How To Do The Alkaline Diet

From Dr. Daryl Gioffre

As a doctor, I have always made it my mission to discover why some of my patients were so full of energy, healthy, and fit, and why others were tired all the time, sick, and overweight. There are so many different types of diets, and the problem is that they are so contradictory and confusing. Today’s superfood is tomorrow’s enemy, and this changes all the time. Is kale good for you, or really bad? What is the key factor in making you healthy or sick?

I followed the evidence and the evidence led me to acid. It didn’t matter what the condition or symptom was – people who had stubborn weight gain, constant fatigue, skin problems, reflux, joint and muscle pain, tummy trouble, insomnia, brain fog – the common denominator and the smoking gun was acid.

The alkaline diet is about balance. It is very manageable, and anyone can do it. People who I coach who have tried every other diet have success when they transition to the alkaline diet because it’s not about deprivation, it’s about moderation, and giving your body the nutrients and foods it needs to maintain a healthy pH balance. The alkaline diet is based on the scientific foundation that your body (specifically the blood) is designed to be slightly alkaline at a pH of 7.365 (scale goes from 0-14, where 0 is burning a hole through metal, 14 is pure alkaline, 7 is neutral). I want you to look at this scale as good and bad – anything below 7 is acidic and is bad for you, and anything above 7 is alkaline and good for you. Just like your body will do whatever it takes to tightly regulate your temperature at 98.6, it has elaborate control systems in place to keep your pH tightly regulated.

Certain acidic foods like sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol, soda, processed food, caffeinated drinks, artificial sweeteners, carbonated water, and even stress drive your pH down, which triggers a panic response in your body to compensate. Breathing is a perfect example of this control system in action. Your body breathes in oxygen, which is alkaline, and exhales CO2 gas, which is one of the largest acids in your body. Your body will sweat out acids and toxins through the skin, it will urinate them out as well. Your body will even use fat to buffer these acids from harming your more vital organs! When you are overweight, it is an acid problem.

Think about what acid does. Acid can burn a hole through metal, and if it can do that to metal, think about what that’s doing inside your body, to your digestive system, your joints and muscles, and your cardiovascular system. And your body will do anything to prevent that from happening. So if you’re not getting enough minerals from the foods you eat and drink to neutralize the acid in your body, it will find any alkaline mineral store that’s available. It will grab some minerals from your mouth (tooth decay), magnesium from your muscles (muscle pain and cramps), and your largest mineral bank, calcium from your bones (joint pain and osteoporosis). The pH of your blood is that important that it will let your body fall apart before it allows its pH to veer off course. This is why the alkaline diet is so important.

One of the questions I hear all the time is, if the pH of our body is always tightly regulated at a pH of 7.365, why do I need to eat alkaline? The purpose of the alkaline diet is not aimed at trying to make your body more alkaline, and this is where so much confusion lies when it comes to this lifestyle. It’s about giving your body nutrient-dense foods high in alkaline minerals like organic leafy greens and fresh vegetables, salads, low-sugar fruits, healthy fats like avocados, omega oils like chia, olive, flax, nuts, seeds, smoothies, green drinks, and healthy whole grains, so that your body doesn’t have to rob its own resources and do all of the regulating.

There are many benefits to eating an alkaline diet, but the biggest is that your body will have all of the tools it needs to maintain its healthy pH balance, and it can shift its resources to do what it was designed to do, energize and heal your body.

You can make changes now to help slow down, stop, and reverse the damages done to your health by an acidic lifestyle. It’s not about trying to be perfect, or cutting out everything you enjoy for the rest of your life! It’s not about deprivation either. It’s about adding the small things that make the biggest difference and doing them daily.

Start today with these seven simple steps to get off your acid and get alkaline.

1. Breathe. Did you know that 70% if the toxins and acids in your body are removed through you lungs? Breathe is an essential element to life, and yet today we’re using less and less of our lung capacity. Think about it – when you’re stressed is your breath deep or shallow? You’d be surprised how often we hold our breath. While sitting, breathe slowly through your nose for a count of 7, and hold your breath for a count of 7. Then for another count of 7, exhale through your mouth. Repeat this three times, and this will help calm your spirit, relax your nerves, and will reduce the acid load in your body by getting rid of all that carbon dioxide gas, one of the largest acids in your body.

2. Hydrate – and coffee doesn’t count! Drink an 8-ounce glass of water every morning with either 1 tsp. raw apple cider vinegar or the juice of half an organic lemon (both alkaline-forming to your body). Then, drink half of your body weight in ounces of water daily.

3. Go Green. A recent government survey showed that on an average day, only 6% of us eat the recommended amount of greens. One serving of AlkaMind Daily Greens equals 5 servings of organic greens, giving your 5 servings of greens that your body needs every day – but you still need to eat your veggies!

4. Alkaline Minerals. The fastest way to alkalize your body is by increasing your dietary intake of minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium bicarbonate. Acid drains our bodies of magnesium, which interrupts our enzyme function causing muscle cramps, spasm, and muscle pain. Worst of all, it has been estimated that a modern acid diet robs our skeleton of almost half its calcium over 20 years.

5. Drink Smoothies. Having a fresh, organic, green smoothie daily is an awesome way to pack nutrient-dense alkaline superfoods into your body. Always go with a green like spinach or kale as your foundation, a small amount of fruit (banana or berries) and some healthy fats to slow the metabolization of any sugars in the fruit like coconut oil, raw almond butter, or chia seeds. My favorite liquids are coconut water, coconut milk, and almond milk.

