You are what you eat.
This statement is so simple but true. I’ve written at length about the importance of eating a wholesome diet full of fresh and organic plant-based food. I’ve also written a bit about the power of an alkaline diet – a way of eating that focuses on supplying the proper nutrients to the body so it can naturally cleanse and provide you with sustainable power.
I’m really happy about today’s post, featuring an interview I recently finished with Ross Bridgeford – Co-Founder of Energise for Life, Europe’s #1 alkaline diet and nutrition store (check out his Energise Blog for more great tips!). Ross has been living the alkaline lifestyle for a while, and has a ton of great insights on how to live a healthier and more energized life.
I think you’ll find this interview incredibly informative. Enjoy!
Hi Ross, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. I’ve been checking out your blog and website for a while now. When did you first start to develop an interest in energizing and healthy foods and proper nutrition?
I probably first had an interest when I was about 14 and I became vegetarian after reading an essay by Moby. It changed my way of thinking about meat and food in general and from that day onwards I’ve not eaten meat. It helped that my Dad has always grown his own vegetables so I’ve grown up absolutely loving fresh foods. Cutting out meat wasn’t a big deal at all because I just loved vegetables!
But I still wasn’t really healthy, and my real interest in energizing and being healthy came from day four at UPW London in 2003. [Ravi: note – UPW stands for Unleash the Power Within, and is a personal growth program led by Tony Robbins] I had set so many goals and thought that if I’m going to achieve all of this I’m going to need some energy!
The concept of alkalizing just made so much sense right away and so I spent the next year learning and then launched energiseforlife.com in 2004. Since then reading and learning about health, nutrition and fitness has been a healthy addiction 😉
Who are your mentors? Who do you look up to and learn from?
I have a few. Tony Robbins is always someone who I draw inspiration from, learn from and I am enjoying his tweets immensely!
Dr Young is an inspiration in terms of his work and research into the alkaline lifestyle and his commitment and energy towards spreading this knowledge as far and wide as possible. His work ethic is truly admirable. He is also a very kind and funny guy.
There are heaps of other bloggers who I respect: Rand Fishkin of seomoz has built something spectacular from being a really nice guy, a strong personality and through constant, dedicated application. I think a lot of people relate to him and respect him because he is always humble. Steve Pavlina because his work ethic and drive are incredible. Darren Rowse of problogger because he is just so smart and Seth Godin for being able to blog absolute genius in less than 200 words every day. He is so prolific, I’m still not sure how he does it. Oh and Tim Ferris because reading his book took the life I was trying to create forward about 10 years in 2 weeks.
I think my mentors are all honest, driven and able to communicate in a way that makes you want to get out of your seat and DO SOMETHING NOW!
Well, after that UPW in 2003, Callum (my brother) and I really wanted to apply all of this info we had learned. We wanted the energy of Tony Robbins! But we found pretty quickly that not only was there very little info on the web at that time, but every site said something different and nobody seemed to say anything useful!.
Alongside this, buying the products such as sprouters and juicers and the supplements was impossible! You had to order greens from America, sprouters from Europe, pH drops from Canada and other bits from Australia. All of of these sites were really badly designed too which didn’t give you much confidence that your products would ever turn up!
I was previously a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and Callum was an IT guru for Accenture, so we figured we could do a better job and both set about creating energiseforlife.com. We just wanted to make it really easy for people to a) learn all about alkalizing and b) get hold of everything they needed to make it happen.
Five or so years later here we are…!
What exactly is an alkaline diet?
The alkaline diet can be explained really simply, or really scientifically – so I’ll go for the simple version. When you are living an alkaline lifestyle you are aiming to consume 70-80% foods & drinks which have an alkalising effect on the body. These foods include vegetables, good fats, low sugar fruits, salads, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, water, herbal teas etc. while acidic foods include meats, dairy, sweets, sugar, fizzy drinks, alcohol etc.
To put it most simply you eat the foods you know are good for you and avoid the ones you know are bad. There are only a few gray areas, so it really is that simple. I’ve read so many different explanations of that and most people really overcook the explanation.
