You have undoubtedly heard in your life the phrase, "garbage in, garbage out."
Well, there is nothing more true when you talk about nutrition and what you put into your body and how it can effect your health and well being.
It is not a coincidence that as diets have moved from raw natural foods to highly processed foods, loaded with chemicals, additives, and laden with sugars that so many people are becoming overweight, fatigued, and literally debilitated with a myriad of chronic disease conditions.
The Extinction Of The Hunter Gatherer
People, until relatively recently, were hunter-gatherers whose diets consisted of a combination of lean animal foods (including fish) and uncultivated vegetables and fruits. Studies show that the "average" ancient diet consisted of 55 percent animal foods and 45 percent plant foods.
The animal foods included healthy fats as well as protein, and the plant foods consisted of fruits, stalks, seeds, leaves, roots, and tubers. Grains and cow's milk didn't enter the picture until about 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, too short a time for genetic adaptation.
Today's Doctors And Nutritionist Weigh In:
Many doctors, herbalists and nutritionists believe that a proper diet is the key to longevity, much more so than relying on the many pharmaceuticals created to treat (or sometimes just mask) the symptoms of disease.
Acid Alkaline Imbalance
Our bodies must stay in a very narrow ph level. When excess acids are created by our bodies they must be neutralized. To keep our bodies in this desired "homeostatic state" our body reacts to the acid condition by depleting alkaline reserves. The result leaves the body in a weakened condition.
Acid Alkaline Imbalance Effect On Health:
An Acid Alkaline Balanced diet, according to many experts, is a vital key to health maintenance. The concept of acid alkaline imbalance as the cause of disease is not new.
In 1933 a New York doctor named William Howard Hay published a ground-breaking book, A New Health Era in which he maintains that all disease is caused by autotoxication (or "self-poisoning") due to acid accumulation in the body.
There have been numerous doctors, herbalists and nutritionists since that time supporting the theory that diets that create an acid-alkaline imbalance in the body (over acidity) if left unchecked can weaken all body systems, and give rise to an internal environment conducive to disease. It is also believed that a shift to a pH-balanced diet can provide an environment which allows normal body function necessary for the body to resist disease.
pH (potential of hydrogen) is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. It 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.
When a solution is neither acid nor alkaline it has a pH of 7 which is neutral.
The body is comprised of approximately 70% water. The body has an acid-alkaline (or acid-base) ratio called the pH which is a balance between positively charges ions (acid-forming) and negatively charged ions (alkaline-forming.). When we talk about body pH, we are not talking about the pH of the stomach. When we refer to body pH we are referring to the pH of the body's fluids and tissues.
As humans, a normal pH of all tissues and fluids in the body (except the stomach) is slightly alkaline. The most critical pH is in the blood. All other organs and fluids will fluctuate in their range in order to keep the blood a strict pH between 7.35 and 7.45 (slightly alkaline). This process is called homeostasis.
The body makes constant adjustments in tissue and fluid pH to maintain this very narrow pH range in the blood. It continually strives to a balance pH in a very specific pH range. When this balance is compromised many problems can occur.
Today's Diet And Its Effect On Body pH:
Most people who suffer from unbalanced pH are acidic. This condition forces the body to borrow minerals - including calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium - from vital organs and bones to buffer (neutralize) the acid and safely remove it from the body.
When the body reacts to neutralize a highly acidic condition it weakens itself. If this condition is a common occurrence, and the body must consistently respond to highly acidic conditions chronic health conditions may result.
What makes over acidity so insidious is that this condition may go undetected for years until permanent health conditions may result (similar to how another diet condition; pre-diabetes can occur as a result of long term carbohydrate loading leading to insulin insensitivity, eventually resulting in type 2 diabetes).
Scientific Evidence Confirms The Effect Of Diet On Disease
Overwhelming evidence from a variety of sources, including epidemiological, prospective cohort, and intervention studies, links most chronic diseases seen in the world today to physical inactivity and inappropriate diet consumption.
