Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine ● Longevity Nutrition

alkalizing foods

Beans With Kale, Eggs and Salsa

Since my entry on “Promoting Longevity and Maximizing Telomere Length by Reducing Cell Turnover in Bone with Alkalizing Foods”, I’ve had requests for recipes to achieve this.  I will use the following breakfast recipe to demonstrate not only how to alter your diet to make it more alkalizing but an entire ethos on assembling food to promote longevity.

 Just Add Kale

Any vegetable that can be left in the fridge for weeks and still be in its pristine state is obviously full of antioxidants.  Unlike spinach and chard, kale is very alkalizing.  Being from the cruciferous family, kale is high in indoles.  This phyto-nutrient quells the effects of estrogen and helps to prevent and slow the growth of cancers of the prostate, colon, uterus and breasts.  Their estrogen-quelling effects also make them powerful for reducing the PSA by slowing or reversing prostate growth.  Indoles also help your body neutralize the effects of all those estrogen-like plastic chemicals and pesticides that are ubiquitous in our environment. Being a very hearty plant, it can be grown in harsher climates making it easier to obtain from closer sources thereby reducing its carbon load.  If you have a vegetable garden, kale is easy to grow organically in the cooler seasons.

Tear up two or three kale leaves and add them to any cooked dish or salad to help make your meal more alkalizing and increase your antioxidants.

If you enjoy making fresh vegetable juice, kale is a powerful addition.  Some people find its pungent bitterness objectionable but you only need a leaf or two to get benefits.

Super-Easy Healthy Breakfast Recipe

  • Heat Great Northern beans or Adzuki beans in a little water and add 2-3 leaves of kale torn into bite-sized pieces.  Allow these to steam together until the beans are warm and the kale is lightly steamed to a vibrant green color.  (3-5 minutes)
  • While beans and kale are cooking, add a fresh egg to butter on medium-high heat. (yes, you can eat butter)  When the yolk just begins to whiten, add 1-2 Tbsp of water.  Cover and steam for about 45 seconds depending on how cooked you like your egg.
  • Serve egg on top of beans and kale and add a little sea salt, salsa, and pepper.

Great Northern Beans – Beans are one of the best sources of low-glycemic carbohydrates balanced out with protein.  This balance reduces inflammation throughout the whole body to slow the aging process. It also reduces the survivability of cancer cells.  As I mentioned, pretty much any food that is a protein source is acidifying.  White beans, kidney beans and adzuki beans are all only mildly acidifying so they’re a better choice than animal protein.

Chicken eggs – Little more protein to reduce inflammation and meet one’s minimum daily requirement.  Chicken eggs are only a mildly acidifying protein source BUT it’s important to note that the alkalizing effect comes from the yolk.  The whites are actually acidifying.  In addition to being alkalizing, the egg yolks are one of the few foods that contain a substantial amount of the essential nutrient, phosphatidyl choline, which helps your liver distribute and emulsify fats.  The yolk also contain lots of other fat-soluable vitamins.  It’s also IMPORTANT not to destroy the health-giving nutrients by overcooking the yolk.  If it’s still a little runny all the nutritional benefits are retained.

Sea Salt – a good source of extra minerals and electrolytes makes sea salt incredibly alkalizing.

Salsa or fresh chopped tomato with lime, garlic and cilantro– most of the additional ingredients in salsa, neutralize the acidifying effect of the tomatoes.  In addition, garlic is anti-inflammatory and stimulates the immune system.  Cilantro helps to chelate various heavy metals from the body, especially mercury.

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When we think of ageing we assume that our body’s various tissues all age at the same rate.  In fact this is not so.  Various stresses over a lifetime will cause different tissues to age at different rates. 

  There are three inter-related factors that ultimately determine ageing of cells in a specific tissue.

  • Telomere length  the ultimate determining factor.  Very briefly, telomeres are like caps on the ends of chromosomes that protect them from deterioration.  Every time a cell divides, the telomere shortens.  When the telomeres are gone, the cell can no longer reproduce itself. Once this happens they age and eventually die. (Or become cancerous and become temporarily immortal)
  • Rate of cell turnover or replication.  Cell turnover is necessary for eliminating old cells which often contain both endogenous toxins (lipofuscin from cellular waste products) and exogenous toxins from the environment.  This accumulation of toxins makes older cells more susceptible to developing mutations in their DNA resulting in cancers.  Thus, their elimination is desirable.   However, if cell turnover is too frequent, telomere length shortens prematurely.
  • Metabolic rate and free radical activity.  These are the main driving forces of cell breakdown and turnover.  The food we eat and the activity we do or do not engage in has a profound effect on these factors.  For example, bursts of exercise temporarily create increased metabolism and free radicals.  In moderation, this leads to a healthy, cleansing turnover of cells.  Another scenario is caloric restriction. When the body thinks it’s starving, almost all physiological processes slow to a trickle.  The slowing of metabolism reduces the production of cellular waste products and free radicals posing less risk of cancer.  As the turnover of cells also slows telomere length is conserved.

