The Basic Approach to Good Health
Acid/Akaline Balance in the Body
Health fads and multi-level marketing hype drive me nuts! As a holistic physician, I receive countless sales pitches for anything vaguely related to health. Super Blue Green Algae (or “pond scum” as it is familiarly known) -- I’ve tried it. Aloe products, noni juice, chelated minerals, Nikken magnets, Mannatech, countless supplements, and a lot of weird stuff (like desiccated insects) – I’ve tried them all. All except konbucha – that was just too disgusting. The blood-type diet, raw foods, anti-parasite diets, anti-candida diets, high fiber diets, the Zone (high protein) diet – I’ve tried those also. Coffee enemas, colonics, liver cleanses and colon detoxification have also been part of my health education. What all these things have in common is that they each have legions of rabid followers (with no lives) who know beyond a doubt that they possess the key to salvation. Quite often, studies and data of questionable scientific value are used to support the proponents’ claims
Sometimes these products and health approaches do seem to help. It is difficult to discern how much of the help their proponents receive is due to what they are doing or supplement they are taking or due to placebo effect. However, there does appear to be some integrity here and there in the health marketplace and innovative products and health approaches that work are out there.
One of the health approaches that has recently been generating renewed interest is the concept of body pH – whether a person’s biochemistry is acidic or basic. There are a number of new books, products and even infomercials that address this issue.
pH is the abbreviation for potential for hydrogen. It is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14—the lower the pH the more acidic the solution, the higher the pH the more alkaline (or base) the solution. Higher pH indicates greater oxygen richness. Lower pH indicates oxygen deprivation. When a solution is neither acid nor alkaline it has a pH of 7 which is neutral.
Human blood stays in a very narrow pH range around (7.35 - 7.45). Deviation from this range can cause severe systemic consequences, like coma. The ideal pH balance for a healthy body is slightly more alkaline than acid, or around 7.2 to 7.4 on the pH scale.
The body continually strives to balance its internal pH. Most people have a diet and lifestyle that produces an overly acidic condition in the body. Over the long term, the accumulation of acidic wastes that are not naturally flushed from the body become deposited in various places, especially the joints, mucus membranes, connective tissue and internal organs. Conditions directly associated with these acidic deposits include water retention, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, alternating constipation and diarrhea, colds, flu, difficulty swallowing, burning in the mouth, bumps on the tongue, stomach ulcers and acid reflux.
Our bodies, in their homeostatic wisdom, attempt to compensate for over-acidic conditions. A healthy body maintains adequate alkaline reserves in various tissues to meet emergency demands. An acidic biochemical state forces the body to borrow mineral buffers like calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium from vital organs and bones in an attempt to neutralize the acid and safely remove it from the body. Because of this strain, the body can suffer severe and prolonged damage due to nutritional deficiencies—a condition that may go undetected for years. Cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, allergies, kidney stones and gallstones have all been linked to mineral deficiencies as a result of an unchecked acidic biochemistry.
The easiest way to move your body in an alkaline direction is through dietary modifications. There are other, more expensive ways also, but changing body chemistry begins with nutrition. Here’s how it works.
All foods are digested in the body and leave a residue or ash which can be neutral, acid or alkaline, depending largely on the mineral composition of the foods.
Plant foods are rich in sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium and are alkaline-forming. Alkalization is synonymous with regeneration and health promotion. Alkaline foods cool and soothe inflamed tissue, heal ulcerations, and enhance cellular functions. Although most fruits and vegetables are alkalinizing, strongly alkalinizing foods include almonds, apples, apricots, asparagus, bananas, beans (lima), beans (string), beets, berries, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, cucumbers, dates, figs, (fresh) grapefruit, lemons, lettuce, melons, onions, oranges, parsley, peaches, pears, peas, pineapples, potatoes (with jacket), pumpkins, radishes, raisins, squash, spinach, soybeans, raw tomatoes, turnips and watercress.
Acidic foods are high in sulfur, phosphorus and nitrogen. These include all meats, fish, eggs, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, pasteurized dairy products and cooked tomatoes. Most animal protein foods are irritants to the mucosa and cells of the body, invoking an immune response. Foreign proteins cause mucus production, creating congestive issues until the lungs, sinus cavities, ear canals, throat, and other areas become saturated. The intestines can also become saturated in mucus, resulting in parasites and inflammation. The best example of this congestive process results from the consumption of dairy products, which result in excess mucus production in a number of different membranes.
One of the ways you can check your own acid-alkaline balance is by purchasing pH test strips, which are sold at most health food stores. If your urinary pH fluctuates between 6.2 to 6.7 in the morning and between 6.7 and 7.2 in the evening, your pH is within a healthy range. If your saliva stays between 6.5 and 7.5 all day, your pH is also within a healthy range. The best time to test your pH is about one hour before a meal and two hours after a meal.
What I’ve offered in this article is an extremely basic exposition of a very complex biochemical subject. It is not a prescription or treatment plan for any health issue. As always, it is in your own best interests to seek qualified professional guidance before subjecting yourself to major modifications in diet or lifestyle.