Welcome to "52 Weeks to a Healthier You"....

Are you thinking about making changes in your life to become a healthier person but don't quite know how to get started? Perhaps your doctor has suggested eating healthier, exercising and losing weight, but it all seems so overwhelming. Many of us already know what we should be doing, but implementing all of those pieces of information can be quite a challenge. Too often we embark on a new diet or exercise plan only to give up after a few days or weeks because it seems too difficult. Well, worry no more. You have arrived at the ideal place to help you make those changes. We are going to develop new habits, one week at a time. Health, exercise, and nutritional goals have been broken down into small, manageable steps. Each week you will add one new habit and have seven full days to perfect it before moving on to the next one. This is not a traditional diet and exercise plan, but rather a journey towards a permanent healthy lifestyle. The steps may seem small at first, but collectively they add up to major improvements in one's overall well-being. In just 52 short weeks, you will be amazed and proud of the changes you have made. You will look back and see just how far you've come on your quest to be a healthier YOU. Now, scroll down in the archives to January 2011/Week 1 and let's get started.... Then, follow each week's tip to a healthier YOU!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Week 21 - Improve Your Body's pH Level...

It is well known that an alkaline body is a healthier body.  To be alkaline means to have a healthy pH balance internally.  The ideal blood pH (potential of Hydrogen) for humans is somewhere between 7.35 and 7.45.  Many of us fall far below this healthy level and our bodies tend to be more acidic.  Acidity leads to disease, inflammation and an overall decline in health.

Our pH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. The human body strives naturally to be on the alkaline side and functions best above 7.  When our bodies are optimally alkaline, we are said to be in a state of homeostasis, or balance. Since pH affects every biochemical reaction within your body, it is important to strive for alkalinity.  These biochemical reactions include immune function, digestion, mineral absorption, hormone production, and every other metabolic process.

The foods we eat are either alkalinizing or acidifying based on the effect they have on the body after consumption.  A diet rich in fruits and dark, leafy vegetables are examples of alkaline foods, while meat and foods high in fat, starch and sugar are acidic. For a list of alkaline and acidic pH foods, click here. You may be surprised by some foods on the list which are highly acidic!  It is not necessary to avoid all acidic foods, but a good rule of thumb is to strive towards a diet containing 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods.

Today, due to soil depletion and environmental toxins, many of the foods we eat are lacking in vital nutrients and minerals so it may be necessary to supplement our diet in order to achieve this balance.  Fortunately, there are many healthy ways to do this. Natural, raw apple cider vinegar is one of easiest ways to improve alkalinity.  Although vinegar itself is acidic, natural raw apple cider vinegar has a neutralizing effect when it combines with stomach acids.  Unlike most grocery store processed vinegars" which have been pasteurized and filtered thus leaving them devoid of nutrients, natural raw apple cider vinegar is from the Mother.  The "Mother" is a ball of floating enzymes present in the vinegar which is loaded with nutrients and life-sustaining properties.  My personal favorite is Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar.  You can learn more about it here.  Raw apple cider vinegar is "cloudy" with a rich golden color. The usual dose for pH balancing is 1 Tablespoon mixed with 6-8 ounces of water, 2-3 times per day.

Baking soda is another excellent remedy for balancing pH.  It has neutralizing properties which help regulate pH -- keeping a substance neither too acidic nor too alkaline.  When baking soda comes in contact with either an acidic or an alkaline substance, its natural effect is to neutralize that pH and buffer it.  The usual dose for pH balancing is 1/2 teaspoon mixed with 4-6 ounces of water, 2-3 times per day.  Shop for organic brands that do not contain aluminum -- it should state so clearly on the label.  Aluminum is a dangerous heavy metal that is present in the environment in ever-increasing levels and has been linked to diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, autism, and ADHD.  Baking soda does contain sodium, so if you are following a sodium-restricted diet be sure to check with your doctor first.

Drinking plenty of pH-balanced water is one of the easiest ways to improve your body's alkalinity.  Unfortunately, municipal tap water isn't always alkaline.  You can check with your local water company to determine the pH level, or you can check the level yourself using pH strips (more on that below).  Water that comes from a well or natural spring or aquifer is usually more balanced.  Evian, Fiji and Essentia are brands that have optimal pH.

Now that we've learned about four easy ways to improve your alkalinity -- eating a healthy, plant-rich diet, adding raw apple cider vinegar, adding baking soda, and drinking more alkaline water -- what is the best way to find out if it's helping?  The easiest way is to purchase pH strips from your local pharmacy or an online source.  The strips are inexpensive and are the most accurate way to determine if you are achieving your goal.  They can be used to test either urine or saliva, and they include a color chart so you can see exactly what your pH level is.  It is best to take a reading before you begin your dietary changes to establish a baseline of your normal.  You can test several times throughout the day and make necessary adjustments in your regimen.

Important: Normal urine and saliva pH levels are slightly lower than blood pH, so aim for something around 6.5 for urine and 6.0 for saliva.

This week, commit to improving your pH level and begin to see and feel the improvement in your overall health!

"Man maintains his balance, poise, and sense of security only as he is moving forward."
      ~ Maxwell Maltz

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