The human body is composed of various organs and parts, which are made up of tissues and cells. These tissues and cells are composed of 16 chemical elements. The balance or equilibrium of these chemical elements in the body is an essential factor in the maintenance of health and healing of disease. The acid-alkaline balance plays a vital role in this balanced body chemistry.
All foods, after digestion and absorption leave either an acid or alkaline ash in the body depending on their mineral composition. The normal body chemistry is approximately 20 per cent acid and 80 per cent alkaline. This is the acid-alkaline balance. In normal health, the reaction of the blood is alkaline and that is essential for our physical and mental well-being.
The preponderance of alkali in the blood is due to the fact that the products of the vital combustion taking place in the body are mostly acid in character. Carbohydrates and fats form about nine-tenths of the normal fuel of the body.
In normal health, this great mass of material is converted into carbon dioxide gas and water. Half of the remaining one-tenth fuel is also converted into the same gas and water. This huge amount of acid is transported by the blood to the various points of discharge, mainly the lungs. By virtue of alkalinity, the blood is able to transport the acid from the tissues to the discharge points.
Whenever the alkalinity of the blood is reduced, even slightly, its ability to transport the carbon dioxide gets reduced. This results in the accumulation of acid in the tissues. This condition is known as acidosis or hypo-alkalinity of the blood. Its symptoms are hunger, indigestion, burning sensation and pain in the pharynx, nausea, vomiting, headache, various nervous disorders and drowsiness.
Acidosis is the breeding ground for most diseases. Nephritis or Bright’s disease, rheumatism, premature old age, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, skin disorders and various degenerative diseases are traceable to this condition. It seriously interferes with the functions of the glands and organs of the body. It also lowers the vitality of the system, thereby increasing the danger of infectious diseases.
The main cause of acidosis or hypo-alkalinity of the blood is faulty diet, in which too many acid forming foods have been consumed. In the normal process of metabolism or converting the food into energy by the body, various acids are formed in the system and in addition, other acids are introduced in food. Whenever there is substantial increase in the formation of acids in the system and these acids are not properly eliminated through the lungs, the kidneys and the bowels , the alkalinity of the blood is reduced, resulting in acidosis.
Other causes of acidosis are depletion of alkali reserve due to diarrhea, dysentery, cholera etc., accumulation of carbon dioxide in asphyxia and anoxia as in circulatory and pulmonary diseases and accumulation of acetone bodies resulting from starvation, vomiting and diabetes mellitus.
Acidosis can be prevented by maintaining a proper ratio between acid and alkaline foods in the diet. Certain foods leave alkaline ash and help in maintaining the alkalinity of the food, while others leave highly acid ash and lower the alkali reserve of the blood and tissue fluids to a very large extent. Eggs do the same but less strongly than meats. Cereals of all kinds, including all sorts of breads are also acid-forming foods , though much less than meats.
All fruits, with exceptions like plums and prunes and all green and root vegetables are highly alkaline foods and help to alkalinize the blood and other tissue fluids. Thus, our daily diet should consist of four-fifth of alkaline-forming foods such as juicy fruits, tubers, legumes, ripe fruits, leafy and root vegetables and one fifth of acid-forming foods containing concentrated proteins and starches such as meat, fish, bread and cereals.
Eating sensibly in this manner will ensure the necessary alkalinity of the food which will keep the body in perfect health. Whenever a person has acidosis, the higher the ratio of alkaline forming foods in his diet, the quicker will be the recovery. Acids are neutralized by alkali. It is, therefore, imperative that persons suffering from various ailments are given adequate alkaline ash foods to offset the effects of acid-forming foods and leave a safe margin of alkalinity.
The most agreeable and convenient means of alkalizing the blood are citrus fruits and fruit juices. The alkalizing value of citrus fruits are due to large percentage of alkaline salts, mainly potash, which they contain. Each pint of orange juice contains 12 grains of potassium, one of the most potent of alkalis. Lemon juice contains nine grains of the alkali to the pint and grape seven grains.
Diet in Disease
In the diet during disease, breakfast may consist of fresh fruits, lunch may comprise raw vegetables with acid and sub-acid fruits, and for dinner raw and cooked vegetables, or light starchy vegetables like beet, carrot, cauliflower, egg-plant and squashes may be taken. Sweet fruits may be added to this diet after seven days.
