Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 -Anti-Aging and pH balance Eating Plan by Sally Cronin

Background to the series.

Sixteen years ago I had a series on radio called Turning Back the Clock, which I presented in response to listeners in their 50’s and 60’s looking for rejuvenation and tips on staying young. Like me they were exasperated by the claims of the cosmetic industry that the various ingredients in their products could knock ten years off their age. I was asked to design a diet that would help reverse the signs of aging and this developed into a weekly challenge that was undertaken by nearly 100 listeners. The series became a book in 2010.

I try to practice what I preach!  And certainly so far I have managed to maintain healthy key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol without medication, much to the surprise of my doctor!

In my opinion the answer to turning back the clock by several years is to consider and address a number of factors which include physical, emotional and mental age markers.

Part Two of the series explaining pH balance and symptoms of too much acid can be found: Here

Eating plan for acidity/alkaline balance if you are already experiencing high acidity related health problems that are making you feel older than you are!

It is important that you eat regularly and moderately to provide you with the nutrients that you require, and to allow your body to process those nutrients to make them as accessible as possible for your body.

Your main meals are breakfast, lunch and dinner with three snacks in between depending on your energy requirements.

The older we get the less we need to snack between meals especially if they are sugary in nature.

  • Main meals should consist of some wholegrain or vegetable carbohydrate, animal or plant protein and a small amount of healthy fats.
  • Always chew food slowly and if you put your knife and fork down between each mouthful you should be eating at the correct pace. If there is someone in your family who always finishes their meal after you then make it a point to slow down so that they finish first.
  • After a heavier than normal meal always try and relax for at least half an hour before moving around and certainly leave at least two hours before rigorous exercise.
  • Drinking a small cup of peppermint tea after a meal will aid digestion
  • It is better to eat fruit as a starter rather than a dessert as it digests much quicker than any other food. If you eat fruit within half an hour of a heavy meal it can cause a disruption to the digestive process.

Intermittent Fasting is also a way to allow your digestive system to process foods thoroughly over sixteen hours whilst you eat within the other 8 hours. If you are not hugely active then eating two main meals with a small amount of fruit as a snack is quite easy to get used to and has been shown to reduce the risk for diseases such as diabetes.

Most people who follow this diet will fast on two days a week with meals adding up to 500 to 600 calories of high density nutritional foods. However, it is tempting then on the other five days to roll the boat out. I find eating two meals a day with a piece of fruit in between, within an 8 hour window every day to be easier to stick to.

Eating to achieve a healthy Acid/Alkalinity Balance

Foods that should be avoided.

Foods have different acid and alkaline properties. Some are acidic in the mouth but form alkaline ash; others are so heavily processed that they will turn to acidic ash in the stomach. If you suffer already from acid reflux or peptic ulcers you should follow the following recommendations as strictly as possible. This also applies if you have some of the more common degenerative diseases such as arthritis as an acid environment is perfect.

If you would simply like to ensure the correct pH balance in your body then you can adopt a 60/40 approach and ensure that acid forming foods are only included in your diet once a day.

If you suffer from any chronic diseases then for the next six weeks I suggest you follow these guidelines. Make a note in any change in symptoms and if you find that they have improved then this ratio is something you might like to stay with longer term.

Very, very acidic ash forming foods that should be avoided are:

  • All soft drinks,
  • More than a cup of coffee per day especially with cream and sugar combined,
  • Alcohol in general but particularly cheap wine and beer,
  • Refined sugars in commercially produced white flour bread, cakes, sweets and biscuits and artificial sweeteners.
  • Refined sugars in hot drinks
  • Salt should be used sparingly, as it is acid forming. Although not as bad for you as advertised Smorgasbord Health – The Salt Debate

Very acidic forming foods that can be included 20% of your daily diet are:

  • chicken,
  • turkey,
  • fish,
  • shellfish,
  • lamb,
  • beef,
  • pork
  • other lean proteins.
  • Oranges (nectarines are okay)

Moderately acidic forming foods that can be included up to 30% of your daily diet.

  • Wholegrains,
  • brown rice,
  • oats,
  • lentils,
  • walnuts,
  • rye,
  • wholegrain pastas,
  • sunflower seeds,
  • Pumpkin seeds,
  • good quality wines,
  • organic fresh coffee,
  • yoghurt,
  • milk and cheese.
  • cranberries
  • all the beans.

Alkaline foods that can be included freely every day. (Plenty of great foods and this list is just representative of the variety and vegetables in general are alkaline.)

N.B that although some of these fruits contain natural fruit sugar they are alkaline. If however you are pre-diabetic or diabetic then you sould limit your fruit intake to one piece per day. Also avoid high sugar juices and instead substitute with vegetable juices.) You are pretty safe with all vegetables.

  • Figs,
  • Olives,
  • Apricots (dried as snack three),
  • Avocados,
  • Carrots,
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach,
  • Cabbage,
  • Dates (three on salads),
  • Kiwis,
  • Limes,
  • Raspberries,
  • Strawberries,
  • Asparagus,
  • Bananas,
  • Celery,
  • Beetroot
  • Coconut water (in moderation if on Blood Pressure medication)
  • Melon,
  • Lettuce,
  • Parsley,
  • Pineapple,
  • Nectarines,
  • Cherries,
  • Grapefruit,
  • Tomatoes,
  • Cucumber,
  • Cauliflower,
  • Lemons,
  • String beans,
  • Peaches,
  • Mushrooms (Shitake if not too expensive),
  • Watermelon,
  • Courgettes,
  • Apples
  • Pears.

