The one wisdom we’ve gleaned from months of experimenting, reading, discussing about our new food choices (our unschooling food journey) is that foods that cause acid create a breeding ground for various illnesses in our bodies. Like I’d mentioned in my previous article in this series, until about 6-7 months back, the frequency and intensity of my headaches was paralyzing my normal life. I had gotten sick and scared of how often I had to take a pain-killer when my headaches got unbearable (and I have a very high pain threshold, mind you).
It had become pertinent that I looked hard at the food we were consuming. But well, we were mostly eating what sounds like an incredibly healthy diet – organic, whole foods, less oil and spices, freshly cooked. What more could one ask for! And yet, my health was deteriorating.
Why is an Acidic State of Body Dangerous?
And then, we stumbled upon this acidic and alkalizing theory. It argues that the result of eating acidic food (animal protein – meat, eggs, fish; dairy, wheat, bread, bakery products, polished rice and pulses, starchy food, white sugar, tea, coffee, soft drinks, tobacco, alcohol) day after day is that the PH of our stomach, body fluid, cells and tissues hits low resulting in a highly acidic body.
But, the PH of our blood cannot afford to go low. If that happens, we’d enter a state of coma. It is body’s topmost priority to maintain a strict blood PH of 7.35. No matter what kind of food we eat – organic, inorganic, junk or nutritious, our body will tightly maintain a blood pH between 7.365 – 7.45.
Now, there’s a caveat here that renders the whole pH story a game-changer.
When we eat foods that are healing and alkaline forming rather than acid-forming, the body is easily able to maintain that required blood pH of 7.365. It does not need to get into a fire-fighting mode. It needn’t extract alkalizing minerals from bones and organs to be able to neutralize the acidity. Because when it does that, it’s sacrificing that aspect (depriving you of the all-important minerals) of health to keep you alive. Obviously keeping you alive is a bigger priority than weaker bones, weak organs and muscles. Our system hopes that this acidity will be balanced out when we eat alkalizing food and it won’t need to keep extracting the alkalizing minerals. But, when we keep eating the same damaging foods, there’s no option for our body. It goes on extracting calcium, magnesium and potassium making the bones porous, the organs debilitating. And, in doing so, our body goes through immeasurable stress.
So, you see, the blood pH will be maintained, alright – no matter what we eat; no matter how acid-forming. But, at what cost? At the cost of long-term health wherein you end up with life-threatening diseases and a body so disintegrated that you’d wish you no longer lived.
On the other hand, when we eat food that is alkaline-forming – food that nourishes – our system is under no pressure to maintain that tight blood pH. It will be maintained effortlessly – without the body having to go through massive stress, wear and tear and long-term damage.
But, hey, we weren’t eating any major acidic foods!
Or so we thought! Alright, when it came to animal proteins, bakery products, processed foods – we didn’t consume any of these. Yes, no meat, fish, chicken, eggs for us. No, white sugar, white rice, soft drinks. But, yes, we did consume dairy.
Was it reason enough?
In the list of acid and alkaline diet, dairy is a biggie.
Cow milk and related products are highly acid-causing food. And, we did consume that. Curd, ghee, milk shakes, desserts made from milk.
So, what is it about cow milk that causes loads of acid once into the human body?
First and foremost – it’s the amount of protein. And, cow milk has loads of it – three times more protein than human breast milk.
High proteins, and especially animal protein (as in cow’s milk) are the primary cause of acid in the body.
And, as you’ve understood so far – high acid leads to maximum calcium loss.
Cow’s milk has three times more protein than human breast milk, and this is obviously because cow’s milk is intended to double the weight of the calf in 6 to 8 weeks, whereas a child’s body requires 6 to 7 months to double its weight. 6-8 weeks vs 6-7 months! Cow’s milk builds up the body structure of the calf to attain a weight of 450 to 900 kgs at maturity. What sane adult would wish to gain that kind of weight?
When there’s excess protein in our bodies, it gets converted to urea in the liver.
Urea is a powerful diuretic. When urea and amino acids, the main building blocks of protein, enter the kidneys, they cause loss of water and important minerals – including calcium.
