[By Lim Su-Shan]
An essential step for beautiful skin involves ‘friendly’ gut flora, ‘green’ foods and drinks that have an alkalizing effect on the body, and avoiding acid-forming foods.
Some parts of your body should be acidic, such as your stomach when it produces digestive acids. However, in general, your body’s tissues and blood should be slightly alkaline.
There are two ways you can find out how acidic you are. Your GP can test your blood pH, or you can test your saliva or urine with pH strips from your local pharmacy.
These are made of litmus paper which changes color when acidic or alkaline substances come into contact with it. When your body’s pH is in balance, this reading should be between 7.0 and 7.5.
‘Green’ foods such as asparagus have an alkalizing effect on the body.
“There are many types of acid-producing foods and when your body is continually trying to counteract an acidic state, acid can become a poison” according to Dr Kenneth Lee from The Sloane Clinic. “The worst offenders are vinegar (except for apple cider vinegar), alcoholic drinks, margarine, pork and beef, salmon and mackerel”.
Also acid-forming are coffee and black tea, yellow cheeses, pickles and mustard, chickpeas, most nuts, white rice and high-sugar and white-flour products.
However, you do not have to avoid these foods completely to be healthy. They can be enjoyed in moderation, but limit them to no more than two servings a day. The equivalent of two servings is two glasses of alcohol, or one coffee, and salmon and chickpeas for dinner.
Green drinks – those containing chlorophyll and wheat-grass – are a great way to create good acid-alkaline balance. A liquid chlorophyll supplement, available from chemists, can give you an extra dose of vegetables daily. It can help to neutralize acids in the body so your blood is less likely to become sluggish and inefficient.
Alkalizing foods include spinach, peppers, courgette, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, cabbage and sweet potatoes – and surprisingly lemons and limes (although the fruit is acidic, it is actually alkalizing in the blood). Avocado, asparagus (below), garlic, onions, radishes and uncooked tomatoes are also mildly alkalizing.
Other points to good acid-alkaline balance include limiting your caffeine intake, having four alcohol-free days a week, avoiding smoking, and drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day. Encourage friendly gut flora by taking a pro-biotic supplement.