Alkalinizing the Body Not That Simple

There is plenty of research in recent years dedicated to the pH (acid-alkaline) balance.  Studies show having an alkaline body means it is more resistant to infections or disease.  Moreover, diseases cannot thrive in an alkaline environment.  By this theory, it is important to eat foods that raise the pH level of the body rather than the opposite.  Ailments like cancers are believed to flourish in acidic bodies.

Health nuts everywhere are recommending we eat certain foods to change our pH balance.  (I’m still uncertain on how pH is measured in all fluids, organs and tissues).  At first it seems easy.  Consume greens, teas, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, root crops, and so on.   Stay away from highly processed foods and junk/fast foods.  No problem.  Most of us concerned with our health eat like this anyhow, right?  Here is where it gets confusing.  Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are extremely acidic.  One might think these non-alkaline fruits would move us in the wrong direction.  As it turns out, certain types of acids produce different affects on the stomach acid (HCl).  Citric acid from fruit can actually lower acidity, while the phosphoric acid found in soda pop (pH of 2) could potentially raise acidity.  According to a chemist friend of mine, mixing an acid with a low pH (ie. an orange with pH of 3.3) with the highly acidic stomach acid (pH of 2) could still have alkalinizing ability.   This explains why lemon water is healthy for you, even with a pH of 2 or a 3.  What does it all mean?  It’s just one more reason to eat healthy.  Don’t be surprised if the vast majority of the foods you should eat are alkalinizing.

Now onto the latest craze: “alkaline water.” Tap water in Vancouver, BC has a pH level of 6.5 to 7.3 depending on the region.  Even with new regulations to move the averages to 7-7.5, some consumers are investing in fancy devices to raise the pH even higher (9-10).  These “water ionizers” can cost thousands of dollars, and are often available through multi-level marketing companies.  They claim that drinking their “ionized water” that is slightly basic can alkalinize the body.  The science I’ll admit is a bit shaky, but moving in the right direction.  The problem is that as soon as the the alkaline water reaches the stomach it is combined with the highly acidic gastric fluid, and the alkalinity is quickly removed.  The water then moves into the intestine where it is then neutralized by pancreatic secretions before absorbed.  So essentially all fluids taken in will eventually end up alkaline anyway.   I would still recommend a diet comprised of mostly alkaline forming foods.  They are usually less refined, lower in sugar, lower in calorie, and often way more nutrient rich.    However, I have serious doubts that simply consuming alkaline water will do anything to protect the body from disease.  Save your money, and invest in minerals like coral calcium to protect your bones and body from any ups and downs in your body’s pH.

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Is Fruit Making You Fat?

Does your weightloss strategy include eating fruit 4 of 5 times a day?   Eating tons of fruit could be your biggest mistake. Don’t misinterpret, fruits are healthy: mangos, pineapples, grapes, apples, bananas and melons, just to name a few. They are host to a multitude of micronutrients and each type of fruit has unique health benefits. However, we sometimes forget they are a still a carbohydrate source, and a sugar-loaded one at that. How do you keep them under control? First record what you are eating, and start by counting the pieces of fruit you eat in a day. If it’s more than 1 or 2, you could be getting a great deal of unnecessary carbs and sugar in your diet.  Many people make the mistake of eating a couple servings of fruit as a meal.  This spikes blood sugar very quickly, and the lack of protein subsequently causes blood sugar to plummet.  These highs and lows cause not only fat storage, but can also lead to diabetes.

After you realize how many carbs are in your fruit, limit yourself to 2 pieces of fruit per day and replace the rest with vegetables. Even try eating only 1 piece. This will encourage you to get more vegetables in your diet, which are also high in vitamins, minerals, antixoxidants, and fibre.   Vegetables are typically lower in sugar and carbohydrates and have a higher thermic effect than fruits. Steam them to get the most nutritional benefit.  A proper balanced meal should include a protein source (ie chicken, fish, meat) , a low glycemic carb source (sweet potato or brown rice) and a serving of vegetables.  So check your fruit consumption and watch the weight drop.


I Eat Organic, That Must Mean I’m Healthy.

I eat organic, that must mean I am healthy.   Not really. Sure, organic means less risk of pesticides, more information about where the food is grown, and sometimes a higher array of nutritional benefits.  I also prefer organic foods over their less-tasty non-organic counterparts.  But just because you are eating all organic, certainly doesn’t mean you are eating for weightloss. For example, certified organic maple syrup has just as many calories from sugar as does regular old maple syrup.  A tree may be organically grown and fertilized, but the sap is still sap.  Drizzling  it over organic pancakes doesn’t mean it cannot store as fat.

Solution:  Your research is necessary. First, take a long hard objective look at the food you are buying.  How many carbohydrates per serving, and are you even eating a serving? How many of those carbohydrates come from sugar? Is there any protein? Is there a  high amount of fat in it? Then look to see if the ultra-clean foods you’ve chosen are available in an organic variety.   However, be careful not to eat more of that food just because it is organic.  An organically grown or all-natural label is not a license to binge.


Stop Counting Calories In Everything You Eat

One of the biggest mistakes we tend to make on a diet or weight-loss program is to obsessively count calories.  This may sound like pure diligence, but it is often misleading, and can over complicate the whole process.  Okay, that doesn`t mean you can simply eat all the high-calorie dessert you want.  Just do not get obsessed with calorie totals, without looking at WHAT you are eating.  For example, a protein calorie can have a positive impact on the diet-down process, whereas calories from table sugar (sucrose)  may contribute to immediate fat storage.  Total calorie content tells only part of the story.

Your best bet is to take a quick glance at calories in your food, and get a general feel for what is high, and what is low.  A 700 calorie meal for most people is high, while a 250 calorie meal is considered lean.  Look further into the Nutrition Facts.   Make sure that the sugar and saturated fat is not excessive.  Also, if your meal has inadequate protein, you are probably eating all carbohydrates -a surefire way to slow the metabolism.  Balance your carbohydrate portions using not calories, but the size of your fist.  A fist sized serving of protein, and fist sized carbohydrate source is an ideal meal.  In sum, get a feel for calories, but take a good look at the protein versus carbs, sugars and fat content in your food.  You won`t have to add up all those numbers, and it should eventually start to make sense.