Your body's pH balance is important to good health, and is influenced by your diet. As recently discussed by Alejandro Junger, M.D., in his 2009 book, "Clean," your body's healthy, natural state is slightly alkaline. Diets high in meat, sugar, refined flour and dairy increase blood's acidity level, which can cause health problems. According to Columbia University's Health Services, acidic blood can cause bones to lose calcium and become weak. You can have your pH level tested at your doctor's office or use at-home kits; but improving your diet is a simple way to promote good overall health and an alkaline pH balance even if you don't know your exact number.
Eat more vegetables and fruits, especially dark green leafy vegetables. Fruits and veggies are packed with healthy nutrients that help keep your body's pH level in balance. To get your daily allotment of fresh produce, add a fruit or a vegetable to every meal and snack. This will help move your body to a more alkaline state.
Eat less protein, especially animal protein. Dr. Junger states that the typical American diet is overly high in meat, which is very acidifying. A healthier way to eat is to decrease your intake of animal foods and instead use plant-based proteins more often, such as beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, which are more alkaline-promoting.
Reduce your sugar intake. The average American diet is high in sugar -- not just from sweets, but from packaged, processed foods to which sugars have been added. This excessive sugar intake increases the acidity in your blood, putting you at risk for weak bones and other potential health issues. Cut down on obvious sweets like candy, cookies and desserts, and begin reading food labels to monitor the amount of added sugar in the packaged foods you normally eat. Choose reduced-sugar versions of packaged foods whenever possible.
Eat less dairy. Dairy products have acidifying properties that can be problematic when eaten in excess. Dairy foods like sugary yogurts and ice cream are especially detrimental to your health, so minimize your intake of these treats and substitute fresh fruit instead.
Cut out refined grains and replace them with whole grains. Processed white grains like white flour, white rice, regular pasta and white bread raise your body's acidity level. For optimal health, choose whole grains like brown rice, whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta and oatmeal. The fiber and nutrients in these products helps restore proper pH balance.
- "Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself"; Alejandro Junger, M.D.; 2009
- Columbia University Health Services; Alkaline Water -- Is It Better For Your Body?; February 2010