Can a few painless switches in your diet give you more energy and better health?
It might sound too good to be true, but the alkaline diet is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health. And it’s easy to make the transition to eating a more alkaline diet.
The concept of the alkaline diet comes from Dr. Otto Warburg. In the 1930’s, he won a Nobel prize when he discovered that cancer cells thrive in acidic environments but can’t survive at all in an alkaline one (1).
This is why it’s so important to promote an alkaline pH inside our body. Because the foods that we eat have such a big impact on our body’s pH – which is the measure of acidity or alkalinity – the easiest way to do this is by modifying the diet.
But contrary to popular belief, following an alkaline diet doesn’t have to be restrictive or limiting.
In fact, simply including a few highly alkaline foods into your meals can have a major impact on your health.
So if you’re looking for how to alkalize your diet, read on. I’m breaking it down and making it easier than ever to achieve your best health by following a few simple guidelines.
7 Tips to Start an Alkalizing Diet
1. Drink a Green Smoothie
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of green smoothies. That’s in part because blending up a smoothie is one of the easiest ways to get in a concentrated daily dose of greens without any fuss.
Take a look at any alkaline acid food chart and you’ll quickly notice that veggies top the list of alkalizing foods. In fact, almost all veggies are alkaline once they’re in the body.
That means that slurping down a green smoothie is a guaranteed safe bet if you’re looking to add more alkaline foods into your diet.
When it comes to green smoothies, it’s important to fill up mostly on veggies. Avoid going over the top with fruits to minimize extra sugar and calories, which can sometimes actually be acid-producing.
My rule of thumb is to stick to an 80/20 ratio: 80 percent of your smoothie should be good-for-you greens and you can add 20 percent fruits to sweeten it up.
Looking for a few green smoothie ideas to get started? Check out my list of the tastiest recipes here.
2. Cut out Refined Sugar from your Diet
There are plenty of reasons you should give up sugar. It causes insulin resistance, heart disease, liver problems, and obesity.
There are so many ways sugar destroys your health, and its acidifying effect on the body is just the icing on the cake – pun intended.
That being said, the acidity of sugar is a pretty convincing reason to start cutting back. One of the biggest offenders on the alkaline diet is – you guessed it – refined sugar.
Regardless of whether it’s white sugar, brown sugar, or molasses, filling up on sugary sweets can seriously wreak havoc on your body’s pH. Even artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame are just as bad – if not worse – than the real deal.
So what’s the best way to curb cravings if refined sugar is out of the question?
Alkalizing fruits like bananas, blueberries, and cherries can help quickly satisfy even the biggest sweet tooth.
And if you absolutely must use a sweetener, do it in moderation. Maple syrup, raw honey, and stevia are all healthier choices that fall on the right side of the acid-alkaline spectrum.
3. Limit Intake of Processed Foods
Besides having more sodium, sugar, and calories than whole foods, the acid-forming potential of most processed foods is yet another reason for you to limit your intake.
Processed foods can range from breakfast cereals to convenience foods, and they all have the same thing in common: they can be damaging to your health.
Not only do food manufacturers commonly pump them up with chemicals, additives, and extra sugar and sodium to improve their taste, but they also fall in the category of “acid-forming” and should be eliminated altogether from your diet.
Instead, focus on real foods.
Ditch the microwave meals and take a few extra minutes to prepare something healthy. Cut out the chips and cookies and snack on real foods instead. Not only will you feel exponentially better, but you’ll be making serious improvements for your health too. Check out some of my most popular healthy eating recipes here.
4. Start Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar
Trust me, I know how contradictory this sounds. You’re probably wondering why I would recommend drinking any type of vinegar – an acid – to promote an alkaline environment in the body.
There are several things in the alkaline diet that go against common sense. Lemons and limes, for example, are two of the most acidic fruits, but they are actually the most alkaline-forming once they’re in the body.
This same principle holds true for apple cider vinegar. It’s acidic, yes, but it promotes alkalinity once you ingest it.
Besides its alkalizing effects, apple cider vinegar has also been shown to protect against cellular damage and oxidation, which can occur a result of excess acid (2).
But don’t worry, you don’t need to chug straight from the bottle of vinegar to reap its many health benefits.
Add apple cider vinegar to salads and stir fries or whip up my apple cider vinegar detox drink or my Hawaiian ACV drink (above) for a refreshing and health-promoting way to get more apple cider vinegar into your diet.
5. Eat More Alkalizing Fruits and Vegetables
Possibly the simplest way to give your diet an alkaline boost is to include more alkaline foods in your day. And the easiest way to do this is by filling your plate with plenty of the most alkaline foods of all – fruits and veggies.
Practically all vegetables fall into the alkaline category, although raw vegetables are a better option versus cooked.
And even though greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli are considered alkaline superstars compared to some other vegetables, you can fill your plate with pretty much any of your favorites for a quick burst of alkalinity.
6. Go Dairy-Free
Not only is dairy inflammatory and pretty rotten for your health in general, but it’s also one of the most acidic foods.
In fact, it’s one of the few food groups that falls almost entirely in the “acidic” category, and for good reason. Dairy is something that we should all be avoiding, regardless of whether or not you subscribe to an alkaline diet.
Swap out your cow’s milk for alternatives like coconut or almond milk – and skip the cheese and yogurt altogether.
It can be tough to make the switch, but once you do, an alkaline diet becomes so much easier. Plus, you’re guaranteed to feel much better overall when your diet is cleaned up and dairy-free.
7. Go Meatless Once a Week
Even though I follow a pretty healthy diet overall, I’m not a vegetarian or vegan by any means. However, limiting your meat consumption and even going meatless at least once or twice per week can make a serious impact on your health – and your body’s pH.
Although certain types of meat might be more or less alkaline than others, they’re all acidic. Yes, regardless of whether it’s a fish filet or a big slab of steak, they’re all acid-forming.
That’s why it’s so beneficial to pick just one day per week to go meatless. Trade your chicken for a protein-rich bowl of lentils and stock up on other non-meat sources of protein, like quinoa, eggs, buckwheat, and chickpeas.
The rest of the week, follow some basic guidelines when it comes to meat consumption.
Eat fish twice per week to get a hearty dose of omega-3s, limit your consumption of red meat, and always opt for grass-fed and organic cuts of meat wherever possible.
80-20 Alkalizing Diet
As you can see, an alkalizing diet doesn’t have to be overly restrictive or rigid with a strict set of rules that must be followed 100 percent of the time.
In fact, it’s really all about balance. It’s perfectly okay to eat acid-forming foods every once in a while in moderation, but the key to the alkaline diet is to balance that by filling your plate with plenty of alkaline forming fruits and vegetables as well.
I recommend following the 80-20 rule I mentioned early – your diet should be 80 percent alkaline-forming foods paired with about 20 percent healthy foods that may be considered acid-forming, like apples.
This helps keep the balance and lets you take advantage of all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that may be found in foods that aren’t necessarily alkaline.
More Real Food, Less Junk
In the end, these guidelines are great for following an alkaline diet, but they can also be applied to any healthy diet. We should all be eating more real foods and less processed junk to promote an alkaline pH and an overall healthy lifestyle.
Pick a few of these guidelines and slowly start implementing them in your daily routine. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel, just by alkalizing your diet and promoting your own health and well-being.
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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.