At the New School of Nutritional Medicine, we like to understand 'a DIEt'. Most DIEts are generally a re-brand of another one with a few 'edits'. How is it that we have so many DIEts to choose from? Yet, many forget to consider their biochemical individuality.
What is an alkaline diet?
An alkaline diet categorises foods according to the pH of the ash that they are reduced to. Our food is broken down into energy. This process of converting the food on your plate to energy is astounding. As food is broken down into energy it also produces waste products, which the alkaline diet calls 'ash'. So the belief is that foods that create an acidic ash, makes the blood more acidic, and foods that create an alkaline ash makes the blood more alkaline.
The three basic food groups are:
Acidic foods: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, grains alcohol
Alkaline foods: vegetables, nuts, legumes and fruits
Neutral foods: starches, sugars and natural fats
Let's break it down, it may take you back to school biology, remember to breathe.... ;)
Alkaline simply means less protons (high pH) , a pH of higher than 7.
Acid simply means more protons (low pH), a pH of lower than 7.
Neutral is a a pH of 7.
The pH of our blood.
The pH of the blood is about 7.4 (it can vary between 7.35-7.45). This pH balance is tightly regulated by homeostasis. Homeostasis is a self regulated physiological process vital for life. Acid-base homeostasis keeps the blood pH within this tight range. So we basically run slightly alkaline anyway.
Going either way is not health promoting, the body is all about balance, the yin and yang.
Anyone adding in more vegetables and cutting down on alcohol and sugars will see a benefit in their health and wellbeing. However, how does a food make one more alkaline? Some believe if the urine is acidic then the body is acidic but an acidic urine is not indicative of an acidic body, i.e. of a blood pH lower than 7. A blood pH of 7 would find you in ER.
Becoming too alkaline
If the pH becomes a bit too high (alkaline), it can lead to symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating and vomiting. So the science of an alkaline diet is mis-leading.
It can be confusing. We are not against the alkaline diet or any other diet per se, we want to understand these diets as some are pretty much the same just under a different 'name'.
The pH in various body parts changes, such as the highly acidic pH of 2 in the stomach due to hydrochloric acid, the higher acidity in the gut further down, due to the acid producing bacteria such as lactobacillus (lactic acid), the higher pH in the first part of the small intestine due to the alkaline 'juice' from the pancreas. However, the pH of blood does not become more acidic or more alkaline unless there are other serious metabolic health issues where the body is struggling to maintain homeostasis such as kidney issues, think consistent high blood sugar levels. Generally cutting out junk food will help the body to more easily regulate blood pH because kidney health is VITAL for pH balance.
We have an overwhelming number of diets.
If we break this all down to a very reductionist view of diets/foods, food is simply information. How that information is received by one individual compared to another will vary. This is known as biochemical individuality.
There are a plethora of myths in the nutrition world some have come and gone and some are still hanging around that have not been proven scientifically. These myths seem like they make sense on the surface but when you dig deeper there tends to be more to the story.
A scenario that is a common occurrence
Bananas fall under the 'alkaline' category. Some clients are recommended them to improve their potassium levels. However, give someone who is pre-diabetic or diabetic an 'alkaline' banana, their blood sugar can spike and this will result in a roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows, creating inflammation, oxidation ....and if this continues the kidneys will be effected. Since the kidneys are VITAL organs in the regulation of pH then the pH of the body may start to 'stress', as the 'homeostasis' (balance) is harder to maintain, then one will become seriously 'ill'.
The lungs also regulate the pH of blood. The health of our organs, namely kidney and lungs play a key role in acid-alkaline balance, although other organs and systems are involved indirectly too (see example later with albumin).
One can eat an 'alkaline' diet and still get cancer, still get diabetes etc. The essence of any diet should consider the WHOLE mind-body. However, scientific evidence on the alkalinising effects of an 'alkaline diet' is missing.
