Updated date:

Eating for Optimum Health

Catherine enjoys preparing and presenting food. Fresh ingredients prepared from scratch are wholesome, delicious, and fun to make.


Do you think your diet is healthy? Perhaps you are being careful to limit harmful fats and excess salt and sugar. You've reduced gluten and carbs while getting enough fiber from beans, oats, and vegetables, but is that enough for healthy cells and nutrition as we age? Let's take a look.

Most of us base our diets on the standard food pyramid. We try to get our fats, carbohydrates, and proteins from a wide range of sources. Humans are designed to be omnivores, although we benefit greatly from vegan diets as long as good protein sources are included. Some of us are good at eating whole foods while others grab readily available processed snacks and meals.

Most base diets on the standard food pyramid.

Most base diets on the standard food pyramid.

Standard Recommendations

Our doctors recommend we eat 2,000 calories per day on average, so foods need to be chosen carefully. The high fat and sugar content of convenience foods quickly add up without giving our bodies the nutrients needed for optimum metabolic function.


We are encouraged to keep fat calories at 30% of our total caloric intake per day. Based on the 2000 calorie recommendation, those derived from fats should be kept at 600.

  • We need essential fats for our bodies to process the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Fats provide the fuel that keeps us energized.
  • Among the healthiest types are omega 3 polyunsaturated fats and omega 6 fatty acids, which help increase good cholesterol and aid heart function.
  • Mono-saturated fats improve insulin function and blood sugar levels. Good sources are nuts, seeds, avocado, and olives. These oils are liquid at room temperature.


A person weighing 160 lbs. would require 58 grams of protein daily. The formula to determine the number of grams required per day is as follows: divide your body weight by 2.2 then multiply by 0.8.

  • Proteins are the building blocks of our cells.
  • They provide the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies can't make.
  • Soybeans and animal sources are the only foods that provide all 9 essentials.
  • Vegans can get ample nutrition from beans, lentils, yeast, and soy.


Complex, rather than simple carbs, break down more slowly and go further in regulating even amounts of blood sugar over a longer period of time. Candy bars and other simple sugars lead to a short-lived energy surge followed by a crash and burn. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, which regulates fat metabolism. Your calories derived from carbs should be 50% of your total or 1000 based on the average recommendations.

  • Carbohydrates are a good source of dietary fiber.
  • Carbs are used primarily for energy.
  • Carbs regulate insulin and blood sugar levels and aid the brain and nervous system.
  • Carbs are broken down by the amylase enzyme and stored as glucose by the liver and muscles.
  • Excess amounts of carbs are stored in fat cells.

Understanding Metabolism

When we exercise, our muscles release lactic acid. When we are stressed or exposed to things that set off our immune responses, our bodies produce acids. As we process the nutrients in food, glucose is oxidized into the energy that supports all metabolic functions. The by-product is acidic waste that enters the bloodstream. There, it is filtered by our organs, then removed through respiration, perspiration, and urination.

Our bodies work so efficiently that we don't think of the potentially harmful effects of these acids. Healthy cells are alkaline. Excessive acidity is thought to facilitate cell mutation, weaken immunity, and encourage the growth of viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Think of gout, ulcers, candida, and cancers. It is important that we counteract the effects by trying to maintain a neutral pH of 7. Eating a good diet is the best way to buffer these acids so they don't deplete our natural stores of minerals and weaken our bones.


The Importance of pH Balance

Sugar, caffeine, red meat, alcohol, and fatty processed foods are all acidifying offenders, and our bodies naturally will find ways to neutralize them. If we do not consume enough alkaline foods or ample minerals, the body may seek to draw from the stores of calcium and magnesium in our bones. This is especially dangerous for post-menopausal women who typically lose density in the spine and hip areas.

Excess acid waste accumulates in fat cells which serve to encapsulate it as a protective measure against its harmful effects on the body. This may be the reason for stubborn weight gain or ineffective weight loss.

Many of us subsist on a typical high protein diet of meat, eggs, and dairy, and those of us who consume high volumes of processed foods live in a state of chronic acidosis. Although not dangerously high, it can still lead to gradual cell damage, fatigue, bone and muscle weakness, kidney stones, arthritis, and auto-immune disease.


How to Restore a Healthy pH

Re-establishing a healthy and balanced pH is not difficult.

