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Posts Tagged ‘alkaline diet’

acid vs alkaline

One of the many downsides to a modern junk food diet low in vegetables is that it makes your body too acidic. The human body must maintain a healthy pH for optimal cellular function. When it’s too acidic, diseases take root.

A body that is overly acidic sets the stage for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, inflammation, autoimmune disease, and other chronic health problems.

Fortunately, you can sway your body toward a more healthy and alkaline pH through your diet.

Symptoms of being too acidic

Many people are too acidic but are not aware of it. Below are common symptoms of over acidity:

  • Swelling and bloating
  • Frequent urination
  • Poor brain function
  • Brain fog
  • Salt cravings
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle twitches
  • Constipation
  • Reduced endurance for exercise
  • Difficulty holding breath
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Poor sleep

Testing how acid or alkaline you are

People use several different methods to identify pH levels, but not all are reliable. The most well-known test is a salivary pH test, however this method does not have much support in scientific studies.

Testing blood pH is also not accurate because it only fluctuates in events such as poisoning, kidney disease, or lung disease. However, looking at functional medicine blood ranges of CO2 and anion gap can help identify a pattern of over acidity.

Urine testing has shown to accurately reflect how acidic or alkaline you are. It can also help you assess whether dietary changes, such as eating more leafy green veggies and less sugar, are helping you become more alkaline.

Ideal urinary pH is between 7.2–7.8. Please note, however, that infections, bacterial overgrowth, dehydration, incontinence, and other issues can affect your results.

How do you become more alkaline?

The modern American diet makes it easy to become too acidic. Sugars, processed starches, industrialized oils, and junk foods promote excess acidity.

Excess caffeine, sodas, and alcohol also promote acidity, as does too much meat and not enough colorful vegetables and fruits.

You do not need to become a vegan or vegetarian to maintain good alkalinity, however your diet should be based primarily on leafy green and colorful vegetables and low-glycemic fruits.

An alkaline diet is rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, and other minerals that help maintain a healthy pH.

An added bonus: A plant-rich diet also feeds the right kind of bacteria in your gut so that you are less prone to food sensitivities, enjoy better brain function, and better immune function.

Avoid an alkaline stomach

The stomach needs to stay strongly acidic in order to digest proteins and fight pathogens. Many people suffer from insufficient stomach acidity, which paradoxically causes symptoms of acid reflux. Taking supplemental hydrochloric acid (as long as you don’t have ulcers) can actually help promote a healthy pH.

Health conditions that promote being too acidic

While being overly acidic can promote poor health, certain health conditions can likewise promote acidity. These include anemia, asthma, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), or high blood sugar (insulin resistance or diabetes).

Acidity that is too severe becomes life threatening. Diabetes, kidney disease, and lung disease acidify the body to a severe degree and require medical attention.

Contact my office for ideas on how diet and nutritional therapy can help improve alkalinity and health.

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acid alkaline

You may have heard of the importance of an alkaline diet. It can help reduce acidity in the body and prevent bone demineralization, kidney stones, back pain, muscle wasting, hypertension, stroke, cancer, asthma and exercise-induced asthma. The foods you eat profoundly affect how acidic or alkaline you are, and thus your health.

Let’s begin with some chemistry… pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline something is. On a scale of 0 to 14, a pH of 0 is totally acidic, 14 is totally alkaline, and 7 is neutral. Blood is slightly alkaline at between 7.35 and 7.45. The kidneys and respiratory system tightly control blood pH with little room for variation. Your stomach is very acidic at 3.5 or below. This acidity is necessary to break down food and protect you from harmful bacteria and other organisms. Your urine pH changes depending on what you eat.

The nutrients in food have either an acidic or alkaline effect on the blood. Fish, meat, cheese, eggs, legumes and grains are considered acid forming, while fruits, vegetables, and mineral soda waters are considered alkalinizing. All junk foods, sodas, and processed foods are considered acid forming, and should be avoided. Note that just because a food is acidic itself doesn’t mean that it will be acid forming in the body and vice versa with more alkaline foods. For instance, although lemon and raw apple cider vinegar are acidic they are alkalinizing in the body.

Acid and alkaline imbalances

When the body’s pH gets out of balance, health issues can arise:

Acidosis (too acidic)

In acidosis, the enzyme systems of the body run on high speed, forcing the adrenal glands into overdrive. Symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Feeling fast and racy
  • Being physically tired but mentally wired
  • Cancer
  • Candida

Alkalosis (too alkaline)

While acidosis is more talked about, one can become too alkaline. In alkalosis, the enzyme systems of the body run below par, reducing blood pressure and pulse, contributing to:

  • Low thyroid activity
  • Low stomach acid (digestive issues)
  • Allergies
  • Wheezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Sluggishness and slowness
  • Fertility issues

So, what’s for dinner when you want to reduce acidity?

There is little question that the mainstream western diet imposes a high acidic load on the body. You might think the fix would be to eliminate all acidic foods. Instead, increasing the ratio of alkaline foods to acidic foods is what makes the most sense. It’s all about balance. An added benefit; this reduces the total number of calories consumed.

