Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's all this about Acid Alkaline Balance?

As a Naturopath, I am always encouraging clients to concentrate on an 'alkalizing' diet, as im sure you have heard before that an alkaline body is a healthy body, and an acidic body is a dis-eased body....But do we know what this means? I found the following article, written by Maryl Celiz for HLife ( which helps to explain exactly what this means (Thanks Maryl!)

Being aware of the delicate pH balance of our bodies is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. This is directly affected by the foods we eat. Let’s explore how.

When it comes to the body and nutrition, it’s really all about the cell. The cell has to do a job, which is to keep us alive by providing us with energy to do what we need to do. The thing is, in this energy-generating process, the cell also creates waste byproducts. This is where pH comes in. The natural pH of blood is 7.365, but cellular byproducts are lower than that, what we would call acidic. Refreshing our memories from chem lab in school: The pH scale goes from 1-14, with 1 being the most acidic and 14 the most alkaline or “basic”. A pH of 7 is considered neutral. At 7.365, the healthy pH of our blood is slightly alkaline, while cellular byproducts are the opposite. Here is where our role in helping balance this out comes in – and the importance of food in this process.

Dr. Robert Young, a microbiologist and pioneer in alkalinity research, the problem with obesity and derivative diseases in this country is that “it’s not that we’re overweight, it’s that we’re over acid”. As Dr. Young explains in his book, The pH Miracle, the acid that is a natural waste product of cellular respiration needs to be eliminated through urination, defecation, perspiration and respiration in order for us to stay healthy. If we cannot eliminate the acid, it stays in our bodies in the form of body fat. Why fat? Because acid is corrosive and toxic to us, both internally and externally, and in order to keep our internal environment from becoming damaged with this acid that is not being eliminated (acid burns the skin, so you can imagine what it would do to our internal tissues and organs), fat molecules come to the rescue and sort of “trap” the acid molecules so they won’t “burn” us, and then these fat and acid (toxins) bundles take up residence in various peripheral areas of our bodies, such as our hips, stomachs, butts, etc…

Young and other researchers who swear by life blood analysis, it is an overly acid body that is the perfect environment for the development of cancer, obesity and yeast overgrowth, among other diseases. Corrosive thoughts that generate stress as well as a diet high in acid-forming foods and low in alkaline-forming foods that help “cleanse” or balance the blood, and even acidic water are the culprits. Water is supposed to have a neutral pH of 7, but as it is “processed” to get to us at the grocery store, it may become acidic (you’ve heard of acid rain, haven’t you? Same concept, only the acidity in the rain comes from our sadly polluted cities.)
When it comes to food, knowing which ones will generate acid and which ones will be alkaline in your body is a must. Following is an example of some foods and how they effect the pH balance of your body, so that you can start to get an idea of how what you eat reacts in your body.

Acid-forming foods include:- Sugar- Meat- Shellfish- Eggs- Dairy- Processed and refined foods- Dried fruits- Alcohol- Coffee- Chocolate- Sodas- White and wheat breads- Carbonated water- Acidic water
Alkaline-forming foods include:- Green leafy vegetables- Celery- Cucumber- Good fats- Seaweed- Avocado- Limes- Lemons- Grapefruit- Papaya- Pineapple- Watermelon

See any patterns here? Veggies and fruits top the alkaline list, while meat, dairy, and processed foods top the acid list. Still, this is a rough list. The pH scale is a range, and each foods falls on a different spot on the scale. In other words, some foods can be slightly alkaline-forming, while others are very alkaline-forming. The same goes for acid-forming ones: some, like beans, are slightly acid-forming and closer to neutral, while sugary drinks like sodas are way acidic. Keep this in mind when planning meals.

For those of you being exposed to the idea of body pH for the first time, but who are familiar with the glycemic index, this may be helpful. Dr. Grabriel Cousens, author of Spiritual Nutrition, puts it simply, relating it to blood sugar: A low-glycemic diet is alkaline and beneficial. A high-glycemic diet is acidic and unhealthy.

Another way to think of it is this: Foods that contain a large amount of chlorine, phosphorus, sulfur and nitrogen – for example, most animal products – tend to be acid forming. Foods rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium – for example, most vegetables – tend to be alkaline forming.
So how do we apply all of this to our healthy lifestyles? It’s about balance, and we can begin to balance our bodies by keeping our minds as free of stressful thoughts as possible, checking the pH of our water (you can always add fresh lime juice to your water to make it more alkaline) and following an 80-20 rule when it comes to acid/alkaline foods: 80% alkaline-forming, 20% acid-forming. By the way, Dr. Young explains that over-exercising is not good either, as it produces lactic acid in the tissues and makes us “fat”. So, exercise for flexibility, strength and cardiovascular (among other) benefits, but don’t kill yourself if weight-loss is what you’re after. Instead, be sure to eat right to help your body maintain its healthy pH balance and the extra fat off of your hips, belly and thighs. If you do exercise a lot because it is your passion, then alkaline-forming foods take on an even more important role in helping you get rid of acid byproducts. Besides protein shakes you may be fond of for tissue repair, be sure to add green juices to your diet. Also, deep breathing makes the blood more alkaline, so do not skip the cool down process. This will help keep the fluids at the right pH levels, waste out, and health in place. Over-acidic people’s personalities are typically described as grouchy, sensitive and exhausted, exhibiting aches, pains, headaches, problems with sleeping and often having tummy trouble and cravings (and therefore anxiety). So, taking the proper steps to balance your body’s pH will help maintain the health of your body AND mind, and help you project the best version of your own personality without the added emotional imbalances that result from an overly-acidic diet. It’s interesting to no that the acronym for the Standard American Diet – processed foods, too much meat and dairy – is SAD. Wouldn’t you rather be happy and healthy? Take care of your body pH by eating a vegetable-rich plant-based diet and watch how your mood changes.

Posted by Hannah Denham (Naturopath)

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