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Are you acid or alkaline?

Maintaining a healthy acid-alkaline balance in the body is crucial to general health and Dynamic Ageing, but 21st century lifestyles unfortunately upset this equilibrium and push it way up on the acid scale. This can result in dull skin and hair, muscle pain, aching joints and insomnia, as well as more serious conditions like inflammation, arthritis, rheumatism, gout and candida for example.

Everything we eat, once metabolised within the body, is then broken down into either an acid or an alkaline residue, and if the body, and particularly the blood, becomes too acidic, it then seeks to regain the required alkalinity by drawing minerals from the hair, skin, nails, and most importantly, the bones, leading to osteoporosis further down the line. Acid-forming foods, such as most animal products as well as many nuts and grains, deplete the body’s calcium stores, while alkaline foods support the absorption of calcium from the diet.

This is not to say that acidity in the body is a bad thing, or that alkalinity is ideal – many bodily functions actually require specific levels of acidity or alkalinity. For instance, the skin, stomach and bladder need to be highly acidic in order to repel outside invaders – in fact, the stomach is an extremely acid environment which helps to kill off all kinds of bugs and pathogens which we ingest with our food. Other organs however thrive on alkalinity.

Nevertheless, since our typical modern diet in the Western world is strongly acid forming, it is important to be aware of the acidifying or alkalising effects of what we eat. This can be confusing however. Raw fruit and vegetables for instance are generally strongly alkalising – but there are exceptions such as cranberries, plums, prunes and rhubarb which are very acidic indeed, as are, to a much lesser extent, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, which are also packed to the gunnels with vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants...... And don’t think that because a fruit tastes acidic, it creates acidity – lemon juice is highly alkaline and pineapples, cherries, kiwi fruit and tomatoes become alkaline once they have been digested. To make everything even more complicated, there are different levels of acidity: all animal protein is acid, but chicken and fish are less so than red meat, game or egg yolks.

If this whole subject is leaving you wondering what on earth you actually can eat in order to balance your system, support general health and age dynamically, don’t worry, because the usual rules apply: eat an absolute rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables and not an over-abundance of protein or animal products; boot out sugar, coffee and processed foods; and limit your alcohol intake. Also bear in mind that while a food may be acid-forming, this does not make it unhealthy, as in the case of plant proteins, grains, nuts, blueberries, even sea salt which is rich in minerals. The key quite simply is equilibrium – not too acid, not too alkaline, not too much, not too little, just a happy balance in between.

It is worth noting that strong emotional feelings can also increase acidity and alkalinity. Stress and anger for example are highly acidifying, while as laughter, enjoyment and a deep sense of harmony will push the body strongly towards alkalinity. And talking of harmony, deep breathing through the nose draws more oxygen into the body and is both calming and powerfully alkalinising – yet more added value from a relaxation routine!

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