By Dr Karen Coates
Food is the fuel we use to energize our bodies and support optimal wellness. A diet perfectly designed for humans to eat provides vitamins, minerals and energy and also modulates our acid/alkaline balance. Human bodies thrive on balance and good health is present in a very narrow window of acid/alkaline balance. Like a finely tuned chemical reaction, the pH (acidity) of our blood must be regulated within a precise range o support good cardiovascular health, discourage infection, allow our immune system to work effectively and allow us to remove toxic waste.
Over the past 100 years, humans have been experimenting with this fuel to try and make new/different/marketable/profitable versions of the Real Thing with worrying consequences for our health.
Walking through the central aisles of a modern supermarket, it may be difficult to spot a natural food, one that has not had any type of human modification. Foods with additives, preservatives, and foods with chemical residue from conventional farming all place an added load on our body as we attempt to remove these foreigners safely. The job of toxin removal is given to the liver and kidneys. The chemical process of detoxification have an acid forming effect on blood and body cells, resulting in activation of our natural acid buffering system.
This paradigm shift in our dietary sources to move more acid forming processed foods has impacted fundamentally on our biochemistry, those pathways that allow us to function efficiently, rebuild and repair tissues, remove waste and toxins and manufacture all of our essential hormones. The end result of this acid producing process is most obvious in the areas of skin health, dental health and skeletal strength.
Recent research has started to quantify the negative consequences that acid forming foods have on human health. This domino effect starts at the top of our nutrient extraction factory, the mouth and may infiltrate all aspects of our physical and mental health.
Highly acidic forming carbonated drinks, like soda water, diet drinks and cordials begin an inexorable attack on teeth, which over time may lead to serious dental decay. Doctors are now acknowledging the role of poor dental health as a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
The skin, our largest body organ is an early casualty in the battle for alkalinity. Red cell oxygenation is impaired in an acidic environment. Changes to female hormone production due to a combination of high acidity and endocrine disrupting chemicals can result in eczema/dermatitis and Rosacea- like changes in the skin. Abnormal deposition of fats into areas of cosmetic concern (cellulite) is accelerated by a high toxic burden of our liver, particularly in the presence of an acidic environment. Fat can act as a safe storage facility for toxic waste. This fat can be resistant to classical weight loss regimes as the body attempts to maintain the toxins within a “safe” fat cell toxin storage facility. Evidence from medical research in China suggests that some forms of fatty liver may also be caused by toxin overload to this organ.
Calcium is a source of acid buffering and will be borrowed from the skeleton if required urgently to maintain homeostasis and correct body pH. Over years of poor dietary choices this can contribute to low bone density and osteoporosis. Carbonated drinks are the most commonly implicated culprits linked to osteoporosis through disruption of the acid/alkaline balance.
Women of all ages can be at risk of urinary trace infections due to acid dominance. Mainstream medicine supports the use of alkalinizing agents to both treat and prevent this common condition.
How to alkalinize:
Green vegetables are the foundation of good health. Green smoothies incorporating fresh leafy vegetables are an ideal way to start the day – add a slice of avocado for added energy. Lemons and limes are a surprising inclusion in the alkaline family.
Alkaline producing foods should comprise at least 80% of your daily diet, with the remaining 20% being made up of nutrient dense good quality acidic foods. Some good foods such as nuts, eggs, fruits and dairy can be acid forming but are OK when eaten in moderation in an overall alkaline dominant diet.
Acid forming foods in general are those foods which we intuitively know are wrong choices. Sometimes the high the sugar content of choices such as fruit juices, sweetened tea or coffee attracts us to these acid loving saboteurs of wellness. Beer, processed meats, biscuits, pizza and all processed grains and dairy products fall into the acid category. Eggs fall into the acidic range, but are amazingly nutritious and allowed in that 20% acidic section.
Maintain adequate water intake (alkaline water is now available as an adjunct to an alkaline diet) through the day.
Move well each day and maintain good muscle mass. Healthy muscles use oxygen to exercise. Poor fitness leads to lactic acid formation even on modest exertion and contributes to acidity.
An invaluable tip to remember when wheeling the trolley around the supermarket is to search out the foods with LOW HUMAN INTERVENTION – choose foods as close to natural as possible and apply the rule of common sense.