6. Exercise for 20 minutes every day. Sweating will help your body release the toxins and acids that have built up over time, even exercise as simple as a brisk walk.

7. Go 80/20. In other words, eat 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods. To be successful with this lifestyle you have to enjoy the process. It’s not about deprivation, its moderation. So as long as you are maintaining the 80/20 rule you can still enjoy the foods you love.

SWAP THIS FOR THAT!

When you are looking to transition to the alkaline lifestyle and take your health and energy to the next level, sometimes it requires just some small tweaks, swaps, and substitutions. Knowing what some of these ‘smart alkaline substitutions’ are will help you look better, feel better and slim down, too! Here is my list of the most important swaps you need to know about.

Swap this out:

White Rice

Milk

Canola Oil

Pasta

Balsamic Vinegar

Coffee

Milk Chocolate

Table Salt

Margarine

Soy Sauce

Sugar

Peanuts

Bottled/Tap Water

Fruit Juice

Granola

Better Choice:

Brown Rice

Soy Mik

Vegetable Oil

Gluten-Free Pasta

Apple Cider Vinegar

Green Tea

Dark Chocolate

Sea Salt/Kosher Salt

Butter

Wheat Free Tamari

Brown Sugar

Cashews

Filtered Water

Freshly Squeezed Fruit Juice

Oatmeal

Best Choice:

Quinoa

Almond/Coconut Milk

Coconut/Olive Oils

Spelt Pasta/Zucchini Noodles

Lemon & Olive Oil

Herbal Tea

Raw Cacao

Celtic Grey/Himalayan Sea Salt

Avocado/Coconut Butter

Coconut Aminos/Braggs Liquid Aminos

Coconut Sugar/Stevia

Raw Almonds

Alkaline Water/Water with Lemon

Cold-Pressed Green Juice

Gluten-Free Oats/Quinoa

There are certain questions you should always be asking yourself before eating something – Is this food I am eating going to cleanse me, or is this going to clog me? Is this going to alkalize me, or acidify me? Is this going to make me feel better two hours later, or worse? And the best part is you are in total control of the outcome!

EATING OUT

Some of the most common questions I get, especially in NYC where we are surrounded by so many restaurants, is what should I do when I eat out to maintain an alkaline lifestyle? Here are some of my favorite eating-out tips to keep you on track without getting rid of the foods you love…

Slow down and chew your food. Digestion begins in the mouth, so make sure you chew your food and help your digestive system out. It takes your brain 15 minutes to catch up to your digestive system, so if you eat too fast, it will be too late before your brain lets you know that you are full.

Drink Water. Avoid soda, carbonated beverages, and alcohol when possible. Have a glass of water instead and always add a lemon or lime wedge. While they are both a citric acid, they are very alkaline-forming inside your body. If you are going to indulge and have a soda or an alcoholic beverage, have an extra glass of water with lemon beforehand and be sure to have a glass of AlkaMind Daily Minerals before bed to neutralize all that acid.

Avoid the basket of bread all together. Out of sight, out of mind! If it’s not in front of you, you will be less inclined to go on auto-pilot while waiting for your meal.

Go green. Whether at home or out, I love salads. They are high water content greens that give you an alkaline edge, and it will also help to fill you up faster.

On the side, please. Ask for all dressings and condiments on the side, as most are highly acidic, and you want to have control over how much you use, if any. Better yet, ask for some extra virgin olive oil and lemon slices on the side and make your own dressing.

Stay away from table salt. Over 77% of our sodium intake comes from restaurant and processed foods, so avoid it, and you can even bring your own like I do!

Consider Apps and Sides. Instead of a full entrée, try two appetizers or even look at the side dishes and put them together as nice meal with an alkalizing soup, or have a side dish of steamed or sautéed veggies, quinoa, or brown rice. Most importantly if you are going to have meat or fish, you want the portion size to be the side show and not the main event.

Ask your waiter. Now that you have a good swap this for that list, put it to good use and don’t be afraid to ask your waiter to substitute an ingredient.

Avoid fried. Instead, go for steamed, sautéed, grilled, roasted, broiled, dehydrated, or baked.

Dessert – sharing is caring. Instead of everyone ordering their own dessert, order one for the table and share. Use my good – better – best philosophy when it comes to making your dessert choices. While it’s not the best choice to have some fresh fruit after a meal, it’s a much better choice than the molten-lava chocolate cake. The best option, however, is to skip desert all together.

In summary, the aim of the alkaline diet and lifestyle is not to make you more alkaline. Its purpose is to minimize the acid load on your body so that your body doesn’t have to do all of the regulating. When your body requires little effort and energy to maintain its tightly regulated pH of 7.365, it can stop reacting, and in its place, turn its resources to do what it was designed to do – energize and heal your body. When you get off your acid, your energy goes to an entirely new level you haven’t experienced in years, your skin begins to glow, you sleep better, your digestion improves, and those stubborn extra pounds literally melt off your body!

I can’t say it enough; being healthy is not about trying to be perfect, or cutting out everything you enjoy for the rest of your life! It’s about progress, no matter how big or small the steps.

Learn more about Dr. Daryl and the alkaline diet here.

Check out our guide to the Paleo Diet. You can also learn about Clean Eating with Candice Kumai. Also read about how to incorporate more probiotics into your diet.