Is Your Body on Fire?

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[caption id="attachment_110" align="alignright" width="300"]Acidic foods can cause inflammation in your body. Acidic foods can cause inflammation.[/caption] Acid and alkaline foods: you may have heard these terms, but were not sure what they meant. Which foods are acidic, and which are alkaline? What impact do these types of foods have on your health? In “The Acid Alkaline Food Guide”, Dr. Susan Brown and Larry Trivieri, Jr., explain “For good health, your body needs to maintain the proper balance between two types of chemical compounds, acids and alkalis. A serious consequence of acidosis is inflammation, which is the natural response to the body’s need for repair. If inflammation persists, it can lead to various diseases, including arthritis, bronchitis, colitis, skin problems, and more.” This article by Lisa Best, Ph.D in Holistic Nutrition, explains the acid/alkaline connection, and dispels some common myths and misconceptions. Is Your Body on Fire?  Recently, I read yet another study about the dangers of acidity in the blood stream, and the long list of ailments associated with the decreased oxygenation and inflammation that goes with it. Ironically, it is not the acidity (or pH) of the food itself that matters, it’s the acidic effect food has after you digest it that does the damage. Take citrus fruits for example. While oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes all contain ascorbic acid (otherwise known as Vitamin C), and citric acid, none of these foods actually generate acidity in the blood stream. When they are digested, the acids they contain become part of the Krebs Cycle (otherwise known as the Citric Acid cycle), the method by which our bodies generate energy. It turns out the minerals contained in citrus fruits are actually very alkalinizing. So the net result of eating acidic citrus fruits is not acidity, but alkalinity. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants these foods provide are vital for our good health. You might even say our bodies were designed to eat these types of foods to supply the nutrients we need to function properly. Healthy acid in dairy products Another commonly eaten acid that does not create acidity in the bloodstream (but instead contributes to our good health) is the lactic acid found in fermented milk products like yogurt and kefir. Lactic acid is produced by Lactobacillus acidophilus, a species of good bacteria that helps chase away the germs and bad bacteria that can make us sick. Healthy doses of Lactobacillus help maintain powerhouse microflora in the intestines, and even people who can’t digest milk proteins can benefit from healthy doses of Lactobacillus. So if these foods don’t cause acidity in the blood stream, which foods do? One of the worst culprits is (drum roll please…) SODA! The body must keep pH levels within a very tight range, but the combination of sugar and carbonation creates an incredibly acidic environment in the bloodstream. Ballooning acidity forces the body to pull alkalinizing calcium out of bones just to buffer acidic pH levels. Other foods or products that result in extreme acidity include: sugar, cereal, bread, beef, artificial sweeteners, wheat, beer, cigarettes and tobacco, and alcoholic beverages. The widespread presence of these foods in the American diet is one reason so many people have lower bone density. Since acidity can have such a negative effect on the body, does that mean you should avoid all foods that create acidity? The short answer is no. Many healthy foods like salmon, nuts, and eggs are moderately acidic, but their nutritional benefits far outweigh the acidity they create. You would probably become nutrient deficient if you avoid all foods that create acidity. Plus many natural bodily processes like exercise, breathing and stress create acidity in the body too. Balancing acid and alkaline foods To help balance the acidity created by nutrient-dense but acidic foods and daily activities, your goal is to consume additional alkalinizing foods so that your overall pH stays in the slightly alkaline range. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with 0 representing the most acid state, 14 representing the most alkaline state, and 7 being neutral. Our bodies strive to keep our blood pH around 7.4, which is slightly alkaline. Adding healthy vegetables, fruits, and whole unprocessed foods to your diet will help alkalinize the bloodstream. Some of the most alkalinizing foods include: watermelon, raspberries, tangerines, lemons, limes, onions, lentils, sweet potatoes, baking soda, sea salt, and sea vegetables. Most green foods, fruits and veggies are alkalinizing. Unfortunately, most Americans consume fewer than two servings of natural, whole fruits or vegetables daily. It’s no wonder we are so acidic! Cutting down your consumption of the worst acidic offenders, such as highly processed foods, fast foods, and junk foods, can go a long way towards creating pH balance. To maintain good long-term health, eat more alkalinizing foods than acid producing ones.  If you already have significant health issues, you might want to increase your alkalizing foods up to 75-80% of your food intake, to help resolve existing inflammation. While the concept of balancing your internal pH may seem complicated, a safe bet is just to eat more alkalinizing fruits and veggies. If you don’t like to cook them, or you don’t like to eat them, try making them into smoothies! It is very easy to hide loads of healthy veggies in the blender with your favorite sweet fruit, and never even notice they are there. You can also start your day with a big glass of water infused with lemon, lime, or watermelon juice. Consuming these foods without cooking or processing maximizes the nutrients and enzymes you receive, and helps balance the acidic foods you eat throughout the day. Alkalinizing fruits and veggies are so healing that alternative cancer diets and detox programs rely heavily on consuming mostly alkaline foods to minimize inflammation and heal the body. But any positive step you can take will be helpful. Try adding one or two more servings of alkalinizing foods or smoothies per day, while simultaneously cutting out acidic junk foods. Every week add a few more servings of alkalinizing foods until you reach optimal pH balance.  You might be amazed at how much more energy you have and how much easier it is to breathe because of increased oxygenation when you cut down the hot acidity in your life.

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