Boy, our momentum has really slowed down! We're trying really hard not to let it stop, so there may be the occasional double post from time to time. I just want to thank all of our followers for the very positive feedback and I encourage you to share this with anyone else you think may enjoy/benefit from this blog.
Today I want to discuss two things: 1) Another aspect of a balanced diet, and 2) seeking truth. The "seeking truth" portion of this came about as I was researching "a balanced diet."
As we've discussed before, I believe there are few things as important in life as balance. Whether you are balancing your entire being, balancing your checkbook, balancing your workload and family life, or balancing your diet, at some point or another finding balance is key to finding a happy and meaningful life. So last week I was thinking more about eating a balanced diet--something that has become a bit of a passion for me since having children--and I recalled something about the body's natural pH balance. I know that your body has different pH levels for any function that involves fluids/water. And I know that it's important for your body to work hard to keep those various balances, or your body stops functioning properly (and then eventually altogether). With this tiny bit of knowledge, I began my internet search on the topic of pH balance in the body. Oh! What a vast array of information there is out there on the subject! And of course, everyone believes themselves to be the expert...
First, you should know the simple alkaline/acid pH scale: it goes from 0-14, 7 is neutral, and lower than that is acid, higher than that is alkaline (or basic). As I was reading, I began to understand that there are alkaline-forming foods and acid-forming foods. This has nothing to do with what we deem the food to be, but rather with how your body processes them and how they turn out in your urine, saliva, sweat, blood, tears, etc. (i.e. lemons are really alkaline-forming in our bodies though we perceive lemons as being acidic). I also learned that our bodies are slightly alkaline in most of their functions, the most important being our blood at a steady 7.35 to 7.45--go above or below this and you have symptoms, disease, and (if they go too far off course) death. Furthermore, I learned that our bodies have acidic tendencies, in spite of the fact that our pH levels are all basic/alkaline. So the theory is, eat more alkaline-forming foods and far fewer acid-forming foods and you will help your body along in maintaining its natural balance.
So what's an acid-forming food and what's an alkaline-forming food? THIS is where I started to see a little conflict on the issue. All sources said vegetables=good, processed foods=bad. Everything in the middle was, well, in the middle. Most fruits were listed as alkaline, some nuts (almonds) were alkaline, and a few more obscure grains were often listed as slightly alkaline. Most heavily used grains (particularly when not the whole grain), dairy, eggs, and meat were all listed as slightly to very acid-forming. As I searched further, the general consensus was that roughly 80% (visually) of your diet should be alkaline and 20% should be acid (some said 70/30 and fewer said 60/40). If you search this topic you will get many different charts, most will tell you what I just did. But it's VERY interesting to see where you fall in the scheme of things...even those of us who deem ourselves "healthful" or "balanced" eaters will probably fall on the acidic side of things. This all seems pretty logical and sensible. So far I had no problems with this advice: eat more green things, eat less meat and less processed foods. This is largely what I wrote about in my last SFT about A Balanced Diet. And actually, when you think about the recommendations to eat certain foods for certain benefits, avoid certain foods for certain problems, and when you think about various health problems and why these things happen to people, thinking in terms of pH makes A LOT of sense! If you're out of balance (and most of us probably are a teeny bit), you'll have symptoms of all kinds...very interesting!
