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Becoming Raw

by Rebecca Reynolds
Photography by Robin Jolin

Photography by Robin Jolin

Most of us strive for balance. We may rush to yoga, but we get there. We eat our vegetables, alongside our hamburgers. And we try to laugh, while stressing over our bills.

The body is striving for balance, too, from our blood pressure and heart rate, which stay within certain parameters, to our body temperature, which hovers around 98.6. Our bodies also need to balance our pH (per Hydrogen), which is the measurement of acidity to alkalinity.

According to renowned raw food expert David Wolfe, author of Chaga, King of the Medicinal Mushrooms ($15.95; North Atlantic Books), pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of substances such as water, food, or blood. The level of hydrogen ions (pH) of each substance is measured on a scale of 0 to 14—the lower the pH, the more acidic; the higher the pH, the more alkaline. When a substance is neither acid nor alkaline it has a pH of 7, which is neutral. That is also a healthy and desirable pH for the human body.

Knowing your body’s pH may prevent illness, as the more acidic your body is, the less oxygen your blood is able to absorb. The less oxygen in your blood, the less likely you are to fend off disease. It is important to note that, although unusual, very high alkalinity can be a health concern too.

When your pH is too acidic, it forces the body to borrow minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium from vital organs and bones to neutralize acid and safely remove it. Because this is a strain, the body can suffer severe and prolonged damage from high acidity, which may include immune deficiencies, free radical damage, cardiovascular problems, kidney stones, diabetes, osteoporosis, joint pain, yeast/fungal overgrowth. Known as acidosis, high acidity may go undetected for years. Poor lifestyle choices—smoking, over-consumption of alcohol, poor water quality, drugs, lack of exercise—can play a role in creating acid in our pH.

According to Wolfe, we need both acid- and alkaline-forming foods to maintain proper balance. When the diet is too high in foods that create acidity—i.e., meat, eggs and dairy; processed foods (white flour, sugar, hydrogenated oils; soda, coffee, sports drinks; and artificial sweeteners) with not enough foods that promote alkalinity, it is cause for concern.

The major determining pH factor is the mineral content of food. Foods rich in alkaline-forming minerals, like calcium, magnesium, silicon, and iron, create alkalinity in the body. Foods rich in acid-forming minerals, like phosphorous, chlorine, iodine, or nitrogen, create acidity in the body.

And foods in their raw, uncooked, natural state offer greater alkalinity: green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard); wild edibles (dandelion, nettles, wild grasses); fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil, garlic); grasses (wheatgrass, barley grass); sea vegetables (kelp, nori, dulse, spirulina, blue green algae); and medicinal mushrooms (chaga, shiitake, maitake, reishi).

Cooking foods can remove important enzymes that allow our bodies to extract nutrients, and thereby can create an acidic nature in the body, which makes it work harder to break down cooked foods due to depletion of enzymes.

Simple home kits that test your urine and saliva can be found at drugstores or online at longevity.com. The best time to test pH is about one hour before a meal and two hours after a meal. Test your pH two to three days a week to have a good overview.

Alkalinity varies naturally, depending on the time of day, what you have eaten recently, and a variety of other circumstances. A fluctuation between 6.5 and 7.5 indicates your body is within a healthy pH range.

DAVID WOLFE’S SUPERFOOD SMOOTHIE Raw food expert and author David Wolfe helped create a super-powered blender called the Nutribullet (nutribullet.com), which extracts nutrients from whole foods and aids in delivering alkalinity to your body. Consider adding a sprinkle of chaga powder to this recipe. According to Wolfe, chaga is known to be the most alkalizing food in the world.
1 cup kale
1/2 cup blueberries
1 lemon (peeled)
1 lime (peeled)
1 small nib ginger
2 dates (pitted) or 1 tsp lucuma powder or Stevia to taste
1 tsp chlorella

Add ingredients to the NutriBullet Tall Cup or juicer. Fill with pure spring water up to the max line and blend. Enjoy!

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