It makes sense doesn’t it? It just makes sense to focus 70-80% of your diet around healthy, fresh, raw, vibrant foods rather than unhealthy fats, processed, sugary, refined foods.
And if you are into the science of it, here is the philosophy behind it all:
Your body HAS to keep the pH of your blood, cells and other fluids at just slightly alkaline (pH 7.365) and it will do ANYTHING it has to in order to maintain this pH balance. To do this, your body calls upon its store of alkaline buffers, which it draws upon to neutralize the acids we ingest or create through bodily processes. This store of buffers is very easily depleted because most of us eat and drink such strong acids. To put this in context, the pH scale is logarithmic – so pH 6 is 10x more acidic than pH 7, meaning pH 5 is 100x times more acidic than pH 7 and pH 4 is 1000x more acidic. Coke has a pH of between 2 and 3. So you can see how a diet filled with meats, dairy, fizzy drinks, alcohol etc would quickly deplete these buffers.
And when we deplete these buffers and still ingest more acids…what happens? The body is forced into drawing upon the alkaline minerals it has to buffer which causes havoc in the body – for instance, if the body is constantly drawing calcium to neutralize the acids we consume then the symptoms of osteoporosis emerge (hence the recent research articles linking cola consumption with osteoporosis).
This is just one example. Another outcome is that the body also hangs onto excess fat to protect our body/organs from the damage caused in an acidic state. Another outcome is that we ingest high levels of sugar, the sugar ferments in the blood, creating more acids, which creates acid wastes, which feeds the sugar which has fermented into bacteria, yeast, fungus which create more acid wastes etc and a vicious cycle of acid creation further depletes the alkaline buffers resulting in skin conditions, yeast infections, mood and emotional problems, diabetes and a whole heap of other symptoms.
By eating 70-80% alkaline foods we not only take this stress away from the body, but we also flood our body with vitamins, fiber, minerals, nutrients, good fats, proteins, antioxidants etc. which build the blood, cleanse our system and ultimately make us feel great.
Still, the simple explanation is the one I prefer – eat lots of great, fresh foods and treat treats as a treat.
What are the benefits of an alkaline diet?
Where to start! Personally I have experienced more energy than ever before, I never get ill any more (I used to get coughs, colds, flu every 6-8 weeks), clear skin (I used to have pretty terrible acne), perfect weight (I always struggled with being underweight), I need less sleep, I don’t get afternoon fatigue anymore, my thoughts are clearer and I get MUCH better results from the gym, both in terms of weights and running.
This is a good time for you to ask too because I launched an online Alkaline Diet course in December so I have had plenty of people emailing me their results lately! Some highlights include:
- a lady who was housebound with Fibromyalgia for 3 years is now active, exercising and feeling great
- people are losing serious amounts of fat after many years of trying
- libido increases!
- people with years of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems are saying they are completely back to normal
- eczema and other dermatological problems are clearing up
- people are reporting having heaps more energy
These emails are so motivating to me and make me pretty proud that I did a good job with my designing the alkaline diet course!
How has adopting this way of being impacted your life?
Apart from the benefits listed above to my health, this has impacted me in so many ways. With the extra energy I have these days I simply get so much more done – work wise and fun wise! I am achieving so many personal, professional and fun goals – it is just fantastic. There is no way I could have ever been so productive before! And you know how success breeds success, so feeling so fantastic physically makes it easier and more fun to achieve my goals which makes me feel great emotionally and it all snowballs.
And when you’re in such a great state of mind it draws more into your life and you put more energy and more positivity out there – which can only be a good thing!
What are a few simple things that anyone can do to alkalize their body?
Heh – the question I get asked more than any other! My advice is always to try and start with the few core, big areas you can apply right now and which will make the biggest impact on your health, life and energy:
- water: aim for 3-4 litres of good quality, clean water every day
- fats: learn about good fats! They are so important! Consume 3 tablespoons of omega 3 each day (read here for more info)
- exercise: if you exercise aerobically for 30+ minutes 3 times per week you will seriously notice the difference!
