Is the acid/alkaline balance a myth?

Everywhere you look online, health “gurus” are warning us about the acid/alkaline balance — telling us to eat more fruits and vegetables to remain “alkaline”.  They say that living in an “acidic” condition makes us prone to diseases and by alkalizing your body, you can prevent or reverse disease. 

Some experts even go so far as to tell people to avoid all foods that contribute to acidity, such as animal products, and instead encourage a vegan diet, juicing, or fruitarian diet (where all you eat is fruit). It’s important to get to the bottom of this idea so that you can integrate elements that are helpful and not stress over those that are simply not true — and certainly not limit your diet unnecessarily. 

Myth versus fact

The truth is that the acid/alkaline balance in the body is a real phenomenon. Yes, it is possible to become too acidic. In the medical community this is called Metabolic Acidosis and can occur when your body:

  • Makes too much acid (due to stress or a poor cortisol response, over-exercise, poor diet, dehydration and mineral loss, ketone build-up, genetic problems)
  • Can’t effectively remove enough acid (due to methylation problems, kidney problems, lack of bicarbonate, etc)

In reality, anyone who is suffering from a chronic health condition is going to veer in and out of states of being too acidic. So while you may not have a life-threatening acidic condition, you should still think about ways to become more alkaline. However, instead of suggesting clients eliminate complete food groups, I prefer to make some very strategic dietary and lifestyle changes to restore the acid/alkaline balance more gently. 

8 ways to restore the acid/alkaline balance:

  1. Juicing. You need minerals to restore you to a more alkaline state. Making fresh-pressed juices daily is the quickest way to do this. Celery and cucumber juices are especially alkalizing, but I also like to suggest carrot, romaine, jicama, beet, fennel, pear and apple. Really, the sky is the limit but be sure to avoid goitrogenic (thyroid-suppressing) greens such as kale if you have a thyroid condition. If you don’t like the taste of fresh juice, use it as a base in a fruit smoothie to mask the flavor. 
  2. Reduce your protein intake. You don’t need to completely eliminate meat, eggs, or dairy unless you are in a terribly acidic state based on labs. Begin to eat large portions of raw vegetables daily and instead have smaller portions of dairy, eggs, or meats. 
  3. Limit grains. Grains are also acidifying and if you are in a very acidic state, even healthy gluten-free grains can make it worse. Relying mostly on fruits and vegetables to make up the bulk of your diet is best, then add in some healthy beans, legumes, grains, and animal products as needed to meet your daily calorie needs. 
  4. Use supplements to alkalize. 
    • Mineral complex. This should include magnesium and potassium, in addition to other minerals. I find the citrate or bicarbonate forms of minerals works best. 
    • Chlorophyll. An alfalfa-based supplement or parsley works well. I prefer these to other “greens” supplements because they are not goitrogens (thyroid-suppressing foods).
    • Yucca shigidera. This helps mitigate the toxic byproduct that is produced upon eating animal products. You can take this with each meal that contains protein.
  5. Reduce your salt intake. While I consider unrefined mineral salt to be an essential part of a healthy diet, while you are acidic, anything that dehydrates you will make the problem worse. So limit your salt intake — even the good kind of salt.
  6. Completely avoid refined sugar and alcohol. Both are extremely acidifying.
  7. Avoid stressful thoughts. Stressful thoughts begin a cascade of unhealthy responses in the body, which depletes you of minerals and creates acidosis. You have been programmed from childhood to respond to stress in a very specific way. Deconstruct your stress responses — what triggers you? When you are triggered, where do you hold tension in your body? How can you release it? You are likely triggered by much smaller circumstances that you realize and since these happen on a daily basis, you keep repeating the acid cycle each day.
  8. Avoid intense exercise. While you are too acidic, anything that dehydrates you will contribute to the problem. Choose gentle forms of exercise and exercise indoors during the heat of summer. 

Tests to ask for

If you are curious if you are too acidic, you can get testing through your doctor to determine this.

  • Anion gap test. This tests for metabolic acidosis and will tell you if you are in fact too acidic. 
  • Electrolyte or mineral panel: magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium. Ask for an Intracellular test because blood tests are notoriously incorrect. Minerals help alkalize the body so if you are low in these, it indicates a greater need for dietary minerals or supplements to restore the balance. 
  • Urine test for ketoacidosis

Ready to figure out the perfect diet for you? Ready to improve your lab work and daily symptoms? Click here to book a nutrition consultation.

Advertisements

the best dairy choices for thyroid and autoimmune diseases

image

Allergen-free eats are a hallmark of an effective thyroid or autoimmune disease diet. That is, eliminating foods your body is reacting to, such as gluten and dairy help to ease these illnesses and reduce symptoms. While giving up gluten and dairy is a therapeutic step in your health journey, it can also prove difficult for many people. After all, breads, pastas, baked goods, cheese, butter, milk — they’re the very foods we’ve grown up on and grown to love. They’re the common denominator in nearly every comfort food and it can be hard to imagine a cuisine without them. So, before you take the leap and go dairy-free for optimum healing, consider switching to these safer dairy choices:

  1. Ghee: Ghee is butter that has had the casein and lactose skimmed off. The resulting product is a clear butter oil that is great for high-heat cooking and baking. Use in place of butter or oil in any recipe. Ghee has been used as a food and medicinal remedy in India for thousands of years. Also, because ghee is a healthy saturated fat and contains cholesterol, as well as natural iodine (as do all animal products), it’s a very healthy choice for the thyroid. I suggest purchasing from Purity Farms or Pure Indian Foods.
  2. Milk kefir: Milk kefir is a homemade yogurt-like product that is made with the use of milk kefir grains — tiny cauliflower-looking balls that are a symbiotic balance of healthy yeasts and bacteria. These yeast and bacteria are probiotic and eat the sugars in milk. Simply place milk kefir grain in a glass of high-quality milk, allow to sit on the counter for about a day, and the end result is a tangy yogurt. Because the sugars in the milk are converted to lactic acid, milk kefir is a superior dairy product and highly therapeutic. Recent studies on lactic acid (as found in all fermented probiotic foods) have uncovered it’s ancient, yet medicinal wisdom. Purchase organic milk kefir grains from a small seller on Etsy or via Cultures for Health.
  3. Raw goats milk or sheeps milk cheeses: Milk from goats and sheep contain a considerably less amount of casein — the milk protein that is known to over-stimulate the immune system in those with autoimmune disease (note that all milk contains some casein, including human breast milk). Finding a milk with a lower casein ratio is what’s important here. Because sheep and goats are naturally smaller animals, they inherently have lower amounts of casein in their milk. Cows, and their milk and cheeses on the other hand, contain much more casein because they are larger animals — much bigger than humans. Choose cheeses that are raw and have not been pasteurized; pasteurization of dairy products distorts the proteins, confuses our bodies, and causes autoimmune attack. Most likely, the only raw cheeses you’ll be able to find are organic, grass-fed, or beyond organic so there’s no reason to worry about contamination.

Which of these new dairy products will you begin to use?