Your body needs to be slightly alkaline to be at its healthiest. Your cells, the chemical reactions inside them, your beneficial bacteria and your immune system all work better in a slightly alkaline environment. An acid body means your systems do not work as efficiently as they should. This article tells you how to alkalise for health, and what foods and factors provide an anti-cancer diet, an alkaline diet. It will even thwart candida and yeast infections.
What do we mean by this?
There are a number of biochemical reasons for having a slightly alkaline body rather than an acid body – here are three major examples:
1 Energy Efficiency. Your cells’ energy production depends on you having good levels of magnesium and potassium, and low cellular levels of sodium. As we explain in ‘Acid Bodies and cancer’ (click here to link), the energy production systems in your cells’ power stations (mitochondria) thrive on potassium. If sodium displaces the potassium, the mitochondria use less oxygen and produce less energy. They also produce sodium salts which are more acid than the potassium salts they normally produce. These make matters worse, the cell uses even less oxygen, makes even less energy and is in a dangerous downward spiral. Magnesium is required by a pump on the membrane of the cell to pump in potassium and pump out sodium. 40 per cent of the population are deficient in magnesium. You should also consume potassium at 5 times the level of sodium. Few people do.
2 Immune boosting. In your gut you have many, many strains of beneficial bacteria (for the article on beneficial bacteria, click here). They cut up your foods and release essential vitamins, natural compounds and even a cancer killing chemical. They also cause many reactions which direct up to 85 per cent of your immune system. The bacteria thrive at a certain pH* and enjoy consuming a high fibre diet. They also consume microbes and yeasts like candida . Any change in that balance (for example, through the consumption of non-fibrous foods, too much alcohol, or salt) will cause a stunting of their labours on your behalf. Low fibre foods, salt, saturated fats, meats, common sugar, cows’ dairy, stress can all alter the pH in the intestine directly, or through the production of hormones or bile acids that have a secondary effect.
3 Candida preventing. A crucial side issue of an imbalance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, is that at night when you sleep they consume over 2 kgs of microbes and yeasts. They are your first line of defence. If your yeasts get past them they can cause an unhealthy body by blocking receptor sites on cell walls. These receptors could be essential for receiving insulin (cinnamon is proven to kill yeasts in the blood and stop them from blocking insulin sites – research showed a 25 per cent decline in diabetes-2 effects by taking cinnamon) or anti-cancer agents like vitamin D (women who take more that 25 doses of antibiotics in their life-times have twice the rate of breast cancer). Yeasts, and particularly candida, thrive in low oxygen, slightly acid environments.
*NB. pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a liquid. You can test your saliva or your urine to see how acid or alkaline you are. The measurement of pH is from zero (acid) to 14 (alkaline) and ideally water is 7.0 to 7.2 and the human body 7.2 to 7.4. The acidity or alkalinity is almost entirely due to the various dissolved salts in the liquid. Where reverse osmosis removes salts, the pH of the water can fall to 6 and the water becomes more acid. The human body needs calcium, magnesium, potassium salts dissolved in it. Unfortunately many people confuse the term ‘salts’ with salt. The latter refers only to Sodium chloride. In our book The Rainbow Diet we argue that 1 gm per day of sodium chloride is more than enough. The average New Yorker consumes 16 gms per day. They undoubtedly have acid bodies!
Acid and alkaline Residue Producers
A number of commentators talk about ‘acid residue foods’ or ‘alkaline residue foods’. I have asked two of the top experts in the UK to prove to me that these exist. They can’t. It is anyway irrelevant.
The mechanism by which you generate an acid body, or you alkalise for health involves complex and varied biochemical processes. There is no ‘one simple rule’. For example:
Potassium and magnesium foods are essential for efficient, oxygenated cells.
Animal fats can cause an acid, carcinogenic bile acid to be produced that can alter the effieciency of beneficial bacteria and even cause inflammation (a precancerous condition) via eicosanoids, localized hormones like prostaglandins. Stress via cortisol and sugar via insulin also cause negative eicosanoids to be produced. Garlic, ginger, omega-3, aspirin, curcumin and other natural compounds can prevent the formation of these harmful eicosanoids and alkalise an acid situation.
So there are foods and other non-dietary factors that add valuable alkalizing compounds to your body, and there are things that make you acid. Here is a guide to pin on your fridge door.
Foods and factors that will help you alkalise your body:
- Multi-strain probiotics
- Greens – especially green vegetables, chlorella and wheatgrass, plus fibrous cruciferous vegetables and broccoli, alfa-alfa
- Whole grains, seeds, nuts
- Olive oil, fish oils, flaxseed oil, walnut oil
- Sunshine and vitamin D
- Ginger, natural willow bark, garlic, onions, apples, curcumin/turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
- Virtually all fresh fruits especially apples, apricot, avocado, blackberries, blackcurrants, cherries, cranberries, currants, raisons, dates, figs, grapes, lemons, limes, lychees, mangoes, melon, olives, oregano, papaya, peaches, pears, raspberries, redcurrants
- Raw honey, especially manuka; raw molasses
- Whole brown rice
- Medicinal mushrooms
- Vegetables and natural herbs like aubergines, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, celery, chard, chicory, chives, cucumber, dandelion, dill, endive, fennel,green beans, kale, kelp, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, radishes, sorrel, soya beans, spinach, squash, turnips, watercress
- Exercise, yoga, meditation
- Baking soda
- Apple cider vinegar
Foods and factors that will cause your body to become more acid
- Synthetic oestrogens (For example HRT, xenoestrogens)
- Meat – especially mass-market fatty red meat and offal
- Fruits and vegetables picked unripe and shipped a long way
- Pulses – if you do not skim off the phytic acid (the surface scum) when you cook them
- Shell fish – especially prawns, crab, scallops
- Processed, prepared, canned foods – because of the sodium chloride content
- Dried meats – hams, saugage, bacon – because of the sodium chloride content
- Chinese foods – because of the MSG content
- All refined carbohydrate products – pasta, white bread, white rice, pies, pastries, cakes, noodles, refined breakfast cereals, doughnuts, dumplings
- Salted snacks – crisps, peanuts
- All cows’ dairy
- Fizzy sweet drinks
- Prepared fruit juices and ‘smoothies’ (high sugar, processed)
- Caffeine – stimulates liver to release glucose into blood stream (even diet drinks!)
- Preservatives, jams etc
- Pickled products
- Alcohol, especially beer and spirits
- Lack of sleep
- Stress, negative emotions, guilt
The list is meant to be indicative, not exhaustive. There is debate about tomatoes and oranges, which some people say are acid forming. But lemons and limes are certainly not – a drink of fresh lemon, ginger and honey with hot water is a great way to start the day. Other foods like liver, shell fish and crab also have issues to do with stored toxins and chemicals. And of course, factors such as white can liners (BPA), plastic bottles (BPA, phthalates), nail polishes containing toluene, perfumes on your skin contain certain toxins etc can all heighten your oestrogen levels and set up the acid cell syndrome described above.