An Acidic Body is the Reason for Calcium Loss
As protein breaks down to amino acids, our system becomes more acidic, and to neutralize the acidic ph, calcium (an alkalizing mineral) is leached from bones. When the calcium from bones and other vital organs is not enough to neutralize all that acidity, our system will start leaching magnesium from muscles leading to muscle waste.
Osteoporosis – the loss of bone tissue – is common in regions where milk consumption is high!
Hip Fracture Rates: This rate is a good indicator of the health of a population’s bones. In countries with the highest dairy consumption such as Norway, Sweden, and the United States the number of hip fractures is 50 times greater than such countries as New Guinea and South Africa which have extremely low consumption of dairy and other animal products. Read more in this article.
In a study on African Bantu women, researchers found that these women take in only 350 mg. of calcium per day. They bear nine children during their lifetime and breast feed them for two years. They never have calcium deficiency, seldom break a bone, rarely lose a tooth… How can they do that on 350 mg. of calcium a day when the (U.S. National Dairy Council) recommendation is 1200 mg.? It’s very simple. They’re on a low-protein diet that doesn’t kick the calcium out of the body.
“The correspondence between excess animal protein intake and bone resorption is direct and consistent. Even with very high calcium intakes, the more excess animal protein in the diet the greater the incidence of negative calcium balance, and the greater the loss of calcium from the bones”. (excerpt from this must-read article – The Truth About Calcium and Osteoporosis )
(By Michael Greger M.D. FACLM, author of ‘How No to Die’)
Dr. N.K. Sharma (author of the very well written and researched – Milk, A Silent Killer) writes,
“Beware, High-protein eaters, your bones may be prone to cracking at the slightest accident or jerk.”
Besides the fact that cow milk is highly acidic (owing to the high protein content), it also has high phosphorous content which blocks absorption of calcium in the bowels.
Plus, cow milk is the number one mucus forming food on this planet. The mucus created coats the intestinal linings so severely, your body will find it near impossible to clean out the waste and toxic matters. Result – nutrients won’t get absorbed into our system – whether it’s calcium, B12, potassium, magnesium or iron – nothing stays in the body to nurture it. And, in due course, deficiencies and diseases will spew.
My story – Breastfeeding without cow milk or calcium supplements
The one food choice I’m particularly happy about (from my previous years) is that I never drank a glass of milk (or had any calcium supplements) during both my pregnancies or even when I was breastfeeding. And, guess what – I’ve never had any bone or joint pains. None, even when I had my second child in my late 30s. It says a lot given that I’ve also breast-fed both my children exclusively and for extended periods. Pari (now nearly 12) for two years. And Sufiana, at nearly 4, is still nursing. I placed my trust in foods like organic amaranth flour, molasses, sesame (soaked) for calcium. Also, had chlorella (the calcium-rich super food) for a while.
The Remedy for Calcium:
A big percentage of human population eats an 80% or more acidic diet, when we should be eating 80% alkaline. So, you see, all the calcium that we eat ends up being used to neutralize the acidic ph and does not go into nurturing the body.
The 75 – 25 principle
We’re striving to cut down our consumption of acid-forming foods to 25%. And, up our intake of alkalizing foods to about 70- 80 % of our diet. So, more fresh fruits, raw vegetables, less grains (including far less wheat), less pulses, no tea (except green tea) or coffee, more millets, more live foods such as sprouted, fermented etc. And hey, ZERO sugar (yes, you read that right). And, by sugar I mean – not just white sugar. We’ve been off cane sugar and its products – brown sugar, jaggery. Been using palm sugar whenever there’s a desire (much less due to the amount of fruits we’ve been eating).
Get Natural Calcium:
Common plant sources (or, alkaline sources) of calcium are – molasses, dark salad greens, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, cucumber, peas, squash, most types of beans, tomatoes, oranges, sesame (or sesame butter – tahini), almonds, figs, amaranth, tomatoes.
