I’ve started this article a few times but never been able to come to a neat finish within the confines of a medium-long post about the alkaline versus acidic body. That tells me that this is not a simple issue or one that can be treated as such. So I have decided to give myself the freedom to expand into the subject over a series of posts so I can fully explore the topic and give out good researched information. In this article i will explain the basic concepts of pH, the different ways of measuring this, the symptoms of acidosis and what this looks like when discussing the alkaline versus acidic body.
Acidic Waste, the real culprit of degenerative disease
This is the heading of the first section of a book called ‘The Acid-Alkaline Balance Diet‘ by Felicia Drury Kliment. I have long been a convert of the importance of an alkaline diet to counteract our overly acidic lifestyles but this book has really been helpful in connecting some dots and fully explaining the affected systems and the why’s and how’s associated with acidosis (unbalanced pH) and our current state of epidemic disease.
Every input has a pH which effects the pH of the human organism
So first, lets start with the basics. Everything has a pH including minerals, liquids and the food we eat. When food is injected and digested it is used as fuel for the body and turned into energy. In this process an ash residue is left, much like with your wood fire. And in the same way you will notice certain woods burn cleaner and more efficiently then others leaving less ash, different foods leave different quantities and qualities of ash. This has a pH just like the food did coming in. The important thing is the pH of the ash, how toxic it is to the body depends on this reading. So rather then simply focusing on the pH going in, which is about as far as many peoples information goes I would like to encourage the use of the phrases acid forming and alkaline forming to give us a real sense of the foods inherent ability to move us away from acidosis- which I believe the majority of the western population is affected by. So, for instance lemons are acidic but have an alkalising effect due to their alkalising mineral content. Apple cider vinegar is also acidic but inherently alkaline forming. Another way of rating a food is to use the PRAL scale (potential renal acid load) which takes this into account. This a measurement of the ash pH- however some argue that this isn’t accurate as the high temperatures used to burn the foods in the test lab to recreate the combustion in the body, burns off the acid-forming sugars, so you get certain fruits with a high sugar content measuring as alkaline with the PRAL scale, when in fact their effect on the body is acid forming.
You will find many different charts online with some wild differences, which can be very confusing. Also, foods change pH depending on how fresh they are and also what kind of environment they’ve been grown in which includes the soil quality. A food grown in depleted soil will be less mineral rich then one grown in rich, healthy, organically treated soil and therefore will have a lower, (more acidic) pH. When discussing the alkaline versus acid body I would say it’s most important to focus on the foods at the far ends of the chart which generally most charts agree with- the highly acidic and the high alkaline foods.
However, broadly speaking we can say the majority of fresh vegetables are alkalising, especially the dark leafy greens, fruits hover closer towards the neutral line because of the sugar they contain and some are in fact acid forming such as berries and pineapple.
Processed and packed food including white bread, pasta, white rice, dairy products, meat, eggs and most grains are acid forming. Even wholemeal options are on the acidic side of the neutral line. Sugar is one of the most toxic acidifying ingredients out there which means fizzy drinks and sodas are right up there on the acidic side of the pH chart.
The majority of experts in the field recommend the 80/20 diet. With Alkaline foods making up 80% of what we consume with 20% being acidic. It would be in fact impossible to only consume alkaline forming foods as that would cut out all the wholesome grains for good fibre, many fruit with a whole range of vitamins and minerals as well as certain legumes which are great for protein. The body can cope with a wide range of input, just as long as the balance is not always skewed in favour of the acid heavy diet our healthcare system is currently carrying the burden of.
How can we tell we are suffering from Acidosis?
So we can study charts and figures and numbers all day and not get anywhere. What it really comes down to is how the body is functioning and this is personal for everyone. You are the best judge of how things are going with your various systems and of course, we all have times when we eat something that disagrees with us, but really, how often are you doing this? The state of health of the slightly alkaline versus acidic body are wildly different, you have to ask yourself which would you rather experience?
