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Thursday, October 15, 2009  |  2 Comments
by Christopher Vasey
The substances the body uses for building and functioning are quite numerous: there are approximately twenty amino acids, several dozen sugars and fatty acids, approximately forty vitamins, and one hundred or so minerals and trace elements. Each of these substances plays one or several specific roles in the body.
Despite the extreme diversity of these substances, it is possible to classify them in two major groups: basic (or alkaline) substances and acid substances. These two different groups of substances have opposing but complementary characteristics. To be healthy, the body needs both. When alkaline and acid substances are present in equal quantities, the acid-alkaline (pH) balance is achieved.
Many organic balances are necessary for good health: those between activity and rest, inhalation and exhalation, venous and arterial blood, energy intake and expenditure, and the production and elimination of toxins. Just as it is detrimental to disturb anyone of these balances-for example, to eat more than the body needs or not rest enough to make up for daily activity-an excess of either acid or alkaline substances is very harmful to health.
If you have ever bitten into a lemon or eaten rhubarb you know the most obvious characteristic of something acidic: its taste. But acidic foods also stimulate salivation to dilute the acid, which brings out another property of acids - their harsh, even corrosive, nature.
We take advantage of this latter property in everyday life in many ways. Vinegar dissolves the calcium deposits that can form in pots and sinks, and some of today's cleaning products partially owe their cleansing qualities to the acids they contain. The corrosive nature of acids is also demonstrated by the well-known experiment of soaking a piece of meat or a coin in a cola-based beverage. After several days the meat will have dissolved totally and the surface of the coin will be scarred and pitted.
Chemically, acids are defined as substances that release hydrogen ions when dissolved in water. Some acids give off more hydrogen ions than others. Rhubarb and lemons, for example, are much more acidic than strawberries or tomatoes, which are also acidic foods.
Taste is not an infallible means for determining that a food is acidic, because acids can be partially neutralized and their taste obscured by the presence of other substances. Meat is not acidic to the taste, but is very acidifying.
The degree of acidity of a substance is measured by determining its pH. It is also possible to identify a food as acidic by analyzing its mineral content. In fact, minerals can be divided into the same two basic groups: acidic and alkaline. The principal acidic minerals are sulfur, chlorine, phosphorus, fluoride, iodine, and silicon.
When a substance contains more acidic than alkaline minerals it is said to be acidic. Accordingly, mineral waters, which contain both types of mineral, are said to be alkaline when alkaline minerals such as calcium and magnesium predominate. When sulfur, chlorine, or carbon dioxide prevail, the water will be acidic. Foods rich in phosphorus (like hazelnuts), are more acidic than those that contains less phosphorus, like almonds.
Unlike acidic substances, alkaline substances in solution with water give up few or no hydrogen ions. The fewer hydrogen ions they release the less acidic they are - or, in other words, the more alkaline they are.
Also unlike acids, alkaline elements have no corrosive properties. They are "gentle" substances. Alkaline substances can counter problems caused by acids. Potato juice, for example, soothes the pains of an acid stomach, and milk in large quantities can be an effective method of neutralizing the corrosiveness of acidic poisons swallowed by accident.
Alkaline foods have little or no acidic taste. In the most alkaline foods, not even the slightest trace of an acidic taste can be detected.
Alkaline minerals include calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper. The body contains more calcium than any other mineral, more than two pounds on average, most of which is concentrated in the skeleton. By the way, if you're looking for an alkaline supplement full of alkaline minerals, try pHion Alkalizing Mineral Complex.
As with acids, flavor is not a sufficient criterion for determining whether a food is alkaline. Certain foods-for example, bread and white sugar-are not at all acidic to the taste, but they are not alkaline foods. The acids these foods contain are freed in the course of their digestion and utilization by the body.
The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum HealthChristopher Vasey
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