Focused on balancing the body's pH content, Eating the Alkaline Way (Sterling Publishing, 2013) by gourmet vegetarian cook Natasha Corrett and nutritional therapist Vicki Edgson is both a cookbook and a lifestyle guide that promotes healthy living. Packed with recipes, tips, and tricks for tracking daily alkaline and acid intake, they clearly explain the principles and benefits of keeping a well-balanced diet, the role played by vitamins, carbs, and protein; how to identify alkalizing and acid-forming food; and how an alkaline diet nourishes the body without stressing the digestive system. This excerpt from “The Foundation of Balanced Eating” contains a guide on how to identify both alkaline and acidic foods.
You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Eating the Alkaline Way.
The Foundation of Balanced Eating
What is a balanced way of eating in today’s terms? We are constantly bombarded with one diet after another, all of which seek to either negate or contradict the other. We may have heard the benefits of the high-protein, low carbohydrate approach—guaranteed weight loss, apparently safely—but we already know that cutting out any of the major food groups will leave us wanting, eventually.
What we need, and what we are illustrating in this Honestly Healthy program, is to have the right balance of all three food groups—that is, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in their cleanest and most natural forms—to suit us individually and ensure that we have all the essential nutrients required for healing and repair, rebuilding and energy production on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis.
Benefits of an Alkaline Diet
How often do you find yourself with indigestion after a meal? Or, even worse, knowing that you have eaten too much, or too rich or excessively heavy foods? Reaching for a glass of wine is hardly the answer. Yet this is the pattern of the 21st-century Western diet and it is now recognized as a contributing factor to the types of diseases with which we are increasingly faced—diabetes, heart disease, and cancers.
Many of our frequently chosen foods in the Western diet are acid-forming in the body—that is, when digested they form acidic residues in the bloodstream. Such foods include all meat, dairy produce, and processed, commercial foods in any form, including sugars, breads, cookies, and cakes. In small amounts this is not harmful, but eating acid-forming foods regularly places a heavier burden on the kidneys and liver to break them down further. Both organs require an increase of certain minerals to “buffer” such acidity. For example, additional magnesium is required by the kidneys to alkalize waste matter and, if sufficient amounts of this mineral are not available, stores of magnesium may be leached from bone tissue to support kidney function.
Eating predominantly alkaline food is far easier on the whole digestive system since it matches the pH of the blood, which runs between 7.35 and 7.45. The Honestly Healthy program has been designed to provide vegetarian alkaline foods in balanced combinations to guide you through this new way of eating. You will find that, within a few weeks, you will look and feel lighter, your concentration and memory will have sharpened, your energy levels will have soared, and the quality of your sleep will have improved dramatically.Eating alkaline means consuming fresh foods as close to nature as possible—organic whole foods, predominantly vegetarian, with small amounts of legumes and whole grains to supplement an abundance of fruit and vegetables. These can be raw, lightly cooked, or sprouted to create a higher level of protein.
Which Foods Are Acid and Which Are Alkaline?
You may be surprised to find that some of the foods you are eating on a daily basis are highly acid-forming contributing to a sense of being over-full, bloated, windy, and uncomfortable. Following a primarily alkaline program will do away with many of these symptoms, virtually overnight.
Very Acid-Forming Foods
Starchy Grains and Vegetables — Breakfast cereals (commercially produced), wheat, gluten-flour breads and pasta, bean (kidney, white), chickpea, peanut butter, pea (dried)
Fats and Oils — Cows’ dairy produce (including milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, cream, and ice cream), ghee
Protein — Beef, lamb, mutton, pork, rabbit, chicken, duck, goose, turkey, fish, shellfish, egg, seeds (cooked), gelatin
Drinks and Condiments — All alcohol, coffee, cola drinks, soda water, sugar, tea, tonic water
Mildly Acid-Forming Foods
Starchy Grains and Vegetables — Buckwheat, corn, lentil, quinoa, millet, oat, rice (white and brown), rye, sweet potato
Fats and Oils — Brazil nut, caraway seed, cashew, cumin seed, fennel seed, feta, flax seed, halloumi, hazelnut, linseed oil, macadamia nut, peanut, pumpkin seed, sesame seed and oil, sunflower seed and oil, walnut
Starchy Grains and Vegetables — Barley, millet, lima bean, soybean (fresh or dried), soy lecithin
Fruits — Apple, apricot, avocado, berry (all), cherry, coconut, date, fig, grapefruit, grape, lemon, lime, mango, melon (cantaloupe and watermelon), olives, orange, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, papaya, plums, raisin, rhubarb, tomato (raw)
Non-Starchy Vegetables — Alfalfa sprout, artichoke, asparagus, bean (green), beet (including the leaves), bell pepper, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chard (all colors), dandelion, endive, garlic, greens (winter and summer), horseradish, kale, kelp, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce (all types), mushroom, onion, pea (fresh), radish, sea vegetables (including chlorella, kelp, spirulina, wakame), sorrel, spinach, sprouted seed, sprouts, squash, turnip, watercress, wheatgrass
Fats and Oils — Almonds, coconut oil, olive oil
Drinks and Condiments — Almond milk, coconut water (fresh), goat’s milk (raw), herbal teas (excepting fruit teas), lemon water, soy milk, water (distilled); agave syrup, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, cumin (ground), fresh herbs (all), ginger, honey (raw), lemongrass, lime leaves, mustard seeds and paste, sea salt, tamari sauce, turmeric
What Is Alkaline?
There are two sorts of alkaline foods, those that are alkaline to digest in the first place, and those that have an alkaline “ash”—that is, they become alkaline as a result of being combined with the digestive enzymes produced in the mouth, stomach, and small intestine. These are known as alkaline-forming foods, and can often be wrongly observed as “acidic” to taste—the perfect example of this is lemons and limes, which are acid in taste, but actually very alkalizing.
All foods need to be broken down into a form of liquid that can then be absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, and it is the minerals that each food contains that dictate primarily whether it is predominantly acidic or alkaline. Generally speaking, those foods higher in potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, zinc, copper, and iron form a basic ash (that is, in the neutral zone of acid/alkaline, the category into which most natural foods fall).
Simply put, all vegetarian foods such as vegetables and some fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains contain a range of predominantly alkaline minerals and are alkalizing, while animal produce, along with fermented and caffeinated foods and all processed and fried foods, are acid-forming.
Reprinted with permission from Eating the Alkaline Way: Recipes for a Well-Balanced Honestly Healthy Lifestyle © 2013 by Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson and published by Sterling Publishing, Inc.