With winter just around the corner, nature is sending a strong message to alkalize now, before it’s too late.
In nature, as summer transitions into winter, every living creature is making a life-changing transformation in preparation. Birds and butterflies fly thousands of miles, whales cross oceans and leaves spectacularly fall off trees.
So, what do humans do? Most of us just pull out the sweaters, coats and scarfs, and eat the same foods we have been eating year-round for years. But if we look closely at nature’s harvest, it’s obvious that our diet was intended to dramatically change during this time of year.
- Roughly two-thirds of your diet should be alkaline foods (found predominantly in the spring & summer) and one-third should be acidic foods (found predominantly in the winter).
- If you eat seasonal foods, your body’s pH will naturally balance.
- October is a critically important season to prepare for winter by eating a more alkaline diet. This can help keep your immunity strong through the cold months.
- Alkaline foods support healthy and natural detox pathways in the body. (4)
What is a pH level?
A pH level measures how acid or alkaline something is. The pH stands for “potential of hydrogen,” meaning that it measures the hydrogen ion concentration of any given substance.
Pure water has a pH of 7.0, which indicates that it is completely neutral. Substances that have pH level’s lower than 7 are considered acidic. Substances that have a pH level above 7 are considered alkaline.
The more hydrogen ions in a food, the more acidic it is, and the lower the pH.
Each seasonal harvest strategically shifts the body’s pH. The body’s pH is closely regulated, and when it drifts out of balance, so does one’s health.
The Benefits of Alkaline Foods
Studies conducted on individuals eating a more alkaline diet found the following benefits: (1, 2)
- Bone health benefits
- Reduced muscle wasting in older adults
- Mitigation of chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes
- Cardiovascular health benefits
- Improved memory and cognition, due to the increase in growth hormone
- Increased intracellular magnesium, which is required for the function of many enzyme systems. Vitamin D and magnesium work together to optimize the body’s absorption of vitamin D. (3)
Note: Acidic foods are not bad, they just need to be eaten in proper balance with alkaline foods. Alkaline foods do not change the pH of the body, they just make it easier for the body to maintain the correct pH in the blood.
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Acidic Foods – The Pros and Cons
Acidic foods are typically more dense and harder to digest.
Healthy acidic foods like meats, grains, legumes and dairy may be higher in protein and fat content, and thus can be more anabolic or body-building.
Acidic foods are more readily stored in the body than alkaline foods. Squirrels, for example, eat nuts in the winter to store protein and fat to both insulate, bulk up, and reserve energy for the long winter. If that same squirrel ate a strict alkaline diet of just fruits and veggies during a cold winter, the cleansing effect of those foods may make the squirrel freeze to death.
Because acidic foods tend to penetrate deeply and store better than alkaline foods, they need to be eaten according to nature’s harvest or they can cause trouble.
Packaged or processed acidic foods are often loaded with preservatives, chemicals and toxins that can be difficult to detox. They should be avoided as they may predispose the body to early degeneration or disease.
The problem with our diet is two-fold:
- We have lost touch with eating seasonal foods, which naturally balance pH.
- Our diet has shifted to eating foods that are highly acidic: processed foods, packaged foods, comfort foods and junk foods, as well as sugar, coffee, baked goods, alcohol, most fast foods and soft drinks.
A Healthy Meal Plan
Most experts agree that a healthy diet should be two-thirds alkaline and one-third acidic foods. This ratio will adjust based on climate, harvest and geographic location.
We RecommendAlkaline and Acidic Foods List
For even health-conscious folks, this can be a herculean task. For example, take an average day’s meal:
- Breakfast – Oatmeal with raw honey and almond milk, fresh-squeezed orange juice (100% acidic)
- Lunch – Organic turkey sandwich with a small salad. (70% acidic, 30% alkaline)
- Dinner – Alaskan salmon, veggie, rice, and a small salad. (60% acidic, 40% alkaline)
This day’s acidic/alkaline balance: 75% acidic, 25% alkaline – not exactly what we’re going for.
Accomplishing a 2/3–1/3 alkaline-acidic diet is probably not going to happen for most people. Even aiming for 50/50 would be quite a challenge given our American standards.
