WAC Magazine

October 2012

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" "Research shows that diets rich in potassium reduce the acid load on the body and help preserve muscle mass in older men and women." IDEAS FOR INCREASING ALKALIZERS IN YOUR DIET When we eat acid-forming foods in excess, our bodies work to maintain their preferred alkaline state. Our kidneys, intestines and bones help regulate our calcium, phosphorus and magnesium levels, which largely dictate our acid-alkaline balance. THE IMPORTANCE OF POTASSIUM The argument against high-acid diets—which most Americans consume by failing to eat adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables—is that through time the body breaks down bone and muscle to buffer acid. Does this really happen? Well, to maintain a blood pH of 7.4 the body may draw calcium from bones to buffer excess acidity. Through time, this could weaken bones and increase the risk of osteoporosis. An acidic diet, however, is not the only contributing factor to osteoporosis, which is also affected by exercise levels, vitamin D production and hormone status. It is also known that muscles can be broken down to produce ammonia, which is • Add lemon to your water. A weak acid, lemon actually alkalizes once in the body. • Go green. Greens give you the most bang for the buck. Think parsley, seaweeds, kale, celery and spinach. • Add a green drink. Check out PaleoGreens in the Wellness Center. It's a concentrated green drink that tastes great. One serving has the equivalent antioxidant capacity of four servings of fruits and vegetables. • Use apple cider vinegar, an alkalizing food, when making salad dressings. • Opt for ginger tea over coffee. strongly alkaline. Research shows that diets rich in potassium reduce the acid load on the body and help preserve muscle mass in older men and women. Potassium happens to be an alkaline-forming mineral found in high amounts in vegetables and fruits. At the same time, you need protein-rich foods to provide the raw material to build and maintain muscle. So our bodies need both—lean proteins, which provide amino acids, and a healthy dose of fruits and veggies, which provide potassium. By now you may be thinking you need to avoid all acid-forming foods. Don't. The key to good health is balance. Western diets center on grains and protein but are largely devoid of alkalizing foods. So to some degree, it's not that we overeat high-acid foods, but rather that we're deficient in alkalizing foods. Humans evolved on a diet that provided more potassium than sodium. Some estimate that before modern food production we ate 10 times more potassium than sodium. It's now estimated that we eat three times as much sodium as potassium. Because potassium acts as a natural alkalizing agent, this swings the balance big time. BALANCE MATTERS Although sodium has become the recent bad guy in the nutrition world, eating excess sodium should be looked at in conjunction with low potassium intake. Many of the negative effects of excess sodium can be traced to insufficient potassium. Also, salt in the American diet comes primarily in the form of sodium chloride. Chloride is very acid-yielding. So all that added salt in processed foods is not only devoid of potassium but also high in chloride—a double whammy for acidifying the body. Again, it all comes down to balance. Eating strictly alkaline foods could potentially • Make sure at least half your dinner plate contains vegetables. Also, remember to stop by the nutrition booth at the Wellness Fair on Monday, October 29, where you can sample PaleoGreens and PaleoReds, two alkalizing drinks that can help you improve your diet by upping your fruit and veggie intake. over-restrict healthy-protein foods, such as fish and chicken, and healthy sources of dairy, like yogurt. Most people, however, could work on upping the alkalizing foods in their diet. A recent survey showed that only 11 percent of adult Americans met minimal daily intake goals for fruits and vegetables—which is two or more servings of fruit per day and three or more servings of vegetables per day. Do your body a favor and focus on adding alkalizing foods to your diet. Aim to pump up your fruit and vegetable intake to nine servings per day while keeping your intake of acidifying foods on the moderate side, especially the processed kind. Shana Hopkins is a certified nutritionist and holds a Master of Science. She can be reached at 206.839.4782 or shopkins@wac.net. OCTOBER 2012 | Washington Athletic Club Magazine | 23

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