Health: The secret to energy and health

By Stephanie Vilendrer

Atkins, Pritikin, Paleolithic, raw foods: these may be diets that are already familiar to you. Yet I would be willing to bet that there is one you might not have heard of before: the acid-alkaline balancing diet. This approach to health is so important that it is not exclusively beneficial for weight loss; the acid-alkaline key is critical to preventing disease and healing existing health issues beyond obesity, including low energy levels, frequent infection, acne, dental cavities, bone fractures and chronic disease. It is no coincidence that most people struggling with minor or serious health problems need to address their pH. The human body must maintain its blood within a very strict pH range in order to function. The pH value is simply a measure of hydrogen ion concentration in a given part of the body. A blood pH between 7.35 and 7.45 is normal; anything higher is too alkaline and anything lower is too acidic. The body has multiple mechanisms for balancing blood pH, which can take a toll on other aspects of your body’s health, as you will shortly see. In the stomach during digestion, a more acidic pH of 1 to 3 is required, since the hydrogen ion concentration is high in gastric acid (composed mostly of hydrochloric acid), which is necessary to break down foods. A stomach environment that is too alkaline can cause food-born infections, and chronic acidity contributes to the development of gastric ulcers. In the blood, maintenance of a strict pH range is absolutely critical. Deviations lower than 7 or greater than 8 can lead to comas and potentially, death. The body has multiple mechanisms for regulating blood pH, which include respiration, urination and hormone production. However, blood pH can also be affected by external influences such as diet, exercise and stress. With the exception of how deeply we breathe (increasing the amount of oxygen you intake has an alkalizing effect), we really only have control over these external influences. Acting in ways that positively contribute to blood pH may help you prevent the occurrence of health issues resulting from excess acidity, which is most common. A consequence of acidic blood is that minerals, especially calcium and phosphorous, leach out of bones and into the blood in a process called bone resorption. They react with hydrogen ions to reestablish blood alkalinity, but the downside is that continual mineral leeching (resulting from chronically acidic blood) will weaken bones and teeth. Soda is a good example. It contains a compound called phosphoric acid, which causes bone resorption and thus tooth decay; sugar is not the only culprit. Our contemporary lifestyle simply does not lend itself to acid-alkaline balance. I already mentioned that many chronically ill people have low blood pH. Unless you drink multiple wheatgrass shots every day (here’s a plug for having a fresh juice bar at the gym), it is likely that you are stressing your body to re-alkalize. How can we help our bodies to maintain this delicate pH balance? I bet you can guess it! The simplest and easiest way is through healthy diet. Choose alkalizing foods, minimize acidic ones and drink plenty of pure water. Foods fall within a range of acidity and alkalinity. Most of what is generally considered to be healthy foods are alkalizing. Highly acidic foods, on the other hand, are those unhealthy staples of the Standard American Diet (or SAD), such as pork, beef, poultry, milk, eggs and cheese. Also included in the worst offenders list are coffee, alcohol, cocoa, processed fruit juice, artificial sweeteners, dried fruit, breads and pastas. Sounds a bit like a typical college diet! The good news is that there are plenty of alkalizing foods that you can emphasize to prevent chronic acidity. These include leafy greens like spinach and kale, cucumbers, broccoli and sprouts. Moderately alkaline foods include avocados, celery, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, quinoa and fresh lemon or lime juice. To see a complete list of acid and alkaline foods, check out one of the many comprehensive resources that exist on the web, or pick up a book from the library. Your blood and body will thank you. refresh –>