Many of us have heard that colloquial phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Picture, if you will, that you have a gasoline engine car, and you consistently fill the tank with diesel fuel. The car would sputter and choke until all of its systems are corroded and it eventually dies on the side of the road. The roadside assistance companies would do well, but this is not good business for the car, it does not protect the investment in the car and it is an ineffective way to get from point A to B. The same is true for our bodies. Most of us eat or fuel our bodies with a traditional diet based on animal protein and starch. These foods are known to be acidic or low in essential mineral content required for genetic and dietary nutrition. Examples include flesh or animal products such as meat, dairy, poultry, fish, seafood, genetically modified foods, processed foods, convenience foods, pre-packaged foods, breads, pastries and many of the grains and nuts that we enjoy. They have been linked to inflammatory processes in the body that result in disease, weakness and disability over time. The situation is increased when these foods contain preservatives, pesticides and chemicals. Here’s where I pause for a brief review of physiology: As the acid in the body increases (a certain amount is beneficial in some cases, but out-of-control amounts tip the scale to the danger zone), the ability of the kidneys to manage the metabolic acidosis or the amount of circulating acid (think of it as a foe) against the amount of alkaline (think of it as a friend) by-products decreases. If the kidneys fail to balance the load of acid waste that we ate, disease begins to develop. The body is just like the car. It needs proper fuel to function, or its systems will fail before it eventually dies.
High levels of inflammation or malnutrition established by a high acid intake system has been linked to a few chronic diseases (the “Notorious B-I-3”, if you will) such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus type II. Back pain, muscle wasting, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and certain mental health conditions have been associated with excess acidic load as well.
In the scientific world, it is still not well-known as to whether a complete alkaline or mineral rich diet will solve the problems associated with chronic inflammation. I should think that an excess of anything could be problematic. However, observational studies have suggested that diets based on high fruit and vegetable intake would be beneficial to one’s health. Alkaline or mineral-rich produce grown in alkaline or mineral-rich soil would deliver many of the elements needed to balance the body’s acid loads and buffer, mitigate, control or prevent inflammation and inflammation-based diseases. A few produce examples include: callaloo greens, turnip greens, walnuts, apples, key limes, chayote, dates, figs, pine nuts, brazil nuts, spelt, cherry and roma tomatoes, most berries, plantain, agave, pears, avocado, watermelon, papaya, coconut and various others. Consuming a diet based on anti-inflammatory or alkaline, mineral-rich foods is challenging especially for those with very busy, on-the-go lives, but it means that bone health would improve. This means better balance and stability with age. Muscle wasting would be reduced which means improved motor function and mobility. Cardiovascular health improves which reduces the chances of heart attack and stroke. Enzymes are stimulated which could improve pain syndromes. Growth hormone would increase which means better mental health outcomes (including memory and cognition). A higher alkaline mineral load in the body would also improve the benefit of certain chemotherapies.
The idea is that controlling inflammation by either reducing acidic food intake or increasing alkaline/pH balanced food intake is an important step in decreasing risk associated with chronic disease and physical dysfunction (i.e. heart attack, stroke, diabetes, etc.), and we all know that it’s no fun losing physical function. A healthy body means decreased mortality and sustained functional independence.