Where does excess acidity come from?
We’ve been told that the the typical American diet is nutritionally poor. Well it is. That’s because the Western diet is exceptionally high in acid forming foods (meat, grains, dairy, sugar & processed foods). These are also the food groups that are highly subject to hormone treatments, antibiotics and genetic modification as well as synthetic chemicals. Just read the packaging and you’ll see snippets of controversy.
When nutritionists talk about acid- or alkaline-forming foods, they are referring to the effects of the food once ingested and metabolized by the body. You may not know what that means but in a nutshell, the food we consume is what creates an acidic or alkaline body.
High Protein Intake = Increased Acid
Most proteins contain sulphur, as well as phosphorus, within their chemical structures. When metabolized, these substances are broken down into phosphoric acid and sulphuric acid, which must then be neutralized through various chemical reactions in the body. Another by-product of protein metabolism is uric acid. Uric acid has been found to have a major influence on the development of arthritis; in particular, gout.
Because of these toxic by-products of protein metabolism (phosphoric, sulphuric and uric acids), protein rich foods, and especially animal products, are acid-forming. Most grains and dairy products, also high in protein, are also acid-forming.
First off, virtually all diseases including dermatitis, allergies, cancer, candida, heart disease, bowel diseases, arthritis (inflammation), osteoporosis, kidney stones, gall stones, and tooth decay are associated with excess acidity in the body. All forms of inflammation are also associated with excess acidity, including inflammation of the skin and joints.
Did you know that disease cannot exist in an alkaline environment?
What It Means For Your Health
Since we are constantly supplying acids and alkalis to our bodies through the various foods we eat, it is very important that we consider the balance between these two extremes.
If we consume excessive amounts of acid-forming foods, such as animal and dairy products, the body must dip into its alkaline reserves to maintain the proper pH (alkalinity). The kidneys, lungs and entire physiology is overworked in the process of neutralizing the acids from the body. This strain eventually leads to a depletion of buffer salts and the breakdown in the functions of various organs, including the kidneys.
Any food, drug or beverage that is extremely acidic in nature causes the body to utilize alkaline reserves and this process overworks the various organs. Over a period of time, the body eventually is no longer capable of handling this overload and will slowly begin to break down or malfunction. Various organ malfunctions are referred to as “disease,” while the root cause is “too much acid in the body” (acidosis).
How does this tie into eczema / dermatitis?
The short answer is this, you are dealing with inflammation that likely stems from acidosis or a by-product of. The skin is too a major organ, the largest at that, capable of stress like any other organ. Reducing the acid formation in the body; consuming more alkaline foods; and nurturing the gut all go a long way to reducing the potentiality for outbreaks at the skin level.
What you should do…
The short answer, barring any medications and food allergies that are contradictory, is this: focus on consuming more fresh or freshly prepared (not canned) vegetables and fruits, while reducing the ratio of meats, grains (wheat, corn, oats, white rice), dairy, sugars and other soft drinks.
Add into your diet fresh pressed vegetable juices, salads and plenty of water daily.
Many alternative health experts recommend a diet comprised of more alkaline than acid foods. In the book, Staying Healthy with Nutrition, author Elson Haas, M.D. recommends a diet consisting of 70 – 80 % alkaline foods in spring and summer and 65 to 70% in winter months. If you can do it, great. I feel however, attempting to apply a ratio as such to my diet, as accurate as it may be, just over complicates things. That’s why diets don’t work well for people. If it’s too much work, it’s easily abandoned.
The predominant American diet is that of convenience foods primarily. Our busy schedules have somewhat deprived us of time for food preparation and consumption which is why preparation is so necessary. Consuming a greener diet is the way to go and I can tell you as a single mom of two sons with hearty appetites, it can certainly be done.
What I can tell you that has worked in the space of actual application is this:
- PLAN: your meals so that ingredients overlap to save time. If you roast a couple of chickens or buy them already roasted chicken (ok), you can use it for lunch and/or dinner for a couple of days while still pulling off a nutritious meal.
- SHOP: the outer perimeter of the market. It’s where all the fresh foods are located. Buy what you need for the week and get on on to step 3.
- PREP: I’ve learned in my experience to prep, prep, prep, especially when my children were young. Wash it, peel it, cut it, chop it and pack it for the next step. This is super helpful if you’re adding salads, stir-frys, frittatas or raw juices to your regular rotation.I’ll admit, I dedicate a good portion of time to kitchen prep because I decided when my sons were young, to make wellness a priority. Twelve years later, we’re still going strong! The point is to create a system that does work! Don’t give up easily, it takes time to get into the rhythm of a lifestyle change. It’s worth it. You’re worth it!
The following chart provides a list of alkaline and acid forming foods that can help you decide how to plan your meals. It is NOT all inclusive but you can use it as a guide. I do hope you find it useful.
Stay tuned for follow up posts on this topic.
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