I just recently returned from a back-country ski trip to a wonderful cabin up in the mountains with 11 other people and we had many discussions over the week. One of the main topics was food of course, since everyone is ravenous after a full day of climbing and I realized how many mis-conceptions there are out there in regards to minimizing lactic acid and other breakdown materials produced when using muscles continuously for many hours. I have written a few articles in health magazines explaining acid-base balancing and what that entails. It is based on the essential metabolic processes in the body, which take place at the smallest cellular level. Energy is acquired by humans by the breakdown or oxidation of large carbohydrates into smaller compounds from which the cell draws nutrients for it’s activities. Through this process, carbonic acid is produced, which may be dangerous for the cells when produced in too great a quantity. When this occurs it makes the system “acidic”. For activities in the cell to function properly, a stable cellular acid concentration is required. This varies between pH 7.3-7.4. When outside of this range, certain enzyme reactions, which regulate the energy being utilized by the body are negatively affected. When the pH lowers, some metabolic processes can stop. This leads to toxicity and eventually the death of the cell. Therefore, if the system is too acidic, the cells become toxic.
This can be avoided through different compensations by the body. The first mechanism is breathing, which releases carbonic acid. Therefore, it is extremely important to breath properly deep into the lower rib cage to flood the body with oxygen.
The second mechanism is the minerals, especially potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium (called bases) that neutralize the acid into a harmless salt and is eliminated through the kidneys. The minerals used up in the process must be replaced or detoxification is compromised. Therefore, we should eat 4 times the quantity of “natural” foods (salads, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits) each day, compared to the total quantity of all other foods. Natural foods are rich in the minerals that are needed for optimizing pH. If the base minerals are replaced on an everyday basis, the body will remain healthy and be properly responsive to stressors. If you are doing heavy exercise and sweating, it is important to use a little sea salt with your dinner meal after the exercise to replace the sodium and other electrolytes you are using.
Regulating the proper balance between acids and bases in the body is done by constantly monitoring the proper respiration, circulation, digestion, elimination, hormone production, immune response and other mechanisms. When the level of carbonic acid in the body becomes high, the regulatory mechanism stimulates the respiratory and circulatory system to respond in an attempt to re-balance the system. Tiredness and sleep disturbances are possible early signs of increased acidity. Pain is a signal that indicates the body is even more out of balance.
Typically, most folks have too low pH- too acidic. At the beginning of most diseases, there is an over-acidified system. The regulatory mechanisms attempt to balance the deficit to prevent damage to the cells. When these fail, chronic dis-ease develops. Conversely, an acute disease is often an attempt of the body to mobilize mineral reserves available to try and re-balance the system. Therefore, it is important to re-establish the body’s pH within the proper range as soon as possible, before disease is established.
Measuring the pH is simple. Take any 4 days and test every urination after the first urination in the morning with a indicator paper (called pH paper), which show the pH values between 4.0-7.5. (These you can buy at your friendly compounding pharmacy or spa store). If the value shows repeatedly below pH 7.0 (neutral) or when it constantly lies around pH 5- danger exists. You need to change to a high vegetable/fruit/whole grain diet and again test the pH for a day. This gives you an idea of how many vegetables and fruit you need to add to your typical diet for balance. This will keep you neutral or slightly alkaline most of the time, so, all the processes in your body are working well!
Being physically active also reduces the acids in the body, so, incorporate at least 45 minutes of walking, running, skiing, biking, hiking or snow-shoeing, dancing a day and start absorbing that wonderful sunshine out there!
Following strenuous activity or after eating a large meal, larger quantities of acid are produced. Since the kidneys work quite slowly, they are not able to eliminate the salts quickly enough. As a result, the connective tissue has to function as “pre-kidney” and stores these salts to reduce the burden on the kidneys. If the build-up of acids becomes excessive, the connective tissue surrounding the cells and organs absorb and store acid released from the cells and organs and result in “sore muscles”. During the night, these deposited salts are transported by the bloodstream to the kidneys for elimination. Therefore the urine is more concentrated and has its maximum acid concentration in the mornings. When the collection of acids in the connective tissue is no longer adequate to protect the kidney and other organs, over-acidification occurs- called acidosis. This over- activity of the excretory organs is characterized by acute or chronic inflammation.
ONE’S DIET SHOULD BE OVERALL NEUTRAL or ALKALINE!!!!! When considering your diet, you need to establish the correct balance between foods rich in acids and those rich in bases.
FOODS RICH IN BASES:
• All green leafy veggies-kale, swiss chard, parsley, cilantro, arugula, collards, dark green lettuces). Start adding these to stir-fries, soups or stews.
• Most vegetables- carrots, celery, beets, squash, yams, beans, peas, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, sprouts etc (except cauliflower). Eat these for lunch, in a salad or for a snack.
• Most fruits, especially the dark fleshed fruits such as cherries, berries, plums, prunes and to a lesser extent pears, apricots, peaches, figs, bananas, raisins, mangoes, papaya etc. Add these to your breakfast cereal or yogurt.
• Raw, unsalted seeds-sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, flax, chia or hemp. Eat at least 2 tbsp/day of these on cereal, salads or as a snack.
• Raw Almonds. An excellent source of protein.
• Non-gluten grains-quinoa, millet, brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth and teff. Cook these just like rice.
