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The Importance of an Alkaline Diet

By Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo

Did you know that our blood pH must stay within a very narrow range or serious illness and death can result? This is so essential to being human that our bodies have a wonderful maintenance mechanism to keep our blood in balance. This mechanism protects our blood at all costs, sometimes at the expense of our tissues. When our tissues become acidic, that in turn can result in impaired function of some major systems, including organ, digestion, skin integrity, and repair from injury.

pH is so important, and there’s an easy way to check your pH, and if needed, an easy way to correct it.

Our body’s internal system needs a pH just above 7.0. We call this range alkaline. (As an example, dogs maintain an acid pH range, which is much lower on the scale.) Since we are human, our enzymatic, immunologic, and repair mechanisms all function their best in this alkaline range. However, our metabolic processes--the processes of living, tissue repair, and the metabolism of food--produce a great deal of acid. In order to maintain our internal alkaline state, we need a few tools. These tools are all around us: oxygen, water, and acid-buffering minerals.


Exercise - When we exercise or move around, we produce lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Lactic acid is by its nature acid and the carbon dioxide becomes acidic, turning into carbonic acid and water.

Digestion - Digestion of foods generates acids. For example, phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid are produced from the metabolism of the phosphorus and sulfur contained in many foods, such as, meats, grains, and beans.

Immune Responses - Immune system responses, such as allergies and hypersensitivities, directly and indirectly generate substantial amounts of acidic products.

Many lifestyle and environment factors also influence acid-alkaline balance. Let’s look at stress as an example.

When we are under tremendous stress, our acidity will likely increase because of the demands on our cells to become more active. Chronically hectic schedules (sound familiar?), inadequate sleep (any parents out there?), and rushed, imbalanced meals (anyone eating their To-Go meals on-the-run?) can all contribute to this unhealthful condition.

And here’s the kicker… An underlying metabolic acidity (low pH) is a common denominator and likely contributing factor to all degenerative and autoimmune diseases.

Why? Because an acid environment, for us humans, has several adverse effects on cell metabolism including…

  • impaired energy production
  • fluid accumulation and edema, and
  • a likely increase in free radical production.

Since the correct pH is so essential to our daily lives (and to all the countless chemical reactions necessary for life), the body has many checks and balances to maintain the correct pH, within a perfect but narrow range.

Step 1: Know your pH

A good measure of average body pH is easily obtained by using pH paper to assess the pH of your first morning urine. Ideally, the first morning urine is between 6.4 (slightly acidic) and 6.8 (slightly alkaline), which indicates that the overall cellular pH is appropriately alkaline.

You can also test your urine pH later in the day, and this will indicate the impact of foods and supplements which you have taken earlier in the day.

Another way to check pH is through saliva (also using pH paper). You should check your morning saliva pH immediately after arising, before you think about or eat your breakfast, and while in a calm state of mind. (Even thinking about food changed your pH.) After a meal, your saliva should normally become alkaline. Checking saliva pH after a meal can indicate whether or not this normal mechanism is intact. Optimal range for first morning saliva pH is 6.8 to 7.2.

So, what do you do, when your pH is not perfect?

You take steps to re-establish your health-promoting alkaline state so that you can regenerate your immune system and improve your overall health.

Step 2: To regain the life-supporting alkaline state, acids from all sources must be buffered or neutralized through combination with alkaline minerals.

Alkaline minerals include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chromium, selenium, and iron. In fact, the most readily available pool of alkaline minerals is in the bone, and as the body works to maintain optimal blood pH, minerals are depleted from the bone, leading to increased risk of osteoporosis.

If you are in an acid state, it may be helpful to fortify your system with supplements of some or all of these alkalinizing mineral compounds in order to turn the tide and restock your depleted stores.

An interesting note here is that Dr. Susan Brown, leading researcher in the area of osteoporosis, and author of the book “Better Bones, Better Body,” has found that the single most important factor in changing bone density and decreasing osteoporosis risk is maintaining optimal pH through an alkaline diet and lifestyle.

So let’s talk about an Alkaline Diet. Many organs and internal systems, especially the kidneys, adrenals and lungs, play important roles in maintaining proper pH. They require the right nutrients to do this. That's why a diet that is predominantly alkaline-forming is essential to the maintenance of good health.

An Alkaline Diet is one in which the balance of foods is predominately alkaline. If what you put inside your body is Alkaline, your body will eventually have the resources it needs to rise to the appropriate Alkaline level for great health.

So, which foods are alkaline and which foods are acid-forming?

Foods that are high in protein, including milk, meat, and even whole grains, are acid-forming. Most fruits are alkaline-forming but some, like prunes, plums, and cranberries, are acid-forming because our bodies can't break down the types of acids they contain. (It may seem odd, but oranges are alkaline. We’re not talking about citric acid or a tart taste when talking about alkaline and acidic in this context. We’re talking about what your body does with the food. How the food reacts in your system.)

You’re probably not surprised when I tell you that highly refined foods, such as oils, sugars, soft drinks, and simple starches are acid forming. After all, you’ve heard they’re bad for other reasons as well. So as you can see, in our society we consume a very imbalanced diet high in acid-forming foods. This imbalanced diet pushes us towards an acid state. And now you can see that our body responds by removing calcium and other alkalinizing minerals from our blood, bone, and tissues.

Just eating an acid-forming diet automatically sets you up for health problems.

However, on a balanced, whole-foods diet, the net acid/alkaline balance is maintained in proper proportion.

I use a food chart of acid/alkaline foods is a guide to show my patients which foods will help create a more alkaline, and therefore healthier, environment for their bodies. I guide them to select a diet that is weighted in favor of these alkaline foods. Usually, to regain an alkaline environment, 80-90% of the foods eaten should alkaline. Once optimal pH is attained, it can usually be maintained by eating 60-80% of the diet as alkaline forming foods.

As I work with my patients, I keep in mind that the absorption of nutrients and alkalinizing mineral salts from their diet or supplement program depends upon proper digestion in their stomach and upper small intestine. When long-term pH trends indicate depletion of alkaline reserves, it becomes important to assess digestive function. Furthermore, overgrowth of certain abnormal bacteria can impair the lining of your stomach, and food allergy and other factors can impair the lining of your upper small intestine. These conditions also feed into digestion and absorption issues that some of my patients face.

It’s a balancing act. But right now, you can help yourself a lot just by switching over to a predominately Alkaline diet.

Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo likes to think of herself as a health coach. She is a doctor of chiropractic and a certified clinical nutritionist. In addition, she has a masters degree in human nutrition, advanced training in nutrition and integrated health care, and is certified in acupuncture.

Her philosophy of health care stems from her belief that the body is born with enormous self-healing potential. Unfortunately, lifestyle, habits, and beliefs often short circuit the self-healing mechanisms, and illness and dysfunction result. Uncovering the underlying cause of health challenges, and integral part to the work that Dr. Loscalzo does, can be tricky.

Dr. Loscalzo incorporates a wide range of healing modalities into her practice, including lifestyle and nutrition counseling, stress management, manipulation, acupuncture and acupressure, craniosacral therapy, various forms of therapeutic massage, kinesiology, and supplementation of biocompatible nutrients, herbs, and homeopathic formulations.

This article and all content of her website are copyrighted to Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo. Feel free to share this information with friends and family. However, reprint in all forms (including electronic and old-fashioned print) are by permission only. You will find her receptive to most requests. Just drop her an email.

This article has been reprinted with Dr. Loscalzo's permission and was originally published on http://www.goss.com/ihcs/importance_of_an_alkaline_diet.htm.





Man screaming: stress!

creates a lot of acidicy
in the body.


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