By Lela Rabie
"Foods can be used to reduce acidity levels in the body.."
Different foods are either acid-forming or alkali-forming in the body, eg. lemon contains citric acid in its juice which makes it very acidic but as citric acid is an organic acid the body can metabolize it to CO2 and H2O. In the whole lemon, negative charges on the citrate ions are balanced by positively charged metal ions (potassium and calcium). Once the citric acid has been metabolized, the potassium and calcium are balanced against negative ions (eg. chloride or bicarbonate) instead of the citrate. This discourages the formation of H+ and thus has an alkaline reaction. Thus although lemon itself may be acidic, in the body it is alkali-forming.
Ideal Acid/Alkaline levels in the Body.
For maintenance of ideal acid/alkali levels in the body, one needs to take in 80% alkali forming foods and 20% acid forming foods daily. Foods which are alkali forming in the body and can help to reduce acidity levels are eg. almonds, unsweetened yoghurt, raisins, most fruit and vegetables ( do not have high concentrations of protein) and sea vegetables. Some neutral foods are eg. cream cheese, oils, rice, avocado and pumpkin seeds. Some of these neutral, swollen foods eg. rice will absorb acidity from the body and help to remove it and so reduce body acidity and complete the cleansing picture (as well as helping to give the body a good hydration picture). Some foods which are acid-forming in the body and are thus better consumed in moderation are eg. salt, sugar, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, all grains and cereals except rice, high quality animal proteins (these are rich in sulphur and phosphoproteins which give rise to sulphuric acid and phosphoric acid forming in the body) and all pulses and legumes, including peanuts. Eating the fast-growing foods and foods that are in season would also promote cleansing which in turn, will lessen body acidity.
An alkaline environment in the body.
Having an alkaline environment in the body is preferable for many reasons eg:
In an acidic body:
1. Acidification of the medium surrounding the cells causes hydrogen ions to enter the cells and minerals being lost.
2. When there is too much acid in the body the cells take up acid to "help out" the rest of the body and this causes disturbance in the cells mineral balance (H+ increased so Na+ and K+ in cell is lost, first the Na+ and then the K+).
3. Sometimes lost potassium is replaced with sodium which worsens the situation as Na+ attracts acid. ( Also not good for the hydration picture.)
4. For every 3 Potassium ions leaving the cell, 2 Sodium + Hydrogen enter the cell.
5. Excess acidity leads to demineralization of the bones thus an acidic system can lead to the softening of bones.
The natural healthy state of the body is to have an alkaline "inner" environment and an acidic "outer" environment. Outer environment refers to the inner digestive tract and to the outer skin. Healthy and "friendly" bowel flora thrive in a slightly acidic environment whereas in a more alkaline environment the "unfriendly" bowel flora dominate.
As the body constantly works towards a state of balance one will find that when the body is acidic the colon will be alkaline and vice versa.
"The reduction of body acidity influences bowel flora.."
Reducing body acidity will cause the body to become more alkaline and promote more acidic conditons in the colon, a more welcoming environment for the lactose fermenting, "friendly" bacteria. The relationship between the body (the host) and the bacteria is one of symbiosis where both benefit from keeping the other "happy". Thus reducing body acidity by various means eg. eating a more alkali-forming diet, reducing stress, being conscious of "toxic" emotions and being aware of the environment we create for ourselves will have a beneficial effect on the bowel flora as they will be provided with a slightly acidic environment in the colon, which will allow them to thrive. This will allow them to synthesize B vitamins and Vitamin K (important in blood clotting) as well as encourage complete digestion and also generate volatile fatty acids by breaking down dietary residues (especially fibre).
Our bowel flora are there to help us create and maintain a balanced state of health, creating the right environment for them to flourish in is up to us.