Acidic and Alkaline Foods
Foods are rated according to the same pH scale as that used to indicate the pH level of blood and other body fluids. Foods that have a higher pH are more alkaline, while those with a lower pH are more acidic.
Fruits, vegetables, tofu, beans and some nuts and seeds are alkaline-promoting foods. Dairy, eggs, meat, most grains, processed foods, and many convenience, packaged foods tend to be more acidic.
"Eating a diet that is primarily plant-based is always recommended for overall total health and wellness," Koszyk says. "We do need protein; we just don't want to overdo it so our kidneys are taxed."
Koszyk recommends this simple formula to ensure you're eating a balanced diet: the plate should be half full of vegetables and fruit, a quarter full with a grain or starch, and the remaining quarter full of protein.
Studies have shown that some alkaline foods offer additional benefits, Koszyk says. Ginger, an alkaline spice, is also an anti-inflammatory. Multiple studies using ginger have shown it to be effective in reducing muscle pain and soreness after workouts. Capsicum, the spice found in chilies and hot peppers, also has anti-inflammatory properties, and is alkaline in nature.
These strategies can help athletes improve the alkaline-acid balance in their diets:
*Replace dairy products with soy or almond milk
*Eliminate soda, alcohol and coffee beverages
*Avoid processed convenience food
*Use whole-wheat products instead of those with white flour
*Limit consumption of animal-based proteins
These are some of the best alkaline-forming foods:
-Water-dense fruits and vegetables such as melon, cucumbers and celery
-Greens such as parsley, watercress and alfalfa sprouts
-Herbs and spices, including ginger, cayenne and garlic
-Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
While athletes need adequate protein for muscle development, maintenance and repair, Koszyk says, there are many benefits to eating a more plant-based, alkaline diet.
"I do not advocate the alkaline diet," Koszyk says. "However, I do advocate finding balance in one's food choices and not overdoing any food group or type of food. Life is always better when people eat [colorful] fruits and veggies."
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