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Acid Reflux -- Esophageal Spasms
Acid Reflux -- Esophageal Spasms
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD, Acid Reflux)
Acid-Alkaline Balance by Karl Loren
Dr. Weston Price -- On Acid -- Alkaline Balance
Abnormal Propulsion of Food
Mass Near The Esophagus -- Cancer? Benign?
Esophagus Stent -- Mesh
Advice From Friends -- Esophagus Cancer
Treatments and Protocols BEYOND The Traditional
It is a bit embarrassing to talk about us humans here at Vibrant Life. However it may have happened, Jean Ross has been having some of the symptoms often called "acid reflux." Since she is my dear wife, and I love her, I felt it was necessary to do this research on this very "popular" health problem. I haven't been doing much of this type of research for some time -- as I am busy with my new project with "electronic books." But, I found this data about acid-reflux quite interesting and pass it on to you.
My final conclusion, after studying all the stuff I've published here, and thinking it through, logically, is that acid-reflux is best solved with the diet I recommend -- particularly completely quitting sugar and processed foods. Karl Loren February 2004.
Jean? Oh, she didn't really have the symptoms of acid-reflux, as I discovered in my research, but she did have a health problem which I've described on these pages.
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by Karl Loren
Lately I have had many people ask me about choking, vomiting --- each related to spasms in the throat -- or "esophagus." These are often found, on the web, under:
Acid Reflux Disease
More people probably have been bombarded with the TV ads about "Acid Reflux" -- often promoting the prescription drug -- Nexium. This "little purple pill" is very expensive, very highly promoted, and may possibly help -- but if Nexium is on a list of things that help, there are a couple items far above Nexium on that list -- top of the list is a changed diet, particularly cutting out sugar and processed food.
Many people have heard of "acid reflux" but are not at all sure of what that term means. The answer is here. The truth, however, is that the term "acid reflux" is very often used with different intended meanings, or without understanding. So, this same term is now being applied to many different situations -- you need to understand this phrase in all of its "meanings."
First, "reflux:" That simple word means:
\Re"flux`\, n. [F. reflux. See Refluent, Flux.] A flowing back, as the return of a fluid; ebb; reaction; as, the flux and reflux of the tides. (source)
What happens in the body when "reflux" happens? Something "flows back."
The tide? That is a fairly well known phenomenon -- the ocean has "tides." This is when the ocean water gets higher and moves further up on the beach, then it recedes, goes back to a lower level and leaves the higher parts of the beach. The action of the tides is repeated, again and again. So, "reflux" is a "flowing back" like the tides flowing BACK into the ocean from which they started.
You could say that when the "tide is coming in" it is "fluxing." That would not be a common usage. When the tide is going out, that is "refluxing." This is also not a common usage, but it helps understand the words.
The image on the above left is a "bird sanctuary" where the ocean water high tide flows into the sanctuary, but some of it is then held inside the sanctuary when the tide flows out. I'm going, now, beyond the simple meaning of "reflux" to the next step in your understanding.
If you allowed the tide to "rise" and it went into a small lagoon, with a hunk of land between the ocean and the lagoon, the water could rise up over the hunk of land, pour into the lagoon, and fill it up. Then, when the tide started to withdraw, the hunk of land would keep some of the water in the lagoon from going back to the ocean. In this way the lagoon would be filled with water twice every day. Twice every day the water in the lagoon would try to leave, go back to the ocean, but the hunk of land would be in the way and prevent some of the water from going back to the ocean.
The "esophagus" is the "tube" that leads from the mouth to the stomach. It is the tube through which food travels to reach the stomach.
Here is the big picture -- giving you the setting for the esophagus.
The esophagus is in the picture, labeled, from the area below the mouth down to the stomach.
Notice that it is wider at the top, and gets narrow as it gets closer to the stomach. The esophagus has "ring-like" muscles along the way -- they tighten in order to push the food downward in the esophagus.
(Incidentally, this answers the puzzle I had as a kid -- I would hang upside down in my apple tree, eating an apple. I wanted to see if I could eat and "swallow" while being upside down. You can do that because the esophagus has those muscles that tighten in just the right sequence to push food toward the stomach -- whether that is "up" or "down."
