We are now discovering that the typical Western lifestyle of high stress levels, low levels of exercise, and an unhealthy diet of consuming too many of the wrong things, actually affects the pH balance of our bodies, making them more acidic then they should be.
It is now known that our typical lifestyle and diet pushes our bodies onto the acidic side of the pH balance, and this is one of the main causes for common diseases and illnesses present in the Western world. Problems such as high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, cancer, obesity, low energy levels, fatigue, digestive issues and inflammatory problems are now thought to be heavily influenced by pH. For optimal health, we want to balance our pH and bring us closer towards alkalinity, which is determined by the amount of alkaline minerals present within us. We can achieve this by eating foods that are high in alkaline minerals, primarily green and leafy vegetables, or through mineral supplementation (although proper diet is recommended over supplementation).
Lets take a look at which minerals are the primary alkaline minerals and which foods we can find them in:
1. MagnesiumWhat is it?
Magnesium is a mineral found in a wide variety of foods but inside of our bodies magnesium is mostly found in our bones (60-65%), in our muscles (25%) and the rest is found in other cell types and body fluids. Like all minerals, magnesium cannot be made in our body, which is why we need to take it in through magnesium-rich foods.What does it do?
Magnesium is essential to numerous biological processes in the body. It is important in maintaining a healthy heart, by stabilizing the rhythm of the heart and helps prevent abnormal blood clotting in the heart, maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, lowers the chances of heart attacks and strokes, and helps to maintain proper muscle function.
Magnesium helps in the absorption of calcium, and plays a central role in the formation and strength of bones and teeth. As well, it helps make sure that the parathyroid glands work normally; the parathyroid glands produce hormones important for bone health.
On top of this, magnesium also helps to turn the food we eat into energy for our bodies. The metabolic function of magnesium is so complex and diverse, that our cardiovascular system, digestive system, nervous system, hormone-secreting glands, muscles, kidneys, liver, and brain all rely on it for their own metabolic function.Where do we find Magnesium?
Spinach and Swiss chard are the foods containing the highest levels of magnesium, but other good sources are turnip greens, mustard greens, broccoli, summer squash, cucumber, celery, green beans, kale, fennel, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, tomato, peppermint and in some seeds like pumpkin-, sesame-, sunflower-, and flax seeds.
2. CalciumWhat is it?
Calcium accounts for about 1.5% of total body weight, which makes it the most abundant mineral in the human body. Approximately 99% of the body’s calcium is found in the bones and teeth and the remaining 1% supports other bodily functions.What does it do?
On top of the obvious function of supporting the growth of strong bones and teeth, calcium regulates muscle contraction, ensures regular blood clotting, and plays a central role in nerve conduction, cell membrane function and regulation of enzyme activity. As well, there is evidence that calcium may even help to lower high blood pressure and protect against colon and breast cancer, although more evidence is needed to support these claims.Where do we find Calcium?
The best food sources of calcium are spinach, collard–, mustard- and turnip greens as well as kale, Swiss chard, goat’s milk and some herbs and spices such as basil, thyme, dill seed, cinnamon and peppermint leaves.
Other good sources are celery, broccoli, summer squash, green beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, fennel, sesame seeds, romaine lettuce, garlic, asparagus and herbs like rosemary, parsley, oregano, and kelp.
3. PotassiumWhat is it?
Potassium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body and about 95% of potassium in the body is stored in the cells. Together with sodium and chloride, potassium finishes the electrolyte family of minerals, which are so called because of the way they conduct electricity when dissolved in water.What does it do?
The most important function potassium serves in the body is as an electrolyte. When dissolved in water, it can take on a positive or negative charge, which helps with muscle contractions and nerve transmission, helps to regulate blood pressure, and generally keeps most of our bodily functions working properly.Where do we find it?
Great sources of Potassium include spinach and chard, fennel, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, broccoli, kale, winter squash, eggplant and tomatoes. As well, ginger root, avocado, parsley, cucumber, bell pepper, cauliflower and cabbage are also good sources of potassium.
4. IronWhat is it?
Iron is one of the most abundant metals on earth and is an important component in many enzymes and proteins that are vital to the health and function of the human body. Dietary iron comes in two forms: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found only in animal foods, as it is derived from the hemoglobin and myoglobin in animal tissues. Non-heme iron is found in plant foods and dairy products. Iron deficiency is the most prevalent mineral-based nutritional deficiency worldwide, which is why the intake of iron-rich foods is vital in maintaining good health.What does it do?
The majority of the body’s iron is found in hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells which carries oxygen around the body, and some is found in myoglobin, a protein that helps supply oxygen to muscle cells. Iron also plays a vital role in energy production as it is a component of several important enzymes, it aids in the production of carnitine, and our immune system is dependent on iron supplies for proper function.Where do we find it?
The foods containing the highest amounts of iron include spinach, chard, thyme, and turmeric, string beans, romaine lettuce, mustard greens and turnip greens, as well as Brussels sprouts, lentils, garbanzo beans, asparagus, broccoli, kelp and leeks.
5. ManganeseWhat is it?
Manganese is a trace metal, which is essential to many enzymatic processes in the body.What does it do?
Most importantly, manganese supplies alkaline buffers that neutralize acids in the system. Manganese can help maintain strong and healthy bones, normalize blood sugar levels, maintain the health and function of our nerves and protect our cells from free radical damage.Where do we find it?
The highest levels of manganese can be found in foods such as chard, kale, spinach, green beans, mustard greens, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, collard greens, garbanzo beans, garlic, summer squash, brown rice, ground cloves, thyme, cinnamon, peppermint and turmeric. Broccoli, leeks, cucumber, carrots and black beans are also good sources.
Now that you know which minerals have the biggest alkalizing effect on your body, and which foods to find them in, you might also be interested in knowing how these minerals actually influence your pH balance. It all comes down to ash. Through the metabolization process, the food you eat is burned down and forms a sort of ash that’s mixed with water. This ash can be neutral, acidic or alkaline, depending on the mineral content of the food it came from. Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Manganese and Iron, being the primary alkaline minerals, form basic ash because they are alkaline in their elements. Therefore, in order to keep our body in an alkaline state, we specifically need to include those foods in our diet that are extremely rich in these primary alkaline minerals.
After reading about the top alkaline minerals found in foods, you should have noticed a pattern: foods such as spinach, chard, kale, Brussels sprouts, beans, broccoli, fennel, cucumber, asparagus and turmeric appear in more than one food list, which shows that they, in particular, are all excellent for maintaining good health, and are very good sources of the primary alkaline minerals.
We wish you well in your quest for optimal pH balance.