There is a long list of symptoms associated with acidosis as well as more serious disease that can develop over time. These symptoms which, if you have them, can no longer be ignored and I suggest immediate attempts to alkalise if you are at all interested in a healthy future.
This could be a regular thing or perhaps a rare inconvenience. Either way it’s a sure sign that your digestive system is not happy and there is imbalance with the pH. What is happening when that acidic bile reaches the mouth? Well, the muscle that separates the stomach from the oesophagus has opened and/or started spasming. This is caused by acidic wastes off gassing in the stomach. The value opens and the waste floods up into the oesophagus and up into the mouth. Following on close behind is the alkaline digestive juices, which come from the intestines. These flood into the stomach and effectively neutralise the intentionally acidic intestinal juices of the stomach, causing a whole new wave of imbalance.
Heart burn is like acid reflux’s bigger nastier brother. I have never experienced this and didn’t realise how bad it could be until I started researching for this article. Some people have to literally make themselves throw up to rid themselves of the burning sensation. Yet again this is the same acid waste simply flooding into the wrong place. The body just doesn’t have the defences to deal with these toxins, they are literally corrosive and so throwing up brings temporally relief. The whole process can trigger the valve between the small intestines and stomach to open. Here you have the alkaline digestive juices, which can flood into the stomach and effectively neutralise the intentionally acidic intestinal juices of the stomach, causing a whole new wave of imbalance leading to further inefficient digestion.
Both these symptoms of acidic digestion can be seen as lifesavers as they are letting you know that as acid levels within the digestive tract are reaching critical levels and so elsewhere in the body there will also be dangerous buildup and a change needs to be made to neutralise.
“Every ache and pain in the body that isn’t the result of physical injury is triggered by the acid waste-products of inappropriate and/or nutrient-deficient food.”- Felicia Drury Kliment
This a powerful statement, which indiscriminately links diet to pain. I would add that acid waste can also enter the body through other means such as radiation, water, medication including vaccines and birth control. Even something seemingly harmless such an aspirin can cause long term damage when taken in excess as they are acid forming in the body. So short term relief can cause bigger problems down the line.
For me I can relate to this. I suffered from aching joints from around the age of 12 years old. The doctor gave it a long complicated name and wrote me a note so I could miss sports that aggravated it such as running.
It was worse in cold weather and it kind of felt like I didn’t have enough lubrication. What I have now learnt was happening was the leaching of alkalising minerals which led to a state of inflammation which is the bodies way of protecting the joints and stopping them from moving so much. Of course we are prone to struggle on through this and aggravate the condition rather then taking it as a sign to make some changes.
The blood pH is kept within a very small range (7.4 being optimal, 6.9 is dangerous), even a small change can be life threatening, and so when acidity becomes raised this is balanced with alkalising minerals which are most abundantly found in the bones and most easily leached out of the joints. We then loose a lot of these minerals through being eliminated in our urine, effectively depleting our mineral stores even more.
Kidney pain and infections
It is the job of the kidneys and liver to filter the blood, remove excess acids and salts. They are, however easily damaged, especially the kidneys. When acidic waste passes through the thin, delicate nephrons of the kidneys they act like harsh, abrasive cleaning pads, damaging the thin cell walls. These nicks are repaired with calcified lumps of fat and in the process get easily clogged, reducing the number of nephrons doing the work. Hormones trigger more water to be sent into the blood stream to thin it down so filtration can continue which raises blood pressure, causing a whole other slew of potential problems. You can see how overworked, damaged kidneys could be prone to infection, just like we are!
Urea, a byproduct of meat protein breakdown is an acidic waste that is filtered out of the blood stream by the kidneys leading to an increase in the acidity of the urine. As the minerals that have been leached out of the bodies stores to alkalise the blood, travel through the kidneys, they clog together upon meeting the highly acidic wastes in the urine being sent to the bladder. These stones can clog up the ureter tubes which link the kidneys to the bladder causing excruciating pain. When you pass a kidney stone they are small enough to pass through these tubes into the bladder and from there they can pass through the urethra when urine is expelled. But if not, then an operation to remove them is generally performed. However, if diet is not altered the likelihood of further stones being formed is high.
