Monday, January 6, 2014

Utterly pH-antastic

Today's blog topic is going to be about a book that I have recently read in my endeavors to learn more about the alkaline/ayurvedic way of life.  The book I have finished reading is called: Joshi's Alkaline Diet and I picked it up at Chapters in Winnipeg.  While the book itself is a diet programme for 21 days to detox the liver, I pursued the task of reading it in an effort to further my understanding of how certain foods/activities will affect way our bodies function.

The book starts off explaining the importance of the liver and its role in our digestive health.  For those of you that are already educated in this department, feel free to skip ahead but for those of you that aren't, I am going to attempt to put it in "real people" language to help you understand how our liver works and how we are helping/hindering its productivity.  As we all know, the liver is the filter of our system which I spoke about during my learning talk on the cruise, but the cool thing is that everybody's liver digests food differently depending on where they live, what the eat, and what their family members ate before them.  Essentially, our bodies have adapted to processing certain types of food and in the book, Joshi uses the example of how the Japanese are much more capable of digesting raw fish/seafood, but not meat protein, because their diet is and always has been primarily vegetables and seafood.  The Western countries, however, are taking advantage of this fact and we are continually loading up our liver with fatty foods full of chemicals and these things are not capable of being processed and thus, produce tons of toxins which in turn create fat!  Yay.

The thing is, we need to give our livers a break, but unfortunately for most, this is something that they are not willing to do.  Nobody wants to sacrifice the deliciousness that is pizza, pop, beer, or cigarettes.  Every time I mention to someone about my lifestyle change to eating cleaner or healthier, I am always met with a defensive: "I don't think you should restrict yourself from all the good things.  Life is for living!"  Like, what I am doing is a bad thing.  Little do those people know, their life will be cut short as a result of wanting to eat "all good things."  The other unfortunate thing about people who feel that eating "healthy" is restrictive, is that they are addicted without even knowing it.  The dyes, the sugars, the salt, etc. are all designed to keep us coming back for more because it is a quick fix and eventually our bodies require it.

Another problem our poor livers face is that a lot of the chemicals that we take in will not dissolve in water and therefore will not be able to break down.  Because of this, they are then sent to the fat stores where they will not be used up until the body requires them for energy.  Unfortunately, however, those types of food make us lethargic and therefore we do not do the exercise required to need the energy and therefore those fat stores get more and more swollen.  Our lack of physical activity plus the toxic foods create puffy cells, which in turn make us squishy and fat.

In an effort to make our lives more efficient, we are creating more lifestyle products that add more chemicals to our air, our water, our homes, and our food.  At what point will we determine that our health is worth more than our convenience?

The book, obviously, goes into much more detail about specific food items, specific chemicals, etc. but I don't think its necessary for this post.  If are interested in knowing more, definitely let me know in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer you!

The next section of the book talks about the Top Ten Detox Rules which I have posted below.  It is pretty self explanatory and the general rules that we should all be following.

In an effort to determine how alkaline/acidic your body is, they suggest getting pH test strips and testing your saliva.  I picked some up in the fish aisle at Wal-Mart.  As I go through changing my diet in a more alkaline direction, I will be checking my pH balance on a weekly basis. (We all know I like to do things in the name of science!)  I checked online and apparently I am capable of using the same test strips as for aquariums.  The foamy bit that tests the pH balance is the one lowest on the strip (dark orange in the middle picture), after adding my saliva to it for about 30 seconds, it turned an even lesser color of orange, which doesn't even have a color on the chart, leaving me to believe that I am further in the acidic range than a pH of 6.2.  My goal, then, will be to get it over 7!

The important thing when determining which foods are alkaline and which are acidic, we need to examine the fact that there are 2 different types of acidic and alkaline foods.

"The first are those that actually contain acids or alkalis (soluble salts).  The second group consists of acid or alkaline-forming foods.  This term refers to what happens after these foods have been combined with digestive juices in the body...It is the alkaline-forming foods that are the most relevent to the job of changing the body's pH to its slightly alkaline 'neutral'." 