When you consider that many classically acid forming foods have important vitamins, fats, minerals, and other nutrients, it makes sense to find a reasonable place for them in the diet. Remember, the acidic foods you consume should be nutrient-dense, quality foods, not a binge in the chip aisle! Instead, focus on a plant-based diet that is made up primarily of vegetables, fruits in moderation, and enough protein and healthy fat to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable.

Increased fruits and vegetables in an alkaline diet improve the sodium/potassium ratio, which can benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting, as well as mitigate other chronic diseases such as hypertension, strokes and cancer. On the other hand, an overly acidic diet (such as too much meat and not enough veggies) can reduce bone density. In fact, in a recent study of 136 trials that examined the effects of dietary calcium (mainly from dairy) on fracture risk in osteoporosis, two-thirds of the trials showed that a high calcium intake does not reduce the number of fractures. Meanwhile, it was found that eating fruits and vegetables improved bone density in an amazing 85 percent of studies that looked at the effects of such foods.

A more alkaline diet can also increase growth hormone, which may improve cardiovascular health and memory and cognition.

Based on the alkaline/acidic nature of foods, scientists have created a way to rate foods called the Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL) score. But take note: becoming too concerned with pH and doing constant measuring of urine pH (the most accessible form of testing) will likely cause more stress than good; it’s balancing the big picture that matters!

The acid-alkaline diet is about balance

Food isn’t the only thing that affects pH in the body; stress also plays a big part. Stress causes us to breathe shallowly, creating a buildup of highly acidic carbon dioxide, which is acidifying. Therefore, it’s important to utilize positive stress reduction methods to help manage your body’s acidic load.

Alkalinizing lifestyle tips

  • Engage in regular, weight-bearing exercise.
  • Eat a diet strong in alkalizing vegetables and fruits.
  • Use positive stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, laughter, qigong, and walking.
  • Deep breathing reduces stress and increases the rate at which carbon dioxide is released from the body, reducing acidity.
  • Go Organic: pesticides are acid-forming.
  • Make the change gradually: If you think a quick switch will be stressful or set you up for failure bingeing, make the transition slowly over a matter of weeks.
  • Adequate dietary Vitamin D levels may help with absorption of calcium, magnesium and phosphate, which can help with acid/alkaline balance. Most populations in northern climates are deficient in vitamin D, so getting tested may be a good idea for you.

Remember, the big picture is what matters; balancing diet, exercise, and lifestyle will provide you with the best tools for maintaining a healthy pH balance in your body.

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are you alkaline enough copy

If your body becomes too acidic it can lead to health problems—good pH balance is necessary for cells to function properly. Too much acidity plays a role in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain and inflammation, autoimmune disease, and other chronic conditions. Fortunately, we can make the body more alkaline simply through changes to the diet.

How do you know if you are too acidic?

Many people are overly acidic today because of the modern diet. Below are some symptoms:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle twitches
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Brain fog
  • Poor brain function
  • Reduced endurance for exercise
  • Swelling and bloating
  • Salt cravings
  • Difficulty holding breath
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Poor sleep

Testing for acid or alkaline pH

You can also test your body’s pH. Although a salivary test is a popular way to test pH it does not have much support in the scientific literature. Testing through blood is not accurate because blood pH fluctuates only if there is an acute event, such as poisoning or kidney or lung disease. However, if the blood test markers CO2 and anion gap are outside of functional medicine ranges it suggests acidity.

A urinary test has been demonstrated to be an accurate reflection of how acidic or alkaline you are and reflects whether nutritional therapy or changes in your diet are helping you become more alkaline. Ideal urinary pH is suggested to be between 7.2–7.8. It’s important to note, however, that infections, bacterial overgrowth, dehydration, incontinence, and other issues can affect the results of your urinary pH test.

How do you become more alkaline?

It’s easy in today’s world to become too acidic. Diets high in sugars, simple starches, and junk foods can lead to excess acidity. Caffeinated drinks, sodas, and alcohol promote acidity as well. Eating too much meat and not enough produce is another dietary factor. It is not necessary to become a vegan or vegetarian to maintain a good pH, however a diet based on ample leafy green and colorful vegetables as well as some fruits are at the foundation of an alkaline diet. The alkaline diet is rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, and other minerals that help your body maintain a healthy pH.

Anemia, asthma, and poor blood sugar regulation can prevent you from being alkaline enough

Certain health conditions such as anemia or asthma can prevent you from being alkaline enough. Stable blood sugar levels are also necessary for good alkalinity. A diet high in carbohydrates and sugars will promote acidity, as will having low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or high blood sugar (insulin resistance). It’s important not to skip meals or to overeat and to eat regularly enough to prevent your energy from crashing if you want to maintain a good pH.

If acidity becomes too severe it can be life threatening. Diabetes, kidney disease, and lung disease are health conditions that can raise the risk of acidifying the body to an extreme degree and require medical attention.

Nutritional therapy to be more alkaline

Although sodium bicarbonate can quickly alkalinize the system, it is too high in sodium to be used regularly. Instead, in addition to adopting a more alkalinizing diet, some nutritional compounds may help move you toward a more alkaline state more quickly.

Contact my office for ideas on how nutritional therapy can help you to be more alkaline.

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