Are most fruit and vegetables alkaline forming?

Yes they are which is why I so often encourage people to move to a much higher level of vegetables and moderate fruit content in their diet. Ideally 80% of your diet should be unprocessed, fresh and preferably raw foods.

However we are not going to go that far to begin with so I have set a 20% guideline for animal proteins, 30% for grains etc. and 50% for fruit and vegetables.

Some other neutral foods that you can use in moderation in the 20% field are the oils and butter and milk. These are classified, as neutral but should be used carefully if you are hoping to lose some weight.

What about sauces for foods?

It is much better to make your own sauces from natural ingredients. It is the sugars in processed sauces that cause much of the acid effect. You can use olive oil or a little butter on vegetables and make salad dressings with olive oil and herbs. I find now that sauces, unless they are very light have become very cloying and take away the natural taste of the food.

Putting the Plan into practice

A really good alkaline start to the day is the juice of half a lemon in hot water. Despite being an acid fruit, lemons are alkaline forming and also get your intestines moving. It also gives you a jolt of vitamin C.. I use an enamel protecting toothpaste and that is one thing to consider when having lemon juice every day.

Rotating your foods is always a good idea as most of us can build up an intolerance to foods that we eat every day and this can have an acidic effect on the body. I have given you some guidelines for rotating certain foods such as carbohydrates to not only get the maximum benefit from them but to also minimise any intolerances you might have.

Carbohydrates should be 30% of your daily intake.

wholegrainsThe latest word from some of the experts in the field of nutrition is that you should drastically limit your grains in your diet. There is certainly evidence to suggest that a high intake of refined grains are not beneficial and might lead to health problems.

However, there is one very good reason for that. They are industrially produced and contain little nutrition, too many additives and usually a lot of added sugar. If you eat a great deal of cookies, processed white bread, certain breakfast cereals and cakes you will be ingesting sugars which are highly acidic.

A proportion of your diet should include wholegrains that have been minimally processed so that you obtain all the nutrition including B-vitamins that are stripped when refined. You also need the fibre they contain and by eating wholegrains you can reduce your protein levels and help reduce their acid content.

Suggested Carbohydrates

  • Whole-wheat or wholegrain bread, (home made without preservatives and minimum sugar is best – here is a recipe for my own which I eat – Yeast free Irish Soda Bread
  • whole-wheat Pitta breads,
  • shredded wheat,
  • whole-wheat pasta,
  • Rye Crisp breads,
  • Pumpernickel,
  • Porridge oats,
  • Sugar free muesli,
  • Brown Basmati Rice,
  • Oatcakes
  • Potatoes with skins boiled, mashed or baked

As you will see I have grouped these together in approximate wheat, corn, rice and oat days with the occasional potato thrown in.

If you have a wheat intolerance only eating it every 4 to 5 days may well help you with any related allergy symptoms.   Your body is designed to remove toxins from the body efficiently provided you are only eating them every four or five days.

Proteins and Fats – 20% of your daily intake.

Variety is important and whilst there is a generally a warning about eating too much red meat, if you rotate your proteins you will get the benefit from the the individual nutritional benefits.. For example B vitamins in the red meat and Omega Fatty Acids in fish..

We need protein and also some acid forming foods in our diet otherwise the balance goes too far the other way. We also need healthy fat and apart from extra virgin olive oil, lean protein with a little fat is not harmful. If you do not suffer from arthritis or acid digestive problems, eating a little more lean protein should not be a problem.

  • Lean meat beef, lamb, fish both healthy fat varieties such as salmon and white fish, chicken, turkey, Feta cheese, eggs etc.
  • Try to get organic if you can but good quality anyway.
  • Use olive oil for cooking and on bread wherever possible.
  • Use grass fed butter as a spread rather than hydrogenated margarine.
  • For snacking eat walnuts (14 per day), almonds, Seeds such as pumpkin (all unsalted).
  • Use avocado a couple of times a week as a vegetarian alternative. You can also use tofu but watch any fat it is mixed with.
  • Avoid salted processed meats such as bacon and ham except for once a week as this is acid forming.

Fruit and Vegetables – Minimum 50% of your diet.

  • Eat what you like from the list of alkaline forming foods above.
  • If you like to drink fresh fruit juice, unsweetened are best – they are available freshly squeezed in the supermarket or make at home, but need to be drunk on the day. I do suggest especially if you are trying to lose weight that you dilute with some sparkling mineral water, halving the sugar content.
  • Most fruit juices are made with the higher sugar variety including oranges which burns to an acid ash. I suggest going with vegetable juices such as carrot.
  • Drink plenty of water, herbal teas etc. and what you like from the list of alkaline forming foods above.

N.B The above guidelines are suggested to reduce your acidity especially if you are already experiencing related chronic diseases such as arthritis. After six weeks you should experience more energy, better skin tone and less of the aches and pains we associate with getting older.

Make a note of your symptoms such as joint pain, headaches, lack of energy at this point and then make a note of how you are feeling each week. I would be interested to get your feedback at the end of the six weeks.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2021


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week for part four of this series and the impact of declining hormones on our body. Thanks Sally.