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The Alkaline Life

An article from the Living Now magazine

living now

The 80/20 rule seems to rule our life. We`d love to play 80% of the time and work 20% of the time, yet we never seem able to manage it. We`d love to own 80% of our home and let the bank take care of 20% of it, but it never happens. We`d love to spend 80% of time with our loved ones in quality time, yet we manage 20% on weekends if we are lucky. And although we are encouraged to consume 80% alkaline-forming foods, even vegetarians seem only to manage 20%, with the rest of our diet consisting of 80% acid-forming foods.

Dr. Elizabeth Elliot, author of Health = Energy, was asked whether she met many patients who had embraced the 80/20 alkaline rule. She answered that the only people to achieve this sensible and proven balance were people threatened, who believed that an alkaline diet was their one and only way to health. Her answer causes us to reflect on whether we are at all serious about our health, our longevity, or our quality of life, for we might conclude that only the threat of death would cause us to change to an 80/20 alkaline diet.

Yet it is also said that we live in a dream, bounded by the limits of our own fears. Perhaps we may be forgiven for not seeing the innate wisdom of an alkaline diet simply because our fears physically blind us to a level of health higher than what we experience. Our dream accepts a life of 80/20 health, where we assume 20% of ill health to be the norm, simply because that is all we see around us. We have all enlisted in the many longevity or cleansing diets only to see the effects of aging, lethargy or lack of will overcome the temporary gains we may achieve. Small wonder that many recovered patients see their issue as the greatest gift of their lives, for it propelled them out of the 80/20 dream!

So what is this alkaline life? It is said that a Master of the Tao has alkaline saliva. In the Vedas we are taught of the 3 states of being; tamas, rajas and sattva, or alkaline, acidic and balanced. Ancient Greek mythology had the concepts of Chaos and Earth. From earth came the Ocean, the water and the feminine Mother. China contributed the principle of Yin (earth, feminine) and Yang (heaven, or strength, violence, masculine). Dr Sagen Ishizuka, founder of Japanese Macrobiotics, translated this into acid and alkaline.

We can also see how yin/yang manifests in behavior. Anger, a clenched body that is yang. Joy, peace, and relaxation is yin. So we can say that an alkaline body embodies our most sought after emotions; peace and joy.

Doctor Ishizuka passionately believed food to be the highest medicine. He realized that all imbalance and physical weakness came from wrong eating habits. He called his theory shokuyo; the science of foods for health and happiness. Shoku is all matter and energy which creates and nourishes the perfect man. Yo is the deed or way to nourish ourselves, with the knowledge of shoku. Shokuyo is the right knowledge and proper deeds of healthy man. In the tradition of yin and yang, Sagen classified all foods in to two groups, which we may now see, with Western eyes, as acid and alkaline. The mission of Macrobiotics, then, was achievement of the balance, the yogic sattvic state of truth and light through balancing of diet.

Obviously, to achieve a state of balance, we need to apply the opposite to an unbalanced condition. There is yin within yang, and yang within yin. A person suffering from acidosis, as almost all of us do today, has not lost the potential for peace through good diet. Yet if we are too hot, we must apply cold. If we are too acidic, we must apply alkalinity. The state of balance we speak of in the human body is in the state of our blood, which is the supreme commander over all other bodily functions. With a blood supply even slightly acidic, we lapse into coma and eventually die. It must be kept at a pH of 7.35, and every function of our body is subservient.

There is no shortage of reminders given us freely every day of the benefits of an alkaline life. When we walk on the beach we are immersed in a process of ionization that occurs wherever water breaks and flows. The negative ions in the air are natural antioxidants and make you feel relaxed (yin) as they heal you at a physical level through a process of natural alkalization. A cold shower is alkalizing because cooler temperatures increase your body`s pH. A drink from an unpolluted mountain spring will supply you with more antioxidant and alkaline power than a month of Vitamin C. A good out-breath will help accumulated acids to break down in salts, water and carbon dioxide, increasing your body`s alkalinity by reducing its acidity. No wonder meditation asks us to examine the breath. Correct breathing fosters alkalinity and we experience it as peace. Similarly, moderate exercise is alkaline; strenuous exercise is lactic acid-forming.