FOODS RICH IN ACIDS:
• Most Protein-pork, beef, bison, lamb, wild meat, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs and other nuts. The least acidic is wild fish like salmon, herring, sardines or organic chicken, turkey, lamb and wild meat, eggs and nuts.
• All dairy products, especially cow. Try some of the delicious goat or sheep products like goat feta or gouda, sheep manchego (like romano), crotenese (like cheddar), pecorino (like parmesan) or Roquefort (like blue).
• Refined carbohydrates- anything white-sugar, pasta, bread, crackers, flour, potatoes. Use multi-grained products.
• Grains-wheat, barley, oats, rye, spelt, kamut. Try the others like quinoa.
• Citrus fruits- lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit (Note: There is a lot of mis-information about lemons/limes being alkalinizing—they’re not!!!!). Any other fruit is fine!
• Tomatoes (Grow the Russian purples, orange or yellow tomatoes that are low in acidity or even better yet red peppers!)
• Stimulants- coffee, decaff coffee, black/green/white/chai tea, herba mate, honeybush, rooibos. Drink herbal teas such as Bengal spice, Rosaroma, Sleepytime, Peppermint, Spearmint, Egyptian licorice mint or any other your enjoy. For instant hot drinks, there’s Bambu, Inka Dandelion blend or a brewed coffee substitute called Teeccino. These are available at your local health food store or Ferraro Foods.
• Alcohol – Keep it to 2-3 drinks per week
• White, balsamic, apple cider vinegar (Use rice vinegar instead- it is very low acidity)
Therefore, the most important corrective steps for an over-acidified system are:
1. Dietary changes
2. Sufficient exercise
3. Proper breathing
Here are some more exciting things you can do to keeping the body as alkaline as we can, so it can detoxify all the breakdown products and move them out through the feces and urine efficiently.
We talked about eating dark green leafy veggies and other veggies (other than tomatoes/potatoes), fruit (other than citrus of course) and whole grains in cereal/bread/pasta or rice and seeds/almonds. We also talked about breathing well, whether that’s exercise, yoga or other breathing techniques.
One of the things you can do is eat a morning cereal that is non-gluten, such as buckwheat/millet/amaranth/brown rice with seeds/almonds such as pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp, chia or flax with apple, banana or mixed berries. Or you can buy a prepared one called “MorgenStund™” that is made up of alkalinizing grains. You can cook this in the morning for a hot cereal or I soak it overnight in water and add fruit in the morning. This will start to “strengthen, maintain and regenerate” your energy.
Secondly, you can take a whole foods supplement that is alkalinizing. “WurzelKraft™” is one that we use that is a concentrated, plant derived alkaline combination of food granules packed with vital nutrients. This is similar to taking a multi-vitamin, but, is completely plant derived. It is easy to digest, is alkaline generating, gluten free and is great for those that eat ‘mass-produced, pre-cooked, frozen or pre-processed foods that lack nutrients and little vital energy. This would be good for those that have to eat in cafeterias or restaurants and don’t have time to make nutritious meals. It is especially beneficial before sports, during pregnancy and menopause, and for aging, due to the increased stressors on the body.
Another option is drinking an alkaline tea. Any green herb, such as peppermint, spearmint, skullcap or nettles is alkalinizing. We also carry “7×7 Alkaherb™” tea. It is a cell cleanser the contains 49 herbs, seeds, spices, roots and blossoms and helps to keep the body alkaline. You can drink the tea throughout the day. I try & have at least 1-2 cups/d. Come into the office if you’d like a sample to try.
“AlkaBath™” is wonderful tool that uses alkaline minerals in a bath salt. Epsom salts is similar, but, only contains magnesium and is about 1/50 the strength of Alkabath™. The alkaline mineral salts allow the skin to purify, just as the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans did in the past. They used alkaline soaps and sodium bicarbonate as did ancient Japanese and Mexican cultures, which still practice this today for overall physical and spiritual well-being. These mineral salts also contain 8 ground precious stones similar to those used in German spas. You can use these salts for full baths, foot and hand baths for detoxification, alkaline rinses for sore muscles after sports & in the sauna and steam bath. The special make-up of these salts purifies the skin and helps to oil it, which increase suppleness and minimizes wrinkles.
I have talked to many of you about skin brushing and how good it is to move toxins and breakdown products to the lymph centres, so, the body can move those out through the feces and urine. This can be even more effective, with a “Energy Skin Brush”. This is a natural bristle brush that has specially woven mineral strands, so, as you brush the skin, it not only detoxifies, but, energizes the body too!!!!
You may also consider adding an Alkaline capsule or powder. This is a specific combination of calcium, magnesium and potassium in a ratio that maximizes the body’s ability to be alkaline.
Sufficient sleep is essential to keep your body neutral. Remember every hour before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight to repair the body. Try to get at least 8 hours of consistent sleep each night to minimize the cortisol levels in the body. This not only helps us deal with stress more effectively, but, keeps us alkaline.
Handling mental or emotional stress effectively helps us function well in our busy lives. Deal with issues right away, talk over problems with a friend, co-worker or partner, visualize a restful place, take a mini-holiday, go for a walk at lunch or use any technique to minimize stress in your day is essential. This also minimizes our stress hormones that make you acidic.
Take the tools that make sense to you and make your system more alkaline. FEEL THE WAY YOU WANT TO FEEL!!!!