The 3-Season Diet
The good news is that nature effortlessly balances pH with each seasonal harvest.
While the west is still set on making sure we get the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) each day, traditional systems of medicine, like Ayurveda, recognize that it is nearly impossible to get the same dietary nutrition every day.
In nature, the nutritional cycle is an annual one. It takes 365 days and each seasonal harvest to get all of our nutritional needs met.
A truly seasonal diet would result in an annual nutritional cycle of: 2/3 alkaline, 1/3 acid.
If you were forced to eat off the land and only eat foods that were locally harvested, your diet would dramatically shift from one season to the next. Remember, experts say that roughly two-thirds of the diet should be alkaline and one-third should be acidic. If we only ate food that was grown or raised on a farm, following the seasons, then the body’s pH would naturally shift to become more acidic in the winter and more alkaline in the spring, summer and fall.
3 Primary Growing Seasons
Much of the seasonal shift of pH is due to the seasonal shift of soil microbes that attach to our foods and become a part of our new seasonal microbiome. (5)
1. LATE FALL/WINTER: (November-February) 1/3 of year, acidic.
In the winter, the harvest is predominately acidic. Nuts, seeds, grains, meats, fish, dairy, and eggs were a traditional requirement in order to survive colder climates, as veggies were sparse. It is the one time of year to store proteins and good fats. If you are a vegetarian, it is critical that the diet is enhanced with high sources of proteins and fat during this time of year.
Once the grains and tubers from the late summer harvest run out for our ancestors, the diet of nuts, seeds, and hunted fatty meats (fatty because the entire animal was respected and consumed). Winter and early spring provided a naturally-occurring acidic, higher protein, higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet.
2. SPRING: (March-June) 1/3 of year, alkaline.
In the spring, greens and sprouts fill the harvest baskets making spring a season to alkalize. The more alkaline the diet, the more efficient the body can naturally detox. Cellular metabolism and lymph flow are also supported by an alkaline diet.
This is the season of famine, where the body would naturally become ketogenic mostly because of a lack of carbohydrates and food in general. Our ancestors dug spring roots and hunted in order to survive. The lack of available carbohydrates and the fatty meats consumed throughout the winter makes spring the ketogenic season.
3. SUMMER/FALL: (July-October) 1/3 of year, alkaline.
The summer harvest is rich in fruits and veggies which are easy to digest, cooling and very alkaline. These foods deliver high energy for the long days and short nights of summer.
In the fall, the season of feasting, as more acidic grains and tubers become ripe, more complex carbohydrates were added to the harvest of alkaline fruits and veggies. Our ancestors would not harvest their chickens or hunt this time of the year when nature’s plant-based bounty was excessive.
Based on this concept of growing seasons, October (“Alk-tober”) is a critically important season to prepare for winter. This is the last chance to alkalize, which will:
- Pull heat out of the body to prevent winter dryness
- Detox the liver, lymph and blood
- Flush the intestinal tract
- Cleanse the inner and outer skin (the inner skin lines almost all the surfaces of the inside of the body)
- Strengthen immunity through the cold months
During the month of October especially (plus each spring and summer), look at our acidic-alkaline food list and circle all the alkaline foods that you enjoy. Make a point to eat as many of those as possible. Eat smaller portions of protein and grains, while eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Alkaline Superfoods for “Alk-tober”:
- Veggie juice
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Halloween: The Acidic Season Begins
After November 1, the rules change as the cold and dryness of winter arrive. November through March is the time to build the body’s stores of proteins and fat. These foods can help insulate the body from cold by lubricating the mucous membranes to protect against colds, constipation, dry skin and achy joints, as well as other benefits.
Note: In a perfect world, the diet would shift dramatically with each season. If you have not thoroughly alkalized in the spring and summer, the need to significantly eat more winter acidic foods will be less.
This is a gentle process. Slowly shift your diet back in alignment with nature’s nutritional plan. Be gentle with yourself and listen to your body’s comfort signals – don’t strain. I see the best success with folks who let their new desire for seasonal foods dictate the foods they eat.