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If your body is overly acidic, you will feel sluggish and may have bad breath, skin breakouts, and indigestion. We show you how to get the balance right.

Many holistic health experts believe that our bodies function according to our pH levels, which are in turn determined by what we eat. Highly acidic foods include dairy products, meat, refined sugar, coffee, black tea, soft drinks, and alcohol. When we eat them, our bodies automatically attempt to restore balance by leaching alkaline minerals from bones, teeth, tissues and organs, which can give rise to a host of health problems. Tell-tale signs that you’re too acidic include body odour, bad breath, pimples, indigestion, high or low blood sugar levels, and feeling lethargic.

Your body’s optimal state is a slightly alkaline one, and eating more foods that are naturally alkaline or only slightly acidic is the best way to restore pH balance. A plant-based diet, containing alkaline foods like dark, leafy greens, lemons, limes, avocadoes, wheatgrass, sprouts, almonds, seaweed, grapefruit, miso and lentils, along with some slightly acidic foods like beans, nuts and some grains, gives your body important alkaline-forming minerals, chlorophyll, enzymes, and vitamins. Follow these steps to gradually alkalise your body:

Get the balance right

Sparkle with citrus: Start your day with a glass of lemon water upon rising – simply add the juice of one lemon to a large glass of hot water.
Skip the joe: Swap your morning cappuccino for a steaming mug of herbal tea – green tea, mint, and lemongrass are all excellent alkalising alternatives to acidic coffee.
Breakfast green: A plant-based diet floods the body with energy, rather than weighing it down with animal flesh. Instead of eggs or toast, drink a juice combo of beetroot, carrots, cucumber, and ginger. If you want something more substantial, have a bowl of porridge with thinly sliced organic apple, cinnamon, almond milk, and honey.
Cook with zest: If you want to eat chicken and fish, splash them liberally with lemon, lime or orange juice and pair them with seasonal veggies to balance the acid.
Spice things up: Most spices are alkaline in nature, so have a generous hand with cumin, turmeric, coriander, fennel, paprika, cinnamon, and cardamom.
Drink Adam’s ale: Good, clean water is the easiest way to alkalise your body. If you’re a milk drinker, swap to non-dairy almond, hemp, hazelnut or coconut milk.
Enjoy fruit frugally: Most fruits are on the acidic side due to their sugar content, so enjoy them in small quantities. A morning smoothie a few times a week is fine, as is an afternoon piece of fruit for afternoon tea or supper.

Lose weight, feel great

If you need to lose a few kilos, an alkaline diet will help shed the extra weight. By cutting out overly-acidic foods, you will naturally lose weight and have more vitality. There are also positive emotional and psychological effects from eating an alkaline diet - less stress, better sleep and increased sense of focus are all widely-experienced benefits. Curious to find out where you stand? To test your own pH level, simply purchase litmus paper strips and then pee on them as soon as you wake up in the morning. If the number is over 7.5, then experiment with switching to an alkaline diet.

Boost and rebalance

Alkaline foods to love: Beetroot, leeks, garlic, avocadoes, cucumbers, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, salad greens, asparagus, broccoli, peas, eggplant, lentils, pearl barley, almonds, Brazil nuts, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, grapefruit, lemons, tomatoes, green tea, spelt, oil-cured olives, root vegetables (e.g. sweet potatoes, potatoes, turnips, daikon, jicama), burdock, stevia, and moderate amounts of grains (e.g. quinoa, brown rice, millet, amaranth, buckwheat)
Acidic foods to avoid, or minimise: Cheese, butter, milk, eggs, cream, seafood, red meat, poultry, fish, white pasta, white bread, chocolate, sugar, peanuts, biscuits, cashews, wheat bread, alcohol, coffee, black tea, tobacco products, honey, corn syrup, brown sugar, soda, energy drinks, sport drinks, processed oils (e.g. margarine), MSG, ketchup, mayonnaise, salted and roasted nuts, yeast and vinegar (except for raw apple cider vinegar), soy sauce

Aimee-Christine Hughes is a naturopath, yoga teacher and flamenco dancer. Read her blog and try her cancer-fighting vegan recipes at http://theglobalvegan.blogspot.com/