Foods are classified as acid-producing or alkaline-producing depending on their reaction on the urine. Calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium present in foods contribute to the alkaline effect, while sulfur, phosphorous and chlorine contribute to the acidic effect.
Depending on the predominating constituents in a particular food, it is classified as acid-forming or alkaline-forming. The effect of food stuffs upon the alkalinity of the blood depends upon their residue which they leave behind after undergoing oxidation in the body.
It is an error to presume that because a food tastes acid, it has an acidic reaction in the blood. For instance, fruits and vegetables have organic acids in combination with soda and potash in the form of acid salts. When the acids are burnt or utilized in the body, the alkaline soda or potash is left behind. Hence the effect of the natural fruit acids is to increase the alkalinity of the blood rather than reduce it.
Based on the above observations, the following charts show the common foods with acid and alkaline ash :
Foods Leaving An Acid Ash
The following foods are best if limited to one fifth of your total diet.
- Bananas (unripe)
- Grain Foods
- Nuts except almonds
- Sea Foods
Foods Leaving An Alkaline Ash
The following foods should take up about four-fifths of your total diet.
- Banana (ripe)
- Cottage Cheese
- Figs ( Fresh and Dry)
- Soy beans
Your food shall be your medicine.
Diet plays a vital role in the maintenance of good health and in the prevention and cure of disease. In the words of Sir Robert McCarrison, one of the best known nutritionists, ‘The right kind of food is the most important single factor in the promotion of health ; and the wrong kind of food is the most important single factor in the promotion of disease. ”
The human body builds up and maintains healthy cells, tissues, glands and organs only with the help of various nutrients. The body cannot perform any of its functions, be they metabolic, hormonal, mental, physical or chemical, without specific nutrients. The food which provides these nutrients is thus one of the most essential factors in building and maintaining health. Nutrition, which depends on food, is also of utmost importance in the cure of disease.
The primary cause of disease is a weakened organism or lowered resistance in the body, arising from the adoption of a faulty nutritional pattern. There is an elaborate healing mechanism within the body but it can perform its function only if it is abundantly supplied with all the essential nutritional factors.
It is believed that at least 45 chemical components and elements are needed by human cells. Each of these 45 substances, called essential nutrients, must be present in adequate diets. The list of these nutrients, include oxygen and water. The other 43 essential nutrients are classified into five main groups, namely carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins. All 45 of these nutrients are vitally important and they work together. Therefore, the absence of any of them will result in disease and eventually in death.
Research has shown that almost all varieties of disease can be produced by an under-supply of various nutrients. These nutritional deficiencies occur on account of various factors, including the intense processing and refining of foods, the time lag between the harvesting and consumption of vegetables and fruits, the chemicals used in bleaching, flavoring, coloring and preserving foods and the chemical fertilizers, fungicides insecticides and sprays used for treating the soil.
Therefore, as a first principle of nutrition, one should insist upon whole meal flour and whole meal bread and avoid the white stuff. Research has also shown that diseases produced by combinations of deficiencies can be corrected when all the nutrients are supplied, provided irreparable damage has not been done. A well-balanced and correct diet is thus of utmost importance for the maintenance of good health and the healing of diseases. Such a diet, obviously should be made up of foods, which in combination would supply all the essential nutrients.
It has been found that a diet which contains liberal quantities of seeds, nuts, and grains, vegetables and fruits, would provide adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients. These foods have, therefore, been aptly called basic food groups and the diet contains these food groups as optimum diet for vigor and vitality. It is described, in brief, below:
Seeds, nuts and grains :
These are the most important and the most potent of all foods and contain all the important nutrients needed for human growth. They contain the germ, the reproductive power which is of vital importance for the lives of human beings and their health.
- Millet, wheat, oats, barley, brown rice, beans and peas are all highly valuable in building health.
- Wheat, mung beans, alfalfa seeds and soy beans make excellent sprouts.
- Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts and soy beans contain complete proteins of high biological value.
Seeds, nuts and grains are also excellent natural sources of essential unsaturated fatty acids necessary for health. They are also good sources of lecithin and most of the B vitamins. They are the best natural sources of vitamin C, which is perhaps the most important vitamin for the preservation of health and prevention of premature ageing. Besides, they are rich sources of minerals and supply necessary bulk in the diet.
They also contain auxones, the natural substance that play an important role in the rejuvenation of cells and prevention of premature ageing.
They are extremely rich source of minerals, enzymes and vitamins. Faulty cooking and prolonged careless storage, however, destroy these valuable nutrients. Most of the vegetables are, therefore, best consumed in their natural raw state in the form of salads.
