(NaturalNews) The American diet is anything but balanced. The mass consumption of meat, grains and processed foods causes the body to become overly acidic, which strips it of minerals. Over the long haul, those who do not balance their diet with alkaline foods (fruits and veggies, primarily) become prone to weak bones, joints and muscles, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and a host of other health problems. In other words, long-term health and longevity have everything to do with acid-alkaline balance.
Consider the Inuit (a.k.a., Eskimos), who do not have access to many fruits and vegetables. Their diets consist largely of seal meat, fish and whale blubber. While they eat few grains, their diet is nevertheless highly acidic. Though a sturdy bunch, with healthy hearts, their bones start breaking down prematurely. Indeed, the Inuit people have the worst longevity statistics in North America.
In contrast is Okinawa, where more people live to 100 years of age than anywhere in the world. While meat, rice, soy and seafood (highly acidic foods) are squarely in the diet, so are a vast range of different vegetables and fruits, rich in anti-oxidants, as well as minerals that counteract acidity. A wealth of fascinating anthropologic and scientific evidence exists that supports the acid-alkaline theory of health and longevity; there is much information to research this further.
The typical American diet is similar to that of the Inuit in that there is entirely too much meat and not enough alkaline vegetables to balance it. Factory farms in the US manufacture meat and animal products in unhealthy ways, leaving them loaded with toxins and inflammatory compounds. Furthermore, charring meat adds flavor, as well as cancer-causing substances.
To make matters worse, the acidity of the American diet is compounded by all the starches and sweets consumed. Many of these processed foods can be as acidic as meat, chicken, fish and seafood (colas are even more acidic), but are not nearly as full of nutrients. Acidic foods are also generally lacking in fiber, which helps control blood sugar and improves bowel health. The friendly bacteria in the gut need fiber to function. Without them, not only does the digestive system suffer, but also the immune defenses.
The problem is not so much any particular food, but rather the cumulative effect of a highly acidic diet over many decades that eats away at our health. For some, the answer is to give up meat. However, this choice is not that easy or fun, and could lead to protein, zinc, iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies. There is also nothing easy about giving up sweets and starches, as most people crave these foods, especially if there is delicious fat, salt, or caffeine in them. The food industry knows how to get us hooked, and it is not easy going cold turkey.
So, where does that leave us? What can we do to reduce the impact of an acidic diet? For one, reduce the serving sizes of the acidic foods, while increasing the amount of greens and other alkaline veggies during a meal. Think of it as a deck of cards (the acidic food serving size) surrounded by a forest of greens. This markedly reduces the total number of calories consumed, while reducing the acid impact. Eating organic foods (especially animal foods) helps, because it reduces the toxins present while increasing the nutritional content and alkaline balance. Learning about what foods are highly acidic or alkaline can help one balance the diet better.
Yet, to make it easy, here are a few highly alkaline foods that - if used liberally at breakfast, lunch and dinner - would go a long way towards improving the diet. It is as easy as sprinkling a bunch of black pepper on everything. Consider adding paprika, parsley and horseradish as well, or squeeze lemon or lime juice on fish, salads, or in your beverage. Add onions to everything. Munch on pumpkin seeds, or add them to the salad. Use sea salt (Celtic, French or Himalayan preferred) rather than regular table salt. Substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes. Use Apple cider vinegar rather than Balsamic vinegar. Choose miso soup with seaweed. Drink ginger tea, or add crushed ginger to your morning eggs and other foods. If you like radishes, eat them like candy. If you want something sweet, eat unsweetened pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, tangerines, mandarin oranges, kiwi and assorted berries. Let watermelon or vegetable juice be your summer thirst quencher. Quell a hunger with celery smeared with nut butter. Smear half of an avocado on toast, rather than margarine. Add asparagus, winter squash and chestnuts to round out the list of extreme alkaline foods.
Along with green leafy vegetables (especially collard or mustard greens, endive and kale), the foods mentioned above can make a major difference in the balance of things, and protect the bones, joints, muscles, heart, brain, liver and kidneys. Alkaline bodies are also much more resistant to infection and cancer.
As diets go, these are not boring foods by any means. Indeed, there is a great variety to choose from, and hundreds of simple recipes to play with. In addition, many other healthy and tasty foods are alkaline forming, though not with the same impact as the foods listed above. There are also alkaline mineral supplements, such as the citrates of potassium, magnesium and calcium, which can have profound effects on health and well-being.
Who knows? You may enjoy these foods and the health benefits so much you will wean off the refined grains, sodas and toxic meats - the easy way...one alkaline food at a time.
Dr. Phil Domenico is a nutritional scientist and educator with a research background in biochemistry and microbiology. Formerly an infectious disease scientist, he now works as a consultant for supplement companies and the food industry.