Consider this chart:
100 grams of cow milk = 118 grams of calcium
100 grams organic sesame seeds = 1160 mg of organic, bio-available calcium
100 grams almonds = 254 grams calcium
100 grams broccoli = 130 grams calcium
I wonder why would the medical experts recommend cow milk over these amazing foods that deliver calcium without the associated health hazards of cow milk such as high acid, high mucus, hormone overload and much more.
The best thing to do is grow your own greens. They can be grown even in pots on the balcony. When you grow your own, you can be sure that there’ll be no pesticides and fertilizers that have seeped into the cells and fibres of your vegetables.
And, the nail in the coffin!
It’s pasteurization or, heating milk at high temperatures.
If cow milk is a health hazard, pasteurized milk is the hallmark of this modern society gone all insane!
All problems (high mucus, calcium loss, acidic levels) associated with cow milk get multiplied in pasteurized milk. The process of pasteurization brings about many harmful results and one of them is destruction of calcium salts. The heating process renders the mineral salts (calcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, and magnesium phosphate) practically insoluble and their usefulness is almost destroyed. A large percentage of calcium is lost. Dr. N.K. Sharma, in the book ‘Milk, a Silent Killer’ writes, “the evidence of this calcium loss is known to all those in the dairy business. There are large calcium deposits in the preheating tubes in pasteurization plants, and the so-called milk stones in hold-over vats.”
I’ll leave you to ponder on this note:
It’s not a mater of chance that all alkaline foods are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and the good fats. They’re also anti-inflammatory and nutritious.
And all of the acid forming foods tend to clog up your body and create toxins. And, it’s not a coincidence that they’re also sugary, gluten-rich, poor in nutrient value.
It just makes sense. Your body understands it, and hence reacts by getting bloated up, by being flared up with inflammation or clogged up with mucus. Headaches, acne, sinusitis are just basic and starting symptoms.
When you regularly eat an acid-forming diet, your body will react in violent ways by slowing down the endocrine system (thyroid, diabetes), by slowing down the whole vital system (reduced blood cells – anemia), your liver and kidneys being blocked with toxins will slow down and your skin will break out in protest.
And, dairy is a highly acid-forming food – something that we’re used to eating day in and day out, without a second thought. It’s a net-acid producing food. Which means that the calcium in cow milk is not only poorly absorbed (because of the d-galactose in dairy) but also the amount of calcium going IN is actually far less than the amount of calcium coming OUT. There is a net-calcium loss with every glass of milk consumed, or milk-based items.
So, think about it. I’m not suggesting everyone should cut down on every acid-causing food from day one of your food change. That may not be practical. For, it’s difficult to get rid of years of eating patterns and palettes from the word go. But, once we know what are those foods and how they’re causing disturbance in our body, we can take one step at a time.
Let’s say you eliminate milk for two weeks and you feel better, you feel relieved of any acid symptoms (gassy, bloating, stuffiness, insomnia, low energy, sinus relief, asthma relief). Once you feel positive about this one change, you’ll want to continue with this new state. And, you may want to introduce one more change. Next up, let’s say, you start eating a fruits-only breakfast, which is supremely alkalizing. And, you feel even better. You lose 3-4 kgs in one month, your energy levels are higher, you can feel your metabolism going up. What do you do? Of-course, you’ll want to stick with it. Your body’s telling you.
That’s exactly it is. When you bring about a change and your body reacts positively, it’s telling you something. And, why must you not listen to your own body! Why should we not consider newer possibilities?
Eating alkalizing food is not a diet ‘fad’, the way media is making it out to be. It’s a lifestyle in itself. And, it doesn’t stop at merely food. It’s about thoughts, emotions, work that we do, how we feel about it, our relationships with each other – and ourselves. Food is a an important aspect, but our thoughts, emotions, feelings do trigger some chemical reactions in our body. And those could be acid-forming or alkalizing! Bliss or stress, oxytocin or cortisol, it’s up to us to choose how we want to do up the body that we live in, what we want to make of our lives.
Previous articles in this food-journey series:
- A New Chapter in Our Unschooling Journey: Our Health and the Food We Eat
- Why No Cow Milk for Us
- How to Make Coconut Milk: An Exquisite Dairy-free Alternative
- A Vegan Platter for Ganesha, A Movie and Some Food Musings
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