Welcome to "The pH Nutrition Guide to Acid / Alkaline Balance" by Jack Challem, the Nutrition Reporter.
In this exclusive report, you'll learn one of the most important health secrets found in nutritional science: the pH secret to good health! Here's what's covered:
How acidic foods strip your body of minerals.
Why osteoporosis is actually promoted by the
consumption of acidic foods.
How eating lots of potassium-rich fruits creates a
chemical buffer against the ravages of acidic foods.
The important of your potassium-to-sodium ratio, and how the American
diet radically imbalances this all-important nutrient ratio.
Chloride warning: The average American diet has way too much chloride.
Here's how it harms your health.
Why muscle cramps are actually caused primarily by mineral deficiencies
(and how to solve the problem without using dangerous prescription
How the mass consumption of meat and grains causes the body to become
Which four foods in the average American diet are the most acidic and lead
to the greatest loss of bone mineral density and lean muscle mass.
Why consuming large amounts of dairy products does nothing to prevent
The real cause of osteoporosis, and how to reverse the condition through
Why your diet is far more important to overall pH level than supplements
What the Hunter-Gatherer diet can teach us about health in the modern
How to accurately test your own pH levels.
A list of which foods are the most acidic vs. most alkaline.
Scientific references supporting the information presented here.
THE BASIC CHEMISTRY OF pH BALANCE
Back in high school chemistry, we learned about pH: acids had low numbers, alkalines had high numbers, and a pH of 7.0 was neutral. And it all meant absolutely nothing in terms of day-to-day life.
It now turns out that we have a better shot at long-term health if our body's pH is neutral or slightly alkaline. When we tilt toward greater acidity, which can be measured easily, we have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, weak muscles, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and a host of other health problems.
The solution, according to scientists who have researched "chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis," is eating a diet that yields more alkaline and less acid. Just what kind of diet is that? One that's high in fruits and vegetables. That might not seem like a big surprise, except for a few unexpected twists and turns.
ACID – YIELDING FOODS DEPLETE MINERALS
If the idea of balancing acid and alkaline foods seems a bit off the wall, it does have a somewhat checkered past. Most people, including physicians, aren't familiar with the dangers of acidosis, except in the most extreme situations. Those include lactic acidosis, from over exercise; ketoacidosis, when diabetes start burning their own fat; and renal acidosis, which can be a sign of kidney failure.
The original scientific research on acid-yielding and alkaline-yielding foods dates back to 1914 and was remarkably accurate, according to Loren Cordain, Ph.D., a professor and researcher in the department of health and exercise science at ColoradoStateUniversity, Fort Collins. Then, in the 1930s and 1940s, the acid-alkaline concept was hijacked by early health food "nuts." Among them, William Hay, M.D., proposed an almost ritualistic eating habit based on food acidity or alkalinity. Since then, most doctors have viewed any discussion of acid and alkaline diets with a skeptical eye.
But the problem with acid-producing eating habits is very real, contends Cordain, a leading expert on the Paleolithic, or Stone Age diet. "After digestion, all foods report to the kidneys as being either acidic or alkaline," he says. "The kidneys are responsible for fluid balance and maintaining a relatively neutral pH in the body."
That's where things get interesting. When acid-yielding foods lower the body's pH, the kidneys coordinate efforts to buffer that acidity. Bones release calcium and magnesium to reestablish alkalinity, and muscles are broken down to produce ammonia, which is strongly alkaline. By the time the response is all over, your bone minerals and broken down muscle get excreted in urine.
Long term, excess acidity leads to thinner bones and lower muscle mass, points out Anthony Sebastian, M.D., of the
University of California, San Francisco. These problems are compounded by normal aging, which increases acidosis, bone loss, and muscle wasting. Along the way, calcium and magnesium losses can equate to deficiencies, with many ramifications. Both minerals play essential roles in bone formation and normal heart rhythm. Low magnesium levels can cause muscle cramps, arrhythmias, and anxiety.
THE FOUR CASES OF DIETARY ACIDOSIS
Sebastian, regarded at the top researcher in the field of diet-related acidosis, admits that some of the science, at first glance, appears counter-intuitive. For example, acidic and alkaline foods don't usually translate into acid- and alkaline-yielding foods. The distinction is subtle but significant. An acid-yielding food is one that creates a lower, or more acidic, pH. Citrus fruits and tomatoes are acidic, but they have a net alkaline yield once their constituents get to the kidneys.
So if acid foods don't necessarily make for an acid pH, what then happens?
Sebastian points to four big issues.
• First, fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium salts, a natural buffer. Eating few of these foods deprives us of potassium, a mineral that protects against hypertension and stroke. According to Cordain's research, humans evolved eating a 10:1 ratio of potassium to sodium, and he regards this ratio as our biological baseline. Today, because of heavily salted processed and fast foods, combined with a low intake of fruits and vegetables, the ratio is now 3:1 in favour of sodium. That reversal, he says, wreaks havoc with pH and our dependency on potassium.
• Second, there has also been a similar reversal in the consumption of naturally occurring bicarbonate (such as potassium bicarbonate) in foods and added chloride (mostly in the form of sodium chloride, or table salt). Bicarbonate is alkaline, where as chloride is acid-yielding. Chloride also constricts blood vessels, and narrows blood vessels reduce circulation, Sebastian says. Because the whole body depends on healthy circulation, vasoconstriction contributes to heart disease, stroke, dementia, and probably every other degenerative disease.
• Third, eating large amounts of animal protein (including meat, fowl, and seafood) releases sulfuric acid though the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids, also contributing to greater acidity. This acidic shift can be offset with greater consumption of fruits and vegetables (rich in potassium bicarbonate), but again, most Americans eat these foods sparingly.
• Fourth, grains, such as wheat, rye, and corn, have a net acid-yielding effect, regardless of whether they are in the form of white bread, breakfast cereal, pasta or whole grains. "Grains are the most frequently consumed plant food in the United States," says Sebastian, and account for 65 percent of the plant foods eaten by Americans. "In addition to their acid yield, grains displace more nutritious fruits and vegetables," he adds.
"The real problem is one of alkaline deficiency, more than one of too much acid," says Sebastian. People eat plenty of acid-yielding animal protein, dairy products, and grains. The missing piece is an appreciate amount of fruits and vegetables, to produce an alkaline yield. Study after study has shown that most Americans -- 68 to 91 percent -- don't eat the five recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
Jack Challem, known as The Nutrition Reporter(tm), is a personal nutrition coach based in Tucson, Arizona.
Jack is one of America's most trusted nutrition and health writers, and has written about research on nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and herbs for more than 30 years. He is the author of The Food-Mood Solution:
The Nutrition and Lifestyle Plan to Feel Good Again (Wiley, 2007), Feed Your Genes Right (Wiley, 2005), The Inflammation Syndrome (Wiley, 2003) and the lead author of the best-selling Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance (Wiley, 2000).
His next book, Stop Prediabetes Now, will be published in the fall of 2007. He writes The Nutrition Reporter(tm) newsletter and contributes regularly to many magazines, including Alternative Medicine, Better Nutrition, Body & Soul, Experience Life, and Let's Live. Jack's scientific articles have appeared in Free Radical Biology & Medicine, Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Medical Hypotheses, and other journals. In addition, he is a columnist for Alternative & Complementary Therapies. Jack is a frequent speaker at nutritional medicine conferences and to consumer health groups. Email him via www.foodmoodsolution.com
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