Q: My brother has been talking a lot about how important it is to try to alkalize my body, and that a lot of health problems are caused by too much acid in the body. Is there any truth to this? What do you think?
A: Your brother is right, it is very important to have our bodies be in an alkaline state rather than an acidic one. Acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammation, and weight gain are all symptoms of having an overly acidic body.
As I have said before, the human body is a miracle. Our bodies are able to repair and thrive through a seemingly endless chain of checks and balances. One way that is especially amazing is with our body’s pH. If the pH of our blood starts to become unbalanced the body will quickly make the changes necessary to get it back into balance through different buffering systems. To compensate from an overly acidic diet and stress (which also causes excess acid in the body) the body has to work harder and use alkalizing minerals like calcium, magnesium, iodine, and potassium to help bring things back into balance.
Since the body is able to maintain a balanced blood pH, even when subjected to processed, acid causing foods, one might wonder what the big deal is. The problem with constantly having the body work to bring itself from an acid state to an alkaline state is that it takes a toll on our overall health.
As microbiologist Dr Robert Young has said, “The pH level of our internal fluids affects every cell in our bodies. The entire metabolic process depends on an alkaline environment. Chronic over acidity corrodes body tissue, and if left unchecked will interrupt all cellular activities and functions, from the beating of your heart to the neutral firing of your brain. In other words, overacidity interferes with life itself.”
Too much acid forming foods in the diet contributes to digestive problems and a host of other ailments. Many people have been able to stop taking medications for acid reflux by switching to a more alkaline diet. Too much acid in the body can also impact bone health, as the body takes calcium from the bones to help counteract an overabundance of acid in our system.
Having an alkaline diet can also bring the body to a better state of overall health, since research that has found it is more difficult for harmful organisms and bacteria to flourish in a body that is in a more alkaline state.
So where does this excess acid come from? Unfortunately, the typical American diet of too many processed foods and too much animal protein is a great recipe for excess acid (also known as acidosis). Chemical sweeteners, coffee, and soda are also extremely acid forming. You may have even heard how cola can remove rust from a car- if it’s able to do that, what do you think it’s doing to your body?
Now, I’m not trying to say that to be healthy you can never have a can of pop or a cup of coffee. It’s about moderation and incorporating more alkalizing foods in our diet. Some great alkalizing foods are asparagus, cantaloupe, pumpkin seeds, sweet potatoes, lentils, and green leafy vegetables. The two super stars of alkalizing the body are lemons and apple cider vinegar, which seems odd because both seem like they would be acidic to the body, but in fact both are very alkalizing.
A little apple cider vinegar in the morning and before meals can go a long way to helping the body to be more alkaline, and help in reducing acid reflux and upset stomach. Not all apple cider vinegar is the same however. If you’re taking apple cider vinegar for health reasons it’s important to get an organic variety that contains natural enzymes, also known as the “mother”. I would say hands down that Bragg’s apple cider vinegar is the best on the market.
We also have pH strips available at the store, which can be used to test saliva or urine to see how acidic your body is. Alkalizing waters like Evamor and Essentia that we carry can also be very helpful to bring the body to a more alkaline state.
Acid/Alkaline balance is a fascinating subject, and it very important for maintaining overall health.