  • Take a pH reading with simple strips that test either urine or saliva. They are available in dispenser packs from the pharmacy or online.
  • Examine your diet and make adjustments. Make it your goal is to eat 60% alkaline foods and 40% acidic ones.
  • Consider adding a daily supplement of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Vitamin D should only be taken with a doctor's order and requires a minimum of 30 minutes of sun exposure for absorption.
  • Limit sodas, caffeine, and alcoholic beverages. Better choices are herbal teas and freshly juiced fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of water. This aids your body in getting rid of acid waste.

The key is to balance favorite proteins with ample vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts. Totally eliminating favorite foods only serves to make a diet fail. Instead, go to a farmer's market and load up on fresh leafy greens and vegetables, vine-ripened fruits, whole grains, honey, agave syrup, and olive oil. Go ahead and get that fresh blueberry cobbler with a coffee or enjoy a glass of wine. When you make a habit of healthful eating, it's okay to indulge occasionally without the guilt. Live well.


Brown, D. S. E., & Brown, D. S. E. (2020, January 29). Ph and your bones - why an alkaline diet makes sense. Better Bones, Better Body. https://www.betterbones.com/alkaline-balance/why-an-alkaline-diet-makes-sense/.

Rodrigues Neto Angéloco, L., Arces de Souza, G. C., Almeida Romão, E., & Garcia Chiarello, P. (2018). Alkaline diet and Metabolic Acidosis: Practical approaches to the Nutritional management of chronic kidney disease. Journal of Renal Nutrition, 28(3), 215–220. https://www.jrnjournal.org/article/S1051-2276(17)30257-1/pdf

Sobel, A. (2019, August 6). A 2,000-calorie diet: FOOD lists and meal plan. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/2000-calorie-diet.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Catherine Tally


Kari Poulsen from Ohio on September 23, 2017:

I used to eat a raw diet, but it became too expensive, lol. Who would think vegetables and fruit cost so much. I like how you explain this. :)

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on April 30, 2013:

Hello ElleBee,

I'm so glad that my hub provided new info for you! I recommend Ume plum paste- just a small bit in hot water as a tea- as a very effective alkalizer. It is especially good for digestive disorders. Thank you for stopping by to read. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. :)

ElleBee on April 30, 2013:

Very interesting. I've heard a bout pH based dites before but not in a lot of depth. This is definitely something I am interested in learning more about and possibly incorporating into my diet.

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on January 10, 2013:

Hi Felipe,

Thank you for the helpful link to the USDA site. There is much good information there. I feel that it is fine to have caffeine in tea , coffee, and chocolate-esp. dark in moderation, but avoid sodas. ( I drink 2 cups of coffee w/ soy milk in the morning and sometimes an iced cup in the afternoon. )

I appreciate your thoughtful comments and your following me.

My best,


Felipe717 from Philadelphia, PA on January 10, 2013:

Great Hub! Limiting caffeine would be difficult at this point but it will be something I will work toward. The USDA modified the food pyramid and changed it into a food plate. One criticism of the pyramid was too many servings of grains so they updated it and here is a link to it, http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on October 16, 2012:

Hi Doc,

Thank you for the kind comments! It is nice to be able to keep tabs on healthy pH in such a convenient way. My best to you.

Glen Nunes from Cape Cod, Massachusetts on October 15, 2012:

Thanks for this information. I've heard about the importance of pH in the body, and trying to neutralize acidity, but I thought it was more complicated than this. I didn't know that you could just get strips at the pharmacy to measure your pH, for example. I will definitely be doing that. Nice hub, voted up and useful.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on September 26, 2012:

I'm so agree with everything in moderation, but taking control of our lives. I know I need more calcium and magnesium in my diet and have taken your advice to heart. We rarely ate beef before, but my husband has been on a low carb diet so we've been eating more of it this week. I'm going to look for other non-meat protein sources, as you mentioned in this hub. Please let us know about your report! I'm sure it will be better. Positive thinking is very important, as you know. : ) I also try to exercise regularly. Besides, it help so much with stress. It's nice to meet you on HP!

