This article is an excerpt from "The Acid-Alkaline Diet" and taken from the website www.innertraditions.com

from Chapter 1: What Is Acid-Alkaline Balance?

The Buffer System

Acids and alkaline substances are substances possessing opposing characteristics. When they combine, their respective properties cancel each other out. This process is similar to that which occurs whenever two opposites are brought together. If hot and cold, black and white are blended, their respective properties cancel each other out and the result is a temperature that is neither hot nor cold but warm, a color that is neither black nor white but gray.

When speaking of the combination of an acid and an alkaline, the result is designated in chemistry as being a neutral salt. It is neutral because it possesses neither acidic or alkaline properties.

1 acid + 1 alkaline = 1 neutral salt

A neutral salt will no longer influence the solution it is in, such as blood or cellular serums, for example. This possibility of neutralizing an acid by combining it with an alkaline is the main method to control pH fluctuations. The neutralization of excess acids this way restores the basic acid-alkaline balance to the ideal pH of the internal environment: 7.39.

How Acidification Makes the Body Sick

When its internal environment becomes acidified, the body can fall ill in three different ways.

The first is connected to the activity of enzymes. Enzymes are the "worker drones" who are behind all the biochemical transformations that take place in the body and on which the proper functioning of our organs depend. It so happens that enzymes can only perform their task correctly in an environment with a clearly defined pH. If this is not the case their activity can suffer disruptions or even cease completely. When it simply involves a slow down of their activity, illness appears; in the case of a complete interruption the body can no longer function and death results. Before reaching this extreme stage, different ailments will set in as an increasing number of enzymes find their world disrupted by the acidification of the internal environment.

The second way in which the body becomes ill is due to the aggressive nature of the acids present in excess amounts within the tissues. In fact, before being neutralized by alkaline substances, they will be an irritant to the organ with which they come into contact. Inflammations will result, sometimes quite painful, as well as lesions or sclerosis of the tissues. This primarily affects the organs charged with the elimination of strong acids, such as the skin or kidneys. A large number of cases of eczema, hives, itching sensation, and red patches on the skin are due to the irritation caused by excessively acidic sweat. When the urine is overloaded with acid, micturition becomes painful and the urinary tract "burns," becoming inflamed (uretritis) or infected (cystitis).

Those ailments prompted by aggressive acid that are invisible to the outsider but keenly felt by those suffering from them include pains in the joints (arthritis), nerves (nevritis), and intestines (enteritis, colitis, and burning sensations in the anus).

The fragile state of the tissues resulting from this invasive presence of acids allows for a microbial or viral infection to easily accompany the aforementioned problems. Lesions of the mucous membranes--such as in the respiratory system--allow easier penetration and multiplication by microbes in the tissue. This is aggravated by the fact that the immune system's effectiveness can also be impaired by acid activity.

The third cause of suffering produced by acid activity is due to the fact that every individual affected by acidification will inevitably lose minerals as the body must give up alkaline minerals to neutralize acids. This demineralization can be quite significant and affect any organ as alkaline minerals are stored in all the body's tissue.

The best known consequences of demineralization are the problems affecting the skeleton and the teeth. Bones will decalcify and lose their resistance and flexibility. This can reach a point where they break far too easily (for example spontaneous hip fractures), lose their density (osteoporosis), become inflamed at the joints (rheumatism), and wear away the intervertebral disks (sciatica), and so forth. Teeth can also become more brittle because of mineral loss. They can become over sensitive to hot and cold foods, chip, or become more susceptible to cavities.

This brittleness caused by demineralization also weakens hair, which becomes lifeless and starts falling out in greater quantity. Fingernails will split and break under the slightest impact; skin will dry and crack or wrinkle; the gums will become deformed, oversensitive, and bleed easily.

Acidosis: A Widespread Problem

Today the vast majority of the populace in Western (industrialized) nations suffers from problems caused by acidification, because both modern lifestyle and diet promote acidification of the body's internal environment.

In general, the current diet is primarily composed of acidic or acidifying elements (proteins, cereals, sugars). Alkaline elements, such as beans, are eaten in much smaller quantities. The alkaline substances they contain are therefore insufficient to neutralize surplus acids. Furthermore, the consumption of stimulants like tobacco, coffee, and alcohol has grown to enormous proportions. Every one of these products has an extremely acidifying effect on the body.

Stress, nervous tension, noise, and so forth are a basic fact of life today and also contribute to increasing the body's acidification through the disruptions and disturbances they engender.

Physical exercise--which can play an important role in maintaining the acid-alkaline balance--is more often than not practiced in ways that are excessive, either too much or not enough (i.e. the sedentary lifestyle). In both cases an acidification of the body's internal environment will result.

Of all these factors causing acidification, the most important is unquestionably food. Accordingly, the majority of acidosis sufferers can be cured simply by a large reduction in their consumption of acidic foods and an increase in their consumption of alkaline foods.

There is a special category of individuals who are not only sick because of inadequate lifestyle and an excessive intake of acids. They also suffer from a metabolic weakness that is particularly susceptible to acids.

Author's Bio: 

Christopher Vasey, N.D., is a naturopath specializing in detoxification and rejuvenation. He is the author of The Water Prescription, The Whey Prescription, and The Detox Mono Diet. He lives near Montreux, Switzerland.
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