By Cara Michele Nether
The topic of nutrition continues to be a major theme in my office. Client after client are finding relief from their symptoms with the combination of acupuncture and lifestyle shifts that include moving towards a whole foods diet.
During nutrition trainings that I recently attended, I was surprised to learn the extent of how critical it is to maintain certain levels of pH in our bodies. Further research has shown that chronic low grade deviations or extreme shifts in our normal ranges can cause major illness or even death. Who knew? Well, it turns out that our pH levels are an important consideration in our overall health and well being. In this article I would like to introduce the topic of pH levels and share some of my findings about how it relates to health and wellness in our bodies.
I would imagine that your first two questions might be: what does it mean for my body to be more acid or alkaline, and what practical difference does it make in my everyday life?
pH is the method by which we monitor the levels of acid or alkaline in a substance. The term pH was defined in the early 1900’s by a Danish biochemist, Dr. Soren Peter Lauritz Sorensen. pH literally means “potential for hydrogen.” pH is used to detect the concentration of hydrogen ions in a liquid. pH is measured on a scale from 1 to 14 with 7 being neutral; with measurements below 7 being acid and above 7 are alkaline. Dr. Susan Brown, a medical anthropologist and certified nutritionist, describes in her book The Acid Alkaline Food Guide why this basic chemistry is important to us; “since dissolved acids are what produce hydrogen’s ions, we know that the more hydrogen ions that are present, the more acidic the solution will be. This is why we use a pH system to measure our bodies’ state of acid-alkaline balance.”
Health and disease begin in the cells. In order for our cells to work properly they need our arterial and venous system to offer nutrient rich and highly oxygenated blood. pH levels that lean more toward an alkaline state allow our cells to easily use the oxygen and nutrients from our blood stream with the least amount of effort. It turns out that a slightly alkaline state also allows our cell to release their waste products with more efficiency as well. Conversely, a chronic acidic state, acidosis, greatly impairs the cells ability to functions at their optimal levels. If left unchecked the combination of a lack of oxygen and nutrients and a build up of waste products can lead to disease and chronic low energy concerns.
So what are the conditions that are affected by chronic acid-alkaline imbalance and how can we correct it? Dr. Brown points to many health concerns that we might never suspect to be tied to pH imbalances. Among the list are: premature aging, immune deficiency, low energy, chronic fatigue, osteoporosis, hormone imbalances, kidney stone, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular damage, and yeast overgrowth.
The reason acidosis is so common in our society is mostly due to the Standard American Diet or SAD. SAD is unnecessarily full of acid-producing animal products like meat, eggs, dairy, and far too low in alkaline-producing foods such as fresh vegetables that are the main staple of a whole foods diet. Too many of us are engaged in quick fast food meals that are made with white flour and refined sugar. Then we wash it down with coffee and soft drinks sweetened with chemical sweeteners like NutraSweet, Equal, and aspartame all of which are extremely acid forming. If we are interested in increasing our odds of staying healthy and well, then the best thing we can do for ourselves and our family is to clean up our diets.
For years we have all heard about the benefits of slowly shifting our diets from the lures of processed foods. It’s hopeful that scientists are now starting to pay attention to the important role that nutrition plays in our body’s ability to take care of itself. For those of you who chose to follow your intuition and your body’s signal toward a whole foods diet without any medical validation – congratulations! Science can now prove what your bodies have been telling you all along. My mission with Women in Wellness is to help my clients see that they are the source of everything they need in their lives. Reconnecting with your inner voice and allowing your decision to be guided by your connection with your higher power is the first step to living a life of ease and fulfillment. Learning to understand our body’s needs is a big part of honoring the vessel our souls have been given.