One "chews" his food to grind it up and mix it with the saliva in the mouth -- making it relatively easy for this material to pass down the esophagus, through the most narrow part, into the stomach.
Right at the juncture between the lower end of the esophagus and the top of the stomach is a "valve" which can open and close. This valve has the fancy name of "sphincter," and in fact that word is often used to describe any of several muscles in the body that can tighten and loosen -- opening and closing something. The most usual place we think of for a "sphincter" is in the anus -- to allow or prevent a bowel movement. The sphincter located in the esophagus is mostly automatic -- that is, we don't normally think of it as being under our conscious control.
(There is actually a sphincter at the top of the esophagus too. This is the one that closes when you are breathing -- so you breath down your air pipe and not down your "food pipe.")
You can call this lower sphincter a "muscle" and understand it better. Its job is mostly to prevent stuff in the stomach, particularly "stomach acids," from burping back up into the throat (or esophagus). Now, back to that concept of "reflux."
So you can think of "reflux" as when something has come down the tube (the "esophagus") that leads into your stomach. The "something" would usually be some saliva and food. Once the food gets into the stomach it usually mixes with the stomach juices -- the liquid in the stomach that is used to digest the food. This mixture sometimes might go back up into the esophagus, the tube, through which it came into the stomach. This is "going back" or "reflux."
Obviously some of this mixture going "back up" is the digestive juices which were produced in the stomach and did NOT come down that tube with the food.
But, once the food is mixed up with those digestive juices, when it goes UP into the throat (esophagus), it is called a "reflux."
e·soph·a·gus also oe·soph·a·gus n. pl. e·soph·a·gi (-j, -g)
Esophagus: The muscular membranous tube for the passage of food from the pharynx to the stomach; the gullet.
Pharynx: The section of the alimentary canal that extends from the mouth and nasal cavities to the larynx, where it becomes continuous with the esophagus.
Larynx: The part of the respiratory tract between the pharynx and the trachea, having walls of cartilage and muscle and containing the vocal cords enveloped in folds of mucous membrane.
Alimentary canal: n.: The mucous membrane-lined tube of the digestive system through which food passes, in which digestion takes place, and from which wastes are eliminated. It extends from the mouth to the anus and includes the pharynx, esophagus, stomach, and intestines. Also called digestive tract.
- [Derivation of esophagus: Middle English isophagus, from Medieval Latin sophagus, from Greek oisophagos, arbitrary medical coinage perhaps from ois-, future tense stem of pherein, to carry + -phagos, food (unattested sense) (from phagein, to eat. See bhag- in Indo-European Roots).]
There could be a situation where some acidic material (stomach acid) flows up into the esophagus (this shouldn't happen!), the esophagus lining is very sensitive and this acidic stuff is irritating, and the darn stuff may even be held inside the esophagus -- that would be terrible because the esophagus is just not made to take the strong acidic material. You would then have a situation like the above lagoon analogy -- where the ocean water flows over a spit of land, into a lagoon, and cannot get out again.
The analogy would be that the stomach juices (acids) flows back up (refluxes) into the esophagus and something then keeps those juices in that position so they can't flow back to the stomach. If they "reflux" into the esophagus and then the lower sphincter closes, nothing could pass through it and these acids would stay in the esophagus -- bad news!
However, if the actual stomach juices "reflux" into the esophagus, and then you vomit, you would taste the sour and bitter taste of these juices. You can have another situation, often called "acid reflux" which is really NOT acid reflux. This is described further below. Let's keep this in mind as the "abnormal closure of the esophagus" which simply prevents food you have chewed from passing through into the stomach. When this happens that food is NOT mixed with stomach juices and if you vomit this up you don't taste that sour bitter taste. This could be called a "reflux" since the FOOD that goes down the tube comes back up in the vomit -- but without the acid from the stomach it would not be "acid reflux" in the usual way that term is understood.
There are a couple different reasons why food might not be able to pass into the stomach -- there could be some "mass" that is growing there -- making the opening narrow, or there could be a failure of the sphincter muscle to open properly.
