4 gr e a t gr e e n s ! Chapter One Green Power W hen you hear the term “green power,” what comes to mind? Perhaps visions of solar panels or a hillside dotted with energy-generating windmills? But instead, let’s think about green power in more personal terms. Think about the super- concentrated power that green foods provide to your body. From the veggies that grace your dinner plate to nutrient-dense algae and grasses, greens are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that scavenge free radicals, help detoxify the body, build blood, and enhance energy. One of the most important ways these green foods foster good health is by balancing the body’s pH. This is Your Body on Acid Think back to high school chemistry class and you may remember hearing about pH, which is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The pH scale ranges from 0, which is the most acidic, to 14, which is the most alkaline—with 7 considered neutral. In your body, your blood needs to be kept in a slightly alkaline range between 7.35 and 7.45. Normally your blood pH is tightly regulated and shifts only when a person is very sick. However, intercellular acidity, which is measured by urinary or saliva pH testing, can change significantly due to lifestyle. Fortunately, the body has a unique “buffering” system that protects your blood’s pH to keep it in a safe range—but it does so at a cost. When blood and other bodily fluids become too acidic, the pancreas and kidneys secrete neutralizing bicarbonate. Key alkalizing minerals can also be pulled from bones to aid in this buffering process. But as a result, this extra buffering can deplete the body of alkaline minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. At the same time, cells become less efficient at making energy and they produce more waste (lactic acid), increasing intracellular acidity. In fact, when you are acidic, energy production in the cells is as much as 19 times less! Being acidic lowers the body’s ability to repair damaged cells, and undermines its ability to detoxify heavy metals and other contaminants. Over time, intracellular acidity can contribute to a host of health problems including osteoporosis (bone loss), muscle wasting (sarcopenia), and high blood pressure. It also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cognitive problems. What causes this acidity? Everything from environmental intoxication, stress, diet, and mineral deficiencies can contribute to an acidic pH. Arguably the most detrimental—and the easiest to fix—is your diet. If you’re eating the typical American diet, filled with overly processed foods high in sugar and carbohydrates, soft drinks, and meat and dairy—especially cheese—you’re on a bad dietary acid trip. Feeling a Little Rusty? If your body’s pH isn’t in an optimal alkaline balance, it can be acidic— which basically increases the rate of “rusting.” When this happens, you are vulnerable to accelerated oxidative damage to your cells, organs, and tissues from free radicals—those misbehaving molecules that are missing an electron. These incomplete molecules steal an electron from a neighboring molecule, which steals an electron from one it its neighbors, setting off a cascade of damage that can affect every part of the body. Excessive oxidative stress sets the stage for chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, metabolic problems, even some types of cancer, and more. Most importantly it can trigger chronic inflammation that can limit your ability to achieve the vitality you deserve.