Friday, June 11, 2010
The Acid-Alkaline Diet...for Optimum Health! Book Review
Book by Christopher Vasey, ND
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Morganti, ND
Balance is the key to great health. One of the many impressive balancing acts that occur in the body on a continuous basis is the creation of acid by metabolic processes, countered by the neutralization of acid by alkaline substances. This determines the pH of the body, which can be measured in the blood, urine, sweat, and saliva. When acid dominates the environment on a consistent basis, health problems ensue. In his new book The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimal Health, Christopher Vasey, ND discusses ways in which you can achieve an ideal acid-alkaline balance in your body.
How do I know if I have an acid problem?
Are you excessively fatigued, have you lost enthusiasm and drive, or are you worried, depressed, or anxious? Are you sensitive to cold, have low blood pressure, and maybe low blood sugar? Do you have a suppressed immune system and suffer from multiple infections? These are all vague and general symptoms that could be pointing to an acidic pH, usually caused by a diet high in acid-generating foods and a stressful lifestyle.
pH can be measured in bodily fluids, but not all of them accurately reflect the body and tissues’ overall pH. Blood pH does not reflect tissue acidity because the blood quickly transfers out acids in order to maintain a very narrow acceptable pH range. If the blood pH were to stray outside the narrow requirements, illness or even death could ensue. Because it is so tightly regulated, blood pH is not a good way to determine overall body tissue pH. Urine and sweat are good indicators of overall acidity, and pH can easily be measured with pH test strips. The kidneys and skin are both mechanisms in which the body eliminates acids, so a low pH (or high acidity) in their fluids indicates high levels of acid in the body. Dr. Vasey provides detailed instructions on how to measure pH of the urine, which he believes to be the most accurate method.
How does acidity cause health problems?
Urine, blood, and sweat will transfer acids out as they are produced, but these mechanisms can become overloaded fairly easily. When acid levels exceed the elimination capacity, the overage gets stored in tissues, and then they interfere with enzymatic reactions, inflammation, and demineralization. For example, enzymes, which elicit a multitude of critical biochemical reactions in the body, are very sensitive to their environment. They function only in a very narrow pH range, so an acidic environment will disrupt their activity and cause health problems, from minor to very serious. Extra acid in the tissues can also be corrosive and irritating, causing inflammation, manifesting as a skin rash, painful urination, arthritis, or intestinal inflammation. Demineralization is another consequence of a chronically acidic state. Bones and teeth, which store large amounts of calcium, will sacrifice this alkalizing mineral to improve the pH of blood and tissues, resulting in osteoporosis and loss of teeth.
Consuming an alkaline-focused diet is important for dealing with current acid production, but it is not efficient enough to neutralize built-up acids stored in the tissues. Suggestions for meal choices can be found in the book. To truly alkalize deep in the tissues, supplements must be added to the regimen. Supplementation will help alkalize and resolve symptoms, but to thoroughly neutralize the acid in deep tissues, be prepared to stay on the program for the long term.
Minerals are the foundation of the alkalizing therapy. Calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and manganese are the main minerals to look for in a supplement. Sodium is in some products, but it is not appropriate for those who are salt-sensitive and hypertensive. Silica may be present, although it is acidic, it is usually found in small quantities, and is beneficial for those with weak nails, bones, teeth, and joint pains. Dr. Vasey resides in Switzerland, so the products he recommends in his book are not readily available in the US. However, the ingredients he recommends can be found in several great domestic products.
Alkaline minerals may come in the form of citrate, carbonate, tartrate, sulfate, gluconate, and lactate. TriSalts, by Bio-Tech Pharmacal, Inc., contains a combination of calcium, magnesium, and potassium in the carbonate and bicarbonate forms, and is popular for alkalizing and quelching allergic reactions. Whey products are also alkalizing because they are rich in minerals and can be cleansing. (Whey is not appropriate for those who are lactose intolerant). Capra Mineral Whey, derived from goat’s milk, is highly concentrated, alkaline, and contains minerals and electrolytes such as potassium, phosphorus, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Leafy green vegetables are very alkalizing—and an easy way to supplement the diet is with powdered green drinks. New Zealand Green Organic Barley Grass from Living Foods USA is an extremely fresh and tasty source of sprouted barley grass with alkalizing properties.
There are no specific dosage recommendations for alkalizing supplements. Dr. Vasey simply recommends taking alkalizing supplements several times a day, in moderate doses, to increase the urinary pH to about 7-7.5. It is common to make the mistake of taking enough of the supplements for a long enough period to achieve full cleansing of the stored acid waste. It can take several months or up to a few years of supplementation to achieve a balanced pH. To determine if therapy is successful, one should have a pH of over 7, without taking supplements. Even when the supplementation period is over, one must continue to follow an alkaline diet for optimal health.