The Acid Alkaline Diet: for Optimum Health
This text is extract from the book "Acid-Alkaline Diet ".
What Is Acid-Alkaline Balance?
Despite the extreme diversity of substances used by the body to build itself and function, it is possible to classify them in two major groups: basic (or alkaline) substances and acid substances. These two different groups of substances have opposing but complementary characteristics. To be healthy, the body needs both. When alkalines and acids are present in equal quantities the acid-alkaline balance is achieved.
How Acidity is measured
As the difference between an acid and an alkaline is based on their ability to free more or less hydrogen ions, the unit that measures the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a substance is shorthand for the substance’s potential (p) for freeing hydrogen (H) ions, or pH.
The pH measuring scale goes from 0 to 14. The number 7 indicates the ideal balance between acids and alkaline substances and is known as a neutral pH. The greater potential a substance has for freeing hydrogen ions the smaller is its pH number. The acidity range is from 6 to 0, zero indicating a state of absolute acidity. Conversely, a more alkaline pH is indicated by a higher figure, from 8 to 14, the last figure representing a state of total alkalinity (meaning a state in which no hydrogen ions are freed).
Note that on the pH measurement scale the greater the degree of acidity the lower the pH reading.
The pH of different substances can be measured with a special reactive paper known as litmus paper. When put into contact with a dilution of the substance to be tested, the paper changes color to a degree that corresponds to the degree of acidity or alkalinity of that substance.
PH and Health
The body functions at its best when the pH of its internal biochemical environment, measured as a whole, is equal to 7.39, meaning slightly alkaline. The normal range of this optimum pH is very small, from a slightly more acidic reading of 7.36 to a more alkaline reading of 7.42. A reading of anything higher or lower than these figures indicates acidosis (from 7.36 to7) or alkalosis (7.42 to 7.8). If these limits are exceeded, the body can no longer function, and illness appears.
Illnesses caused by Acidification
A surprising number and variety of physical problems and diseases can be caused by acidity. Indeed a triple action can prompt their appearance: enzymatic disturbances, aggressive activity by acids, and demineralization; three factors capable of striking any organic tissue.
- Lack of energy: constant fatigue, loss of physical tone and psychic drive, depression
- Nervousness: agitation without cause, sensitivity, easily stressed
- Inflamed, sensitive gums
- Cracks at the corners of the lips
- Dental cavities
- Attack of diarrhea which expels acids
- Rectal burning sensation
- Predisposition to intestinal inflammation (enteritis, colitis)
- Burning and irritation in the bladder or urethra
- Runny nose
- Prone to chills
- Dry skin
- Skin tends to be red and irritated in regions where there are heavy concentrations of sweat (knees, underarms, etc)
- Nails are thin and split and break easily
- Hair looks dull and falls out in noticeable quantities
- Leg cramps and spasms
- Stiff neck
- Mineral and calcium depletion of the skeleton
- Migrant joint pains
Acidosis: a Widespread Problem
Today the vast majority of the populace of the Western industrialized nations suffers from problems caused by acidification, because both modern lifestyle and diet promote acidification of the body’s internal environment.
In general, the current standard diet is primarily composed of acidic or acidifying elements (proteins, cereals, sugars). Alkaline food such as vegetables are eaten in much smaller quantities. Their alkaline content is insufficient to neutralize surplus acids. Furthermore, the consumption of stimulants like tobacco, coffee, tea, and alcohol – every one of which has an extremely acidifying effect on the body – has grown to enormous proportions.
Stress, nervous tension, noise, shortage of time, and other pressures are facts of life today and contribute to increasing the body’s acidification through the physiological disturbances they create.
Physical exercise – which can play an important role in maintaining acid-alkaline balance – is more often than not either insufficient or excessive. In both cases, acidification of the body’s internal environment is the result.
Of all the factors causing acidification the most important is unquestionably the food. The majority of acidosis sufferers can be treated simply by significantly reducing their consumption of acidifying and acidic food and increasing their consumption of alkaline foods.
Acidifying foods are primarily those that are rich in proteins, carbohydrates, and/or fats
- Meat, poultry, fish
- Cheeses (strong cheeses are more acidic than mild cheeses)
- Animal fats such as lard and suet - Vegetable oils, especially peanut oil and oils that are refined or hardened (margarine)
- Whole grains and refined grains: wheat, oats, especially millet
- Bread, pasta, cereal flakes, and foods with a grain base
- Leguminous plants such as peanuts, soybeans, white beans, broad beans
- White sugar
- Sweets: syrups, pastry, chocolate, candy, jam, fruit preserves
- Oleaginous fruits: walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkins seed
- Commercially manufactured sweet drinks, primarily sodas
- Coffee, tea, cocoa, wine
- Condiments such as mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup
This group consists of foods whose alkalizing or acidifying effect depends on the metabolic capacities of the person who eats them.
These foods contain a good deal of acid, hence their taste. The acids in them are weak, however, which means for people capable of metabolizing them properly by easily oxidizing them, they are transformed into alkaline elements and therefore contribute to the alkalization of the body. But for people whose metabolisms cannot handle acids properly, the large quantity of acids contained in these foods is not oxidized, and they thus will have an acidifying effect.
