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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alkalinity v.s Acidity

"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the
human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease." ~ Thomas Edison

Before we started on this journey, you could not get me interested in topics about food no matter what you did. I wasn't a great cook - I mean, why cook if someone is willing to put it in a can or cryovac bag ready to eat? I cut out as much 'work' as I could - I hated cooking! I didn't bake, but would buy baked goods regularly with no idea about what was really in it. I knew it tasted good and that is all that mattered....until I couldn't get out of bed in the morning without feeling like I was crippled overnight.

We discovered the world of alkalinity/acidity online - by someone who had suffered for years with pain, disease and had posted a blog very much like this one. We poured through the information and found astounding insight! We felt ignorant - guilty we didn't know these things. We spent weeks piecing the whole thing together. When you break it down to basics (which we find we now do alot), it is so simple.....

pH-inding the Right Balance

At the first mention of acidity and alkalinity, eyes glaze over. After all, these terms sound somewhat scientific, and vague memories of junior high science class and litmus paper changing color may come to mind. However, the balance between acidity and alkalinity, and its importance, can be explained quite simply and should be explained. This balance is essential to good health.

The Basics

Every solution is either acidic or alkaline. (Alkaline is often called "base.") These solutions can be anything from body fluids, such as stomach acid and blood, to beverages, such as wine or coffee, to sea water. Acidity and alkalinity are measured in pH (potential of hydrogen). The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 0 the most acidic, and 14 the most alkaline. The pH of stomach acid is 1, wine is 3.5, water is 7 (neutral), venous blood is 7.35, arterial blood is 7.4, sea water is 8.5, and baking soda is 12. Ideally, our pH should stay on the alkaline side: between 7.35 and 7.45.

Keeping our acidity and alkalinity balanced means regulating the hydrogen ion concentration in our body fluids. An acid is a molecule or ion (an ion is an atom that carries a positive or negative electric charge) that can contribute a hydrogen ion to a solution. An alkalizing substance is one that contains a molecule or ion that combines with hydrogen ions to remove them from a solution_it neutralizes acids and acts as a buffer.

The Misconceptions

Foods are classified as acid-forming or alkalizing depending on the effect they have on the body. An acid-forming food contributes hydrogen ions to the body, making it more acidic. An alkalizing food removes hydrogen ions from the body, making it more alkaline. It is important to note that this classification is based on the effect foods have on the body after digestion, not on their own intrinsic acidity or alkalinity (or how they taste to us). A common misconception is that if a food tastes acidic, it has an acid-forming effect on the body. This is not necessarily true. Very often, an acidic-tasting food is alkalizing. Citric fruits are a good example. People say that lemons, for example, are "too acidic"; however, they are actually alkalizing because the minerals they leave behind after digestion help remove hydrogen ions, decreasing the acidity of the body. (Many people use the term "residue" or "ash" to explain the effect of a food on the body. A food with an acid ash after digestion contributes hydrogen ions, making the body more acidic; a food with an alkaline ash after digestion removes hydrogen ions, making the body more alkaline.)

Another misconception is that acid-forming foods are "bad." This is not correct; acidity and alkalinity are opposites and one is not intrinsically better than the other. This misconception has developed because the North American diet is excessively acidic, which does result in health problems.

Common acid-forming foods include processed junk foods and those that are high in animal protein. Some common alkalizing foods are spinach, soybeans, raisins, carrots, and most citrus fruits.

The Problem

North Americans eat considerably more acid-forming foods than alkalizing foods. Unfortunately, too much acid can cause health problems. According to well-known naturopath Paavo Airola in his book "How to Get Well", Acidosis, or over-acidity in the body tissues, is one of the basic causes of diseases, especially the arthritic and rheumatic diseases."

Others concur with Airola. Speaking of the acidity of a high-fat, high-sugar diet, Michael Colgan, in The New Nutrition, says, "Acidosis destroys bones, because the body has to steal alkalizing minerals from them, to keep the blood pH from dropping into the acid range _ " Dr. Mary Ruth Swope, in Green Leaves of Barley, comments, "We have become too full of acid and, as a result, are experiencing a wide range of diseases that flourish in the acid medium." Dr. Yoshihide Hagiwara, in Green Barley Essence, mentions that, "Should this balance [acid and alkaline] be upset, the cell metabolism suffers, leading to conditions such as fatigue."

Common symptoms of an unbalanced pH include heartburn (a burning sensation in the stomach and acid-tasting burps), bloating, belching, and feeling full after eating small amounts of food. Other symptoms could include insomnia, water retention, migraines, constipation with diarrhea, fatigue, a burning sensation on the tongue and in the mouth, and halitosis.

The Solution

Eat a diet that helps your body maintain the correct acidity-alkalinity balance. According to Airola, the ideal diet should have a natural ratio of four parts alkaline to one part acid. Others contend that while this a good ratio for active people (exercise creates a lot of acid), less active people can handle a diet with a ratio of two parts alkaline to one part acid.

