Image borrowed from: vitamedica.com
This is by no means intended to be a scientific treatise on the topic, but simply a reflection on my causes and findings so far… And I’ll begin by mentioning that a quick google search will reveal pages like quackwatch.org which claim the whole thing to be nonsense. If that’s the case, though, we have all been given umpteen other reasons to eat more fruit, veges, and whole foods, and to avoid fake stuff – so I’m doing it regardless.
To start with, I get nauseous pretty easily. When I was a child it was car sickness, but as an adult it’s mainly alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes that tip me over. You might say: Well, everybody knows they’re bad for you anyway, so what’s the big deal? But I am talking one drink, a couple of sips of coffee, and passive smoking. Nothing too decadent by a long shot!
I figured I was being punished for excesses in my youth and just resolved to avoid these things as much a humanly possible. However, when I mentioned it to a learned friend one day, she said: “Oh, they’re all really acidic.” And that got me pursuing this train of thought.
Then last week I was reading a list of ayurvedic health tips and it mentioned that coffee is generally not recommended for Pitta types (the type I have determined myself to be after numerous online quizzes) because it tends to upset our tummy, as it is too acidic. The magic word again.
As further impetus to try and accomodate more alkaline foods into my diet, a marvellous friend who survived bowel cancer mentioned that cancer doesn’t thrive in an alkaline environment, and she is now mostly vegetarian. But I’m no cancer expert so will leave it at that.
There are umpteen sites where you can get lists of acidic and alkaline foods, and the key thing to note is they’re not concerned about the properties of the food itself, but of the effect it has on your body. For example, things like lemon juice and cider vinegar, which you’d think were acidic because they’re sour, are said to have an alkaline effect on the body.
Broadly speaking, vegetables and fruit and almonds are alkaline, and most other things are acidic. This includes meat, seafood, other nuts, and all the carbs: bread, rice, pasta and beans. I had hoped maybe brown rice and brown bread would be alkaline and white rice and white bread would be acidic, but it turns out they’re all acidic – just to different degrees, with products being more acidic the more refined they are.
A final piece in my own nausea puzzel came when I noticed that artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame are highly acidic. I have been constantly eating mints made of this stuff for years. It was a eureka moment for me – even if it’s not the sole cause of my discomfort, it’s something I can now make a more informed choice about. The challenge next week will be to find mints that contain regular sugar, or better yet, some “free range, blahblah-free, organic” variety from a health store.
In terms of the rest of my diet, I can’t see myself living on fruit and veges alone, but I can make an effort to eat them much more often, especially highly alkaline ones like melon, lemon, parsley and asparagus, and especially when eating acidic things like meat. Plus I can continue to choose carbs like brown rice, quinoa, and millet, which are either slightly alkaline, or slightly acidic, depending on which guide you read – but are at least not way out on the left end of the scale.