Increased intracellular magnesium, which is required for the function of many enzyme systems. Vitamin D and magnesium work together to optimize the body’s absorption of vitamin D.
Acidic Foods – The Pros and Cons
Acidic foods are typically more dense and harder to digest.
Healthy acidic foods like meats, grains, legumes and dairy may be higher in protein and fat content, and thus can be more anabolic or body-building.
Acidic foods are more readily stored in the body than alkaline foods. Squirrels, for example, eat nuts in the winter to store protein and fat to both insulate, bulk up, and reserve energy for the long winter. If that same squirrel ate a strict alkaline diet of just fruits and veggies during a cold winter, the cleansing effect of those foods may make the squirrel freeze to death.
Because acidic foods tend to penetrate deeply and store better than alkaline foods, they need to be eaten according to nature’s harvest or they can cause trouble.
Packaged or processed acidic foods are often loaded with preservatives, chemicals and toxins that can be difficult to detox. They should be avoided as they may predispose the body to early degeneration or disease.
The problem with our diet is two-fold:
- We have lost touch with eating seasonal foods, which naturally balance pH.
- Our diet has shifted to eating foods that are highly acidic: processed foods, packaged foods, comfort foods and junk foods, as well as sugar, coffee, baked goods, alcohol, most fast foods and soft drinks.
A Healthy Meal Plan
Most experts agree that a healthy diet should be two-thirds alkaline and one-third acidic foods. This ratio will adjust based on climate, harvest and geographic location.For even health-conscious folks, this can be a herculean task. For example, take an average day’s meal:
- Breakfast – Oatmeal with raw honey and almond milk, fresh-squeezed orange juice (100% acidic)
- Lunch – Organic turkey sandwich with a small salad. (70% acidic, 30% alkaline)
- Dinner – Alaskan salmon, veggie, rice and a small salad. (60% acidic, 40% alkaline)
This day’s acidic/alkaline balance: 75% acidic, 25% alkaline – not exactly what we’re going for.
Accomplishing a 2/3–1/3 alkaline-acidic diet is probably not going to happen for most people. Even aiming for 50/50 would be quite a challenge given our American standards.
The 3-Season Diet
The good news is that nature effortlessly balances pH with each seasonal harvest.
While the west is still set on making sure we get the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) each day, traditional systems of medicine, likeAyurveda, recognize that it is nearly impossible to get the same dietary nutrition every day.
In nature, the nutritional cycle is an annual one. It takes 365 days and each seasonal harvest to get all of our nutritional needs met.
A truly seasonal diet would result in an annual nutritional cycle of: 2/3 alkaline, 1/3 acid.
If you were forced to eat off the land and only eat foods that were locally harvested, your diet would dramatically shift from one season to the next. Remember, experts say that roughly two-thirds of the diet should be alkaline and one-third should be acidic. If we only ate food that was grown or raised on a farm, following the seasons, then the body’s pH would naturally shift to become more acidic in the winter and more alkaline in the spring, summer and fall.
3 Primary Growing Seasons
In Ayurveda, these are the three primary growing seasons that we follow: (Hence the title of my book, The 3-Season Diet.)
Much of the seasonal shift of pH is due to the seasonal shift of soil microbes that attach to our foods and become a part of our new seasonal microbiome. (5)
- FALL/WINTER: (November-February) 1/3 of year, acidic.
In the winter, the harvest is predominately acidic. Nuts, seeds, grains, meats, fish, dairy, and eggs were a traditional requirement in order to survive colder climates, as veggies were sparse. It is the one time of year to store proteins and good fats. If you are a vegetarian, it is critical that the diet is enhanced with high sources of proteins and fat during this time of year.
- SPRING: (March-June) 1/3 of year, alkaline.
In the spring, greens and sprouts fill the harvest baskets making spring a season to alkalize. The more alkaline the diet, the more efficient the body can naturally detox. Cellular metabolism and lymph flow are also supported by an alkaline diet.
- SUMMER/FALL: (July-October) 1/3 of year, alkaline.
The summer harvest is rich in fruits and veggies, which are easy to digest, cooling and very alkaline. These foods deliver high energy for the long days and short nights of summer.
Based on this concept of growing seasons, October (“Alk-tober”) is a critically important season to prepare for winter. This is the last chance to alkalize, which will:
- Pull heat out of the body to prevent winter dryness
- Detox the liver, lymph and blood
- Flush the intestinal tract
- Cleanse the inner and outer skin (the inner skin lines almost all the surfaces of the inside of the body)
- Strengthen immunity through the cold months
During the month of October especially (plus each spring and summer), look at our acidic-alkaline food list and circle all the alkaline foods that you enjoy. Make a point to eat as many of those as possible. Eat smaller portions of protein and grains, while eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Alkaline Superfoods for “Alk-tober”: