I will bet your doctor has never talked with you about this! Even though your body greatly depends on your acid/alkaline balance, it’s one of the least-discussed physiological functions in the body. All metabolic processes, including immunity, digestion, and hormone production work best in a slightly alkaline environment. A healthy cell, the basic unit of life, is slightly alkaline. That means its natural pH-the location of a substance on the acid-to-alkaline scale-is on the plus side. Even blood is slightly alkaline-and must remain that way. In the body, pH balance is constantly being adjusted by buffers that keep the blood from becoming too acidic or too alkaline. Bones, lungs, kidneys, and other processes also help keep pH at normal levels.
When you’re in balance, you think clearly, are able to resist disease, and recover speedily from illness and injury. High-alkaline producers are generally natural peak performers. They have excellent lung capacity and digestive function, and large reserves of alkaline minerals in their bones. They thrive on stress, withstand the unhealthy effects of the standard American diet, need hard endurance exercise, and rarely get ill. They also age at a slower pace.
The wear and tear of daily life gradually causes cells to lose their healthy alkalinity and become more acidic, which makes the body more prone to disease. You can restore acid/alkaline balance in your body and regain your physical strength, stamina, and energy.
Still there are many misconceptions about acid/alkaline balance. Your body keeps your blood within a very narrow pH, because otherwise you would die. However it does so by using calcium from your bones to buffer acidity and this could lead to osteoporosis. Some foods that are acidic cause alkalinity after digestion, so using the pH of the food itself does not tell you if it is good. And it is not true that you need only alkaline foods: you need a mixture of real foods, mostly vegetables, and not too much.
- Have thick, strong bones and muscles? Are you strong, with a large frame and big bones?
- Enjoy lemon or vinegar without stomach upset?
- Tend to be a high-energy person? Are you always on the go and full of energy?
- Have a tendency to put on weight?
- Have great physical endurance, and can sprint up stairs easily?
- Need a few hours of sleep each night?
- Prefer highly active sports and gravitate toward high-stress activities?
- Feel bright and energized after a steak dinner or other meal of meat?
- Feel de-energized after a low protein, high carbohydrate meal?
- Have lots of energy in the midst of intense situations?
- Have the ability to do deskwork for long hours without becoming tired or losing mental clarity?
- Rarely get a cold or flu, and are free of allergies?
- Have a great digestive system? Are you able to digest a wide variety of foods?
If most of your answers were “yes,” you are likely to be an alkaline type. Meats and fish (in no more than four-ounce portions) several times a week or even every day, as well as fresh fruit, vinegar, olives, and olive oil (basically the Mediterranean diet) are good for you and will energize you. When alkaline types try to eat a vegetarian diet, they find themselves feeling depleted and cranky.
- Have thin bones and muscles?
- Get an upset stomach when you eat acidic foods such as lemon juice, citrus fruits, tomatoes, or vinegar?
- Sneeze when you drink wine?
- Have a weak digestive tract?
- Have frequent muscle aches and pains?
- Feel sluggish in the morning?
- Frequently get colds, flu, and other respiratory conditions?
- Not feel your best when you drink alcohol, coffee, or colas?
- Not feel your best or feel lethargic when you eat red meat or sugary desserts?
- Feel best when you eat a more vegetarian diet?
- Often feel exhausted after vigorous exercise or very physical work?
- Often experience fatigue and lack of stamina?
- Feel physically and mentally tired after an hour of deskwork?
- Have heartburn, canker sores, and food or environmental allergies?
- Have a history of arthritis, gout, lung disease, or frequent bladder infections?
If most of your answers were “yes,” you are likely to be an acidic type. You will have more energy if you stick to a largely vegetarian diet of fresh, whole foods and more alkaline fruits like papaya and melons, plus cold-water fish like tuna or salmon 2 or 3 times a month, and small amounts of raw seeds and nuts. This diet helps balance your body’s acidic state.
Credit: Dr. Susan Larkin, adapted by Karen Vaughan
Karen Vaughan is a New York State licensed acupuncturist and an herbalist trained in both western and Chinese herbal medicine. She has the advanced designation of Registered Herbalist from the American Herbalists Guild and is the only RH in New York City. Her MS degree is in Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, New York. This degree offers four years of training in acupuncture and herbal medicine, grounded in both the Chinese classics and in western medicine. She has had post graduate training in Chinese gynecology, dermatology, tui na (Chinese physical therapy) and addiction treatment.
Her special areas of treatment are Autoimmune Diseases, Diabetes and Dermatology, but she does general Chinese Medicine as well.
She does Herbal Consultations, Acupuncture, Acu-aromatherapy and Raindrops Technique essential oil treatments.
She works on both a physical and spiritual basis, well grounded in science but not limited to the concrete.
Call (718) 622-6755 for an appointment in Manhattan and Park Slope, Brooklyn or email her with inquiries at KSVaughan2@aol.com