Chronic diseases present an enormous burden to society by increasing medical costs and human suffering). Recent data estimate that physical inactivity and poor diet caused 400,000 deaths in 2000, ranking second only to tobacco, and that it is likely that inactivity and diet will soon rank as the leading cause of death in the United States).
This number may be an underestimate given that it reflects deaths attributable only to those with obesity, and physical inactivity and inappropriate diet impact mortality at any BMI.
Although health problems such as diabetes, heart disease have been virtually nonexistent in underdeveloped countries, they are on the rise as these people change their diets and become more sedentary.
Acidosis Health Effects
To be to acidic in the body can have far reaching consequences. For example, if the blood becomes too acidic the body will balance the pH at all costs. This can lead to common symptoms which include but are not limited to:
- Acceleration of free radical damage, possibly contributing to cancerous mutations and premature aging
- Bladder and kidney conditions, including kidney stones
- Bone loss, weak and brittle bones, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, bone spurs and other osteo related conditions (A recent seven-year study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, on 9,000 women showed that those who have chronic acidosis are at greater risk for bone loss than those who have normal pH levels. The scientists who carried out this experiment believe that many of the hip fractures prevalent among middle-aged women are connected to high acidity caused by a diet rich in animal foods and low in vegetables. This is because the body borrows calcium from the bones in order to balance pH. Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)
- Brain fog
- Cardiovascular damage, including the constriction of blood vessels and the reduction of oxygen
- Chronic fatigue/low energy
- Frequent urination
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD or acid reflux
- Heart burn
- Hormone concerns
- Immune deficiency
- Irritable Bowel
- Joint pain
- Lactic acid buildup
- Low energy and chronic fatigue
- Mineral deficiencies
- Muscle soreness
- Poor metabolism
- Slow digestion and elimination
- Yeast/fungal overgrowth
- Weight gain/Difficulty losing weight
Body pH Testing
You can test your pH levels to determine if your body's pH needs immediate attention. Blood tests and urine are an accurate way to test blood pH. Saliva test can also be done.
Home pH test strips are available to determine your pH factor quickly and easily in the privacy of your own home.
Urine testing may indicate how well your body is excreting acids and assimilating minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. These minerals function as "buffers." Buffers are substances that help maintain and balance the body against the introduction of too much acidity or too much alkalinity.
Even with the proper amounts of buffers, acid or alkaline levels can become extreme. When the body ingests or produces too many of these acids or alkalis, it must excrete the excess. The urine is the perfect way for the body to remove any excess acids or alkaline substances that cannot be buffered.
Urinary pH should fluctuate between 6.0-6.4 in the morning and 6.4-7.0 in the evening. If the average urine pH is below 6.5 the body's buffering system is overwhelmed, a state of "autotoxication" exists, and attention should be given to lowering acid levels.
While the saliva also utilizes buffers just like the urine, it relies on this process to a much lesser degree. It instead relies more on activity of digestive enzymes in the body that are primarily manufactured by the stomach, liver and pancreas. Saliva pH reveals the flow of enzymes running through your body and shows their effect on all the body systems and your tissues.
Salivary pH should stay between 6.4 and 6.8. If the saliva pH is too low (below 6.5), the body may be producing too many acids or may be overwhelmed by acids because it has lost the ability to adequately remove them through the urine. If the saliva pH is too high (over 6.8), the body may suffer greatly, e.g. excess gas, constipation and production of yeast, mold and fungus.
How To Determine Your Body pH Level
The best time to test your pH is about one hour before a meal and two hours after a meal. I would recommend doing the saliva and urine tests for 10 days in a row. Ignore the top three and bottom three tests because they're extremes. Average the remaining four to determine your pH. You can retest a few weeks after changing your eating habits.
pH Levels And What They Mean
Healthy pH Levels:
If your urinary pH fluctuates between 6.-0 to 6.4 in the morning and between 6.4 and 7.0 in the evening, your body is functioning within a healthy range.
If your saliva stays between 6.5 and 6.8 all day, your body is functioning within a healthy range.
