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Food For Thought Sundays – Your Body’s pH

First things first, congrats to Sarah from Bake + Bike for coming up with the winning name for Sunday’s series on nutrition! There were tons of great suggestions, but I ended up choosing “Food For Thought Sundays” because that’s exactly what we’re doing – giving food some extra thought! Plus, it has a nice ring to it. Sarah, you will get some loot for winning too!

Now on to today’s Food For Thought topic: pH levels in your body.

This is something I mentioned briefly in last week’s post and got a lot of responses about. I figured it worthwhile to dedicate a whole post to what it’s all about and why it’s something we may want to consider.

I’m sure most of us have conducted a pH test at some point, be it in a chemistry class or in the home. We use the above pH scale to determine if a liquid is acidic (0-6) neutral (7) or basic (8-14). We’re used to testing the pH in things like drinking water or swimming pools… but did you know our body has a pH balance as well?

The blood, saliva  and spinal fluid of a healthy person is actually slightly alkaline at 7.4 on the pH scale. However, that is not the case for most people. We are living in a culture where the majority of people are acidic.

This can be a big problem as acidic bodies are more prone to cancer. I wanted to link this statement to studies proving this. But there are so many out there I can’t pick just one. Kris Carr’s experience is at least the most entertaining proof.

Put simply, high body acidity makes it harder for cells to carry oxygen, which is a ripe environment for abnormal (cancerous) cells to grow. It also prevents the body from absorbing minerals and nutrients.

Thankfully, our body’s pH is something we can control! The most obvious place is with food.

There are hoards of people out there who base their diets on eating mostly alkalizing foods. Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Diet book is another one that goes into great detail on this.

The idea is that the typical North American diet consists mostly of acidic foods that lowers our body’s pH. We should be concentrating more on alkalizing foods that will help get it up to that coveted 7.4 range. That doesn’t mean ban acidic foods altogether, just make sure there’s at least 50% alkalizing foods in there as well.

Click here for a more detailed food list. It’s really interesting!!

Last weekend, I was able to test my own body’s pH simply by using paper test strips on my saliva. You can buy kits meant specifically for this at many health food stores.

Much to my surprise, my spit tested out as neutral! Even though I eat what I would classify as a more acidic diet.

Here comes the second part of the whole pH thing: stress can create more acid in our bodies.

I think the main reason why I’ve remained neutral despite my diet is that I’m a fairly low-stress person. Apart from my occasional bouts of anxiety, I don’t experience any serious day-to-day stress. I’m lucky in that I’ve always been even-tempered and easy going. I truly believe that managing stress levels can affect your body’s pH just as much as the food you eat.

If this is all new information to you, it may seem a little weird to take such serious consideration of your body’s pH. But this is something I’ve been fascinated by for a couple years now. As a person who comes from a family riddled with cancer, it seems like the best bet for giving myself a fighting chance. Plus, it’s never a bad thing to have a little extra motivation to eat my fruits and veggies ;)

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Question of the Day: Does any of this surprise you? Where would you say you fall on the pH scale?

A Nutritional Sunday

Hiya! How was everyone’s weekend? Well for once, I was not working this weekend. No, I was not out painting the town red either. Rather, I was sitting in a classroom 9 hours a day for my Nutrition & Wellness course.

I’m doing it through CanFitPro, the same Canadian national certifying body as my personal training certification. With personal training, all I can do is give nutrition advice based on Canada’s Food Guide. With this certification, I’m allowed to give nutrition and lifestyle counselling, including individualized diet plans and recommendations. Plus, it gives me a little more authority on the subject!

I’ve always been a food and nutrition enthusiast, so I knew a lot going in. But there were a lot of things I learned this weekend in my course. Here are just a few of them :)

 

1. Protein not only helps in the growth and repair of tissues, but also regulates hormones. Protein is especially important for women in menopause and can help out with hot flashes.

 

2. Digestion of carbohydrates begins immediately in the mouth when our saliva hits it. Protein and fat don’t get digested until they hit the stomach.

 

3. Excess sugar gets a lot of blame in the recent increase in Type 2 Diabetes. But artificial sugars are just as much to blame! A study found that Diet Coke (not regular coke!) was a commonality in children who developed Diabetes after birth. What happens is when the sweet liquid hits your tongue, your brain sends a message to send out insulin to regulate sugar levels in your blood. Except there is no sugar in your blood! Thus your body’s ability to use insulin gets all screwed up. Enough to scare someone out of not only Diet Coke, but many sugar-free sweeteners!

 

4. A lot of people will skip carbs, or a morning snack, before working out so their body has no glucose to burn. The theory is, that instead of burning glucose (your body’s preferred energy source) it will instead burn up fat stores for energy. But burning fat without the presence of glucose also produces a waste product known as ketones.

Ketones are toxic. They alter the pH of blood and can result in coma or death. This is called ketosis and usually identified by an odour to the urine or breath similar to a combination of nail polish remover and ripe pineapple.

 

5. Trans fats come from a process called hydrogenation. It’s when hydrogen molecules are added to oils so they remain solid at room temperature. Margarine is the perfect example of this. But many foods have a “partially hydrogenated ____ oil” in them. Read labels carefully, especially on popcorn, nut butters (even almond and soy butter!) crackers and chips.

Vegetable shortening is another hydrogenated oil and found in many packaged baked goods and even homemade pie crusts!

Remember that the recommended trans fat limit per day is only 2g. My personal recommendation is none. And packaging laws are such that companies can claim 0g trans fat when there is under 0.5g. A small presence of trans fat can be okay, assuming you’re only having one serving and not eating other trans fats throughout your day!

 

**Bonus Lesson**

I apparently have a balanced, aka “neutral” body pH! Most people are typically acidic. High body acidity has been linked to many diseases and is the basis of a lot of nutritional theories. I have no idea how this happened as I eat dairy, animals and drink beer. Perhaps I really am just BalanceSusan :)

 

This is the first post in a new weekly series on nutrition and healthy eating. Sundays are now the day to take a look at what we’re eating and try to make good choices for the upcoming week!

Question of the Day: Any name ideas for this new series? “Nutrition Sundays” sounds l-a-m-e. Mystery prize for the person who comes up with the winning title!

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