January 06, 2016
Balance is key to a healthy life and state of mind, and that sentiment couldn't be truer than when it comes to the pH levels of the body.
A measure of how acidic or alkaline something is, the pH scale is an important tool for taking care of ourselves since many believe that an acidic body is a magnet for illness, cancer, and early aging. When your pH levels are off, the cells of the endocrine glands suffer, compromising all systems in the body.
In Ayurveda, classic Pitta afflictions like stress, anger, and impatience can cause the mind to become acidic, which then manifests in the body as heartburn, acid reflux, and hair loss. These seemingly temporary conditions can have negative implications on long-term health as prolonged acidity can lead to serious medical conditions like IBS, ulcers, and chronic indigestion.
The total pH scale ranges from 1 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline), with 7 considered to be neutral. The ideal pH for the human body is 7.30 to 7.45, which is slightly alkaline. Any number below this range means the body is acidic and this could spell trouble down the line. You can easily measure your pH level regularly via purchasable litmus strips. Or, if you're experiencing any of the conditions listed above, it's probably that your body is already trying to tell you something isn't right in terms of your pH.
Fortunately, we can all use simple, natural remedies to keep our pH levels in balance. The ancient science of Ayurveda offers ways to keep our Pitta in balance, in turn keeping our minds and bodies alkaline. Here are six you can do for yourself.
1. Try oil pulling.
If we all engaged in this timeless Ayurvedic practice first thing in the morning, I truly believe the world would be a more peaceful place! This is one of the cheapest and fastest ways to balance Pitta and lower acidity, because as you swish the oil around your mouth, the enzymes in this raw fat will pull out toxins and excess acidity, freeing up your immune system and curtailing inflammation.
The ritual: Take one tablespoon of cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil. Swish the oil around in your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, then spit. In addition to helping your body reach optimal pH, added side effects of oil pulling include whiter teeth, healthier gums, and clearer skin and eyes. You'll also likely see an increase in energy and clarity.
2. Tweak your coffee.
Face it: We all love our morning coffee. And while we're well aware of the benefits of coffee, it's ultimately pretty acidic. If you're already suffering symptoms of acidity but can't stand the thought of giving up coffee, this Ayurvedic tweak can help you enjoy that java without letting it compromise your body chemistry.
The ritual: Add cardamom powder to your coffee grounds before brewing. For every 12 ounce cup you plan to brew, add half a teaspoon of cardamom powder. Since cardamom contains chemicals that can neutralize acid, it's a natural tranquilizer for your coffee.
You can further negate coffee's acidity by drinking 12 ounces of warm water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. This will dilute the effects the coffee will have on your stomach while also decreasing your desire for that second cup.
3. Opt for an alkaline diet.
Since what we put into our bodies can influence pH, another way to keep yours in check is to follow an alkaline diet. In short, this means favoring foods that are alkaline — fruits, vegetables, green tea, olives, wild rice — to counteract acidity, and also drastically reducing your intake of acidic foods like meat, sugar, alcohol, and dairy.
Though there's very little scientific evidence that following an alkaline diet will directly affect your health, foods that are high on the alkaline scale just so happen to have been shown to help with everything from regulating weight to boosting immunity to helping combat inflammation to increasing lifespan, whereas when our bodies become too acidic, we're more likely to carry extra weight, have skin issues, and be at risk for numerous inflammation-induced illnesses.
4. Make turmeric your friend.
In some indigenous cultures, turmeric is considered the "spice of life." So it's no wonder that in Ayurveda it's used to balance all doshas and is specifically one of the best anti-Pitta herbs due to its blood- and liver-cleansing properties.
It's truly a miraculous herb with dozens of health benefits, so try to incorporate turmeric into your daily life in any way you can. My favorite ways to get turmeric is to add some to coconut-oil-sautéed vegetables and serve them over quinoa. I also like to add a teaspoon of the spice to warm grass-fed milk and raw honey before bed.
5. Change your mindset.
According to Ayurveda, stress and negative emotions have the ability to physically manifest in the body as acidity. Competitiveness, judgment, and self-criticism are all Pitta-aggravating mental characteristics, and given how strong the mind's influence can be on the body, working on your mindset is crucial for neutralizing acidity.
The ritual: Along with meditation, Pranayama (yogic breathing techniques) and Nadi Shodhana (alternate-nostril breathing) can have profound alkalizing effects on the mind and in turn, the body. All of these techniques will help to balance body chemistry as well as stress and anxiety.
6. Try self-massage.
An ancient self-massage technique from India, Abhyanga, pulls toxins from the skin and helps maintain acid-alkaline levels in the body. It's also incredibly calming for the mind and the nervous system, so the endocrine glands are less likely to produce stress hormones that can cause acidity to manifest in the body.
The ritual: Massage organic coconut oil onto your entire body using long strokes on your limbs and circular motions on your joints every morning to calm your nervous system for the day. Twice a week, be sure to massage your scalp with coconut oil to cool the mind, pacify Pitta, and regulate stress-induced hair loss.
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