pack fresh lunches and plenty of healthy snacks to keep on hand throughout the day to keep you on track and satiated.
Sample 7-Day Alkaline Meal Plan
Creating a meal plan is the perfect way to stay on track and prepare yourself for success in this new diet. Here is a sample menu to get your creativity flowing. Remember, complete elimination of acidic foods is not necessary for the alkaline diet, so feel free to be flexible in a way that works for you. You can also start small by increasing the amount of alkalizing foods you eat over time.
Breakfast : Quinoa chia pudding with berries.
Lunch: Avocado bibb lettuce salad with walnuts and apples.
Dinner: Stir-fried tofu and veggies.
Breakfast: Non-Dairy Mango Parfait (recipe below).
Lunch: Tofu lettuce wraps.
Dinner: Sweet potato and chickpea tacos.
Breakfast: Almond butter banana berry smoothie.
Lunch: Miso-dipped tempeh spinach wrap.
Dinner: Kale pesto zoodles with roasted tomatoes.
Breakfast: Cacao chia pudding with strawberries.
Lunch: Quinoa burrito bowl.
Dinner: Veggie burger with roasted sweet potatoes.
Breakfast: Berry spinach power smoothie.
Lunch: Green goddess bowl with tahini dressing.
Dinner: Lentil dal and sprouted garlic naan.
Breakfast: Oatmeal porridge with roasted pears.
Lunch: Warm millet and white bean arugula salad.
Dinner: Hearty vegetarian chili.
Breakfast: Crepes with goat milk chevre, honey and sauteed apples.
Lunch: Roasted eggplant sandwich on sprouted bread.
Dinner: Tofu ramen with zoodles and crispy brussels sprouts.
Recipe: Non-Dairy Mango Parfait
You won’t miss the dairy in this creamy parfait made with cashew cream, then topped with juicy mango and crunchy coconut flakes and hemp seeds.
Start to finish: 70 minutes (5 minutes active)
Servings: 2 servings
½ cup soaked raw cashews (soak for 1 hour)
½ cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
½-1 teaspoon honey (optional)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped mango
2 tablespoons shelled hemp seeds
2 tablespoons large coconut flakes
Combine cashews, alternative milk, vanilla and optional honey in a blender and blend until very smooth.
Layer ingredients into two cups: a layer of cashew cream, half of a cup of mango in each andtop with hemp seeds and coconut flakes.