The drawing on the right is of the "esophagus." Notice the "muscle" in it -- positioned in "rings" that help squeeze food down the tube. There is also a surface layer of "Mucosa" -- what you might call "mucus" which helps lubricate the slide of the food down the tube and protect the tube. There is also a similar "mucus" inside the stomach where it also protects the inner lining of the stomach from the strong acids in the stomach. The mucus in the esophagus is similar to that in the stomach, but the stomach mucus can withstand much stronger acid -- as found in the stomach during digestion.
There SHOULD be acid in the stomach, to help with digestion, but if acid splashes "up" ("reflux") into the esophagus, that usually causes problems.
Many healers are concerned with the level of acidity or alkalinity of the body, from orthodox medical doctors to alternative practitioners like cancer doctor Emanuel Revici, controversial test developer Dr. Carey Reams or the sleeping prophet Edgar Cayce. When these different healers speak about acid-alkaline balance in the body, what do they mean? Why is this important? And how do nutrition and lifestyle affect acid/alkaline balance? Our purpose here is to explore this topic and to answer some of these questions, particularly as it relates to the research of Dr. Weston Price. (Source)
The above quote is from the Price-Pottenger Foundation -- a very reliable source for valid information. I encourage you to click on that "source link" and read the entire article lower on this page. I have taken my hand to explaining the "acid-alkaline balance" subject HERE, and very briefly just below.
The word "acid" as used in "acid reflux" refers to the fact that most liquids have a position on the "acid-alkaline" scale. This is a "scale" of numbers that gives you the state of that liquid -- whether the liquid is "acid" or "alkaline." This is a big subject which I cover on a separate page -- here. Lemons and vinegar, for instance, seem to be "acid" in character. Some foods are typically "acid" while other foods are usually "alkaline." It is much more complex than this. Some acid foods cause an alkaline type reaction in the body -- and cause the body to become more alkaline. This must be studied thoroughly to understand it. I've not tried to explain this thoroughly on THIS page. Don't miss the full explanation.
It would be virtually impossible to measure the acid-alkaline state of anything that had no moisture in it -- it is the liquid in these substances which carries the acid-alkaline measure. Since water is usually neutral -- neither acid nor alkaline -- you could take any liquid, measure its pH value (acid-alkaline level) and then add plain water and change the measure. So, pH measures are normally suspect on their face for the lack of knowing whether the liquid had or didn't have added water!
The drawing on the right shows the different layers in the stomach. Like the esophagus, there is a layer of "mucus" that protects the more sensitive inner layers of the stomach.
Generally the stomach is a place where a great deal of acid is created -- because this is the material from which the digestive juices come. You may know of this, generally, as "hydrochloric acid" -- the primary liquid that allows "digestion" to take place. Hydrochloric acid, often abbreviated as HCl, is extremely poisonous and dangerous in its pure concentrated form, but when it is very much diluted it works quite well in the stomach to "digest" or "break down" food particles. Many older people don't have enough HCl in their stomach and so can't digest food well -- for them taking extra HCl is often a good idea. Many vitamin formulas add in HCl because so many people are deficient in it.
Hydrochloric Acid: A clear, colorless, fuming, poisonous, highly acidic aqueous solution of hydrogen chloride, HCl, used as a chemical intermediate and in petroleum production, ore reduction, food processing, pickling, and metal cleaning. It is found in the stomach in dilute form.
Digestion: The conversion of food, in the stomach and intestines, into soluble and diffusible products, capable of being absorbed by the blood.
The stomach is remarkably constructed so that these strong acid materials do NOT harm the lining of the stomach. As mentioned above, there is something called the "mucous membrane." You could say that this mucous membrane IS the lining of the stomach, but this mucous membrane is very loose and is being created constantly, and eaten away constantly by the action of the acids in the stomach. Beneath this loose "coating" of mucous is the "real" lining of the stomach -- very sensitive to acids.
Mucous Membrane: A membrane lining all body passages that communicate with the air, such as the respiratory and alimentary tracts, and having cells and associated glands that secrete mucus. Also called mucosa.
This mucous lining in the stomach is particularly strong because the stomach is the main place where the strong acidic liquids do their heavy lifting -- digesting the large particles of food that dump into the stomach. Various problems occur in various places throughout this system. The most obvious might be when a person tries to swallow something that is not chewed very well, and won't go through the tube! That piece of food is often called a "bolus." If it gets into the stomach, not much chewed, it takes a lot of digestive effort to handle it. This is why your mother told you to "chew your food!"