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on September 26, 2012:

Oh, I agree with you! I'm not about to give up the evening glass of wine, refreshing beer w/ my Mexican food, or that delicious grilled steak on occasion. I believe in favorite things in moderation! I exercise 4 times a week now w/ Pilates and pool aerobics. I also take 3 hydroxy-apatite calcium supp. w/magnesium and vitamin D per day to help w/ bone matrix. I'm hoping for a better report in Nov.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on September 26, 2012:

Yeah, the lack of bone regrowth is a worry. I admit to drinking alcohol and eating beef, which is acidifying. We also drink lots of fresh green juices, but this still make me rethink my strategy. Thank you!

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on September 26, 2012:

Hi, vespawoolf. It's so true that we are often misguided in our quests to be better to ourselves through diet. I became aware of the importance of raising pH when my bone was failing to grow into my second hip prosthesis. Little did I know that acidic diets bring a whole host of other potential problems! Thank you for stopping by to read and comment- I really appreciate your thoughts. Glad you didn't invest in the water ionizer:)

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on September 26, 2012:

Sometimes we think we're eating well when, in actuality, it's not balanced. These are very helpful reminders. As always, fresh fruits and veggies are key. I'm glad to know the alkaline water machines have been debunked. We didn't get one because many new trends end up the same way! Thanks so much for these great tips.

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on August 11, 2012:

Hi Genna,

Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. It's always good to see you here!

I appreciate it. :)

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on August 11, 2012:

Excellent hub, Scrib. Good nutrition and exercise is vital to us all. We each have a genetic lottery as well that impacts our overall health. I have long been a proponent of supplements, but they cannot work alone. This hub is a must read for everyone. :-)

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on July 18, 2012:

Thank you, Sueswan! It sounds like you eat sensibly and are supporting good health w/o depriving yourself of the enjoyment of eating. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

Sueswan on July 18, 2012:

Hi Cat

Very informative and useful information. I am not good when it comes to percentages so I believe in eating anything in moderation. I am not a big meat eater. My weakness is chocolate. I do eat dark chocolate though. I cut out canned and frozen foods a couple of years ago due to their high sodium content.

Voted up and awesome

Take Care :)

Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on July 08, 2012:

I'm with you. I think a little of me says I'm among those who are not bothered by imbalance. I may have tried living healthy but I haven't really put attention to this "balance" thing. Thanks for completing my list!

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on July 08, 2012:

Hi, Tonipet. I'm glad that I made you aware of the pH balance in our bodies. Most of us may never be bothered by imbalance . Others won't even take notice until a problem shows up. ( as in my case.) I really appreciate your stopping by, commenting, and voting up. Be well.

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on July 08, 2012:

Tirelesstraveller, I'm glad that I wrote about a subject of long-standing interest to you. Thank you for stopping by. Also, as a new follower, welcome! I really appreciate your tips and comments :)

Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on July 08, 2012:

I didn't mind about this PH thing until now, you just taught me about it and how to balance it. I didn't know how easy we could check pH with simple strips that test either urine or saliva. Thanks for this. Voting up useful!

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on July 08, 2012:

Hello arb. It is always my delight to see you here! I thank you for the tip. My research so far has brought much technical chemistry. Perhaps you will write a hub about it! All of the best to you:)

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on July 08, 2012:

Good to see you here, kashmir!

I appreciate your kind review and am glad that you found the information useful. Thanks for dropping by:)

Judy Specht from California on July 08, 2012:

I am going looking for ph strips. This has been a topic of interest for some time.

arb from oregon on July 08, 2012:

Great hub cat! I did a lot of research on a often neglected vitamin (k2 mx 4) specifically about 2 years ago. I highly recommend you check it out. I probably have 100 hours invested in investigating this.

Anyway, enjoyed your hub, as always.

Catherine Tally (author) from Los Angeles on July 08, 2012:

Hi Ronna,

Thank you for your question! I actually edited my hub and put in that information because it is important to know how to check your body's pH. Most pharmacies should carry the test kits. If not, a dispenser pack of strips for testing either saliva or urine can be purchased from Amazon or elsewhere on line.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on July 08, 2012:

This is all great information within this well written hub, it is so important to try to always eat healthy . Well done !

Vote up and more !!!

Corey from Northfield, MA on July 08, 2012:

Good thoughts here. I have eliminated sodas, sugar, wheat and processed foods from my diet. I juice organic vegetables daily and I feel great. Glad to see you are taking charge of your health! Thanks.

RonnaPennington from Arkansas on July 07, 2012:

Is there a way for me to know what my PH balance should be? THanks

Related Articles