Fads in health and natural cures come and go just like fashions and other trends. Colloidal silver for infection is one example of a treatment that goes in and out of favor. Silver does kill bacteria but so does mercury and ionizing radiation and I don’t want to put those in my body either! Herbs like goldenseal and echinacea also kill infections but they never go out of favor and have been used consistently for centuries. The fads come and go because the usually aren’t true or don’t work.
Now, the pH propaganda is being promoted again as it was about 20 years ago. Alkalize or Die, The pH Miracle and other books are making everyone paranoid about their pH. Even the water you drink has to be altered to be alkaline or it is unsafe. Nutrition has been made complicated by people trying to sell you products and filters and not by people trying to really educate you.
So what is pH and do I really need to worry about it? PH is the concentration of hydrogen ions in the fluids of the body. To reduce hydrogen ion concentrations to a simpler measurement, the pH scale was developed that ranges from 1-14. Any pH below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline. The concentration of hydrogen ions in the fluids of the body determines the speed of different processes. A minor change in the pH of the blood can actually be fatal. The arterial blood is always slightly alkaline at 7.4. According to Guyton’s Physiology, “the lower limit at which a person can live more than a few hours is about 7.0 and the upper limit approximately 7.7.” Guyton has a whole chapter devoted to Acid-Base Balance. So according to the above quote, your arterial blood can’t be acidic at all and is barely alkaline. An arterial blood pH of 6.9 or 7.8 is deadly.
There are numerous buffer systems in our body to micro-manage the pH level of our blood because it is so vital to our health. Two important waste products from the normal metabolic processes in the body is water and carbon dioxide. When H20 (water) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) are in the presence of an enzyme, carbonic anhydrase, they form H2CO3 or carbonic acid which is a weak acid. This molecule then splits into H+ (hydrogen ion) and HCO3- (bicarbonate ion). Excessive hydrogen ions make the fluids in the body acidic and excess bicarbonate makes the fluid alkaline. Did I totally lose you? The buffer systems try to balance the H+ and the HCO3- by excreting the excess ions via the lungs and kidneys regardless of diet.
When the lungs are breaking down and the rate of pulmonary ventilation decreases, you develop a major disease processes known as Respiratory Acidosis. Over-breathing or ascending to a high altitude can cause a temporary respiratory Alkalosis. Metabolic Acidosis is caused by severe vomiting, diarrhea, diabetes and severe kidney disease. It is not caused by eating meat as some authors claim. Metabolic Alkalosis is caused by vomiting just the stomach contents thus losing HCL, taking alkaline forming drugs like antacids and excessive aldosterone secretion from the adrenals. These are major disease processes and are not brought on by diet!
Metabolic acidosis suppresses the central nervous system and increase the respiration rate. Metabolic alkalosis stimulated the nervous system causing over-excitability, nervousness, muscle tetany, convulsions or spasm and even a paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Neither of these conditions is brought on by the food you eat. Now if you starve your body for weeks or months at a time then you will change your blood pH and you will eventually die.
So stop worrying about if your body is acid or alkaline because you already are both. Your blood is alkaline or you would be dead. Your saliva should be neutral with pH 6.8-7.2 but can fluctuate dramatically based on the food you just ate. Your stomach should be acidic at pH .5-2 at the most. Your small intestine will be highly alkaline, your urine usually acidic because you over-produce H+ daily and it needs to be excreted and your bowels movements should be acidic. I can tell you that most urine samples I test when a patient has the symptoms of a urinary tract infection are usually over pH 8.0. Kidney stones show up with alkaline urine too. So if someone says the body needs to be alkaline ask which fluids are they talking about?
In addition to all the science, let’s take a common sense look at this issue. If the pH level of the blood could be so easily influenced by the food we eat, human beings would have been dead centuries ago. We have all heard of essential amino acids and essential fatty acids that are vital to our health but there are no essential amino or fatty alkalines. We know that hydrochloric acid must be present in the stomach for digestion of food and the absorption of minerals and proteins. Proponents of the “alkaline theory” state that infection, arthritis and cancer all grow in an alkaline environment but modern research disagrees. Dr. Jarvis, who I mentioned last month, listed in his book “Folk Medicine” the ideal pH medium for growing harmful bacteria was an alkaline pH 7.2-7.8. This is exactly the opposite of what the “pH experts” say is true.
The solution to all this acid/alkaline craziness is to forget about it. Eat real, live whole food as nature made it. Eat your protein (any flesh, fish, nuts, eggs, etc.) veggies, fruits and grains and stop worrying. Do try to eat ¼-½ of each meal as raw food. I do still recommend you figure out if you are a Carb, Protein or Mixed Type body and follow that eating pattern. We have both the questionnaire that helps you figure out your Metabolic Type and the food lists for each type at the office. Dr. Wolcott who wrote the Metabolic Typing Diet, figured out that foods act differently in your body depending on what metabolic type you are. So a food that acts as an alkaline to a Carb Type body is an acid food to a Protein Type body. One more reason to forget the whole acid/alkaline controversy and just eat right for your Metabolic Type (not blood type).
One of the things I notice every year around the holidays is that people forget their appointments or just drop in because they are in the area. The craziness of the season tends to throw everyone off a bit. So for the month of December I will be available both morning and afternoon from 9-12 and 2-6 on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday but Wednesday will stay 9-1. I’m usually in the office anyway working on paperwork, bookkeeping, research, keeping up with my reading and treating some of the spinal decompression patients. It is best to call ahead and make sure I’m not out running an errand but we can usually get you in at the last minute whether it is morning or afternoon. This should help relieve some of the time pressure you feel during the holidays and make it easier for you to get in to see us. We will be closed 12/24, 25 & 26/08 and 12-31-08 thru 1-2-09.
Lastly, don’t forget to take your parasite supplements over the holiday season to protect you from the weird foods that you tend to eat this time of year at parties and dinners. Paradex, Jug/art, Wormwood Complex and Artecin are some of the supplements you can take to fight parasites.
Have a Great Holiday Season!