Bolus: A soft mass of chewed food within the mouth or alimentary canal.
The piece of food -- "bolus" -- passes down the tube. The tube gets more and more narrow, so that food particle eventually might get stuck before it gets to the stomach. Generally, even if it is slow and painful, the particle continues down the tube -- unless the tube is blocked at the end!
The esophagus has something called a "sphincter" between the lower end of the esophagus and the beginning of the stomach. That is a muscle and acts like a trap door. It opens to allow food through and closes to prevent bad stuff from "refluxing" up from the stomach.
Sphincter: A ring like muscle that normally maintains constriction of a body passage or orifice and that relaxes as required by normal physiological functioning.
The drawings above show how a "foreign body" or "bolus" can pass through the esophagus -- with pain along the way, I might mention. Actually there are no nerve endings within the esophagus -- but if the stuck food is large it might push the esophagus into other areas where there ARE nerve endings -- thus pain.
That "trap-door" is the key to understanding many of the symptoms related to "acid-reflux disease." If that trap door doesn't open properly, as in the picture above on the right the bolus, or food, cannot pass into the stomach. That trap door is a muscle and when that muscle fails to relax, there is a fancy name for that event.
That trap door could also close AFTER some acid juices have "refluxed" out of the stomach, back up into the esophagus, and be held there by the closed trap door (sphincter).
Achalasia: The failure of a ring of muscle fibers, such as a sphincter of the esophagus, to relax.
Acidic fluids in the stomach will generally cause considerable distress if they "reflux" or flow back up the tube (the esophagus) so there is a "door" or muscle valve that closes the esophagus in order to prevent these acidic liquids from refluxing, or flowing back up into the throat.
When those liquids manage to get back up into the esophagus, you have the "acid reflux" problem. If the sphincter closes when it shouldn't you have swallowing problems and often vomiting to "clear the throat."
Reference Articles On This Page
Esophagus --- Normal Motility and Function
The Purple Nexium Pill
"Official" Acid Reflux Disease
Price-Pottenger -- Acid-Alkaline Balance and Your Health
Dr. Weston Price -- On Acid -- Alkaline Balance
Esophagus – Achalasia
Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders
The Purple Nexium Pill
NEXIUM is a type of medicine known as an acid pump inhibitor (also known as a proton pump inhibitor, or PPI). The lining of your stomach contains millions of special cells that produce acid via "acid pumps." It is the job of these pumps to produce the acid that helps in the digestion of food.
NEXIUM works by decreasing the acid produced by these acid pumps. NEXIUM turns off (deactivates) some of the pumps to keep acid production under control. By reducing acid production in the stomach, NEXIUM reduces the amount of acid backing up into the esophagus and causing reflux symptoms. But don't worry, you still have enough acid to take care of digestion.
Prolonged acid reflux can, over time, slowly wear away or erode the delicate lining of your esophagus. Only a doctor can determine if you have this damage. NEXIUM can help heal this damage. In clinical tests, up to 94% of patients were healed with NEXIUM. Your results may vary. Talk to your doctor.
"Official" Acid Reflux Disease
Liver and other organ meats
Broth made from bones or other animal parts
Buttermilk, including buttermilk pancakes and biscuits
Other fermented foods
Most B vitamin supplements
Hydrochloric acid supplements
Whole grains such as whole wheat or oatmeal
Probiotics - These are supplements that contain "helpful bacteria". These type of beneficial bacteria help to create an acidic environment in your digestive tract. Probiotics are often used after taking antibiotics and may help some cases of bladder infections, irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. Excess amounts of helpful bacteria have been linked to heart burn and high blood pressure. (See my related section on IBS Treatment.)
Soft water - Soft water is water that is low in minerals. This type of water tends to be more acidic.
Most fruits, except as
Most vegetables, except as noted above
Antibiotics - antibiotics destroy both the bad and the helpful bacteria in the intestinal tract. Some of the helpful bacteria work to create an acidic environment in the human body. When these bacteria are killed off by antibiotics, urine tends to become much more alkaline. This is one reason why women will frequently get bladder infections after taking antibiotics.
supplements - especially calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.
