Last night during Taekwon-Do training I could feel my body complaining. I felt some tender joints, sensitive tendons and sore muscles. There is nothing strange about some aches and pains, especially considering some strenuous training I did days before. I've been working on my calve muscles, and on Tuesday I did a very deep leg muscle stretching routine. However, the aches I felt last night felt different than the normal pains. I could feel that my tendons around my calves were more inflamed than they ought to be, and my joints were also not too happy.
One obvious culprit is the very cold weather. Even though this is my fourth Korean winter, my body is still not used to this cold. So granted, I do think the weather contributed to some bodily unease.
However, I could immediately relate my body's discomfort to what I had for lunch the day before. On Wednesday I had to go to COSTCO to have a batch of photos printed and decided, since I was there already, to have lunch there. COTSCO has some of the best pizza in Korea, which thankfully does not include such odd Korean pizza toppings as corn and sweet potato paste. With the pizza came a cup of soda. This big lunch of pizza and Fanta is an acidic disaster.
When food are digested they leave behind an “ash” in your body which has a certain pH. Cheese is a prime acid-forming food. Soda, also, contains acid-forming ingredients, such as refined sugar and phosphoric acid.
It is well established that our bodies function optimally with food that leaves an alkaline ash, rather than an acid ash. An acidic system causes inflammation, reduces healing speed and therefore hinders quick recovery. Acid-forming foods also creates little crystals in the joints that is associated with inflamed joints – we usually refer to this as gout. Cancer cells tend to flourish in a more acid environment and the immune system is also weaker in an acidic system. An alkaline system, on the other hand, improves energy transferral (i.e. the body's use of ATP) and so helps with endurance and strength. Recovery time with an alkaline system is also significantly shorter over an acidic system.
My unusual joint pains and overly sensitive tendons, I believe, was caused by a diet of acid-forming foods the day before.
More and more professional and Olympic athletes opt for diets that leans towards alkaline body pH. So what should you do to have a more alkaline body pH? The answer is quite simple. Follow the Health Principles, particularly the dietary points, prescribed by the Soo Shim Kwan.
Drink lots of water. The more toxins we have in our body, the more acidic our body will be. Our body use water to basically dilute its toxin levels, which can then be filtered by the filter organs and eventually excreted as sweat, urine, and even through the lungs. Water is a key instrument in this process and cannot be replaced with other liquids like coffee, sodas, or even juices. In fact, alcohol, coffee, sodas, some tees and some fruit juices are actually acid-forming. (There are some herbal teas that are alkalising, for instance stinging nettle, as well as some juices, like lemon water.)
Regarding food, the most alkalising foods are leafy green vegetables. As a matter of fact, most vegetables leave an alkaline ash. So do some fruits, particularly figs and lemons; however, green (i.e. unripe) fruits, as well as overly ripe fruits, including fermented fruits, tend to cause acid build-up (that's the reason why wine is a chief culprit for causing gout). Oranges, tomatoes and olives are also often found on lists of acid-forming fruits. Some berries, like blueberries, cranberries and prunes, are also acid-forming; however, berries are very high in nutrition and listed as super foods, so it's much better to include them in your diet than worry about how they effect your body's pH.
Foods that tend to cause acid-forming are mainly animal products, particularly meat and hard cheeses. It's much better to get your protein intake from nuts, seeds, certain grains, plain yoghurt and soft cheeses (i.e. cottage cheese). Also avoid refined and processed foods as they are almost all acid-forming; for instance, bread made with white flour (white flour is processed), sugar, corn syrup, glazed foods, tinned foods, etc.
You can see different Alkaline/Acid-food charts here.
Mineral supplements that include Cesium, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium will also improve alkalinity.
In short, a primarily plant-based diet is most beneficial for optimal health. It is for this reason that many top athletes, including such legends as ten time Olympic medallist (eight gold medals) Carl Lewis, are vegan/vegetarian.
Some martial artists, including MMA fighters, have also began to adopt vegan/vegetarian diets, for instance a King of the Cage Lightweight World Champion and Ultimate Fighter 6 (UFC) Champion, Mac Danzi:
I'm not necessarily advocating that you should become completely vegan/vegetarian; however, I am suggesting that a diet with primary emphasis on plant-based foods is most beneficial. A plant-based diet will improve your endurance, strength, recovery time, energy levels, and general health. Few people explain the value in a "green diet" better than Tony Robbins:
One thing I do advocate is to enjoy green smoothies. Green smoothies are a brilliant way to get healthy, alkaline-forming nutrition in your daily diet. I have a green smoothie as part of my breakfast. As a bachelor, I don't always sit down to a well planned balanced meal, so green smoothies are an important part of my health routine.
Making a green smoothie is really simple. Throw a bunch of leafy green vegetables, like spinach, mustard greens, kale, parsley, and the like in a blender. Add a banana or two to sweeten the smoothie. It will also also help the consistency. Also add some liquid: water, juice, plain drinkable yoghurt or soy milk -- I prefer the latter. Be nutritionally creative by adding other super foods to your smoothie; for instance, I frequently add Brussels sprouts to my smoothie or barley green. Other greatly nutritious things you could add, although not alkaline, are blueberries or cranberries (which will make you smoothie brown in colour!) and wheat germ.