By Naini Setalvad
The right acid-alkaline balance can determine your health and peace of mind, says Naini Setalvad
Most of us are unaware of how important it is to maintain an alkaline and acid balance, also known as pH levels. Eating the right foods, deep breathing, keeping a calm mind and a healthy environment plays a significant role in restoring and maintaining the pH levels in our body. Our body functions at optimum levels depending on the balance of alkaline and acid levels in our system. The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is and ranges from zero to 14. Seven is neutral. Below 7 becomes increasingly acidic, above 7 increasingly alkaline.
Unfortunately, today’s food messes this balance, causes stress and plays havoc with the acid-alkaline balance. A slight dip or rise can cause mayhem and have dangerous repercussions, especially an acidic state. This is one of the root causes of diseases. It takes a toll on the skin, lungs, liver, kidney, and digestive system causing constipation, allergies, inflammation, and arthritis, while multiplying cancer cells. They grow in an acidic state where the carbon dioxide in our body increases and oxygen depletes. Having said that, some parts of the body like the vagina, bowel and skin need a slightly acidic state, to keep unfriendly bacteria away. That’s why the acid-alkaline balance is vital.
Good food is the key to balance your ph levels leading to better health, energy, and stronger immune system, bringing about optimum weight and an absence of diseases. Unfortunately, we have forgotten how important it is to feed the body nourishing foods and not highly processed foods packed with chemicals, preservatives, and colours, or sugary and fried food. Smoking and alcohol too can disturb the ph levels in our body turning it acidic.
Generally speaking, our diet is protein- and grainintensive, and very low on vegetables. All we need to do is to amplify our vegetable intake and reduce the proteins and grains. It’s really easy to do the shift, and the benefits reaped are multiple. Add green juices, lemon juice, coconut water and vegetables to your diet. Partake minimally of fried food, sugared drinks, pastries, mithais, factory-farmed animals and their products, whether it is fish, chicken or dairy. Prefer fresh seasonal foods cooked in good quality fat. Of course, a balance is important in all things but it is important to tilt the balance in your favour. So feed your body seasonal alkalising fruits and vegetables. A good thumb rule to adopt in order to properly maintain this balance would be 75 per cent alkaline foods and 25 per cent acidic foods.
Serves– 4. Preparation time – 20 minutes The bright red salsa will add a dollop of nutritious fun to your meal!
200 gm tomatoes
100 gm green capsicum
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
• Boil the tomatoes, and peel the skin.
• Place two boiled tomatoes in a blender. Add red chilli powder, balsamic vinegar and salt to it and blend.
• Chop the rest of the tomatoes finely.
• Roast the capsicum directly on the flame till little blackened.
• Scrape off the skin and chop the capsicum finely.
• Add the chopped tomatoes and capsicum to the tomato pulp.
• Add the oregano and the chilli flakes to the salsa.
• Chill it and serve with quesadillas.
Serves– 3. Preparation time – 20 minutes A symphony of flavours make the corn melody an extremely popular dish.
100 gm yellow corn
100 gm French beans, boiled
100 gms carrots, finely chopped
100 gm green capsicum, finely chopped
2 tbsp grated coconut
¼ tsp green chilli paste
Salt and lemon juice to taste
Ingredients for tempering
¼ tsp rye (mustard) seeds
¼ tsp urad dal (split black gram)
5-6 curry leaves
¼ tsp hing (asafoetida)
2 tbsp til (sesame) seeds
2 tsp ghee
• Boil the carrots and French beans.
• Add ghee to a kadai (wok). Once it is heated, add rye and urad dal.
• As it starts crackling add curry leaves and hing.
• Grind the corn in a blender and add it to the kadai.
• Roast it for 5-7 minutes till the mixture starts to dry.
• Add salt, green chilli paste and roast again.
• Add coconut, lemon juice, French beans, carrots to the kadai.
• Sauté the chopped capsicum in another kadai and then add to the corn mixture.
• Cook till little moist and set it in a bowl.
• Sprinkle sesame seeds evenly over it and serve.
Mithais, Ice cream, Donuts, Cakes, Biscuits
White sugar, Brown sugar,
Raw honey, Raw sugar
Maple syrup, Rice syrup
Blackberries, Cranberries, Prunes
Plums Processed juices
Oranges, Cherries, Pineapple, Peaches, Avocados,
Melon, Grapes Papaya, Kiwi, Blueberries, Pear, Raisins, Dates, Figs
Lemon, Lime, Watermelon, Grapefruit, Mangoes
Beans, Vegetables, Legumes
Cooked spinach, Kidney beans, String beans,
Carrots, Fresh corn, Cabbage, Mushrooms,
Okra, Zucchini, Sweet Potato with skin, Tomato,
Grains and cereals
Wheat, White flour, Pasta, Noodles
White rice, Corn, Oats, Rye
Raw milk, Butter milk
Soy milk, Paneer
Simply ensure that 50 per cent of your diet is composed of vegetables and fruits as most of them are alkaline. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner must have vegetables in the form of juices, salads, soups, or cooked vegetables. One can easily add vegetables to upma, poha, uttappam, paratha, rice, pasta, or bread, by making say, a vegetable sandwich or vegetable upma. Even lentils, chicken and fish would benefit from the addition of vegetables. Consider a spinach dal or sambhar. Even a raita, or tomato onion gravy are tasty options that automatically reduce the acidic state in the body.
Instead of snacking on savoury or sweet tidbits, turn to fruits. Most fruits are alkaline. Even lemon which tastes acidic on the tongue becomes alkaline in the body. Indeed, lemon is one of your stalwart helpers in the struggle for acid-alkaline balance. Squeeze it on most foods, and benefit not only from the enhanced flavour but also from the reduced acidity. Alkaline juices like wheat grass juice, lemon water and coconut water also help maintain ph balance so imbibe them plentifully during the searing summer. No matter how careful you are about your food, stress can also tilt the acid-alkaline balance. Deep breathing, yoga, meditation, cardio exercise, social interaction and positive thoughts can help maintain the acidic-alkaline balance in your body perfectly.
Naini Setalvad is a nutritionist,
specialising in lifestyle and immunity
disorders. Her foundation, Health For
You, throws light on healthy food habits.
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