In the field of holistic and natural health, we often hear that a body in an alkaline state is better than one that is too acidic. What we actually want, though, is a balance between the two.
A person’s level of acidity is determined by pH, or potential hydrogen. When we measure pH, we measure the degree to which negative and positive ions push against each other. Negative ions are alkaline-forming. Positive ions are acid-forming.
So what does this mean? And why does it matter?
Donna Gates, author of The Body Ecology Diet: Recovering Your Health and Rebuilding Your Immunity, describes it well:
When cells live too long in an acidic condition, they adapt to it by mutating and becoming malignant. Long-term acidic conditions in our bodies provide perfect environments for cancer and auto-immune diseases like AIDS to flourish. Most people with these disorders also have candidiasis.
Similarly, Dr. Theodore Baroody, Jr., author of Alkalize or Die, tells us we should be strive to create a balanced internal pH precisely because disease thrives in an acidic environment.
You can have your body’s acidity tested or test your levels at home using special strips that often can be often in natural food markets. With these strips, you measure the pH of a sample of your saliva or urine first thing in the morning. (A balanced urine pH is approximately 6.4.) It’s important to note, though, that while the results can be interesting, they’re not always accurate. Blood tests are, but they’re not really necessary.
Your best approach is to address your lifestyle: Is it alkaline or acid producing? Again, what we want is a healthy balance. Since most food eaten by the typical American is considered acid-producing, altering food choices is a major step in creating this balance.
Most people eat the Standard American Diet (SAD – an appropriate acronym), which consists primarily of processed food. Items that come in boxes, packages or cans; fried food, fast food, alcohol, sugars, white flour and meat are all acid forming. Noise, air pollution, and toxins in our environment contribute further to acidity, as can general stress, worry, anxiety, anger and fear.
As you might imagine, a healthier lifestyle contributes alkalinity and can help maintain the acid-alkaline balance. For alkalizing, we simply add what we know we need more of in our lives: fresh vegetables, oxygenated clean water, fresh air, laughter, relaxationand positive connections with others. We reduce those foods and experiences that create too much acid.
Whether or not you know your exact pH level, it can be a good thing to take some simple steps to encourage a healthy acid-alkaline balance. Many of these suggestions come from Dr. Baroody’s book, and they are common knowledge among holistic practitioners who see a person’s health considerably improve when they make these lifestyle changes:
- Spend adequate time outdoors in sunlight – 20 to 30 minutes each day – even if it’s cloudy.
- Have a regular pattern of sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
- Use an 80/20 ratio of alkaline-forming foods to acid-forming foods. In just doing a basic online search, I found over 300,000 pages referring to these foods.
- Rest and reduce stress.
- Walk by water or by the sea to be in the midst of negative ions.
- Eat fresh foods found in nature, including an abundance of vegetables.
- First thing in the morning, drink the juice of half a lemon mixed in a tall glass of warm water. Although citrus is acidic, your digestion uses the acidic parts and leaves an alkaline residue.
- Use natural healing such as acupuncture, energy work, reflexology, color and music therapy, yoga, chiropractic and spiritual healing, all of which have alkaline forming reactions in the body.
– Christina Grant, PhD