Most of us seem to believe that maintaining a healthy diet consists of counting calories and limiting the intake of certain food items. We tend to be overly concerned with weight loss and muscle building. But we often fail to take into consideration the environment we are building in our bodies. It’s not often that we take our body’s PH balance into consideration when we design our diet plan, and this can be a grave mistake.
If you had a basic chemistry class in high school, you may remember that pH stands for “potential hydrogen”. PH is measured on a scale of 1 to 14. Water comes in with a pH balance of 7, which is considered neutral. Below this number indicates an acidic reading, above, an alkaline environment. Most experts agree that a pH number in the slightly alkaline range is most beneficial to our well being. A pH measurement which is too acidic can lead to a host of ills, including an elevated risk of heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. In fact. Studies have shown that cancer cells cannot exist in an alkaline environment of pH 8.5, leading some to believe that achieving a pH balance in this range will prevent cancer, and even cure it in some cases.
Our body is generally found to be a slightly alkaline environment, and we should strive to keep it that way. A pH balance too far into the acidic range can cause a condition known as acidosis, and this is detrimental to virtually all body systems. Everyone, I’m sure, is familiar with the problems caused by excess acid in the digestive system. Acid damage can start in the mouth. Your saliva may taste a little more acidic, small sores or ulcers may form, gums may become inflamed. And your teeth may become sensitive to hot or cold foods. These symptoms may continue in the esophagus and stomach, with inflammation and discomfort. Damage to stomach tissue may result from a too acidic environment, and ulcers may form. You may develop symptoms of gastritis and acid reflux.
Damage due to over acidity may also cause complications in the circulatory system. Hyperacidity is the primary cause of heart disease. Most of us associate the buildup of plaque in the arteries with an excess of fats in the bloodstream. But these deposits are made primarily to protect the walls of the blood vessels from leaks, which may cause imminent death. It’s a bit ironic.
The buildup of acid in the body will also affect the respiratory system by hampering the delivery of oxygen, via the bloodstream, to every cell in the body. Our cells need to breathe just as our body does. Without oxygen, they cannot function properly. Waste products, which are highly acidic, will continue to build. Our lungs will respond to a higher level of acid than is optimal by producing mucus and leaving us open to infectious diseases such as colds, flu, bronchitis, and asthma.There are many different ways to test and make sure you are within optimal range. Both urine and saliva tests The best part is, it’s super simple to test your body and determine if your pH is leaning towards metabolic acidity, or if it is in that balanced, only slightly alkaline state that the body needs to maximize the health of the human body. The best part about testing your own pH levels at home using the urine or saliva strips is that they are simple and easy to use, and give quick results. Give them a try next time you’re in that aisle of the pharmacy and see for yourself how quickly you can take control of your own pH levels in the body.
The skeletal system is particularly susceptible to damage from over acidity. There are two different types of arthritis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, but both of these are inflammation of the joints. And this inflammation is caused by acid, which is a highly corrosive substance. Even our immune system is not immune to the damage which acid can cause in our body.
So, now that we know all the dangers of over-acidity in our body, what can we do the prevent this from happening. As with virtually everything else, it requires close attention to our diet. We must learn how to test the pH balance of our body as it is currently, and then embark on a campaign, if needed, to correct it.
Our body should maintain a pH balance slightly on the alkaline side. Optimal estimates vary a bit, but most fall in the range of 7.3 to 7.45. Bear in mind that water is 7.0, or neutral, so this really is a minimal lean to the alkaline side. Most experts agree that to achieve this goal, we should adhere to a diet which contains foods that are 80% alkaline to 20% acidic. But this can be a bit tricky. Foods which you may believe to be acidic may actually be al;aline when digested. For example, everybody knows instinctively that lemons, with a high citric acid content, are acidic. But lemons actually have an alkalizing effect on the body once they are digested. By contrast, milk, which may seem to be blandly alkaline, actually turned acidic during the digestive process. So, if you are planning to stick to an 80/20 diet plan, it would be best to consult a dietitian, or simply do some research on your own. As you can see from the above examples, the definition of some foods as acidic or alkaline may be a bit counter intuitive.
In general, alkaline foods consist of dried fruit, potatoes, and leafy green vegetables. Salad greens such as lettuce, spinach, and red and green cabbage are also good examples. Vegetables such as beets, peppers, squash, garlic, zucchini, and cucumbers are also good choices. Natural fats also make the list of acceptable alkaline foods, such as those found in black olives and some nuts. But all nuts are not created equal, so check a list of alkaline varieties before you start snacking. Some dairy foods such as fresh butter and whey protein may be consumed. So can unpasteurized milk, if you can find it. Certain grains make the list as well, like buckwheat and corn. And you can wash it all down with some herbal tea or fresh veggie juice. But don’t sweeten that herbal tea with honey! That’s on the acidic side.
It should come as no surprise that many food people consider staples make the list of acidic edibles. Meats such as beef, pork, and chicken fall into this category. So does most seafood.
Coffee, eggs, pastries, and even cottage cheese are considered acidic. So are soft drinks. As well as barley, malt, and hops, so you might want to reconsider that cold beer.
You may think that such a diet is hard to maintain, but keep in mind that you are not trying to eliminate acid foods from your table, but merely limit them. Choose a soft cheese as a snack versus a hard cheddar. Remember – raisins are nature’s candy, as they say. And, although you may love it, just how often can you afford to eat lobster? You can still have that beer if you really want it, but limit your intake to quantities good for your low acid diet as well as your liver.
I’m Nick Wilkinson. I writer and radio personality who lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
With over 14 years of experience in the Behavioral Health Field, I’ve been working in close contact with kids from all walks of life.
Specializing in teenagers and young adults, I’ve been a career long supporter of “verbal de-escalation” and non-violent crisis intervention. I believe that what you say, and how you say it, are the keys to successful communication. I currently write about men’s health topics, parenting and child abuse topics, and other social issues. You can visit my blog at www.ActingNotReacting.com