Antacids - Antacids, which often contain magnesium or calcium supplements, may cause an increase in the alkalinity of the urine.
Hard Water - Hard water is just the opposite of soft water. It is water that has a high mineral content, and as a result tends to be more alkaline.
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Price-Pottenger -- Acid-Alkaline Balance and Your Health
Many healers are concerned with the level of acidity or alkalinity of the body, from orthodox medical doctors to alternative practitioners like cancer doctor Emanuel Revici, controversial test developer Dr. Carey Reams or the sleeping prophet Edgar Cayce. When these different healers speak about acid-alkaline balance in the body, what do they mean? Why is this important? And how do nutrition and lifestyle affect acid/alkaline balance? Our purpose here is to explore this topic and to answer some of these questions, particularly as it relates to the research of Dr. Weston Price.
First, let us define the terms acidity and alkalinity and get familiar with some basic chemistry. In terms of chemistry, when one talks about acidity or alkalinity, one is talking about hydrogen. An acid is a substance that releases hydrogen into a solution and an alkali or base is one that removes hydrogen from a solution. The amount of free hydrogen is measured on a scale ranging from 1 to 14, called pH, that denotes the exact level of acidity or alkalinity. A pH value below 7 is considered acid and above 7 alkaline.
Inside the human body, the acid-alkaline balance is important since many functions in the body occur only at a certain level of acidity or alkalinity. Many enzymes and chemical reactions in the body work best at a particular pH. A small change in pH can have a profound effect on body function. For example, muscle contractibility declines and hormones like adrenaline and aldosterone increase as the body becomes slightly more acid. In addition, different parts of the body have different levels of acidity and alkalinity. Some of these are shown in Table 1. It should be noted that while there can be a wide range of pH values for the saliva and urine, the value for the blood is maintained within narrow bounds.
REGULATION OF ACID-ALKALINE BALANCE
Because of the importance of the acid-alkaline balance in the blood and tissues, the body has a number of mechanisms for regulating this balance (1) (2). These mechanisms are shown in Table 2.
Many body functions are involved in the regulation of acid-alkaline balance including respiration, excretion, digestion and cellular metabolism. In the blood stream, there are substances known as buffers that act chemically to resist changes in pH. The most important of these compounds in the blood are bicarbonate, albumin, globulin and hemoglobin. Other regulation of blood pH is done chiefly by the lungs and kidneys.
The lungs aid in acid-alkaline regulation by removing carbon dioxide from the blood. Carbon dioxide combines with water in the body to form carbonic acid, so that removing carbon dioxide is equivalent to removing acid. Respiratory rates can vary depending on the acidity of the body, speeding up under acid conditions to remove carbon dioxide and reduce acidity and slowing down under alkaline conditions to retain acids and reduce alkalinity.
The kidney also responds to the pH of the blood. If the blood is too acid, the kidney excretes extra hydrogens into the urine and retains extra sodium. Phosphorus in the form of phosphate is required for this exchange. The body obtains this phosphorus from bone if it is otherwise unavailable. When the bloodstream is extremely acid, the kidney uses a different method and excretes ammonium ions, which contain four hydrogens, into the urine. When the body is too alkaline, the process is reversed, and hydrogen is retained.
In the digestive process, acid-alkaline balance is affected by the secretions of the stomach and the pancreas. These secretions are absorbed into the bloodstream and affect the rest of the body. When food is eaten, the stomach secretes hydrochloric acid. In response to this acid, the pancreas secretes bicarbonate which neutralizes the stomach acid so that pancreatic enzymes can work properly. Normally, after eating, there are transient changes in blood pH, known as the acid and alkaline tides, that correspond to the stomach and pancreatic secretions. Usually the pH of the blood quickly returns to normal. However, if digestive secretions are out of balance, then the whole body can be affected. Some physicians, like Dr. William Philpott, feel that insufficient secretion of pancreatic bicarbonate is a major cause of over-acidity in the body. Other digestive problems that affect the body’s pH are diarrhea, which results in a loss of bicarbonate, and vomiting, which results in a loss of acid.
