- 2 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
- 500 mL (about 2 cups) water
- 1/4-1/2 tsp Himalayan or sea salt
- 1/4-1/2 squeezed lemon
Within my realm of healthcare practitioners, the terms ‘acidic’ and ‘alkaline’ are often used to replace ‘bad’ and ‘good’, respectively. Although there are many theories, all are based on food as the regulating force to keep the pH of the blood slightly alkaline. After foods are digested, they leave behind an ash, which is either acidic or basic (alkaline). Foods that leave an acid ash, proponents say, stress the body, forcing it to buffer this acidity with the minerals of the bones, causing inflammation which leads to all modern disease. Net alkaline foods, on the other hand, provide the body with that extra alkaline load that helps to cleanse and heal the body.
All foods can be classified as acid or base forming, depending on their content of certain minerals, which measure their concentration of hydrogen ions. High amounts of chlorine, phosphorus and sulphur are acid-forming while calcium, magnesium and potassium and sodium produce a post digestion alkaline ash (1). This means that foods like meats, fish, shellfish, eggs, grains and alcohol are acidifying, while most fruits and vegetables are alkaline. Pure fats, sugars and starches contain no minerals and are therefore are a neutral 7. Lists tend to vary, but a common one would look like this.
How your body actually regulates its pH
To understand the misconceptions of this diet, we have to understand the actual meaning of acid and alkaline as it relates to food and our bodies. pH is a measure of the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution. The more hydrogen ions, the higher the pH, the more basic (alkaline) the substance, and vice versa. Blood pH is regulated between 7.35-7.45 with a dance of acids and base (alkaline) accumulation and excretion. The lungs and kidneys are the primary locations of this regulation.
Blood pH is primarily controlled by the release of carbon dioxide, more specifically carbonic acid, from the lungs. After oxygen is metabolized, slightly acidic carbon dioxide is left over and is excreted into the blood, decreasing the pH of the blood. When the brain senses that the pH of the blood is too acidic due to increased amounts of carbon dioxide, it will increase the rate and depth of exhalation, allowing the body remove excess carbon dioxide and regulate blood pH (2).
Doing anything at least remotely strenuous (like opening a jar of pickles) will stimulate your body to balance your blood pH by breathing more. With an increased need for energy, your cells expel more metabolic waste in the form of (slightly acidic) carbonic acid containing carbon dioxide. Without having to think about it, you breathe more quickly and deeply to excrete carbon dioxide and prevent the blood from becoming too acidic (4).
The kidneys are the second line of defense. Acids are excreted and filtered bicarbonate is reabsorbed to buffer the acidic effect of certain foods (4). In healthy individuals, blood pH can be maintained without the need to stress the body or take minerals from the bones. Researchers have found that there is no negative effect on calcium metabolism from an acidic diet, and multiple studies have shown that bone health and calcium metabolism improved with increased intake of acidic substances like protein and phosphate (3, 5).
While pH test strips seem convincing, this becomes a moot point because while urine and saliva pH change based on the food we eat, they do not influence the pH of the blood, or even the overall body (6, 7, 8). As it becomes clear that the lungs and kidneys maintain homeostasis in people free from kidney complications, the significance of food as acidifying or alkalizing disappears.
How you can benefit from acid-alkaline recommendations
If you’ve seen improvements in your health through this diet, you’re not alone. Remember that this is a diet of balance, not completely eliminating acidic foods but focusing more on alkalizing foods. Adding in more alkalizing fruits and vegetables when you were formerly stuffing your face with acidifying chocolate chip muffins, pasta, and breaded chicken is definitely an upgrade. So-called alkaline foods contain necessary vitamins, minerals and polyphenols that your body needs to properly function, but lack the toxic oils, excess sugars, and extreme reward value that make them so easy to overeat. When you balance that with some roast beef and mashed potatoes, you have yourself a hearty meal full of balanced macro and micronutrients. While the acid-alkaline diet is misguided, the recommendation to eat more plant foods can (almost always) lead to much more vibrant health.
Balanced with macro and micronutrients, ever trendy “green smoothies” can give you a full meal without the hassle of cooking. You’ll get the bonus of stabilized blood sugar and hunger levels, so you’ll have steady energy throughout the day (and they don’t necessarily have to be green!). However, without a proper protein and fat source, these once healthy smoothies can be a one way ticket onto a blood sugar roller coaster. Following the below template will ensure that your shakes keep you full and satisfied to your next meal.
Feel free to replace 1-2 meals with a shake, while adjusting different ingredients based on your individual needs. Perhaps you’ll need to decrease the veggies and up the fruits for your kids, or increase the carbs and protein post-workout.
Step 1: Choose Your Base
Start with 1 cup of liquid. Add more or less depending on desired thickness. Go for the unsweetened versions of each.
