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The importance of diet has been a basic tenet of traditional healing systems around the world for many centuries. A wholesome diet not only helps to maintain health, but can also play a vital role in recovery from disease. On the other hand, it is an indisputable fact that unhealthy dietary patterns are a primary contributing factor in most disease conditions.
Our understanding of how and why certain foods can significantly help to improve health grows each year as scientists continue their quest to uncover Nature’s secrets. One of the most exciting nutritional discoveries concerns the effects that different foods have on the body’s pH level once they are consumed. Simply put, some foods, once they are metabolized, create an acidic effect within the body, while others act as alkalizing agents that can neutralize harmful acids. To be healthy, it is necessary to be in a state of acid-alkaline balance. Humans have, in fact, a genetically encoded requirement for a dietary balance of acid-forming and alkaline-forming foods. Because of our early ancestors’ abundant intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, we evolved on diets high in organic mineral compounds – particularly alkalizing forms of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. We still need these compounds in order to maintain our internal acid-alkaline balance. But, contemporary eating patterns are at odds with our ancient biological machinery, much to the detriment to our health.
Is has been rightly said that both health and disease begin in the cells, for it is at the cellular level that the vast majority of the body’s multitude of interactions occur. For example, in order for the body’s cells to function properly, they need to receive life-giving nutrients and oxygen from the bloodstream, and at the same time, they need to release cellular wastes. As it turns out, both of these interactions can optimally take place only when the body is in a slightly alkaline state, which allows from an easy flow of oxygen and nutrients into the cell walls and an equally easy disposal of cellular waste. When the body becomes chronically acidic, however, these and many other cellular processes start to become impaired. Eventually, if acidity continues unchecked, the combination of a diminished oxygen and nutrient supply to the cells and the buildup of wastes inside the cells sets into motion both fatigue and disease.
The importance of maintaining proper acid-alkaline balance is not a new concept. In fact, it has been written about in medical textbooks for more than a century. Only in the last few years, however, has the concept of chronic, low-grade acidosis started to make its was to the public at large. Dozens of studies have further documented the negative impact that chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis has on health. Osteoporosis, age-related muscle loss, kidney stone formation, gout and other joint diseases, and back pain are among the conditions associated with the move toward an even slightly acidic state. While not life threatening, this low-level acid condition compromises our health.
Today, in the United States and other highly Westernized countries, chronic low-grade acidosis is more the rule than the exception. This is largely due to poor easting and lifestyle habits. We are, in fact, forcing our bodies to labor within a less-than-optimal biochemical environment. The body’s adaptation to even mild but chronic metabolic acidosis involves stresses and strains that create a fertile breeding ground for the various forms of chronic illness that are now experienced by more than one of every three Americans.
“Food should be our first and most important “medicine”.” – Hippocrates
Brown, Dr. Susan E. The Acid Alkaline Food Guide. Second Edition. New York, 2013.