Just as the pH of the bloodstream is kept under tight control, the acid-alkaline environment inside the cells is also regulated so that it remains within narrow bounds. One way that this regulation occurs is by pumps in the cell membrane that cause hydrogen to enter or exit from the cell. Many of these pumps require phosphorus and magnesium to function so that micronutrient nutrition is a factor affecting acid-alkaline balance. Another way that cells regulate the pH inside the cell is by changing the chemical reactions that occur so that more or less hydrogen is produced (1).
SYMPTOMS OF OVER ACIDITY OR ALKALINITY
When the blood is too acid, symptoms include drowsiness, progressing to stupor and coma. Acute acidosis can result from kidney or lung problems, dehydration, ingestion of certain drugs, diabetes or diarrhea, and is treated by giving an alkaline solution such as bicarbonate of soda. A particular form of acidosis is ketosis that occurs in diets high in fat and lacking in carbohydrates, as well as in conditions of diabetes or starvation, when the body burns fats rather than carbohydrates. However, when normal quantities of fat are consumed in a diet containing carbohydrate, the fats cause no problems in acid-alkaline balance for the majority of people.
When the blood is too alkaline, symptoms include cramps, muscle spasms, irritability and hyperexcitability. Acute alkalosis may be caused by impaired kidney function, hyperventilation, use of diuretic or steroid drugs, vomiting or gastric drainage. Acute alkalosis is treated by giving an acid solution such as ammonium chloride or by breathing expired carbon dioxide from a paper bag (3).
HOW BODY pH IS MEASURED
Most of what is known and used clinically relates to the acidity and alkalinity of the bloodstream, since it is possible to measure the pH of blood and difficult and sometimes impossible to measure the pH of other tissues. Medical doctors typically try to determine the acidity or alkalinity of the body and its cells by analyzing the blood. Some of the elements in blood that are measured are sodium, potassium, chloride, carbon dioxide and bicarbonate. A number known as the anion gap can be calculated using the sodium, chloride and bicarbonate measurement. The anion gap, along with the other values, are used to assess the acidity or alkalinity of the body tissues (1).
Alternative practitioners may use systems developed by Carey Reams, Harold Hawkins or Emanuel Revici. All three measure urine pH plus other factors to assess metabolism. Drs. Reams and Hawkins also measured saliva pH. None of these systems claims that internal pH can be determined by saliva or urine pH alone. As we saw earlier, the kidney has several methods for disposing of excess acid, and each has a different effect on the urine pH. Similarly, the saliva pH is affected by bacteria and other microbes in the mouth so that saliva pH is not a reliable indicator of the internal environment. Nonetheless, Dr. Reams felt that saliva pH reflected the strength of digestive fluids (4) (5) (6).
NUTRITION AND ACID-ALKALINE BALANCE
Before World War II, there was considerable interest in how the food we eat affects the acid-alkaline balance of the body. While today the subject is not receiving much attention in orthodox circles, many alternative practitioners place considerable stress on the acid-base balance characteristics of various diets. In spite of a certain amount of ongoing debate, it is generally acknowledged that the food that is eaten is a major source of acid and alkali for the body (7).
Some confusion in terminology has resulted because of the way that the discussion evolved. In investigating how different foods might affect the acid-alkaline balance, various foods were burned to ash in the laboratory, and the pH of the resulting ash was measured. These foods were then classified as acid, alkaline or neutral ash foods as shown in Table 3 (8).
In addition, various alternative practitioners such as Edgar Cayce and Bernard Jensen have referred to acid and alkaline-forming foods, based on the reaction of foods in the body. These categories are shown in Table 4 (9).
The terms acid or alkaline ash and acid and alkaline forming are often used interchangeably, but as can be seen from these tables, the terms are not always synonymous.
Using the more scientific definitions, alkaline ash foods are those that contain large quantities of magnesium, calcium, potassium and/or sodium, minerals that form alkaline compounds. Most fruits and vegetables are considered alkaline. Acid ash foods are those that contain chloride, phosphorus, or sulphur, minerals that form acid compounds. These acid ash foods include meat, fish, poultry, legumes and grains, which all contain high levels of phosphorus, and mustard and eggs, which contain sulphur. In addition, the fruits, plums, prunes, cranberries, rhubarb and sour cherries are also acid-forming since they contain either oxalic or benzoic acid, organic acids which are not completely broken down in the body (5) (7) (8).