- Dairy milk
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Coconut water
- Hemp milk
- Filtered water
- Cold herbal or green tea
Step 2: Add your veggies
Blend your liquids and your veggies until you have a juice-like consistency, then add the remaining ingredients. But not as necessary for more powerful blenders.
1-2 handfuls is a good starting point. More watery vegetables like cucumber and celery means you’ll need less liquid. Start with milder vegetables like spinach before you graduate to bitter greens like kale and chard.
You can freeze leafy vegetables and put them straight into your smoothie. Or make “kale cubes” with any veggies to speed up your shake making.
- Mixed greens
- Swiss chard
- Baby beet leaves
- Sweet potato
- Greens powder
Step 3: Mix in Your Fruit
Go for about 1-2 cups. More fruit = more sweet.
I tend to stay away from berries like raspberries and blackberries, just because I find they make shakes seedy.
Use frozen fruit instead of ice. Freeze your own to save those overripe bananas or apples on your counter.
- Banana (frozen makes it creamy!)
- Fruit powder
Step 4: Fats to keep you full
These slow the digestion of your shake and keep you full longer.
- Nut butter like almond, walnut, sunflower, pecan, cashew, coconut etc.
Or 1-2 closed handfuls of
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds (soak in water or milk prior to blending for gel-like texture)
- Hemp seeds
- Coconut flakes
Or ½ avocado
Add more for a more filling shake.
Step 6: Extras
- cocoa powder
- cacao nibs
- vanilla extract or vanilla powder
- maca powder
- vitamin C (ascorbic acid powder)
- other powdered supplements
Step 7: Add Your Protein Powder
Add 1 – 2 scoops of protein powder.
Match flavors with the rest of your smoothie. Vanilla goes well with pumpkin or sweet potato, chocolate goes well with peanut butter and cocoa powder!
Step 8: Blend It Up
Blend until smooth. If you used fresh fruit, add a few ice cubes to keep it chilly
Tip: Rushing in the morning? Put all your ingredients (except liquid!) in the blender the night before and store it in the fridge. Simply wake up, add liquid, and blend. This gives you the convenience of a pre-made shake without compromising freshness.
Loaded with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur, and trace minerals, along with essential and conditionally essential amino acids for recovery and growth. All you need is bones, water, and an acid.
- Buy bones from a butcher shop (chicken feet, marrow bones) and/or save bones from the meat that you’re eating. Simply store in the freezer as you use them.
- Once you have enough to fill your slow cooker, soup pot, etc. ¾ of the way, place bones in and cover with cold water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
- Chicken bone ratio: 3-4 lb per 4 quarts of water.
- Beef bone ratio: 7 lb bones per 4 quarts of water
- Add vegetables (carrots, celery, onions, leek), egg shells (increases calcium levels), peppercorns, and any spices you’d like
- I save the ends of vegetables and egg shells from my meals throughout the week and add them to the broth for extra flavor and minerals
- Let stand with cold water and vinegar for 30-60 minutes
- Cover and cook on low
- Chicken bones: 6-12 hours
- Mixed or beef bones: 12-24 hours
- Let cool and strain- use as a base for soups, gravies, braising meats
- Store in the fridge. Broth will gel, this is what you want! It means that your broth is high in gelatin (denatured collagen), which is essential for bone building and muscle recovery
This is extremely flexible! Ratios of bones: water: vinegar can vary. Reuse beef bones up to 3 times. Chicken bones will become brittle and break after one batch – this means that the minerals are properly extracted into your soup!
You can keep what’s called “Continuous Slow Cooker Broth” going in your house, just put all ingredients in the slow cooker and keep it on low, and add bones/vegetable ends as you use them, and replace water as you take stock out to use. Wash and start over each week.
If you want to use lemon as your acid, remove it before you turn your slow cooker on! Otherwise your soup will taste like lemon.
Remember your box of 64 Crayola crayons with the sharpener on the back? Green yellow looked like green but colored like yellow, and red orange looked like red but colored like orange. Same with brownie cake. Looks like brownies, tastes like cake. Made from plants.
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9″ square pan.
Combine the following ingredients in a food processor:
- 300 grams plantain (about 1 large)
- 300 grams Japanese sweet potato; steamed, skin removed
- 1 whole banana
- 1/2 cup butternut squash; roasted, skin removed
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup carob powder
- 1 T apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 T vanilla bean powder
- 2 t baking powder
- 1 t ground cinnamon
- 1/8 t cloves
Process until smooth. Pour into greased pan, top with carob chips/coconut flakes. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Inspired by Christina Feindel from http://www.acleanplate.com
The size of the pan is important here. Without gluten or eggs, an overly thick layer of batter has the tendency to fall/not cook through all the way. It works fairly well in a muffin tin, but don’t expect them to rise and fluff.