 For example, we think of a lemon as an extremely acidic fruit, however it turns alkaline when its combined with the digestive juices in the body.  Neat, right?  In the book, Joshi lists the acid-forming foods and the alkaline-forming foods and I have included a few examples below for you:

Now, I am not going to bore you with the fact that junk food is bad for you because, well, we all know it.  We know why processed food and refined sugars wreck havoc on our bodies, BUT what I didn't know was the exact reason why coffee was bad for you.  This book cleared it up for me.  I assumed it was because it was acidic, but that is not the only reason!  Caffeine affects our natural stimulants, like the thyroid and adrenal glands, by making them useless and lazy.  They are not required when we drink coffee and therefore, they stop working properly and as a result slow down our metabolism.  Now that I know this, I am definitely cutting back on the coffee consumption.  Perhaps 1/week.  I don't need it in my life, I just enjoy the process and smell.

Another section of the book focuses on the good habits to get into and I believe that these are habits that should be applied to anyone, regardless of their diet plan/health goals, etc.  I have created a small image below providing you with these basic habits that are easy to remember:

There is also a whole chapter dedicate to talking about water and its importance in any detox effort.  Of course, we all know, that in order to get rid of anything in our system we have to eliminate it and that can be done through perspiration, respiration, urination, or elimination (pooping :P).  We all have been told over and over again to drink at least 2L of water or half your body weight in ounces of water....but while the quantity is important, the quality is also a huge factor in how our bodies will remove the toxins.  It does us no good to remove the toxins from our body with toxic water, so it is important to utilize a filtering system and drink hard water whenever possible.  Tossing a lemon into your tap water will make it alkaline, but drinking filtered water is your best bet.

In the book, he also recommends juicing and lists a bunch of different juice mixtures to heal certain ailments.  I created a lovely little chart to help you out if you are just getting into juicing OR you experience any of the below!  Try it out!

Once Joshi is done talking about foods and their effects on the body, he then talks about ways to diagnose general conditions with non-invasive methods.  The method that he mentions first is that of the tongue analysis and now when I think of it, when I went to the naturopath, she asked me to stick out my tongue and commented on the color and texture of it.  Now I know why.  Below are the different types of tongue descriptions, grab a mirror and stick your tongue out:

Then we get into the good stuff, the section titled The Ayurvedic Way.  I was so excited when I saw this part because when I purchased the book I had no idea this was going to be mentioned, but if you recall my post from the cruise, I had mentioned that I thought they were both linked.  It appears I was right!  And you all know, I love to be right.

So essentially the body is broken up into 3 doshas:

"According to the Ayurvedic principle our health and wellbeing are findamentally dependent on the balance of these three doshas.  All three doshas are present through the body but each one is predominant in different places and therefore they perform different, specific, functions."  

The nifty thing is that everyone has all 3 doshas, but it is the proportion that will vary according to an individual.  Our diet, environment, and lifestyle are the 3 things that impact our proportions, so while you are responsible for your current (probably imbalanced, if you are like me) doshas, you also have the ability to straighten them out to achieve your optimal health!  As Joshi states, "When you have achieved balance between the three doshas you will experience health on all levels: mental, physical, and spiritual.  This is what makes Ayurveda so special: it maximises the body's full potential, taking it to new heights of well being.  It is about so much more than the mere prevention and absence of disease."

(photo courtesy of

Joshi then provides his readers with a self-diagnosis chart, which will help determine dosha balance.  While it is not concrete, it gives a general idea of how to change your lifestyle.  If you are interested in receiving this self diagnosis chart, then click this link. Once you have opened the link, save a copy of the file and then you can enter in your answers in the far right column and it will tally your results at the bottom, letting you know the proportions of doshas in your body. After you have determined your predominant dosha, click on the links below to find out more about your particular metabolic dosha.  Once you are able to understand your metabolic type you can then move on to consider the best way to balance it.


At the end of the book, Joshi then goes through various complimentary therapies which can help the body such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, and meditation.  All of these things, if you notice are meant to slow you down and clear your mind, which I always think is the key to achieving the best health possible.

(photocourtesy of

Lastly, Joshi lists a few alkaline recipes at the back of his book.  Once I get back to Winnipeg (January 13) I will be creating them and then posting the recipes, so keep coming back for those!

If the above information has caused you to be interested in learning more about the alkaline diet, I would suggest picking up the book.  Like, I said you can get it from Chapters, but can also get it online!  It is a quick read and pretty easy to get through!  Perhaps, I will even do a giveaway in the next few weeks to give my copy away!

No comments:

Post a Comment