Acidosis Effects On Body Chemistry:
Your body is able to assimilate minerals and nutrients properly only when its pH is balanced. Not only may you be experiencing fatigue and other conditions with generalized symptoms that you might not consider may be the result of a acidic body condition but your problems may also be compounded in that such a condition may also impact the bioavailability of nutrients from your food, as well as from any supplements you may also be taking it improve your health and well being. It is therefore possible for you to be taking healthy nutrients and yet be unable to absorb or use them.
If you are not getting the results you expected from your nutritional or herbal program, look for an acid alkaline imbalance. Even the right herbal program may not work if your body's pH is out of balance.
Getting Back On Track
Several studies have shown that physical activity and proper diet are effective interventions to many of the chronic diseases seen today.
Acid And Alkaline Minerals And Foods:
To determine if a food is acid or alkaline, it is burned and the ash is mixed with water. If the solution is acid or alkaline then the food is called acid or alkaline. Ash is the mineral content of the food. Nutritionally important alkaline minerals include calcium (Ca+), potassium (K+), magnesium (Mg+), and sodium (Na+).
In regards to diet, it is important to understand which foods create an acidic environment, and which foods help counteract an acidic environment. Determining what foods are right for your diet is not as straight forward as it seems.
Food's acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, grapefruits, lemons and limes are very acidic, however the end-products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline so they are alkaline-forming in the body.
Likewise, meat will test alkaline before digestion but it leaves very acidic residue in the body so, like nearly all animal products, meat is very acid-forming.
To help you, I have included a brief summary of some specific foods and their effect on the body when digested (refer to Table 1 below).
Tips To Restore Acid/Alkaline Balance In Your Body:
If your saliva and urine are too acid you would benefit from increasing the alkalinity of your body. Ways to do this include:
Eat a balanced diet. You should not cut out all acid-forming foods - some are necessary, otherwise you probably wouldn't get enough protein and variety of nutrients,. The key to ph balancing the body is to shift the overall balance of your diet over toward the alkaline, and away from the excessively acid-forming diet of conventional western culture.
Eat mostly alkaline foods. The general "rule of thumb" is to eat 20% acid foods and 80% alkaline foods. Consume higher alkaline foods such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli, spinach, as well as mild alkaline fruits, and vegetables.
You do not have to be a vegetarian to gain the alkalizing benefits of fruits and vegetables. Just a handful of raisins, two dates, or a small banana each provide more than 300 mg of potassium. In fact it takes just about 35 percent of total calories as fruits and veggies to produce a net alkaline load.
Avoid the "strongly acid" foods. Avoid or at least minimize strongly acid foods and drinks.
Limit mild acidic foods and drinks. Limit mild acidic foods (e.g., grains, legumes, nuts) and drinks.
Lower your glycemic load. Cut back on breads, pastas, and other grain-based foods, as well as "high-glycemic" foods such as potatoes. Besides causing potential acid conditions, higher blood sugar and higher insulin levels they are also nutrient-poor foods, compared with protein and veggies.
Refined carbohydrates also effects coronary artery disease (CAD) risk. Refined carbohydrates are highly processed, resulting in removal of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and essential fatty acids. Consumption of refined carbohydrates compared with whole grains increases the risk of CAD resulting, in part, from the increased glycemic load of these types of carbohydrates.
Limit artificial sweeteners. Artificial chemical sweeteners like NutraSweet, Equal, or aspartame, are extremely acid-forming. Consider natural sweetener stevia instead.
Supplement your diet. The following is just a partial list of potential supplements.
- Salts of the alkaline minerals cesium, rubidium.
- Calcium citrate. This supplement is better absorbed than calcium carbonate (coral calcium is largely calcium carbonate).
- Potassium is a crucial mineral for maintaining bone, mainly by promoting alkalinity.
- Magnesium citrate. Absorbable magnesium is crucial to help build necessary buffers. Magnesium is often lost in urine as a consequence of too much acid in the body. If your urine is 5.8-7.2 take magnesium citrate to support healthy bones.
- Sulfur acts as a buffer to maintain proper pH levels.