- greens: try to eat a salad, even a small one with lunch and dinner each day and make one meal per day 80% raw, fresh vegetables
- one vice: try to pick the once vice that once eliminated would make the biggest difference to your life. Then set a 3 week plan to cut it out!
If you do these then I PROMISE you’ll feel amazing!
What are your favorite books right now relating to health and vitality?
If anyone is serious about increasing their health and vitality then I have to recommend my online Alkaline Lifestyle Course. I’m so proud of it! But second top of my list for anyone who wants to learn more about health is always The pH Miracle by Dr Robert Young.
More recently I’ve enjoyed The China Study by Colin Campbell – very eye opening and Tom Venuto’s new book/ebook – The Body Fat Solution which is a good build upon his first book Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle.
With all health books I think there is something to learn, even if you don’t agree 100% with everything said. It’s good to always keep an open mind!
What is your typical daily diet like?
I try to keep it quite relaxed. In the beginning I had to be incredibly organized to make sure I always had the right foods, but now I am in good habits so I know that if I have a core of 10-12 ingredients in I can make it a good healthy day! When I first started I found it very useful to plan out my meals for the next three days, breakfast, lunch and dinner and then buy the ingredients specific to those meals. If I didn’t do that I would always find myself with an empty fridge – and that is when most people slip up.
Anyway, so an average day would be something like:
Breakfast: green vegetable juice or smoothie (like your green ones!). For the juice I’ll happily just juice whatever is in the fridge, but it is usually a core of spinach, cucumber, celery and lettuce. Additional bits and pieces might be capsicum, green beans, kale, broccoli, carrot, tomato etc.
For smoothies, I usually have a base of avocado (makes it lovely and creamy), cucumber, spinach and then add whatever else I fancy, with a little bit of veggie stock.
A couple of times a week if I am in a hurry I might have oats cooked in water and soy milk, with LSA, wheatgerm and maybe a banana thrown in. Or a wheat/gluten free muesli with almonds, seeds etc.
These breakfast foods keep me going til lunch with a few snacks thrown in.
For snacks I will usually have nuts, seeds etc if I am just peckish. If I get more hungry I might have some sprouted bread with avocado, tomato & olive oil, or a wrap or something like that.
Lunch: often either veggie wraps and/or a big salad. If I have cooked a big healthy meal the night before I’ll have leftovers from that too.
Dinner: there are all manner of lovely alkaline dinners to be had! Check out some of the recipes on my blog. I’ve developed alkaline green curry, alkaline lasagnas and all manner of stir-fry’s. I’ll also happily have a big bowl of soup, heaps of veggies with olive oil and lemon squeezed over, giant salads etc or a combo of all three. Dinner is so easy to have healthy, 60% or more raw and still be delicious.
If I’m cooking for others I’ll often do fish too (still quite alkaline and better for non-veg, non-alkaline girlfriend/guests etc). My favorite to do for them is either steamed salmon in a lemon and dill or to stir-fry prawns in coconut oil and cover with a chili-lime dressing. I just substitute in organic tofu for me!
Drinks: I’m always sipping green drinks and green juices (like these) or warm water with lemon squeezed in. Oh, or herbal tea. It’s easy to stay hydrated!
What is your favorite recipe for an alkaline lunch or dinner?
Me and my girlfriend recently made up/stumbled upon two crackers – a Creamy Zucchini Pasta sauce that we have with spelt pasta and Tom Yum Soup. My staple lunch is to simply have brown rice with sliced tomato, avocado, spinach and lightly steamed broccoli with lemon and olive oil over the top. Always a winner – the textures are so awesome together and it is really filling!
Any other final tips or recommendations for someone looking to improve the quality of their health and daily energy levels?
There is nothing more effective for increasing your daily energy levels than drinking 3-4 liters of good quality, clean water each day. Even if this sounds like a lot, build up to it and try it and you’ll be amazed at how you ever got by being so dehydrated!
Thanks a lot Ross! I’m gonna try out some of those recipes for sure! For those of you interested in learning more about how to alkalize your body, please check our Ross’s blog and the Energise for Life supersite!