And then there is diet. Vegetarians generally believe that just because they do not eat meat, somehow they are more alkaline. Sadly, most Western vegetarians are what one pioneer Naturopath called lazy vegetarians because they consume far too much bread, pasta or rice, all acid-ash producing foods. A food may be alkaline in its original state, but that is not our concern. When it is digested it becomes ash, and this ash is the stuff we live on, derive sustenance from, and actually become through its storage within our tissues. Rice, for instance, may be alkaline, but will become acid ash when digested and passed into our system.

Unfortunately the list of acid foods is long and enticing. Chocolate, coconut, avocado, chicken, capsicum, eggplant, honey and papaya are notable examples. It 5s not hard to see why we choose against the 80/20 alkaline diet. Yet are we really choosing, or are subject to a will stronger than we know? We are acidic; this is the silently accepted way it is of our busy lives. But what we don`t realize is that we are actually caught in what Dr Ronald Wolfe calls the acidosis cycle. Like a drug addict, if we don`t get our fix of acid, we experience withdrawals. The cycle begins with consumption of acid food, little exercise, poor digestion and elimination. Our tissues and organs, in turn, become laden with acid waste. They have no choice, for if they do not, our blood will turn acid and we will surely die. With our acid toxic waste dump tissues, we become prime candidates for chronic unwellness. Because we feel so bad we reach for guess what? Some luscious acid-forming food!

There are many surprises in store as one explores the acid-forming potential of food. Who would have thought that sunflower seeds were strongly acid forming? There is no surprise in sugar, meat, fish, eggs, cheese and wheat as acid makers, and no vegetarian would be surprised that legumes, soy, vegetables, fruit, and yogurt, are alkaline forming. However as Harald Tietze, author of Youthings points out, most of our alkaline forming foods are relatively weak alkalinity change agents.

The potential to alkalize is based on a food`s calcium/phosphorus ratio, and a ratio over 3 is regarded as strong. The only foods Harald Tietze says have this ratio are oranges, human milk, spinach and rhubarb. Anyone who has felt the unique aftertaste of rhubarb knows that this is strong indeed!

What other ways do we have of becoming more alkaline? If diet is 80/20 against us, can we use water? Our body`s water content reduces as our acidity increases. We become like the dried prune we love to hate until, from 90% water as an unborn child, we are reduced to less than 50%. Dr Theodore Baroody, author of Alkalize or Die goes even further. He believes we have lost the basic ability to drink in response to thirst. We reach for a cola instead of water, and we drink acidic water or chemically manipulated water before we will drink the real thing; the water we once had not so long ago. Ask your grandparents what they drank at dinner. If they are old and sober enough, they will answer water. And if they are able to answer water then they are living proof that water prolongs life, for chances are they are over 90. This is the time when we lost the battle; when soft drinks were introduced to our children.

We are all well aware of the need for pure water, especially in cities. However pure water is not necessarily alkalizing water, and even 100% pure water, according to Dr Zoltan Rona, may be harmful to our health. Even rainwater today falls through an acidic atmosphere and becomes acidic before it touches earth. This is the reason the Australian Water Safety guidelines insist that our drinking water is neutral (pH 7) or above. Acidic water is bad for our bodies and so most water authorities are compelled to add chemicals to tip the scales towards a more beneficial alkaline balance. As consumers, many of us have purchased water filters. However our purified water may be even more acidic after the filter removes the added lime, and so while we now have clean water, we are also getting our most fundamental resource in a form that is far from healthy, and actually contributes to our aging process. Body alkalinity is attainable but we need to acknowledge that our rapid technological advances have robbed us of some of our ability to get what we need from our food and our water. Our environment may have changed, but our body`s needs have not.

If we are able to alter our acid/alkaline balance, we enter the freedom of a different cycle. Through alkaline nutrition and hydration, adequate exercise, good digestion (chewing your food) daily elimination and sensible food combining, tissues and organs become alkaline . Our alkaline body creates better digestion, and builds a defense against wellness issues. We feel better and as a result, we experience Doctor Ishizuka`s Shokuyo state; a state of joy; of happiness through good diet. We have broken free of the deadly cycle. We have come down from our acid trip safely and gently.


The statements enclosed herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your family doctor.

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