Food faddists and self-proclaimed experts with a modicum of nutritional knowledge have been recommending for years now that we alkalize our diets. After all, if cancer is supposedly caused by an overly acidic environment, it makes sense to alkalize it, right? So we should all become vegetarians, right?
Many well-meaning people are SO confused about this topic. I had a poor woman suffering from metastatic breast cancer come into my office last week telling me that she only eats alkaline and neutral foods. On this diet she was eating lots of beans, vegetables, fruits and sugars. She was terrified of meat and animal fat, as she was concerned about the acidity. Meanwhile, she was clearly wasting away from a lack of protein and fat in her diet, and if she needed more evidence vegetarianism wasn’t working, her saliva was still extremely acidic.
Don’t Be Fooled by the Alkaline / Acid Myth
The issue of acidity and alkalinity is critical to the body. Frequently when someone has cancer, they test the pH of their saliva and discover they’re acidic. They then seek out the most obvious solution, which is to eat an alkaline diet and counteract this acidity . . . makes sense on the surface, right?
But health is not superficial.
This is the same faulty belief system that a person with heart disease should avoid cholesterol, or that a fat person shouldn’t eat fat.
Let me break down the issue so you won’t be tempted to be one of those people spouting the incorrect assertions that we should all avoid meat and follow an alkaline diet to health. After all, if that were true, all we would have to do is add sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to our diet and we would all be healed.
TRUTH: The Body Is Supposed to Be Acidic.
First, know this: Regardless of the acidity of the food you consume, the first digestive domino they encounter is the acid bath of the stomach. The pH of all food is immediately lowered to around 2, regardless of what it was before we ate it.
Second: Understand that the human body is designed to function in an acid medium. Deoxyribonucleic ACID (DNA) and Ribonucleic ACID (RNA), which are our genetic code, are acids. All cellular metabolism is acidic. The bowels need to be acidic to have the correct bacteria. The vagina, the skin, and urine are all acidic. They need to be acidic to function properly. We are, by definition, an acid-consuming, acid-producing, and acid-eliminating organism.
An Explanation of pH
The pH range is from 0-14:
- 0 – 6.9 is acidic
- 7 is neutral
- 7.1 – 14 is alkaline
The only thing in the body that is supposed to be alkaline is blood, which maintains a pH right around 7.4. A chance spike or drop either way in blood will kill you.
So when people tell me they want to become alkaline, the first question I ask them is, “What specifically do you want to make alkaline? Most of the body is supposed to be acidic and the blood’s alkalinity never changes.”
This is when they usually look back at me with a blank stare. “The saliva,” they usually say, dumbfounded. “Alkaline saliva, which is a sign of good health,” I explain to them, “is dependent completely on sufficient mineral content in our body.”
It’s All About the Minerals in the Food
So back to the food. When we’re talking about acid and alkaline foods, what we’re really talking about is the mineral content of the food. After food goes through cellular metabolism, like a furnace burning, the mineral ashes left over have an acid or alkaline potential. If the foods are high in calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium, they have an alkaline potential. Meats, like fish and beef, are high in the acidic element phosphorus.
Why Meat is Good for You
Many people incorrectly believe that meat is bad for you because it contains a high amount of phosphoric acid. What most don’t realize is that organic acids like phosphorus (minerals in meat) are easily neutralized by the body and do not acidify it. In fact, a large body of research has shown eating more protein is essential for maintaining proper pH and bone mineral density 1 2 3.
The phosphoric acid in meat is actually beneficial because it helps the body’s metabolism get rid of waste and other acids. Additionally, proteins from these meats are converted into our basic essential amino acids and enzyme systems that are required to digest and utilize other nutrients and minerals. Let me say this one more time, in capital letters for effect:
THE ACIDITY OR ALKALINITY OF THE FOOD WHEN YOU EAT IT DOESN’T MATTER, ONLY THE MINERALS THAT ARE LEFT BEHIND AND THE HEALTH OF THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM.
What Actually Acidifies the Body
What acidifies the body is eating nutritionally empty, refined foods that have a low mineral content, and the subsequent acids created by altered cellular metabolism. Refined foods act like a magnet, literally pulling the mineral content out of the body.