There are different kinds of vegetables. They may be edible roots, stems, leaves, fruits and seeds. Each group contributes to the diet in its own way. Fleshy roots have energy value and good sources of vitamin B. Seeds are relatively high in carbohydrates and proteins and yellow ones are rich in vitamin A. Leaves, stems and fruits are excellent sources of minerals, vitamins, water and roughage.
To prevent loss of nutrients in vegetables, it would be advisable to steam or boil vegetables in their juices on a slow fire and the water or cooking liquid should not be drained off. No vegetable should be peeled unless it is so old that the peel is tough and unpalatable. In most root vegetables, the largest amount of mineral is directly under the skin and these are lost if vegetables are peeled. Soaking of vegetables should also be avoided if taste and nutritive value are to be preserved.
Like vegetables, fruits are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins and enzymes. They are easily digested and exercise a cleansing effect on the blood and digestive tract. They contain high alkaline properties, a high percentage of water and a low percentage of proteins and fats. Their organic acid and high sugar content have immediate refreshing effects. Apart from seasonable fresh fruits, dry fruits, such as raisins, prunes and figs are also beneficial.
Fruits are at their best when eaten in the raw and ripe states. In cooking, they lose portions of the nutrient salts and carbohydrates. They are most beneficial when taken as a separate meal by themselves, preferably for breakfast in the morning. If it becomes necessary to take fruits with regular food, they should form a larger proportion of the meals.
Fruits, however, make better combination with milk than with meals. It is also desirable to take one kind of fruit at a time. For the maintenance of good health, at least one pound of uncooked fruits should form part of the daily diet. In case of sickness, it will be advisable to take fruits in the form of juices.
Milk, oil and honey:
The three basic health-building foods mentioned above should be supplemented with certain special foods such as milk, vegetable oils and honey. Milk is an excellent food. It is considered as ” Nature’s most nearly perfect food.” The best way to take milk is in its soured form – that is, yogurt and cottage cheese. Soured milk is superior to sweet milk as it is in a predigested form and more easily assimilated. Milk helps maintain a healthy intestinal flora and prevents intestinal putrefaction and constipation.
High quality unrefined oils should be added to the diet. They are rich in unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin C and F and lecithin. The average daily amount should not exceed two tablespoons.
Honey too is an ideal food. It helps increase calcium retention in the system, prevents nutritional anemia besides being beneficial in kidney and liver disorders, colds, poor circulation and complexion problems. It is one of the nature’s finest energy-giving food.
A diet of the three basic food groups, supplemented with the special foods, mentioned above, will ensure a complete and adequate supply of all the vital nutrients needed for health, vitality and prevention of diseases. It is not necessary to include animal protein like egg, fish or meat in this basic diet, as animal protein, especially meat, always has a detrimental effect on the healing process. A high animal protein is harmful to health and may cause many of our common ailments.
Based on what has been stated above, the daily menu of a health-building and vitalising diet should be on the following lines :
- Upon arising :
A glass of lukewarm water mixed with the juice of a half a lemon and a teaspoon of honey, or a glass of freshly squeezed juice of any available seasonable fruit such as apple, pineapple, orange, sweet lime and grapes.
- Breakfast :
Fresh fruits such as apple, orange, banana, grapes, or any available seasonal fruits, a cup of butter-milk or unpasteurized milk and a handful of raw nuts or a couple of tablespoons of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
- Mid-morning snack :
One apple or a banana or any other fruit.
- Lunch :
A bowl of freshly prepared steamed vegetables using salt, vegetable oil and butter for seasoning, one or two slices of whole grain bread or chapatis and a glass of butter-milk.
- Mid-afternoon :
A glass of fresh fruit or vegetable juice or any available fruit.
- Dinner :
A large bowl of fresh salad made up of green vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrot, cabbage, cucumber, red beet and onion with lime juice dressing, any available sprouts such as alfalfa seeds, and mung beans , a warm vegetable course, if desired, one tablespoon of fresh butter, cottage cheese or a glass of butter-milk.
The above menu is a general outline around which an individual diet can be built. It can be modified and changed to adopt to specific requirements and conditions. The menu for lunch and dinner is interchangeable. Do not drink liquids with meals. The water should be taken half an hour before meals or an hour after meals. Milk, buttermilk, and vegetable soups are foods and can be taken with meals.