If the body - and, specifically, the gastrointestinal system - is too acidic, one may begin to experience feelings of imbalance including acid reflux (see our previous post for more info), gas, constipation, bloating, acne, heartburn, indigestion, mild headaches, gastritis, candida, and a weakened immune system. Chronic acidic gastrointestinal pH may even contribute to more serious issues such as Crohn’s disease, asthma and allergies, type II diabetes, fibromyalgia, and many forms of cancer.
The good news is that we can avoid many of these unwanted symptoms by modifying our diets. If the adage "food is medicine" is true (and we happen to think it certainly is!), then the cleaner your diet, the more readily your symptoms will dissipate. Sure, acupuncture is great at speeding this process along, but an alkaline diet is the foundation for that highway in many cases. The trick, then, is to avoid acidifying (or inflammatory) foods. And - lucky us - the typical "American diet" is loaded with these and generally consists of: greasy foods, starches/refined grains (rice and those made with white flour, in particular), dairy, caffeine, alcohol, sugar (the main culprit, and also in the form of artificial sweeteners), and processed foods.
Please understand: this does not mean you need to completely cut any of these foods out of your diet. Have a cookie once in a while (you deserve it!); just don't have six in one sitting. Moderation, as always, is key.
So which foods are most alkalizing in nature? Glad you asked; here's a list:
1) Root vegetables (like radishes, beets, carrots, turnips) and bulb vegetables (onions, garlic, and ginger) have a healing yang quality in Chinese medicine, and are also great alkalizers.
2) Cruciferous vegetables (think broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage) and green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, chard, and turnip greens).
3) Spices: cayenne pepper and turmeric are great anti-inflammatory agents, and by extension are also strong alkalizers.
4) Liquids: apple cider vinegar (which deserves its own blog post) and lemon juice.
Michael A. Sassack is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist serving the northwest suburbs of Chicago.