Hello everyone and welcome to my first in a series of health and wellness posts! My name is Amy Field and I am a practiced nutritionist and fitness specialist. Over the next series of articles, I will cover everything from how to incorporate healthy foods into your daily life to offering insight into the latest fitness trends to providing tools for a healthy mindset. Basically, I want to introduce you to the different modalities for overall wellness, especially as we move into the warmer months.
Spring is peeking around the corner. It’s now time to step out of our winter routines, or more aptly hibernation, and step into the healthiest versions of ourselves. What does this mean for YOU and how do you get there?
Proper nutrition, fitness, motivation, mind and body, breath work, and tips for reducing stress will help jump start your spring and provide you with fun new ideas to shakeup your overall health!
So, where do we begin? Let’s start from the inside out!
The Importance of pH Balance – An Alkaline Body
During the winter months our bodies crave warmth, and so we are often drawn inward and towards comfort foods. But, these foods are often heavy and acidic, which leaves the body more vulnerable to disease and colds. Let me just say upfront, I don’t believe in diets. I don’t believe in depriving our bodies of what we love. I believe in balance. REAL foods (not processed) and an active lifestyle that is realistic and sustainable allow us to be the healthiest version of ourselves. Keep in mind, everyone and every BODY is different. Finding out what works best for you and getting in touch with your mind and body and FEELING is the key. Yes, it is time to tune in to you!
Even the smallest changes in your routine can have a big impact on your health. The place I like to start with all of my clients is to alkalize the body. What does this mean? Alkaline represents the pH levels of our blood. Low-grade pH imbalances can be a result of the standard American diet, which is high in refined carbohydrates and meat.
Optimum pH for human blood is around 7.0. If you are curious about where your level is, your doctor can easily give a basic blood test during your annual physical. Or, just head to your local drugstore or online retailer and buy a pack of pH test strips. (These are not quite as accurate, but provide a general idea).
You can test your pH levels anytime during the day; but, I recommend doing so at the same time every morning. Your body will tend to be more acidic the earlier you measure. Urine, saliva and blood pH are all different. (I won’t go into scientific details of the differences, but please feel free to ask questions in the comment section.)
pH is an important indicator when dealing with disease states. The goal is to get your morning urine pH between 6.5 and 7.5. But, don’t worry if your “number” is off slightly. Don’t forget, every BODY is different!
Once you have an understanding of where your number is, use this information to help choose more alkaline foods.
So, what is a more alkaline diet anyway? Well, it includes fruits and vegetables like raw broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, grapes, melons, bananas and avocados among many others. Most foods become more acidic when cooked, which is why I mention “raw”. But that doesn’t mean go throw away your stir fry pan. A veggie dish is always a great option!
The easiest and fastest way to alkaline our body is to start with these two simple steps.
STEP ONE: Drink Lemon Water
Most of my clients have been listening to me say this for years; trust me, it really works!
- Squeeze one fresh lemon in 10-12 ounces of water two times per day to start and then once a day. This will make a big difference!
- Placing sliced lemons is not sufficient. You actually need to squeeze out the juice.
- Contrary to what you may have heard (or read) it does not have to be warm water. The bottom line is just to consume the lemon water in any way that works for you. However, warm water will enhance the diuretic properties, and is less shocking on your body if consumed first thing in the morning. Cold water will give you more hydration.
- Lemon water will help flush out the toxins in your body by enhancing enzyme function, stimulating your liver and alkalizing your body.
- Individuals presenting with a disease state, inflammatory condition, or skin issues, will greatly benefit from this easy addition to their morning routine. Lemon water decreases the acidity in your body, which is where disease states occur. It also removes uric acid in your joints, which is one of the main causes of inflammation.
- This simple tip helps hydrate the body for those of you who “forget” to drink enough water every day… bonus! (Just remember to drink it cold for hydration.)
While our body’s pH balance is crucial to staying optimally healthy, eating alkaline foods is not the cure-all or the only way to regulate blood pH.
STEP TWO: Breathe!
And you thought lemon water was easy? Try breathing!
This second step in assisting pH balance and alkalizing your body is actually not about food at all! It has to do with the alkalizing power of deep breathing and the important role your breath and breathing properly has on your body. Along with food, proper breathing is of great importance to your overall health.
- By proper breathing I mean deep, cleansing breaths that are not too shallow or too fast. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is the medicine to a healthy pH balance. Breathing exercises like pranayama, or “yoga breathing” (which we will detail more in future posts) can have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood, or changing blood pressure.
- When you breathe deeply, you not only work to alkalize your body directly by increasing oxygen intake, relieving stress, and cleansing your body of toxins, you also work indirectly to alkalize your body by improving digestion!
- Deep and well-paced breaths are important. Breathing too rapidly can cause an imbalanced pH condition by stimulating the nervous system to release too many stress hormones, causing an overactive stress response.
- On the other hand, shallow breaths can also cause an imbalance by leaving the body oxygen deprived and leaving excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the blood, leading to an overly acidic state.
- Studies show that deep diaphragmatic breathing can positively affect immune function, hypertension, asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological and stress-related disorders.
So, start your journey to better health by incorporating these two simple steps into your daily life for the next couple of weeks. Let me know how you feel and please ask questions and leave comments!
Up next? We’ll look at fighting inflammation through certain foods and exercise. Until then, make a splash!
Amy is a private Nutrition counselor with a masters degree in Nutrition and Health sciences, and also teaches Juicing workshops. She is certified by the World Paddling Association as an instructor, a Paddle Into Fitness Ambassador and paddle board yoga instructor and is considered among the elite within her field.