Acid And Alkaline In The Diet
When nutritionists talk about acid- or alkaline-forming foods, they are referring to the condition of the food after ingestion. There are many food substances which are acidic in their natural form that become alkaline when broken down within the body.
A physical description of an acidic substance would be “sour or sharp to the taste buds.” Litmus paper is a simple means to determine whether a substance is acidic. Acidic substances such as vinegar, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, tomato juice, tea, coffee or sour milk will all turn blue litmus paper red. The red coloration is an indication of the substances acidic characteristics. Alkaline substances, on the other hand, will cause red litmus paper to turn blue. However, when acid and alkaline substances are mixed together, they neutralize each other, forming water and salt.
Purified water has pH 7 (neutral), while Ionized can be either – alkaline or acidic. Drinking alkaline water has been reported to help reduce harmful effects of oxidation in body. To change water from neutral to alkaline you can use water ionizer – some recommended models can be found here.
Generally speaking, the metabolic processes of the breakdown of foods from the vegetable kingdom change in character from acidic to alkaline, while the foods from the animal world change from alkaline to acid during metabolism.
All foods contain within them a combination of both acid-forming and alkaline-forming elements. The particular influence a food will have on pH will be determined simply by which elements are dominant, the acid elements or the alkaline elements. These elements, when broken down, will either release (H+) ions, and thus create an acidic medium, or they will accept and combine with (H+) ions, creating an alkaline medium.
Keep in mind the following basic concepts:
- Organic matter is taken into the body in the form of food.
- This organic matter is broken down into simple compounds (monosaccharides, amino acids, lipids etc).
- After metabolism, these compounds leave an acidic or alkaline residue in the body.
- The simple compounds contain elements such as sulphur, potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. These minerals determine the H+ concentration and thus the acidity or alkalinity of the body.
These elements are either acid-forming elements or alkaline-forming elements. The acid-forming substances are sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine, while the alkaline formers are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Most proteins contain sulphur, as well as phosphorus, within their chemical structures. When metabolized, these substances are broken down into phosphoric acid and sulphuric acid, which must then be neutralized through various chemical reactions. Another by-product of protein metabolism is uric acid. (Uric acid has been found to have a major influence on the development of arthritis; in particular, gouty arthritis.) Uric acid must be neutralized and excreted from the kidneys. Because of these toxic by-products of protein metabolism (phosphoric, sulphuric and uric acids), and for many other reasons not mentioned here, protein foods, and especially animal products, are acid-forming. Most grains and dairy products, also high in protein, are, like meats acid-forming.
Within the plant kingdom, the organic acids found in fruits and vegetables are metabolized and eventually become carbon dioxide and water. The alkaline elements such as potassium, calcium, sodium and magnesium remain. Although many fruits are acidic in nature, when broken down into their constituent elements, the acids are rendered neutral and the alkaline elements are dominant. Therefore, the end result of the organic breakdown and digestion of fruits and vegetables is alkaline in nature.
Since we are constantly supplying acids and alkalies to our bodies through the various foods we eat, it is very important that we consider the balance between these two extremes. If we consume excessive amounts of acid-forming foods, such as animal and dairy products, the body must tap its alkaline reserves (buffer salts) in order to maintain the proper pH. The kidneys, lungs and entire physiology is overworked in the process of excreting the neutralized acids from the body. This strain eventually leads to a depletion of buffer salts and the breakdown in the physiological functions of various organs, including the kidneys. Many different organ malfunctions are referred to as “disease,” while the underlying cause, acidosis (due largely to faulty diet), has been overlooked. The point to keep in mind is that any food, drug or condiment that is extremely acidic in nature utilizes alkaline reserves and overworks the various organs. This type of dietary abuse may be tolerated for a period of time, but eventually the body will no longer be capable of handling this overload and will slowly begin to break down.
Following is a reference list categorizing some common foods as being either acidic or alkaline within the body.
|Most nuts (walnuts, pecans, brazils)|
|Most legumes (peanuts, lentils)|
(* Not wholesome foods)
|Greens (lettuce, spinach, etc.)||Citrus fruits|
Foods that are beneficial in maintaining body pH are fruits and vegetables (preferably in their raw form), plus unprocessed nuts and seeds.
FOODS TO AVOID
- All animal foods.
- Dairy products, including milk, yogurt and cheese.
- Vinegar and various condiments.
- Drugs (acidic and alkaline).
- Refined and processed foods. (Many alkaline elements have been removed.)
- Fats. (found in both meat and dairy products.)
- Teas, coffee, cocoa and chocolate.
FOODS TO EAT
These should be fresh and unprocessed.
- Uncooked vegetables.
- Fresh fruits.
- Unroasted nuts and seeds.
If you simply follow these rules, your body will benefit from a diet rich in all the essential proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. It will do this without having to deal with foods that deplete alkaline reserves and simultaneously overwork the buffer systems and organs of the body. These simple rules, combined with all the other areas of Natural Hygiene, will insure a condition in which your body can maintain a balanced state of health and well-being.