- Buffered vitamin C, which is ascorbic acid formulated with the carbonate forms of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, might also have a slight alkalizing effect.
- Phosphorus is a mineral that helps convert food to energy.
- Kelp (Seaweed) is high in alkaline and other healthy nutrients.
- Colloidal Minerals. Colloidal Minerals can help provide structural integrity for muscles, skin and hair, help eliminate toxins, supports enzyme function, enhance protein synthesis, provides electrolytes for cellular fluid balance, help regulate blood pressure and help supports the immune system. Consider a high quality pH-balanced product that contains a full spectrum of macro and trace minerals, that can be easily assimilated into the body.
- Elder Bark, Hops and Willow are examples of supplements that may reduce stress (stress can create acidic conditions).
- Enzymes for better digestion. Examples my include: Amylase, Cellulase, Hydrilla, Marshmallow, Papaya, Protease, Lipase, Pectinase / Phytase, etc.).
Food Acid/Alkalinity Table:
|Food Category||High Alkaline||Alkaline||Low Alkaline||Low Acid||Acid||High Acid|
|Beans, Vegetables, Legumes||Asparagus, Onions, Vegetable Juices, Parsley, Raw Spinach, Broccoli, Garlic, Barley Grass||Okra, Squash, Green Beans, Beets, Celery, Lettuce, Zucchini, Sweet Potato, Carob||Carrots, Tomatoes, Fresh Corn, Mushrooms, Cabbage, Peas, Cauliflower, Turnip, Beetroot, Potato Skins, Olives, Soybeans, Tofu||Cooked Spinach, Kidney Beans, string beans||Potatoes (without skins), Pinto Beans, Navy Beans, Lima Beans|
|Fruit||Lemons, Watermelon, Limes, Grapefruit, Mangoes, Papayas||Dates, Figs, Melons, Grapes, Papaya, Kiwi, Berries, Apples, Pears, Raisins||Oranges, Bananas, Cherries, Pineapple, Peaches, Avocados||Plums, Processed Fruit Juices||Sour Cherries, Rhubarb, Canned Fruit||Blueberries, Cranberries, Prunes, Sweetened Fruit Juice|
|Grains, Cereals||Amaranth, Millet, Lentils, Sweet corn, Wild Rice, Quinoa||Rye Bread, Sprouted Wheat Bread, Spelt, Brown Rice||White Rice, Corn, Buckwheat, Oats, Rye||Wheat, White Bread, Pastries, Biscuits, Pasta|
|Meat||Liver, Oysters, Venison, Cold Water Fish||Turkey, Chicken, Lamb||Turkey, Chicken, Lamb Beef, Pork, Shellfish, Salami, Luncheon meat, Canned Liver, Sausage|
|Eggs & Dairy||Breast Milk||Soy Cheese, Soy Milk, Goat Milk, Goat Cheese, Whey||Eggs, Butter, Yogurt, Buttermilk, Cottage Cheese, Cream||Raw Milk||Parmesan cheese, Processed (soft) cheeses, Hard cheeses, Gouda cheese, Cottage cheese, Homogenized Milk, Ice Cream, Custard|
|Nuts & Seeds||Almonds||Chestnuts, Brazils, Hazelnuts, Coconut||Pumpkin, Sesame, Sunflower Seeds||Pecans, Cashews, Pistachios||Peanuts, Walnuts|
|Oils||Olive Oil||Flax Seed Oil||Canola Oil||Corn Oil, Sunflower Oil, Margarine, Lard|
|Beverages||Herb Teas, Lemon Water||Green Tea||Ginger Tea||Tea, Cocoa||Coffee, Wine||Beer, Liquor, Soft Drinks|
|Sweeteners, Condiments||Stevia||Maple Syrup, Rice Syrup||Raw Honey, Raw Sugar||Processed Honey||White Sugar, Brown Sugar, Molasses, Jam, Ketchup, Mayonnaise, Mustard, Vinegar||Artificial Sweeteners, (e.g., NutraSweet, Equal, Aspartame, Sweet 'N Low), Chocolate|
Note: This table should be used only as an approximate guide.