Adding alkaline vegetables to your diet is easier than ever with these smoothie booster cubes! Read below to find out more about the importance of blood pH levels, along with a little refresher of basic chemistry, and an explanation about alkaline foods and water.
Balance in all things
Our bodies thrive when everything is in balance, this is called “homeostasis.” Homeostasis is defined as the tendency of cells or an organ system to self-regulate internal conditions. Steady, consistent blood pH levels are essential to being in good health, and the body is pretty adept at maintaining a balance on its own. Problems arise when there are internal or external factors that the body can’t keep up with. Consuming alkaline vegetables may help prevent an excess amount of acid in the blood.
What is an acid or a base?
Pure water has a pH level of 7.0, which is considered neutral – neither acidic nor alkaline. Items with a pH of 6.9 and below is considered acidic. Hydrochloric acid has a pH of 0.1 and is one of the strongest acids.
Anything 7.1 and above is basic or alkaline. The higher the number, the more alkaline a substance is; likewise, the lower a pH number, the more acidic it is. Caustic soda, or Sodium hydroxide is one of the strongest bases.
Characteristics of acids include a notably sour or tart taste (think: vinegar). They also have an acrid smell that can burn the nose, and a sticky feel. Acids are typically thought of as being corrosive, but it is their reactions with different metals or other substances that causes oxidizing agents, which are corrosive.
- Hydrochloric acid
- Sulphuric acid
- Digestive juices (stomach acid)
- Citrus juices
Alkalis or bases have the following characteristics: corrosivity to skin, a soapy feel, a soapy or bitter taste (such as with baking soda), and little or no smell (except for ammonia).
Common alkalis (bases):
- pure water 7.0 (distilled water)
- Milk of Magnesia
- Calcium hydroxide (limewater)
- Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda)
Bleach, soaps, toothpaste, and other cleaning agents are alkaline.
Blood pH levels: acid vs. alkaline
Blood pH levels that are even slightly acidic is known as a condition called “acidosis.” Acidosis is characterized by a pH level of 7.35 and can signal problems with the kidneys or lungs. Extra acid can wreak havoc on the body if the levels are too high for too long.
Three things can cause an acidic blood pH level: The body…
- … is producing too much acid
- … is unable to get rid of excess acid
- … doesn’t have enough of a base or alkaline substance to offset the acidity.
These issues can result from the lungs not releasing enough CO2 during respiration or the kidneys not filtering out the acids properly from the blood.
Causes for respiratory acidosis include excessive alcohol use, nervous system problems, obesity, asthma and other respiratory diseases or illnesses, chest muscle weakness or injury, anatomical deformations.
Metabolic acidosis occurs as a result of the kidneys’ inability to filter acid from the blood or when too much of the bases within the body are flushed out. The causes of metabolic acidosis include diabetes (ketones, a by-product of fat metabolism, can build up in the body and create acidity), a loss of sodium bicarbonate (an electrolyte typically lost during excessive vomiting and diarrhea), lactic acidosis (see below), and renal tubular acidosis due to kidney problems.
Lactic acidosis can be caused by several factors including an overabundance of lactic acid caused by prolonged or excessive exercise, chronic alcoholism, heart failure, liver failure, low blood sugar, seizures, cancer, or prolonged oxygen deprivation.
Fact or Fiction? Alkaline vegetables can balance blood pH levels.
A plant-based diet comprised of fresh fruits, vegetables (especially leafy greens and cruciferous plants), legumes, nuts, and seeds is one that has been shown to promote health. But can foods really balance pH levels in the body? Well, maybe. A lot of research has shown that these foods, while important for health, may not actually have a huge effect on pH levels in those who are generally healthy. Those with kidney problems (or metabolic acidosis) will benefit more because their kidneys are unable to maintain the proper balance. So a broad claim that alkaline foods will alkalize the body edge more on the fiction side rather than fact. But don’t let that deter you from eating alkaline vegetables!
Natural fats, sugars, and starches have a neutral pH. Processed food (including processed sugars and fats), grains, alcohol, and animal products are acidic. Eating alkaline vegetables provides other benefits that are hard to pass by. Fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and all that other good stuff, is important for maintaining the body’s different organ systems, especially a healthy digestive tract, cardiovascular system, excretory system, and nervous system. The ultimate goal is a balanced diet, and acidic foods and drinks don’t have to be eliminated completely.
For the most part, vegetables and leafy greens are more alkaline. Here are some that have a higher pH level, or are more basic/alkaline:
Lemon and lime are on the list of alkaline foods, which can be very confusing because they are acids! When consumed and metabolized, lemon and lime juice react within the body and become alkaline.