The primary acid foods are fruits, whey, and vinegar.
- Whey, yogurt, curds, kefir, small curd cottage cheese
- Unripe fruits (the less ripe a fruit, the higher its acid content)
- Acid fruits: berries (red and black currants, raspberries, strawberries); citrus fruits (lemons, grapefruit, tangerines, oranges); certain varieties of apples (Winesap), cherries (Morello), plums apricots
- Sweet fruits (especially when eaten in excess), melon, watermelon
- Acid vegetables: tomato, rhubarb, sorrel, watercress
- Sauerkraut, vegetables that have been lactofermented (cultured with Lactobacillus)
- Fruit juices, lemon juice (in salad dressing)
Alkalizing foods consist primarily of green and colored vegetables (with exception of tomatoes) and potatoes.
- Green vegetables, raw or cooked: salad greens, green beans, cabbage, and so on
- Colored vegetables: carrots, beets (except for tomatoes)
- Corn (kernels or cooked as polenta)
- Milk (liquid and powdered form), large curd cottage cheese, cream, butter
- Almonds, Brazil nuts
- Dried fruits: dates, raisins (except for those that are acidic to taste – apricots, apples, pineapple)
- Alkaline mineral waters
- Almond milk
- Black olives preserved in oil
- Cold-pressed oils
- Natural sugar
Detecting Acidification - Testing pH
How can you tell if you are suffering from acidification? There are several tests that are easy to perform and interpret. The most important is also the most common, the test that measures urinary pH. It consists of measuring the pH of the urine with pH test strips which are strips specially manufactured to make this kind of measurement.
The most simple method consists of holding the test strip in the flow of urine for one or two seconds, just long enough to moisten it. The acid of the urine reacts with the pH paper on the strip, causing it to change color. The paper is then matched to the indicator scale on the color chart. The figure of the corresponding urinary pH is located right next to the color. Remember that it is neutral at 7; at 6.5 and under it is acid; and at 7.5 and above it is alkaline.
A single measurement is not enough to draw any valid conclusions about the state of the internal environment; pH can vary at different times of the day because of activity, meals, physical effort, stress, and so forth. To be truly representative the measurements must be taken several times a day for four to five days in succession.
A pH below 7 in this range testifies to acidic urine. Regular readings indicating acidic urine are an unmistakable revelation that the body’s internal environment is also acidic.
Healing the Problems caused by Acidification
The treatment plan to counter acidification aims first to reduce the amount of acids the body takes in. This is an indispensable step; as long as large quantities of acids are entering the body, all other measures have only a temporary palliative effect. Diet is adjusted so that alkaline foods and drinks predominate over acidifying and acidic foods. Dietary reform is a simple step, but its effect is considerable. Improved oxidation of acids is obtained by introducing or increasing physical activity (walking, sports). Eliminating the acids already present in the tissues is accelerated by consuming medicinal plants that increase the flow of urine (diuretics) and those that enhance the production of sweat (sudorifics).
An additional measure, which has proven to be indispensable in the majority of cases, is to take alkaline mineral supplements, not only to help the body eliminate the acids ingested during the day but also, and more importantly, to facilitate elimination of the acids lodged in the deep tissues of the body.
The change in diet is primarily meant to deal with the body’s current need for alkaline substances, not for disposing of the previous accumulation of acids. It is therefore imperative to provide alkaline substances in addition to those the body is ingesting through food. This is possible with alkaline supplements, preparations containing the principal alkaline minerals – calcium, potassium, magnesium, and so forth – in a form that is easily assimilated by the body. A good alkaline mineral supplement is pHion Alkaline Minerals
Taking these alkaline supplements on a regular basis supports the body’s efforts and greatly accelerates the process of deacidification. The supplements also provide quicker relief to the patient experiencing the painful symptoms or harmful disorders caused by excess acids in the body. Thanks to supplements, these disorders diminish, often in a remarkably short period.
Alkaline Supplement Dosage
In contrast to most remedies, alkaline supplements have no fixed dosage instructions. The dosage always depends on the individual, so you are responsible for figuring out which dose is correct for your needs.
To determine the right dosage, it is of fundamental importance to take as much as necessary of an alkaline supplement to obtain a urinary pH reading that falls between 7 and 7.5.
Because many people are unaware of or ignore this rule of thumb they do not gain maximum benefit from this therapy.
Length of Treatment
Alkaline supplement therapies are undertaken for as long as the body needs them to clear up the acidification of its internal environment. This varies from one individual to the next. It can last anywhere from six months to two years, based on the degree of acidification. This may seem like a long time, but it is quit short when you consider that the body was building up these acid waste deposits for a good number of years before any health problems appeared.
The sign that the therapy has reached its goal and can now be stopped is when you have a urinary pH of 7 to 7.5 without taking any alkaline supplements.
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If you want to know more on test methods to determine your acid levels, how to interpret these test results, and ways to establish a proper diet to maximize your health, read “The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimal Health” from Christopher Vasey, Arts of Healing, 2004, available at your bookshop or at Inner Traditions.
For great products to help restore acid alkaline balance, visit Phion Nutrition. They have one of the most extensive product lines to help restore pH Balance in your Body. (For Great Britain: Energise for life).