Depression, Schizophrenia and Mental Disorders
The brain generates more energy then any other organ in the body and uses up 60% of the glucose reserves of the body to do this and 25% of the oxygen. With a build up of acidic waste the enzymes in the cells that carry out this energy production (or respiration) become sluggish. When not enough energy is being produced to cover the brains needs this in turn affects the livers ability to produce the glucose needed as the fuel for this energy production. If taken to the extreme this can cause accelerated die off of cells not getting enough energy. These dead cells add to the toxic acidic waste levels. You get an increasingly negative cycle of cause and effect.
Wastes such ammonia, heavy metals, lactic acid and other acidic debris are especially prone to accumulate in the brain at the site of brain injuries from early life. So it is particularly imperative that those with such a history are fed an adequate, nutrient rich diet.
Symptoms of various mental disorders are alleviated by improved nutrition
Without getting too complex, many mental disorders have been successfully treated with the addition of alkalising minerals, particularly magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese as well as the various B vitamins, Vitamin C and E. It is these in particular that are found to be deficient in the sufferers of mental problems.
Allergens such as gluten in wheat can also exacerbate mental issues by depleting the supply of minerals and B vitamins. B vitamins in particular are vital to brain health as a main component of the sheathing covering the neurones in the brain cells, more then any other area of the body. As an acid forming food, high levels of alkalising minerals are needed to neutralise gluten causing this depletion. It’s a sad fact that before industrialised food production started removing the nutritious outer husk of the grain, wheat and gluten intolerances were far less common. The husk is where various key nutrients reside, including the aforementioned vitamin B, needed for gluten assimilation. When we start isolating and modifying these basic food stuffs we are messing with an inherently balanced nutrition which results in an unbalanced physiological system. What we put in is what we get out!
Migraines occur in 2 stages. The first is a constriction of the blood vessels in the visual centre of the brain. In the second stage, the blood vessels covering the skull become enlarged causing the painful throbbing. In stage 1 it is acidic wastes in the capillaries that cause an increase in blood flow to the area to enable blood to keep flowing. However, as the clogged capillaries are unable to expand to take the excess blood flow this can cut off the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the neurones, which start vibrating, causing the neon spots and zig-zag visuals common to migraine sufferers. When the acidic wastes are pushed into the larger veins covering the skull this causes them to spasm and become inflamed, causing the painful throbbing. The reason acidic wastes accumulate in the visual centre for migraine sufferers could be a previous injury where neurones have already been damaged. I like to think of it as a bit like plumbing, you are much more likely to have leaks and clogging at bends, corners or places which have already been repaired then in new straight pieces of pipework.
Generally food and airborne pollutants that the system can’t handle, such as caffeine, wheat, cigarettes, alcohol, cheese and pollen, trigger the migraine. A diet rich in vitamin B has been shown as very effective in reducing episodes. Probiotics also help with recolonising the good bacteria in the intestines, which are responsible for producing vitamin B for the body. Another reason why a diet skewed to acid forming is ill advised as these useful bacteria can be wiped out by excessive acidic wastes and the workload involved in neutralising constantly.
Listen and start collaborating with your body
I have attempted to demonstrate the sheer magnitude and harm that an acid forming diet can cause within the body and the difference between the healthy alkaline versus the acidic body where degenerative disease can flourish over time. The living system is so interconnected and dependent on so many separate functions that can be interrupted by a simple pH imbalance. The body gives us so many warning signs and these are to be ignored at your peril. Listen to the body, pay attention to allergic reactions, and start working with it by feeding it good quality, alkalising foods.
My next article will be discussing the best super alkalising green foods available to skew the balance in favour of the alkaline versus the acidic body. I also will be discussing one of the most acidic forming foods which most of us are consuming each and every day. I intend to write a whole separate article on heart disease and obesity which are the most pressing epidemics the world is currently facing and I believe also caused in great part to an acid forming diet and lifestyle.
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UPDATE: My new article discusses the best algae for alkalising- read it here