Individual digestion and metabolism also plays a role in determining whether a food leaves an acid or alkaline residue. For example, certain foods containing organic acids, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, which normally leave no acid residues, may be incompletely metabolized in some people and are acid-forming for these individuals. This is quite frequently the case where stomach acid is low or thyroid activity is subnormal (5).
There are other metabolic and life style factors which affect the acidity of the body and the reactions of foods. Infection, smoking and alcohol consumption tend to make the body more acid (5) (10). Conversely, exercise will tend to make the body more alkaline, but if continued beyond a comfortable level it can become acid forming, as lactic acid levels build up (1) (5). Furthermore, the dietary content of trace elements also affects acid-alkaline balance. Adequate magnesium and phosphorus are necessary for cellular pumps. Zinc is necessary both for secretion of acid in the stomach and for excretion or retention of acid by the kidney. In addition, many other nutrients, the B vitamins as an example, are necessary to completely oxidize carbohydrates and fats.
It has been recommended by Edgar Cayce and others that the diet be comprised of 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acid-forming ones. In more practical terms, the recommendation was four vegetables and two fruits to one starchy food and one protein food (9). It is not clear whether these proportions apply for all people. By contrast, Dr. Weston Price found that the traditional diets of the healthy primitives he studied were higher in acid ash foods than in alkaline ash foods. (See From the Archives, page 10.) The traditional diets were higher in minerals than the more processed modern diets. (11). Dr. Price’s research confirms the importance of nutrient-dense, unrefined, properly prepared foods.
Moreover, genetic differences may play a role in what constitutes an appropriate balance in the diet. For example, it is known that Eskimos handle fats far more efficiently than other populations and do not suffer from ketosis from very high fat consumption as other groups do (12). The fact that Cayce’s recommendations seem at odds with those of Dr. Price can be explained by the fact they were aimed at a different population group, living in a different climate with a different level of activity.
In people of European descent in the U.S., manipulation of the acid or alkaline nature of the diet has been used along with other measures to treat disease conditions, particularly dental caries. Dr. Harold Hawkins, a professor of dentistry at the University of Southern California in the 1940s, studied the effects of foods on the pH and mineral content of the saliva, urine and bloodstream. Dr. Hawkins found that the pH and mineral composition of the saliva and urine were affected by diet, but that the pH of the bloodstream was more influenced by digestion and other metabolic and lifestyle factors.
As a result of his studies over many years, Dr. Hawkins was able to construct a diet that was adequate for most people and to treat those with dental problems and other disease conditions using primarily diets adjusted to balance saliva and urine chemistry. Like Dr. Price, Dr. Hawkins stressed the importance of animal protein and whole grains along with adequate fat and vegetable intake (5).
The acid-alkaline balance is an important factor in the health and functioning of the body. Diet is one factor that influences acid-alkaline balance both through the acid or alkaline forming nature of the foods that are eaten and through the nutrient content which affects metabolism. Nutrient rich traditional diets provide the essential factors necessary for excellent metabolism, good acid-alkaline regulation and optimal health.
Editor’s Note: A number of alternative practitioners today advocate a diet based primarily on fruits and vegetables, one that minimizes “acid-forming” foods such as meat, fish and grains. While the inclusion of fruits and vegetables in the diet is important for many reasons, including the fact that these foods provide alkalinizing minerals, for most people it is not necessary to minimize acid ash foods such as meat and whole grains in order to maintain acid-base balance. In fact, a diet in which these acid ash foods are absent can lead to deficiencies which undermine the body’s ability to maintain the proper blood pH. Meat and other animal foods provide protein, red meats provide zinc, and meat and properly prepared whole grains provide phosphorus, all of which are needed for the regulation of acid-base balance. Fat soluble vitamins found in organ meats, shellfish and good quality butter help maintain the health of the lungs and kidneys, the two prime organs involved in acid-base regulation. Weston Price’s research indicates a nutrient-dense diet that supplies both alkaline-ash and acid-ash minerals in liberal amounts is key to the health of the entire organism, including the complex systems that regulate acid-base balance.
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