Sunday, 17 November 2013

To Alkaline or Not to Alkaline

I managed to catch some of a UK series called 'Health Freaks' which I think was a Channel 4 programme. In it, for those who have missed its delights, you find 3 doctors who sit and listen and pass a judgement on various 'cures' that members of the public present for a variety of conditions. - You know I really shouldn't watch these programmes as I'm sure they do the blood pressure no good what so ever.

If the idea meets with the 3 'experts' approval then it might get trialled. I have to say the criteria is really arbitrary at this stage and seemingly harmless 'cures' that have worked for the individual concerned are dismissed.

One cure that was totally dismissed was the taking of cider vinegar and honey in a little water for arthritic pain. The lady who presented this was indeed happy with its results and she was clearly given it by someone else that had success with it, in fact it is one that i have suggested to many people, and in those that have used it regularly have also been pain free and not needed the use of medical drugs. It just so happened that this lady also lost some weight, which of course would always help arthritis, but that has not been a factor in those I know that use this cure. The 3 docs, decided that it was the weight loss that did it.

The rationale behind it is one of lessening the acidity in the body. On that basis the doctors dismissed it instantly - stating that scientifically we cannot alter the ph of our bodies.......Well we clearly can to some extent, or why else do they prescribe antacids! Of course various organs of our body require different ph levels and much of maintaining this is down to the kidneys.

But something else must be happening then, many of us will know people who suffer arthritis or rheumatics and they know that for them, avoiding strong acid forming foods helps relieve the pain. Onions, tomatoes, potatoes etc are often those cited as causing inflammation. My own fathers hands will swell around the knuckles if he eats tomatoes. If you look up Gout, all medical websites will advise people to cut out acid forming food - so doctors, which is it to be?

There is much talk about alkaline diets being beneficial for people with serious health issues - well on the basis of these 3 doctors views - that would seem a pointless regime to follow then if our kidneys will deal with it all anyway.

So I thought I would have a look and see what is out there and what makes sense. This was the best explanation from a doctor I could find, that works well for an everyday view of the subject......

When people encourage you to "alkaline your blood," most of them mean that you should eat plenty of foods that have an alkaline-forming effect on your system. The reason for making this suggestion is that the vast majority of highly processed foods - like white flour products and white sugar - have an acid-forming effect on your system, and if you spend years eating a poor diet that is mainly acid-forming, you will overwork some of the buffering systems mentioned above to a point where you could create undesirable changes in your health.

For example, your phosphate buffer system uses different phosphate ions in your body to neutralize strong acids and bases. About 85% of the phosphate ions that are used in your phosphate buffer system comes from calcium phosphate salts, which are structural components of your bones and teeth. If your body fluids are regularly exposed to large quantities of acid-forming foods and liquids, your body will draw upon its calcium phosphate reserves to supply your phosphate buffer system to neutralize the acid-forming effects of your diet. Over time, this may lead to structural weakness in your bones and teeth.

Drawing on your calcium phosphate reserves at a high rate can also increase the amount of calcium that is eliminated via your genito-urinary system, which is why a predominantly acid-forming diet can increase your risk of developing calcium-rich kidney stones.

This is just one example of how your buffering systems can be overtaxed to a point where you experience negative health consequences. Since your buffering systems have to work all the time anyway to neutralize the acids that are formed from everyday metabolic activities, it's in your best interest to follow a diet that doesn't create unnecessary work for your buffering system.

So given that there is logic to the theory, and ph levels can be controlled by diet and need to be if the buffering system is under pressure through years of bad diet, what a pity that this innocent concoction of cider vinegar and honey wasn't explored.

Still the programme that featured duck tape reducing verrucas, it was agreed that it worked but sadly never said why! Odd that what ever is in duck tape, wasn't considered to be a problem leeching into the skin - where as other such remedies were dismissed on that basis.

Many 'cures' were dismissed on the grounds there was no medical evidence...which was odd as clearly there never will be if no one does the trials and surely that was what this programme was see, I knew it was a mistake to watch it.

So despite the dismissing of influence of diet over ph by the TV Doc's, there are doctors out there that go that extra mile in the chemistry of the body and hence can show some sound evidence as to what goes on with the acid/alkaline balance in our bodies and why recommending including more alkaline forming foods in the diet is advantageous to health in the long term.

Of course the programme at several junctions mentions that it is essential for viewers to follow the advice of their GP's....Is this always the case?....The latest stats state that 250.000 people world wide die from taking the prescribed meds, in the right dose, at the right time, every year....

But then I think it was Mark Twain that said one should be careful of reading health books, as you might die of a misprint.

Perhaps in this age, it could be death by Wikipedia or overzealous drug companies and ill informed doctors.

Where does that leave us all?