Because bone health is strongly related to the health of so many other tissues in the body I’m going to look at bones as an example of how to manipulate aging factors with diet.  Simplistically, bones are made of a protein lattice with a bunch of minerals held in that lattice with vitamins D and K acting as the glue.  In addition to providing structural integrity for the body, bones act as a mineral reservoir for times of dietary scarcity.  A keystone function of our bone mineral reserve is to maintain the very sensitive and narrow pH range of the blood and intracellular fluids.  The body must keep these fluids at a slightly alkaline pH 7.35-7.45 or several physiological functions begin to fail including:

  • Increased consumption and reduced production of ATP,
  • Accelerated bone loss
  • Increased membrane free-radical production
  • Less efficient metabolism and protein synthesis
  • Suppression of growth hormone and other pituitary hormones. 

(*the above bullets were obtained from an article written by Susan Brown PhD.  See article link at bottom)

Every time we eat acidifying foods, like protein, the blood or cytoplasm pH falls toward a more acidic state.  In response, the body uses its bones to buffer the acid like a Tums™ tablet.  It does this by activating cells called osteoclasts that create inflammatory chemicals that break down bone to release buffering minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium into the blood and cytoplasm.  When we eat a meal of alkalizing foods, like kale or almonds, cells called osteoblasts are activated to rebuild the bone structure.  If the diet is relatively alkalizing, containing lots of minerals, these cells don’t need to be as active. Unfortunately, even what we consider healthy diets are quite acidifying.  This causes a constant flip flop of increased metabolism of these two types of cells.  Remember from above, increased metabolism will lead to faster cell turnover and speeds the shortening of telomeres.

From my 10+ year of practice I can say with certainty that if there is one thing people are lacking more than anything else in their diets its minerals.  By the way, guess what gives your hair its color.  Traditional Chinese Medicine states that the state of the hair reflects the state of the bones.  I don’t think this is scientifically proven but I would imagine a good study would show a correlation between the graying of hair and the deterioration of bone health.

SIMPLE CHANGES THAT CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE:

Include more alkalizing foods in with every meal: 

  • Green tea
  • Sea Salt (very alkalizing and high in minerals)
  • Drink mineral water throughout the day
  • Conclude your meal with an Umeboshi plum – one of the most alkalizing foods
  • Include lemon or lime in your water – yes they are acidic but have an alkalizing effect on the blood
  • Eat mineral-rich organ meats like kidney, heart and liver.  They taste like minerals and we aren’t used to these exotic tastes anymore
  • Eat fish like sardines and canned wild salmon which contain digestible bones
  • When you make soup, make it with the whole carcass
  • Eat more miso soup with extra seaweed

Combine alkalizing veggies with every meal.  This is especially important because all protein sources are somewhat acidic and you have to eat protein.  To balance out this acidity include foods like broccoli, cauliflower, onion, daikon, garlic, parsley, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, watercress, ginger root, cabbage pumpkin, bell pepper, sea weeds and sea veggies. This is why if you do the Atkins diet, you MUST eat lots of veggies with it.  

After exercise  consume miso soup with seaweed which is loaded with potassium, magnesium and other trace minerals  OR take a potassium-magnesium supplement.  Even those E-Mergen-C packets are pretty good especially if combined with a greens mix.

Eliminate bone-dissolving “foods” like all sodas, coffee, sugar and high sodium foods.

Don’t be fooled by some “healthy foods”.  For example carrots, zucchini, spinach and chard contain calcium but are actually acidifying and can induce bone turnover.

Ensure your body is capable of absorbing minerals:  The ionization that occurs in stomach acid is the rate-limiting step for mineral absorption.  If you are on acid-blocking medications like Zantac™, Prilosec™, or Protonix™, your body is virtually rendered incapable of absorbing minerals (protein as well).  My suggestion, find a doctor, naturopath or Chinese Medicine doctor who practices functional medicine and get it fixed.  In the meantime, focus on avoiding acidifying foods and consume more alkalizing foods to minimize the damage.

Some Helpful Supplements that I know work:  You can take all the supplements you want but if your diet continues to induce and acid state, you cannot slow down the constant metabolism in bone tissue.

  • Kelp tablets especially the brand Katsu
  • Dalektro-N – this is a German biologic drainage remedy that seems to magically improve mineral absorption
  • Multi-mineral supplements – not advisable for people with weak digestion.  Kelp is better.
  • Osteoforce by Designs for Health
  • Greens mix such as barley greens or Paleogreens

For a complete list of foods see The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide by Susan Brown, PhD.

Susan also has a fantastically researched article expanding on the subject of acid-alkaline balance, bone health and its effects on the rest of the body.  http://www.ionizers.org/pdf/bjaffe.pdf

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