To maintain a healthy gut throughout life the balance between acidity and alkalinity is very important. Naturally, as we age, the gut becomes less effective at digesting and absorbing foods, therefore it is important to ensure gut health earlier in life to serve us well into our later years. Digestion determines energy level, physical and mental health as well as longevity.
Some foods are naturally more acid forming than others. When choosing foods it is not about how they are when uneaten, but what happens to them in the gut and whether an individual food increases alkalinity or acidity once eaten. An essential part of the digestive system are the enzymes that break down foods; amylase which breaks down carbohydrates, protease which breaks down proteins and lipase which enables the absorption of fats.
The gut is also the home to trillions of bacteria that play a vital role in how we break down nutrients, as well as having a direct link to the efficacy of our immune system. These bacteria naturally decrease as we age. Therefore, what we put into our mouths is crucial to supporting health and wellbeing of the gut, and the brain, as well as our emotional state.
To promote good bacteria in the gut and reduce gut damage minimize alcohol, fried foods, burnt foods, coffee and wheat whilst also reducing intake of sugar and refined foods as these encourage the proliferation of harmful bacteria. Some of the effects of an over acidic gut environment are:
- Skin disorders such as psoriasis
- Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, colitis, leaky gut
- Feeling bloated and full of gas, acid reflux or heart burn
Which foods increase alkalinity?
Eating a diet of fresh fibre rich fruit and vegetables will ensure a more alkaline based diet, thus leading to good gut health. There are many foods that increase alkalinity in the gut, and these should be consumed on a daily basis preferably at each meal. Some examples include:
Vegetables - Asparagus, courgette, green beans, runner beans and string beans, kale, spinach, pumpkin, onions, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, beetroot broccoli, coriander, lettuce, watercress, celery, radish, sweet potato
Fruit, Nuts and Seeds - Avocado, lemon, grapefruit, tomatoes, fresh coconut, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, almond, chia seeds.
Grasses and Herbs - Wheatgrass, barely grass, and oat grass, garlic, fresh ginger and most other herbs. All sprouted beans.
Grains and Beans - Mung beans, brown rice, spelt, amaranth, quinoa, millet, lentils, soya beans,
Water is also essential for all bodily functions and has a specific role in aiding good digestion. Drink at least 8 glasses on a daily basis, chew well and avoid eating when stressed. Starting the day before eating or drinking anything else with a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed into it is a good way to bring alkalinity to the gut at the beginning of each day.