Foods that Acidify the Body
- Processed foods low in minerals and vitamins (anything in a package)
- Refined sugar
- Soda and all sugar-based drinks, including fruit juice
- Refined and GMO grains
- Refined white salt
- Prescription medications
Two things happen as a result of consuming all these high-calorie, nutritionally empty foods:
- Our body has to give up the alkaline minerals to buffer the acidity of these foods.
- Our endocrine system (adrenals, pancreas, liver, thyroid, parathyroid, etc.) have to work extra hard to try keep our alkalinity and blood sugar in balance.
The body can only do this for a short time before the endocrine system begins to fail and we run out of minerals. This is when acidosis, cancer, low energy, weight gain and the entire family of metabolic diseases take hold . . . and when our saliva turns acidic.
The 6 Steps to Fix an Overly Acidic System
There are 6 easy solutions to heal a damaged, acidic system and restore proper alkalinity to the body.
- Exercise: 70% of the acid created by cellular metabolism is carbon dioxide, which is expelled by the lungs. By exercising regularly, moving and breathing deeply, you will remove approximately 70% of the acid from your body.
- Water: Healthy kidney function is a requirement for excreting hydrogen ions (acids) from the body via urine, as well as reabsorbing and reutilizing bicarbonate from the urine. For the kidneys to be able to flush this acid, they need clean water that’s free of chlorine and fluoride. It also helps if the water is slightly alkaline. Alkaline water is created when it contains alkaline minerals like calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. (SIDENOTE: Please don’t fall for the scam that alkaline water can be created by ionizing it with electrolysis. If you want to throw away $2,000 on an alkaline water machine, I got a bridge you should buy first. This water does not maintain alkalinity but rather buffers your stomach acid, creating more metabolic dysfunction.)
- Food: Eat mineral- and nutrient-dense foods only. The most mineral-dense foods on earth are organic vegetables grown in healthy soil and the animals that feed on the mineral-rich vegetation (i.e. grass-fed beef and wild fish). Fulvic minerals and Calcium/Magnesium are wonderful sources of highly alkalizing minerals that I frequently prescribe to my patients.
- Stomach Acid: You must have enough stomach acid to break down the protein and absorb minerals and B vitamins. Even if you’re eating a mineral-dense diet but are low in stomach acid, you won’t be able to absorb and utilize those minerals. Plus, if you’re 50 or older, studies have shown you have significantly less stomach acid than what you had at 25. Sufficient stomach juices are essential for health. You can accomplish this by putting raw apple cider vinegar in your water or taking a stomach juice supplement.
- Healthy Liver and Bile: Once the stomach is done acidifying the food and absorbing many of the minerals, it’s the job of liver bile to bring the pH back up. A sluggish liver or gallbladder will result in rancid foods sitting in the intestines, which is extremely acidifying to the body. If you get the following symptoms, you can be almost sure that you have liver and gallbladder stasis and need nutritional support.
- Frequent belching
- Feeling like there’s a weight in your stomach after eating
- Bloating or gas
- High Cholesterol
- High liver enzymes
- Bad skin
- Pain behind the right shoulder blade
- Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Once you eat and absorb the minerals, then you need to have enough fat-soluble vitamins. Dr. Weston A Price proved the necessity for these vitamins in his research, emphatically stating, “It is possible to starve for minerals that are abundant in the foods eaten because they cannot be utilized without an adequate quantity of the fat-soluble activators.” Eating good, healthy animal fats like grass-fed butter, egg yolks and organ meats are necessary to utilize minerals. This is why the vegetarian diet doesn’t work in accomplishing alkalinity. I recommend all my patients with acidic saliva to get a fatty acid profile test. With this simple blood test you can determine the fat levels in your body and then correct it with proper diet and supplementation.
Acidosis of the saliva is a symptom of poor health, not the result of consuming foods that are high in acid-potential minerals like meat.
To heal and alkalize your body and address the cause of the acidosis, improve your diet and quit eating refined foods that are high in sugar. Then you can follow the six easy steps laid out above. For most people it takes a minimum of two months of following the above protocol to begin to see the saliva becoming more alkaline.