Weight gain, bloat, fatigue, headaches, indigestion… For as many as 90 percent of women, these troublesome symptoms are caused by a little-known but easily remedied condition called acid overload, says Robert O. Young, PhD, co-author of The pH Miracle. This acid overload is the result of diets high in acid-forming foods like sugar, white flour, meat and prepackaged fare. The process of neutralizing those acids stresses the body, leading to fatigue, anxiety, and joint pain.
All that acid damages glands: “Acidity can impair the thyroid,” Cook says. “And acid depletes the pancreas, which regulates blood sugar. The blood-sugar swings that result make it easier to gain weight, and harder to lose it.” As the toxic effects of acid continue to stress the body, symptoms such as tiredness, anxiety, headaches, and joint pain set in.
Compounding the problem: 90 percent of women are chronically dehydrated, and that adds to an overly acidic pH. As Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, author of Weekend Wonder Detox (Buy on Amazon, $6.27), explains: “Not drinking enough water hinders the kidneys’ ability to flush excess toxins.”
Blood tests are available, but they’re not the best marker of acidity, says Dr. Katz. Instead, Cook suggests testing your saliva weekly with pH paper. Test when you wake up or at least an hour after eating or drinking. Says Cook, “You want your pH to be between 7.2 and 7.5.”
The good news is that you can overcome acid overload naturally. What’s more, “every single function of your body will improve when you give it the alkaline diet it needs,” Cook affirms. “The liver is freed up to burn fat, the thyroid functions properly so metabolism revs and the pancreas is able to regulate blood sugar.” In addition to losing up to 11 pounds in one week, women report sunnier moods, more energy and less aches within days. Cook has even seen people cured of fibromyalgia within one month of going alkaline.
Feel Better Fast
Eat alkaline foods. Aim to fill 70 percent of your daily diet with nutrient-rich, alkalinizing foods. Top choices include all veggies; citrus fruits; tomatoes; avocados; edamame; lima and navy beans; raw almonds; quinoa; spelt; buckwheat; olive, flaxseed and coconut oil; coconut milk and almond milk. Cook suggests using coconut or almond milk instead of cow’s milk in your cereal and when cooking, subbing in alkalinizing grains like quinoa and millet for white rice and potatoes, and preparing sautéed veggies or stir-frys with coconut oil instead of butter. You’ll round out the other 30 percent of your meals with what Cook calls “wise acid” foods: organic beef; eggs and poultry; wild-caught fish; black beans; chickpeas; kidney beans; pecans; Brazil nuts; hazelnuts; brown rice; honey; maple syrup; cocoa powder; black and green tea and fruits. Cook explains, “Wise-acid foods like fruits are acid-forming to your body, but since they have so many phytonutrients and minerals that rebuild the body and give the body energy, they are fine in moderation.”
Supercharge your salad. One of the easiest ways to get in your alkalinizing greens is enjoying a salad at lunch. Try Cook’s “signature salad,” which has the perfect ratio of alkaline-to-acid ingredients: Toss together 1/2 grated carrot, 1/2 grated beet, 1/4 grated cucumber, one cup bean sprouts, 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves, 1/2 sliced avocado, the juice of 1/4 grapefruit, one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and six ounce skinless chicken breast or wild salmon. Or for a super-fast, super-alkalinizing salad, combine 1/2 cucumber (sliced into spears), one tablespoon fresh lime juice and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt; let marinate for five to 10 minutes, then serve as a side or atop mixed greens.
Try a supplement. A pill that combines calcium, magnesium and vitamin D like Nature’s Way Calcium Mag & D Complex, (Buy at VitaminShoppe.com, $11.99) will help your body detox the acids from your system. Notes Cook, “The alkalinizing properties of the calcium and magnesium will help restore the body’s pH balance while vitamin D ensures these minerals are properly absorbed.” Also helpful: supplementing with 500 to 2,000 mg of L-carnitine. “Carnitine is a nutrient that’s the ultimate alchemist in your body — it actually burns fat to make you have more energy. And who doesn’t want more energy and to burn fat at the same time?” says Cook. She advises starting with 500 mg daily, then increasing by 500-mg increments until you feel more energized or you reach 2,000 mg. One to try: Nature’s Bounty L-Carnitine (Buy on Amazon, $11.93).
Swap out your water. Sipping alkaline water with a pH of eight or nine, which can improve toxin removal. Since most tap water and bottled waters are acidifying, try adding the juice of half a lemon to eight ounces of water. Citrus has an alkalinizing effect on the body that improves hydration and revs energy.
Take deep breaths. “Oxygen is alkalinizing to the body, so the deeper we breathe, the better we are keeping that pH balance,” says Cook. “Oxygen feeds all our cells, but most people hold their breath without realizing it.” For an alkalinizing boost, pause once every few hours to take a deep breath, feeling your lungs expand as you inhale through your mouth for five seconds, then exhale through your nose for another five seconds. Continue for one minute.
Note: As always, check with your doctor before making changes to your diet. This is especially important for people with kidney problems who are considering using alkalizers that contain potassium.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Cure Your Tiredness.
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