The importance of ‘alkalizing’ your diet!
The word alkaline seems to be bombarding health news and communities lately; alkaline foods regimes and lifestyles are getting a ton of attention, but with all of the conflicting information available surrounding nutrition and diet, it is really hard to know what we are ideally supposed to be ingesting and why. I am hoping to break it down and explain why this increasingly popularized way of eating is not just another fad but utterly fabulous for the health of your body!
So what exactly is an alkaline food? As we may recall from high school chemistry, pH, or the potential hydrogen level, is measured on a scale of 0-14, 14 being the most alkaline, 7 representing neutral, and 0 being the most acidic substance. An alkaline diet follows the same governing principal with food. Every food has an initial pH level, meaning the level of acidity or alkalinity that it possesses prior to consumption. Anyone who has ever tasted a lemon can attest to its bitter-tasting acidity (it maintains a starting pH of about 2.2-2.4). However the true measure of a food’s alkalinity or acidity lies with its actual pH (pH level following digestion). Foods get broken down metabolically during digestion, which alters their chemical structure and the residue that this food leaves behind is what either contributes to an alkaline state or one of acidity (acidosis) within the body. Going back to lemons for instance; although acidic in origin, once ingested, they leave an alkaline residual ash, and as such are actually considered an alkaline food and very beneficial for human health. An important element to note about the acid/alkaline scale is that there is a considerable difference between each value of measurement. Since the pH scale is logarithmic, each whole pH value below or above 7 is ten times more weighted than its higher or lower value. For example, a pH of 4 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 5 and 100 times (10 times 10) more acidic than a pH of 6. Similarly, on the alkaline (or basic) side, each value moving away from 7 becomes ten times more alkaline than its predecessor.
So now how does alkalinity affect the human body? Why is it so important? In answering this it is necessary to look at the pH of the human body. The fluids in the human body have sensitive pH values; saliva, blood and spinal fluid all have a pH of about 7.4. This neutrality maintains bodily health by preventing tissue damage that would otherwise be caused by pH levels hinged at either end of the scale. Proton pumps regulate the hydrogen ions in the stomach keeping it’s pH between 1.5 and 3.5. This highly acidic fluid breaks down food and allows digestion to occur. Changes in any of these processes can lead to serious medical conditions; i.e. a pH imbalance in the mouth leads to tooth decay, or imbalances in blood pH can lead to breathing difficulties and organ failure. Chronic acidity within the body can lead to irreversible tissue damage and cancer. The body fights so hard to maintain health that it uses alkaline minerals such as potassium, calcium, sodium and magnesium to neutralize any acids that enter and threaten to disrupt its delicate balance. These minerals are widely available in most fruits and vegetables, but if these are not abundant in your diet, and your body is overly acidic, you will go into a deficit where the body will leach and steal these minerals from important tissues in the body such as the bones and organs, resulting in damage and illness. As such, it is essential that 60-80% of human nourishment consist of foods from alkaline side of the food chart. (See below for pH food chart)
Many of the things we eat and are exposed to are considered unhealthy or toxic, and are therefore, highly acidic. Common products and practices ranging from processed or packaged foodstuffs and beverages to cleaning products, pollution, prescription medication, tap water, narcotics and liquor etc…- The list is extensive-are all agents that contribute to acidosis in our bodies on a daily basis. Understanding the level of acidity required within the body to incur the formation of a condition let’s say like IC, was one of the biggest milestones in improving my health.
An acidic body cannot heal. It is important to note that cancer cells are very acidic (around 4.5) whereas healthy cells are slightly alkaline at 7.35. Cancer cells have been proven to die when exposed to alkaline solutions such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda with a PH value of 9 (read more: http://curecancer73-don.blogspot.ca/2011/04/seek-baking-soda-high-ph-kills-cancer.html), which demonstrates that illness thrives in acid environments. Disease or inflammation cannot exist in a healthy, alkaline body and therefore the key to absolute health is through an alkaline lifestyle. When it comes to alkaline foods, there are plenty to choose from and as long they comprise the majority of your diet, the body will be nutritionally supported and will be able to rest and heal any inflammation or disease in your body. I have included a link to a comprehensive pH chart food list as a reference for anyone looking to boost their pH and assist their body back to health! Always remember, the body wants to heal and will fight until the very end to rebound from a whole host of different illnesses. Halleluiah to the resilience of the human constitution!
PH Food Chart: http://rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm