Proponents of this diet suggest that replacing acid-forming foods with alkaline foods can improve health. They even claim that it can help fight serious diseases like cancer. There are actually quite a few people who swear by this diet and claim miraculous results. But did you know that WHEN you eat alkaline foods is the real key to maintaining good health? Also important, is the AMOUNT of alkaline foods you eat versus the amount of acidic foods.
In October, with winter just around the corner, nature is sending a strong message to alkalize now, before it’s too late.
In nature, as summer transitions into winter, every living creature is making a life changing transformation in preparation. Birds and butterflies fly thousands of miles, whales cross oceans and leaves spectacularly fall off trees.
So, what do we do? Most of us just pull out the sweaters and coats and eat the same foods we have been eating year-round for years. But if we look closely at what is harvested in nature, it’s obvious that our diet was intended to dramatically change right now.
- Roughly two-thirds of your diet should be alkaline foods (found predominantly in the spring & summer) and one-third should be acidic foods (found predominantly in the winter).
- If you eat seasonal foods, your body’s pH will naturally balance.
- October is a critically important season to prepare for winter by eating a more alkaline diet. This can help keep your immunity strong through the cold months.
- Alkaline foods support healthy and natural detox pathways in the body. (4)
Keep reading to learn how and why to alkalize!
What is the PH balance?
Each seasonal harvest strategically shifts the body’s pH. The body’s pH is closely regulated and when it drifts out of balance, so does one’s health. The pH is a measurement of the concentration of the absolute power (p) of Hydrogen ions (H), thus the abbreviation, pH.
The more hydrogen ions in food, the more acidic it is and the lower the pH. Foods below a 7 are considered acidic and foods above a 7 are considered alkaline. Alkaline foods, which include most fruits and vegetables, are considered healthier because the body cleanses or detoxifies itself better in an alkaline environment. (4) Studies done on those eating a more alkaline diet were found to:
- Benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting in older adults, as well as mitigate other chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes. (1, 2)
- Improve cardiovascular health, memory and cognition, due to the increase in growth hormone. (1)
- Increase intracellular magnesium, which is required for the function of many enzyme systems. (1) Vitamin D and magnesium work together to optimize the body’s absorption of vitamin D. (3)
Note: Acidic foods are not bad, they just need to be eaten in proper balance with alkaline foods.
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 only an alkaline diet of just fruits and veggies in a cold winter, the cleansing effect of those foods may make the squirrel freeze to death.
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.
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.
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 rice 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: 230% acidic, 70% 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 like Ayurveda, which study nature, recognize that it is nearly impossible to get same dietary nutrition each day. In nature, the nutritional cycle is an annual one. It takes 365 days and each seasonal harvest to get all our nutritional needs met.
Here’s why: (Each season represents 1/3 of the whole year.)
- Fall/Winter: high fat and protein harvest (mostly acidic).
- Spring: rich in cleansing low-fat greens (mostly alkaline).
- Summer/Fall: loaded with fruits and veggies for cool, quick energy (mostly alkaline).
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.
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. 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 in 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”:
- Veggie juice
Halloween: The Acidic Season Begins
After November 1, the rules change as the cold and dryness of winter arrive. November through March is the time to build the body’s stores of proteins and fat. These foods can help insulate the body from cold by lubricating the mucus membranes to protect against colds, constipation, dry skin and achy joints, as well as other benefits.
Note: In a perfect world, the diet would shift dramatically with each season. If you have not thoroughly alkalized in the spring and summer, the need to significantly eat more winter acidic foods will be less.
This is a gentle process. Slowly shift your diet back in alignment with nature’s nutritional plan. Be gentle with yourself and listen to your body’s comfort signals – don’t strain. I see the best success with folks who let their new desire for seasonal foods dictate the foods they eat.
Here’s my video that explains how important finding a balance between alkaline and acidic foods is along with eating seasonally:
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