Your mother always told you to eat your vegetables and we have all heard the age-old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Proven Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) modalities such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda all speak of keeping the body’s “vital energies” in proper balance to support good health.
Recent scientific research indicates that “balance” may indeed have a lot to do with preventing heart disease and maintaining overall wellness – and may actually be at the root of much of this folk wisdom about nutrition and the effectiveness of some CAM practices.
In this case, we are not talking about the balance of some esoteric energies, but the very real effects of proper pH balance.
Anyone who has ever owned a fish tank knows a little bit about pH balance. pH stands for Potential Hydrogen, which is a calculation of the hydrogen ions in a given solution or substance.
That means it is a measure of how acidic or basic that particular thing is. In a fish tank, if the water is too acidic, or too basic, the delicate balance of your aquarium’s environment is off – and your fish can get sick, or even die. The same is true of the human body.
pH range is measured on a scale from 0 –14. The pH of water is 7.0, or “neutral.” The normal pH of the human body is between 7.35 and 7.45, or slightly basic, or alkaline. Just as there is an ideal pH for your aquarium, this slightly basic normal range is the ideal environment for the human body’s metabolic processes.
According to researchers, heart health, better digestion, even the prevention of major diseases such as cancer, can all be supported by proper pH balance.
That being the case it stands to reason that the foods we eat should be mostly alkaline, to help maintain the body’s proper pH levels. Unfortunately, just the opposite is true. The diet of most Americans is highly acidic. The foods generally recognized to contribute to heart disease — processed sugars, animal fats and proteins, high-fat dairy products, and salt — are all highly acidic.
Not coincidentally a heart-healthy diet as recommended by the American Heart Association, includes fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts, and legumes; all foods that when digested, release alkaline, rather than acids.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate a diet that was much more in line with the human body’s ideal pH level and the design of its digestive system. Heart disease, cancer, and the many other plagues of modern society were virtually non-existent centuries ago. With the advent of agriculture, animal husbandry, and later on, commercial industrialized food production – the Western diet changed dramatically, but our bodily systems have not.
Western medicine has yet to accept the theory that the so-called Alkaline Diet can actually prevent heart disease and improve overall health. As research into the benefits of the Alkaline Diet continues at Johns Hopkins University and other well-known facilities, even traditional physicians admit the practical health benefits of increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables and reducing one’s consumption of meats, salt, and refined grains.
So no matter how you look at it, such a diet is “basic” too good nutrition!