Tag: alkaline foods

The Potato – Is it Friend or Foe

The Potato – Is it Friend or Foe

The potato has become quite controversial. There are camps that say it is definitely a dangerfood, and then there are those that are campaigning to keep spuds in schools. I recently wrote an article for The Greatist, and this is where my research took me.

The potato may not win any beauty contests, but depending on how it’s dressed up, the potato can be a good source of vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, these starchy spuds can cause blood sugar to soar, some say even more than eating than pure sugar. Potatoes may be a good way to survive a famine, but their high glycemic load sends them to the danger zone.

The glycemic load refers to the effect a food has on blood sugar levels, as carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (simple sugar) and absorbed into the blood to fuel the body. Foods with a high glycemic load cause a fast absorption of sugars into the bloodstream, whereas a low glycemic load has a slower rate of absorption.

The carbohydrates in potatoes are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rapid spike in blood sugar. And this invasion of too much sugar sends the body into damage control mode, by releasing extra insulin from the pancreas to try and keep the sugar situation under control. Insulin is like the messenger telling the cells to take in the glucose, and as the pancreas takes the “better safe than sorry” approach, it usually sends out too much insulin. But wait, there’s more to the message. The cells need to know what to do with all the extra glucose, so the excess insulin signals fat cells to store it as fat.

Potatoes are not the sole winner of the high glycemic load contest. Many other carbohydrate foods share the title, and while carbohydrates give the body energy, when foods with a high glycemic load are eaten in excess, not only does the pancreas get a little tired of sending out all that extra insulin, the cells don’t respond like they used to.

So the pancreas has to send out even more insulin to get the cells to do their job and take in the extra glucose. It gets to be a vicious cycle of excess carbs leading to excess insulin, and finally the body starts resisting the insulin all together, which can lead to serious health conditions like type II diabetes, coronary disease, obesity, and certain types of cancer.

Potato fans may say that the spudly nutrients are well worth the spike in blood sugar. Potatoes are low in calories and sodium, a good source of potassium, which can help muscles function and lower blood pressure, iron which is important for blood oxygen, and copper which is key for nerve function and energy metabolism. And let’s not forget the peel which is rich in Vitamin C, important for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body.

It’s possible that the devil may be in the details like the oil, butter, and salt, not in the potato, as long as it is cooked and prepared in a healthy way. And with the many variety of potatoes, some will be have a lower glycemic load.

But potatoes become even more menacing when they are prepared in unhealthy ways, like fried, baked and loaded, or mashed and gravyed. Not only will a loaded baked potato or an order of fries wreak havoc on blood glucose, but each can have over 500 calories.

The saving grace for the potato may lie in the cooking methods, as it may reduce the glycemic load with boiling potatoes being at the top of the list, and it gets even better if they are left to cool or reheated later on.

So if the potato is going to remain part of the family, it may be time to boil the little spuds, and eat them as leftovers loaded with something like Greek yogurt, low fat cheese, or salsa— and skip the fries and gravy entirely

The Health Benefits of an Alkaline Diet

The Health Benefits of an Alkaline Diet

Balance.  As moms, this is one of those things we strive for in every aspect of our lives. When you think of a balanced diet, you probably think of meals prepared using every element in the food pyramid. A balanced diet is a great place to start since everyone’s bodies need the variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients found in different foods. But there’s another kind of balance that’s often ignored in the majority of people’s diets: pH balance. For most people, the typical diet is too acidic, which means the body itself is out of balance. Maintaining the body’s optimal pH levels can be one of the best ways to achieve health and wellness.

Your body functions best when it’s a bit more alkaline than acidic. Think back to 8th grade science class. Human blood pH should be maintained in a range of 7.35 to 7.45, slightly above neutral (7.0). Unfortunately almost all of us have become acidic due to diet, drinks and stress. Acids can build up, causing the human body’s mechanisms not to function properly. Acid wastes build up in the body in the form of cholesterol, gallstones, kidney stones, arterial plaque, phosphates and sulfates. These acidic waste products are the direct cause of premature aging and the onset of chronic disease.

What an Alkaline Diet Can Do for Your Body

The healthiest pH level for your body is between 7.3 and 7.4, which is more alkaline than acidic.  I have included a chart that shows foods in several categories of acidity and alkalinity.

You will notice that many “unhealthy foods” tend to be more acidic, and more “healthy foods” tend to be more alkaline. Hmmm, do you see a familiar pattern here?  However, you will also notice that a few healthy foods do fall into the acidic category. For example blueberries are acidic, but watermelon is alkaline. Common sense will tell you don’t stop eating blueberries, but if you are trying to tweak a few things in your diet to make it more alkaline, then you want to choose watermelon for awhile. Almonds instead of peanuts, green tea instead of coffee.  You get the point.

With that said, however, this means that the modern predisposition to eat out, consume over-processed foods, and overeat in the protein and oil categories makes for a highly acidic and unhealthy body. Acid-producing foods create yeast in the body that expands throughout the system, starting in the digestive tract and growing to affect the intestines and blood. Once in the bloodstream, yeast can affect any part of the body with negative consequences.

However, adopting an alkaline diet until your body’s pH level reaches the optimal balance can prevent you from experiencing the negative effects of an acidic diet. But the other reason that alkaline foods are so helpful is that they actually help to magnetize waste matter out of the cells.

 Symptoms of an overly acidic diet include fatigue, loss of muscle tone, feeling cold, frequent infections, depressive tendencies, nervousness, paleness, headaches, thin nails, dry skin, hives, and leg cramps.

When acidosis occurs, the body will attempt to restore its optimal pH by depleting certain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, from the organs and bones. In addition, your immune system becomes fatigued from dealing with an excess of acid.

How to Start an Alkaline Diet

An alkaline diet follows very similar guidelines as eating a whole food/real food type diet. If you can choose 80% of the foods from the alkaline category and only 20% from the acid category, you will be on your way.  A side effect… you will be eating much healthier in general which will make you feel better, and you will most likely drop a few pounds.

I do have one trick, however.  Following a 80/20 alkaline diet can be tough, so if you want to supplement your alkalinity, you can take a shot of apple cider vinegar.  I try to do this every day, because I know my diet is not as balanced as it should be pH wise.  I take a shot glass and fill it with unfiltered apple cider vinegar.  I also have a ½ teaspoon of raw honey.  Pop the raw honey in your mouth, and before it dissolves, “shoot” the apple cider vinegar.  They honey makes it drinkable (barely – so be prepared for a shock the first time).

Choose 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods.
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