Minerals matter in pH regulation
Calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphate, sulphur etc are all effected by diet, by gut health, by stress, by liver health (and more) and they all impact acid-alkaline balance but the body has this under ;control'. Take for example calcium, if the blood pH is slightly acidic the body (via albumin) will 'sponge' up the excess acidity (aka protons) and release calcium. This is because both the protons and calcium bind to the protein albumin, they both can't be held on by albumin if the binding sites are 'saturated'. This is just part of every day acid-alkaline homeostasis. This happens every day, all the time as the body needs. This albumin is made by the liver, so it seems that liver health plays a role in acid-alkaline balance too.
In the Cell Salts E-course we touch upon the acid alkaline balance, as we delve into the 12 naturopathic biochemical cell salts aka potentised mineral salts.
red meat causes cancer
BRCA-2 gene causes breast cancer
taking ascorbic acid is taking vitamin C
taking iron again and again to address anaemia is health
natural immunity is old school
new immunity is one that requires 're-booting' every year
beta-carotene is vitamin A
nutritional medicine comes in a bag load of supplements
take zinc, take vitamin D, take colloidal silver, take selenium to boost immunity
vitamin D needs to be taken with vitamin K
being vegan means one is more healthy
your child has nut allergies as/he she was jabbed
Most chronic dis-eases are multi-factorial
Angelina Jolie was known to have a mastectomy as she was found to have the BRCA-2 gene, but why does not every person who has this gene get breast cancer? The answer is in epi-genetics. Epi-genetics was briefly discussed in the detox blog here.
Just because one has the gene does not mean it will be expressed, it is all about the environment that these genes are bathed in. Is this environment healthy, is it nourishing?
Epi-genetics: children with autism
Leaving BRCA-2 for a second, and ask the question how many women have their DNA tested to see if they are efficiently metabolising their toxins? How many parents get a DNA test to check if they have any methylation issues. We are not just referring to the MTHFR gene but all the others. How many babies are tested for SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) before they are given a medication, or given any form of ‘toxin’? How many babies could be saved from eczema, asthma, autism ADHD etc. by a simple DNA test?
Boosting the immune system with supplements
Imagine someone with an auto-immune condition, what benefit is it for them to boost their immune system? They have an immune system that is already out of balance finding it tricky to determine between ‘self and non-self’. Why not support the terrain?
Vitamin D is a hormone.
A hormone that requires, vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, zinc boron and a healthy liver and kidneys. So why are supplements of vitamin D being prescribed, with or without vitamin K? This can be seen on a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA), where most people on vitamin D with or without K can be seen to have very high calcium.
Iron deficiency anaemia
This is such a common occurrence that in the cell salts e-course, there is a video on iron and copper. We have a cell salt called ferrum phosphate (iron phosphate) which can help with anaemia but the beauty about the minerals is they work as a team, no mineral comes in isolation. One can have low iron due to a 'sluggish' liver. In naturopathic terms a 'sluggish' liver does not have to show up as imbalanced liver enzymes in a blood test. Why? Because the body will maintain all these parameters within range as much as possible, even as it is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Naturopathically we look at the whole person, their symptoms, their diet, their demeanour, their colour etc. We take a history of your time line. Blood tests can be helpful, but then they can be distracting when one is told 'all is within normal range'...who is this normal?
However, ask, 'why the iron deficiency? Is it a hormonal imbalance? Is there blood loss? Is it due to sub-optimal liver function? Is it due to low bio-available copper? Is it due to a copper IUD? Is it due to gut health issues? Is it due to a food intolerance?
It is never as simple as ‘this for that’. The human body is an intricate beautiful, miracle. Why do we view it as if it is a machine with parts?
Integrated Nutrition Medicine Diploma
At the New School of Nutritional Medicine we cover a variety of topics that are relevant to the 21st century. We believe in naturopathic nutrition, we believe in biochemical individuality.
We have our dates for the next academic year (2023-2024). Have a look at our 2 year part time Integrated Nutrition Diploma Course and if you have any questions about the Diploma course drop us an email we will be in touch.
From the team at the New School Of Nutritional Medicine.
Learn about the Founder & Principal of the New School of Nutritional Medicine, Dr Khush Mark PhD HERE.