Do Diets Work?
Although there are dozens of diets and countless books written about them, when it comes to health, it’s really all about pH. So what exactly is pH and how does it affect your health? pH is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution as it relates to the concentration of hydrogen ions or, in this case, the tissues and fluids of a person’s body. The pH scale range is from zero to fourteen. Neutral solutions, such as pure water, have a pH of about seven. Solutions less than seven are considered acidic, greater than seven, alkaline, also known as basic. The body functions optimally at an alkaline pH of approximately 7.35–7.45; any deviation just above or below this range can result in illness, even death. Acid-base balance is maintained in the body by a number of intricate systems, of which the three primary are the blood, the respiratory system, and the kidneys.
pH and Illness
Illness or disease is a result of too much acid waste products in the tissues of the body. In fact, an abnormal bacteria, fungus, or virus in the body can only survive in an acid environment. It is thought that creating a more alkaline environment in the body can help prevent cancer. Unfortunately, acid waste that is not eliminated in a timely manner is reabsorbed from the colon into the liver and placed back into the general circulation.
How then, does diet play a role in acid-base balance and cancer? All ingested substances, whether food, drink, medications, or supplements, and all circumstances, whether mental, physical, or emotional, that affect the body leave behind either an acid or alkaline (basic) ash residue in the body. Researchers have found that cold germs and flu viruses and other diseases, such as cancer, need an acid environment in order to grow and thrive. The goal, therefore, for health is to maintain a pH that is just slightly on the alkaline side. This is done by what many researchers refer to as the 80/20 rule in which 80 percent of the foods eaten are alkaline reacting, and 20 percent are acid reacting. In general, most fruits, vegetables and herbs are alkaline reacting while protein foods, starches, sugary foods (i.e., candy, cake), most dairy, and prescription drugs are acid reacting. Ironically, the Food Guide Pyramid actually promotes an acidic pH if followed as designed. The pyramid recommends two to three servings per day from the milk/dairy group, two to three servings from the meat group, three to five servings from the vegetable group, two to four servings from the fruit group, six to eleven servings from the bread/starch group, and to use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly. Thus, 65–67 percent of the pyramid is from foods that are acid-forming and 33–35 percent from alkaline-reacting foods. There has been much controversy surrounding the Food Guide Pyramid, with many opponents arguing that it does not promote a healthier, plant-based diet. In addition, proponents argue that it was biased from the start because it was developed by a group with strong ties to the dairy and beef industries. The goal being to manipulate the spending and shopping habits of Americans toward the purchase of more dairy and meat products. In fact, in 2000, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine won a nine-month legal battle against the USDA for this very reason. In the long run, the best diet to follow is one that promotes an alkaline pH using the 80/20 rule. The diet that best epitomizes this rule is the Edgar Cayce diet. This diet has been around for over sixty years and countless books written about it. Of course, it can be a challenge to practice this lifestyle, and even those of us who are educated on the effect of food and pH stray off course from time to time. However, just being aware of the effect of what you eat is half the battle. The key to good health is not a diet; it’s maintaining a healthy lifestyle.