Wellness – physical, mental and spiritual – is the essence of my work as a massage therapist. Helping individuals find their own path to wellness, whether directly through a massage or indirectly by encouraging my clients to adopt a life of self-care, self-confidence and self-love, is very important to me. And there is no better time to embrace health and wellness than in the New Year.
Almost every January, health and body magazines are awash with diets, exercise tips and resolutions for the New Year. I love all this dedication to health, and I wish that it could keep the spotlight all year-round.
This year (Welcome 2014!), I’d like to focus on an element of health that many people are not aware of: The body’s pH.
Most of us remember Ph (acidic vs basic) from high school chemistry. But you’ve probably forgotten that pH stands for “potential of hydrogen,” which is the measurement of hydrogen ions in a particular solution. In numeric terms, pH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14, 0 being very acidic and 14 being very basic or alkaline. 7 is neutral.
So what does this have to do with health and wellness? Well a lot, actually.
Our bodies are designed to function within a very narrow pH range – slightly on the alkaline side with a blood pH of 7.4. If your blood’s pH fluctuates to a more acidic number, distress signals are sent out and you’ll start to feel a variety of unwanted symptoms – everything from skin breakouts to arthritis, chronic fatigue to irritable bowel syndrome. A blood pH lower than 7 is especially dangerous because it weakens the immune system and may lead to disease.
In American culture, it’s very easy to live with an acidic pH due to all the processed food out there, not to mention stress. So how do you keep your body alkaline then?
Having regular therapeutic massage is one way to help reduce stress and thus improve the body’s overall pH. Emotional stress releases acidic hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Opting for a relaxing, full-body massage not only counteracts this process, but it gets the natural fluids of the body – blood, oxygen and lymph — flowing in a healthy manner. The body’s adrenaline is slowed and cortisol is reduced.
Diet is another way to keep your pH alkaline. A diet high in natural vitamins, minerals and H20 will do wonders for your pH. In particular, you want to find foods rich in alkaline minerals such as:
Calcium (oranges, almonds, spinach)
Magnesium (kale, salmon, lentils)
Iron (olives, parsley)
Potassium (bananas, potatoes)
Sodium (shrimp, beets)
And avoid the acidic minerals i.e. sulphur and phosphorus
I would suggest adopting a diet high in leafy green vegetables, lean meats and low-sugar fruits. This will provide your body with the needed minerals, proteins and vitamins to keep pH within the healthy alkaline zone.
One of the best ways to embrace this diet is start each day off with a juice. I suggest having a green juice first thing in the morning – kale, green apple and parsley, for example. If kale doesn’t sound particularly appetizing at 8 a.m. (I hear you) then go for some low-sugar fruits such as blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. Or better yet – a sweeter vegetable such as carrots.
All of these options will pack your blood with the minerals needed to stay alkaline, not to mention essential antioxidants and blood builders such as chlorophyll.
The reason you juice the fruits and veggies instead of eating them whole is that the pure nutrients can enter your system more quickly via juice. (Imagine how long and cumbersome it would be to eat half-a-bunch of kale without juicing it.) By eliminating the plant fiber, juicing lightens the digestive process and gets the healthy stuff to your system more directly. And that means a happy, alkaline body!
So go ahead and try it! Juicers are easy to come by at any kitchen store or online. If you’re not sure you want to commit just yet, you can always find a juice bar in the city.