Standard American Diet Increases Acidity
If you have read about the standard American Diet, you will know that it is not a diet that promotes acid-base balance. In fact, there is not much that the standard American Diet and health have in common, if anything. The idea of acid-based balance to promote health is a common topic, but one that is plagued with assumptions and lack of science. That said, let me not downplay the benefits of consuming alkaline, or basic foods. These foods should make up a large portion of the diet. However, there are some key points that should be considered when trying to make the body less acidic.
Our Body is Acidic by Nature
One thing that is commonly misconstrued is that the body should be overly basic. This is not the case. As with most things in the body, balance is the key. Therefore the notion that you want to shift the body to a significantly basic state is a misnomer. Rather, the body should be slightly acidic. An example of the body being slightly acidic is lactic acid. Lactic acid is what you feel when you workout and a muscle starts to “burn”. That feeling is the accumulation of lactic acid. This is just one example. The point being that the body is acidic by its nature, however, we can become too acidic.
What it means to be Acidic
Although the body is acidic, we can enter a state of what is known as metabolic acidosis, or simply stated we produce more acid than is ideal. This is significantly affected by the foods that we consume. When we ingest foods that are typically part of the standard American diet, we are leaning more towards being overly acidic. Rather, foods that are part of the primal diet, more commonly known as the Paleo Diet, tend to shift our metabolism to a more basic, or better stated, less acidic state. This is important as being acidic is detrimental to the body. We don’t generally see the negative effects immediately, but they do accumulate with time. When someone is acidic, what we are actually saying is that they are inflamed. When you are inflamed you are in a state where the body is damaging tissue faster than repairing it. Clearly this is not an ideal state. The more inflamed we are, the more we can benefit from the anti-inflammatory constituents in a primal diet, unlike those in the standard American Diet.
How the standard American Diet Affects the Acid-Base Balance
Diet is one of the most significant indicators of how the acid-base system is being balanced. The standard American diet is heavy in meats and fats, both of which are acidic by nature. This acidic effect is compounded by the ingestion of grains. Grains do not possess the qualities that are responsible for making a food alkaline. The result of consuming the standard American diet is a shift into the state known as metabolic acidosis. Being in a state of metabolic acidosis and having inflammation, as seen while eating the standard American Diet, increases the demand for several nutrients. B12 and omega 3’s are just two examples.
How to Shift the Acid-Base Balance in Your Favor
As damaging to our health as the standard American Diet is, the primal diet is just as healing. If eating more acidic foods promotes inflammation, then eating more alkalinizing, or basic foods, is anti-inflammatory. The majority of the primal diet, or Paleo Diet, should come from fresh vegetables and fruits, roots, tubers, and nuts. These foods either have an alkalinizing effect or are relatively net neutral, thus supporting an alkaline state. To offset the ill effects of the standard American Diet, the best solution is the primal diet, aka the Paleo diet. Only by consuming this pattern of foods will we most closely mimic our ancestors. They had the combination down without realizing it. They ingested some acidic foods such as proteins and meats, which we obviously need, but consumed most of their diet from plant based foods. With this pattern of eating you are able to reach the balanced state that the body prefers.