For runners, a balanced body chemistry is vital. Maintaining a good ratio between acid and alkaline foods in your diet is essential for maintaining health. If your body is out of balance and there’s too much acid, cells break down, leading to poor health.
The proper pH level in human blood and tissues should be approximately 7.365, which is slightly alkaline. You can test your pH balance by checking your saliva or urine, using pH strips.
Why it matters to runners
Over exercising can cause a build up of acid. During exercise, we produce acid waste. Our body attempts to remove this acid waste and tries to neutralise the acid build-up in many ways – our kidneys filter blood and excrete acid through urine, our lungs release carbon dioxide and we also sweat acids out of our skin.
What happens when there’s too much acid (acidosis) in the body?
- The body will produce more insulin, and as a result store more fat.
- Too much acid decreases the oxygen affinity of haemoglobin in the blood – and less oxygen compromises all body functions.
- Free radical damage (which is made worse by over-exercising).
- Acidic blood plasma eats away at the smooth muscle tissue of the inner walls of arteries and veins which can affect your blood pressure.
- Muscle pain and fatigue are common in over-acidic bodies.
- When the cellular and body’s metabolism is inhibited, our energy levels are compromised.
Get the balance right
- What you might think is acidic and alkaline can be surprising. For example, lemon can help make the blood more alkaline. Try some in a glass of hot water at the start of the day to cleanse the system.
- Have a salad for breakfast: try avocado, tomato, and cucumber with olive oil.
- Avoid the usual suspects: excess sugar, meat, dairy products, bread, yeast products, alcohol, fizzy drinks and caffeine.
- Make your diet green, aim to get as much as 80% of your food in the form of vegetables, greens, grasses, sprouts and seeds.
- Have healthy veg snacks with a home made hummus dip to snack on throughout the day.
- Make a green drink by blending together the following: half cucumber; two celery sticks; two big handfuls of spinach leaves; lettuce leaves and some fresh ginger for taste (also great for cleansing the system).
- Keep fully hydrated all day long.
- Drink wheatgrass every day. Wheatgrass contains cholorphyll, and is packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. Paula Radcliffe is a fan and has said: 'It doesn't look or taste very nice, but it has anti-inflammatory and general health properties.'