Other Alkaline Foods or Substances
Chemical leaveners used in baking are alkaline. Baking soda (a base) reacts with vinegar (an acid). It bubbles up due to the production of CO2 and the by products are essentially salt and water. A similar reaction occurs when there is an abundance of stomach acid (HCl – hydrochloric acid – one of the most acidic chemicals on earth) and an antacid like milk of magnesia.
Alkaline Water – Should You Be Drinking It?
Alkaline water has been around for years and years, but has seen an uptick in recent years. You might have noticed it all over the shelves in grocery stores. It’s slightly basic with a pH level typically between 8.0 and 9.0. There is some evidence that drinking alkaline water can help reduce blood sugar levels in those with Type 2 Diabetes, blood pressure, and blood viscosity (thickness). Generally, for most of us, drinking regular water is just fine.
Water becomes alkaline through a process called electrolysis. The electricity from an ionizer supposedly separates the acidic and alkaline molecules in the water and the acidic water is removed leaving the alkaline water.
Water quality and purification before electrolysis is important, however, reverse-osmosis (RO) purifiers, distillation, and other purification methods, or water softeners, remove minerals from water during the process. Remineralizing water may be worth considering for better flavor and to take advantage of the health benefits from the minerals themselves. (source)
Alkaline water usually has been remineralized or retains the minerals already present. Even though humans get minerals from their diet, using demineralized water for cooking may actually reduce the minerals naturally present in food. So, drinking alkaline water has other benefits besides pH level.
It can be expensive to buy alkaline water on a regular basis. Instead, you can create it at home by adding pH drops or a pinch of Himalayan sea salt and/or a pinch of baking soda to your drinking water. Because it turns into an alkaline within the body, adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to water will have the same effect.
There are also alkaline water pitchers available the ionize and remineralize water, as well as removing fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals, arsenic, and any off flavors or odors.
To sum up…
Many people have experienced health benefits by increasing the amount of alkaline foods and water in their diets. While there isn’t a ton of evidence that these foods and drinks directly change blood pH levels to create a more alkaline environment, it doesn’t seem hurt anything. And it’s undeniable that eating more fruits and vegetables, and staying hydrated is an integral part of a healthy diet.Print
Made with alkaline leafy greens, cucumber, parsley, and fresh squeezed lime juice, these balancing smoothie cubes may help balance the body’s pH levels. Add to any smoothie to up the nutrition levels and leafy green goodness to your day.
- 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 large cucumber, peeled if desired, cut into chunks
- 3 cups packed kale leaves, tough stems removed, chopped
- 3 cups packed collard green leaves, tough stems removed, chopped
- 1/2 cup packed parsley leaves and tender stems
- Alkaline water, for blending
- Add ingredients to the jar of a blender in the order listed, except for alkaline water. Pulse a few times, then turn onto high and blend until smooth. If needed, add a little of the alkaline water for easier blending.
- Scrape down sides of blender and look to see how much liquid there is. Add enough alkaline water to fill to the 4 cup (32-ounce) line. Blend again.
- Fill two standard 16-well ice cube trays with the pureed greens. Rap on the counter to remove any air bubble and place in freezer. Freeze for several hours, preferably overnight, until solid. Pop out of ice cube trays and store in a freezer-safe, airtight container.
- To use smoothie cubes, add 4 cubes to your favorite smoothie to replace of in addition to the leafy greens. Four cubes is roughly equal to 3/4 cup packed fresh greens.
- Lemon juice can be substituted for the lime juice as can raw apple cider vinegar.
- Use any leafy green to substitute the ones listed above, keeping in mind that cruciferous vegetables have more of the detoxifying and alkaline properties. Bok choy, Brussels sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower, cabbage, and other cruciferous veggies are great substituted.
- For those worried about consuming raw leafy greens, the greens can be lightly steamed or blanched before blending, and will lose a bit of volume. Add more water or increase the amount of greens to equal the 4 cups of liquid.
- Cucumber can be substituted with celery, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, radish, bell pepper, or another alkaline vegetable or fruit.
Keywords: kale, collard greens, lime, lemon, cucumber, smoothie booster, smoothie, alkaline
- “Acidosis” from Merck Manuals
- “What is Metabolic Acidosis?” from WebMD.com
- “Potential benefits of pH 8.8 alkaline drinking water as an adjunct in the treatment of acid reflux disease.” via PubMed
- “Effectiveness of Alkali Water Consumption to Reduce Blood Sugar Levels in Diabetes Mellitus Type 2” via SCRIP