Further Reading

Colbin, Annemarie. 1986. Food and Healing. New York: Ballantine (Pp. 73-80).
Hagiwara, Yoshihide, M.D. 1985. Green Barley Essence. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, Inc. (Pp. 50-58).
Murray, Frank. "Unless you Balance Acidity, your muscles may become tense." Better Nutrition, March 1996.
Swope, Mary Ruth. 1990. Green Leaves of Barley Phoenix, AZ: Swope Enterprises, Inc. (Pp. 99-109). The article "pHinding the Right Balance" is reproduced with the permission of AIM International.
©1997 by AIM International

Very interesting stuff!

We purchased a pH meter began to test our urine. Yeah, I would have thought it was nasty and horrid too - but so is being in pain and finding no answers. We allow complete strangers to test our urine for all sorts of insane reasons - where does it all GO? What do they do with it? Blood? Urine? Any sample? I have no idea! So if I can hand over a sterile bottle of my own personally made yellow toxin to someone who whisks it off for some.....???.....surely I can just test at homeand get results immediately. Women do it for pregnancy now....and they never used to. Don't judge. Haha!

When we finally got over the idea of what we were actually doing, I was stunned to discover my level was approximately 4.5. Remember, 5.7 is the point at which cancer cells can thrive. Below 7.0 is the point at which disease can thrive. I was in big trouble, but a plan had already been put into action.

I added B Vitamin Complex to my morning ritual. I started to cleanse my system with Bentonite Hydrating Healing Clay. You drink it. It's grey. Yeah - yum. It's actually a great toxin fighter - even if you just rub it on your skin! It kills bacteria instantly. I used a clay mask daily on my face, and actually drink it. It grabs everything in your intesines (like rotten food that has been putrifying in there for months or years) and expels it from your body naturally. I found out that our bodies are made up of negative ions, and that when we get sick, it is positively ionized toxins that hurt us. We have to get rid of them, and that's how Bentonite helps! It gets rid of it. An infared sauna in your home does the same thing, but I guess if you called them "Detoxification Chambers" at the spa store, you may not sell as many. :)

It certainly was different than opening the fridge every morning and cracking a Pepsi while I checked my emails. I can't honestly say I enjoyed it - I didn't at first. I drank reverse osmosis water all day (lemon added) - I knew about the 8 glasses of water a day, but didn't realize that it also greatly depends on your weight. I juiced green smoothies, carrot, spinach and kale juice and drank it. Some days I would gag when I looked at it, but I had to keep thinking about what would happen to me if I didn't. It really is mind over matter.

You require 1 ounce of water for every 2 pounds you weigh. I was 160 pounds then, so I needed a minimum of 80 ounces per day to keep my body running optimally. I poured that first very tall looking glass of water and shuddered. I hated water - I saw no use for it in the past. It had no color, no flavor......no point. At least I wasn't aware of the point on a conscious level....yet.

After only two days of drinking the reverse osmosis water with lemon, changes started to happen - and I could SEE them! There were black specks in my urine, and I'm not even going to tell you what my fecal matter (hahaha....I love biology terms) was like. Let's just say that it wasn't like anything I had ever seen before in my life. My 'brain fog' from the years of prescription meds was fading and I felt alert....like waking up for the first time after you fell off of a cliff. My body hurt, I won't lie - it hurt all the time. I felt localized pain in joints I knew I had damaged in my life. After only two weeks, where I used to have cold feet and hands constantly (due to lack of circulation....we'll get to that at a later date) I now had warm hands and feet all the time. I started to feel like there was actually visible changes! My skin still broke out that month, but I also noticed that the white gelatinous material was being expelled without pain by my own body! It was all over my skin, and it now was shell-like and hard when it came out ....but no pain. We put this material under my crappy microscope and it looked shiny - like mother of pearl in texture and colors. Pearly white colors - and some were blue or pink.

My skin still broke out, but the material in it didn't seem as deep. It didn't hurt as bad. My naturopath told me it will take time to get better (a lot of damage has been done) but improvements are excellent signs!

I didn't care what this stuff was, I was grateful to see it coming out of me! Imagine this: you spend years fighting something you can't see. You fail repeatedly when others tell you that they know what it is and send you home to try to remedy this with a toxic prescription.This 'thing' takes over your face anyway and your schedule now revolves around cleaning your skin and covering damage. Repeatedly. Daily. Forever. You spend days in bed because you don't have the energy to deal with it - and while you rest, it doesn't. Sleep eludes you and your up for hours every night trying to fight the pain with more medication that doesn't work - and is actually compounding the problem. In my case, I also had a job and a four year old to deal with.

I was ready to never leave my house again.

After realizing that we were never going to figure this out using traditional (yet they are so NOT traditional) methods like doctors and prescriptions, we committed to figuring it out ourselves.What we started doing was making a difference! I had something to go on....and decided it was all or nothin.

It has been 3 months since we purchased our 'pee tester' as I call it. Everyone in the house is now right around the 7.0 mark. It does change daily based on what you eat, so we carry on with what we have been doing.

The toughest part was understanding that this has to become a lifestyle, not a fad - not a diet or quick fix. There is no such thing. I do find it amazing, though, that I spent 37 years enjoying total crap food - and it has only been 3 months and I already feel amazing compared to the way I felt before. It is so worth having your sanity back, understanding your own system and how it works and knowing there is more than a light at the end of that tunnel......there's LIFE!

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