The Healing Powers of the Alkaline Diet
Updated: Jul 1
The alkaline diet sprung up in popularity recently and for good reason. Eating alkaline foods helps to reduce inflammation for amazing health and anti-aging benefits. It’s one of my personal favorite tips for anyone wanting to recharge their life!
I began eating an alkaline diet in 2008 directly following my experience with chronic migraines and burnout. Eating alkaline foods restored my health, and nearly 15 years later, I still swear by the approach. What’s happening on the inside of your body truly dictates not only how you feel but also how you look. When you eat a primarily alkaline (aka anti-inflammatory) diet, you reap tremendous rewards.
For me, eating an alkaline diet led to the reversal of a chronic state of inflammation that kept me in constant pain, reduced my low-grade chronic anxiety, and got rid of my ‘puffy’ look (aka the bloating in my face, arms, and body from too much cortisol streaming through my system from my job in investment banking - my puffy banker look!). The alkaline diet also helped my skin become clearer and brighter, massively improved my mood, and nearly eliminated my PMS symptoms.
Whenever I’ve fallen off this diet (usually with too many crackers, processed grains, and not enough organic greens), I quickly get bloated, have low-quality sleep, and feel my energy and mood suffer.
So What is the Alkaline Diet?
Understanding the alkaline diet starts with a crash course in what “alkaline” even means. Anything that is alkaline has a pH level greater than 7 (on a scale of 1-14). When we digest food, a metabolic residue (sometimes called ash) is leftover in our stomachs that can be either acidic, alkaline, or neutral. The goal of the alkaline diet is to keep this ash alkaline.
Some initial supporters of the alkaline diet suggested that the benefits people felt were because the pH levels of our metabolic ash were changing the pH levels everywhere in our bodies, including our bloodstreams. While research has since proven this false (our blood pH is really stable and not influenced by diet), an alkaline diet will change the pH of your saliva and urine and has been found to have amazing benefits. It can drastically reduce inflammation, which in turn, can help prevent premature aging and disease, heal many chronic illnesses, and improve your overall health and energy levels.
What are the Benefits of Eating Alkaline?
While many people turn to the alkaline diet because of a chronic illness or a cancer diagnosis, eating alkaline foods is worthwhile for anyone who wants to optimize their health, feel youthful, look vibrant, and live a long life!
Some of the great benefits of an alkaline (or anti-inflammatory) diet include:
Better mood and energy levels
Clearer and more radiant skin
Improved digestion and less constipation
Improved insulin resistance (and therefore a decreased risk for Type II diabetes)
Lower cancer risk
Less PMS symptoms
Lower risk for developing cardiovascular disease
Decreased risk of chronic disease
What Foods are Alkaline?
A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lentils, and beans are alkaline, while dairy, meat, processed foods, and foods high in sugar are the opposite (acidic) and should be limited. And yes– both cocktails and junk food are also acidic in nature!
Want to start shifting your diet? I started by beginning my day with 16 oz. of lemon water (feel free to add a pinch of cayenne pepper for an extra metabolic boost!). It helps to alkalize the body while also jump-starting digestion and natural detox processes. I would also suggest trying to include one meal a day that is largely vegetable-based, such as steamed greens in the winter, or fresh greens in the summer, with a side of lean, clean protein (wild salmon being my favorite) a few times a week.
And if you’re looking for a snack, one of the best choices is a simple green smoothie (I drink one almost every day). Combine this with a handful of raw almonds and you’ve got a healthy and filling snack. And remember, your green smoothie does not need to be complicated… for example, one of my go-to simple green smoothies is filtered water, a bunch of organic black kale, 2 rings of pineapple, and a frozen banana (or 1/2 an avocado). Combine the ingredients in a high-speed blender until the greens are pulverized and the texture is smooth and enjoy! Watch yourself sip your way to amazing health and glowing skin.
If you want to take your diet up to the next level, you can add even more alkaline foods each day. Below is a list of a few of my favorites and a few reasons why I love them.
Leafy Greens– A source of iron, my favorites include spinach, kale, and Swiss chard (preferably organic, whenever possible)
Steamed Cruciferous Vegetables– These include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage, which are all high in folate, fiber, and Vitamins C, E, and K
Fermented Veggies– Full of probiotics, foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi add “good” bacteria to our gut and help displace the “bad” bacteria
Ginger– A herbal medicine staple, ginger is a root vegetable that is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties
Avocados– Full of vitamins and healthy fats, specifically oleic acid, avocados are one of my favorite sources of fat
Berries - Rich in a variety of vitamins, the biggest benefit is their high antioxidant content, which is needed for immunity and to neutralize toxins in the body
Citrus Fruits - Adding more lemons, limes, and grapefruits to your diet will help to alkalize and give you a boost of Vitamin C, which is essential for immunity, collagen production (for youthful-looking skin), and many other metabolic processes
Raw or Unprocessed Almonds– High in fiber, healthy fat, Vitamin E, and more, almonds help lower bad cholesterol and prevent the development of heart disease
Want to learn even more ways to reduce inflammation and improve your health? Sign up for my newsletter so we can keep in touch! You can also check out last week’s post on Lifestyle Habits for Balanced Hormones.