Feeling good about my decision that I needed to eat a few more salads and a few less cookies, I kept reading. Then I stumbled across a highly recommended book on the topic authored by a microbiologist who has evidently been praised for his/her ground-breaking research on such matters. If anyone would like to read it or know the name, please contact me, as I do not wish to promote nor discourage the sale/reading of the book in our blog. But it looked very interesting and went into great detail on the topic of our pH levels and how they affect our health. So I went to the library and checked it out. I started reading and there was a lot of scientific information about this topic...interesting stuff and at times scary to read. "What?! You mean there's mold in my blood stream?!" "What?! You mean I'm killing all of my cells by eating junk food and causing myself to have even worse cravings?!" "What?! You mean even my slightly off-balance way of eating could cause cancer?!" I read further and began reading testimonials of people who went on the authors' "plan" for fixing pH levels..."Ohhhh, so there's a plan..." The testimonials were from cancer patients, obese patients, heart attack sufferers, etc (all very extreme situations) who had changed their lives for the better by supposedly balancing their pH levels. I went on to read the plan. And THIS is where I became discouraged about balancing my pH levels. The plan was basically this: Eat mostly green foods (lots of leaves and sprouts), use healthy oils (the usual ones, olive, flax, etc), drink IONIZED (!) water (because it becomes alkalized through this process...and by the way, is also achieved through a ridiculously expensive machine), and use mineral salts instead of regular table salt. Okay, so far this doesn't seem too over the top, right? As I read about the plan in greater detail, though, it became apparent that I was trying to be "sold" (and scared) on the idea of balancing my pH in order to sell some product. There were loads and loads of brand-name references (mostly created by the authors), several references to previous books by this author, and many mentions of other supplements and products that they very conveniently created so that I could live the most pH balanced life possible. Now to be honest, the red flags were going up long before this..."Don't eat fruit? That seems very contrary to what God intended for us..."
I felt that it was incredibly unnatural for most people to eat the way this book suggested. If I were to eat most of the recipes in the back of the book, I would probably be gagging them down with every bite. The amount of (ionized) water it suggested you drink would probably wash out most of your body's nutrients, requiring you to buy and ingest the very expensive supplements that were sold in the book. (Which, by the way, are largely available in most of the foods that you were discouraged from eating.) Furthermore, the testimonials given throughout were always done by people who had very severe conditions and often admitted to having previously been very unhealthy in their way of eating. So if they were making such drastic changes, it is quite likely that they would experience the changes that they claimed to see. Also, they were making up their minds to make a change and heal themselves, a very powerful step in itself.
So the next day (after a lot of tossing and turning overnight due to my uneasiness with all that I had just read), I got up and started doing more research, this time trying to find oppositions to this theory. My-oh-my! are there a lot of strong opinions out there! Most chemists and biologists who had their opinions posted on the matter began referring to all of this as "quackery," saying that it just isn't possible to change your body's pH through diet--your body works very hard to maintain the exact balance that it is supposed to be at--and especially not through the consumption of ionized water (and then went on to say that if you must drink alkalized water, just squeeze a lemon into it!) And apparently, there are a lot of negative opinions of the author, along with a few vague but negative factoids, as well. It was at this point where I decided that my initial knowledge of the subject was more than enough and that I would do as I have always done and let God guide me in my decision making, NOT the fact-or-farce-filled internet!
Please do not heed any of this as advice to improve your health. I do not take a side on the subject, though I lean towards, "helping balance your pH through diet makes sense, going through very extreme measures to do so does not."
What did I gain from my research about pH balance? Eat a balanced diet...more green, less processed, more plants, fewer animals, more of what God gave us, less of what man gave us (and for all you diet-soda addicts out there, please consider an alternative to this seemingly very dangerous vice!). In addition--and by the way, there was an entire chapter on the following in the book I read--don't let stress get the best of you. When we feel stressed, it compromises our whole delicate system, whether through raising our acidity or just simply causing us to feel "off." Give yourself a "timeout," breathe, and allow yourself time to adopt a better attitude. The aforementioned authors went on to say that changing your diet won't do you one ounce of good if you don't change your way of thinking. "Then why write this book in the first place? I suppose, they're allowed to make money, too."
God created our bodies, the earth, and all that surrounds us with a very specific purpose for every tiny detail. He made it all with the intention that we should never need to consume supplements, never have to fertilize our soils, and never have to filter our water. Clearly, man has come a long way from the way that God intended him to live, so we must work hard to undo much of what has been done at times.
What's the point of all this? Well, basically, just do your research. If you find things that make you raise an eyebrow, dig a little further and if it just doesn't add up, consider researching the alternative to see what you come up with. More often than not, I would bet that most of us will balance our own thoughts through research, prayer and reflection, and a good night's sleep! When we seek truth, we need to seek God...after all, when you want to know how something works, wouldn't it make sense to go straight to the manufacturer?