If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a hundred times: practice everything in moderation; balance is the key. Of course, even when we’ve let our exercise routine slide, or our healthy eating plan has been slightly derailed (hello holiday season!), we know in our hearts that it’s true. And this sentiment is rarely as succinctly expressed as it is in the practice of Ayurveda. This approach, that encompasses both a healthy way of life and a healthy state of mind, is particularly focused on balance, and that includes our body’s pH levels.
If the last time you gave pH levels any serious thought was in your high school science class, or when calculating the quality of your swimming pool’s water, you’d be well advised to take another look. In a nutshell, the pH scale is the yardstick against which we can measure how acidic or alkaline something is – and these levels are just as important when related to the human body as they are in your pool!
No doubt you’ve heard of acid indigestion or acid reflux, commonly referred to as heartburn, but having an acidic body goes deeper than that. It’s widely believed that high levels of acid in the body can cause early aging, as well as make us more susceptible to illnesses – including cancer. One reason for this is that, if your acid and alkaline levels are seriously out of balance, the endocrine gland cells suffer, with a detrimental effect on all of the body’s systems.
In Ayurveda, it is believed that something called Pitta rules all of the mind and body’s heat, metabolism and transformation. Everything from how we digest food to how we metabolize our sensory perceptions, and even how we perceive what is right and what is wrong, is influenced by Pitta. Feeling stressed, angry or impatient parlays into the mind becoming acidic. This acid can then materialize as the aforementioned heartburn, as well as in loss of hair. In turn, these negative feelings and their resulting ailments can manifest as more serious problems like ulcers, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and chronic indigestion.
So how do you know where on the pH scale you rate? The scale runs from 1 to 14, with 1 being most acidic and 14 most alkaline. As humans, it is recommended that we maintain a pH rating of between 7.30 and 7.45 – i.e. slightly over the neutral rating of 7 and into the alkaline zone. You really don’t want to drop below this as then you’re edging into acidic territory, which could result in a potentially serious medical condition. All you do to measure your pH level is use litmus strips, which are readily available at drugstores.
If you’re worried that you’re exhibiting signs of a high level of acidity, or you’ve taken a litmus test and your pH scores are out of whack, there are a number of natural ways to help keep your acid and alkaline in check. The methods below are Ayurvedic remedies, are easy to do, and will help your mind and body stay balanced.
Eat alkaline-rich foods
It stands to reason that, if we eat acidic foods, we are putting acid into our bodies. The same goes for alkaline and, since we are looking to increase alkaline and balance our pH, eating alkaline-rich foods makes perfect sense. These include all the good stuff such as fruits, veggies, olives, green tea, and wild rice. Turmeric is especially beneficial, and is widely used in Ayurvedic lifestyles to aid balance and to banish Pitta ailments. Likewise, limiting acidic food and drinks such as meat, dairy, sugar, and alcohol will also help substantially reduce your acidic levels.
Although this is something of a ‘trend’ at the moment, it is a practice that has been around for centuries – and it is one of the easiest things you can do to lower your acidity levels. Every morning, simply swish a tablespoon of cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil round your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. The enzymes in the raw fat draw out toxins and excess acidity, as well as helping to whiten teeth, create healthier gums, and leave you with a glowing complexion and clearer eyes.
Practitioners of Ayurveda believe that negativity and stress can potentially manifest themselves in the human body in the form of acidity. Any emotion that can have a negative influence on the mind can thus have a negative effect on the body. Practicing mindfulness, and showing appreciation for yourself, those around you, and the world at large are all thought to bring about better mental and physical health. Anything that helps you relax and adopt a positive outlook is beneficial, so try building some time into your schedule for regular massages (this doesn’t have to be at an expensive spa; self-massage using coconut oil is another Ayurvedic practice) or for a few moments of meditation.
If you’d like to know more about maintaining balance in your daily life, come and talk to us. We’re always more than happy to advise you on any aspect of wellness.