Last week we talked about chronic inflammation and why it can be so detrimental to your health. This week we will discuss how you can avoid exposing your body to a state of chronic inflammation and evade the associated adverse effects on your health, allowing you to live a longer, happier, carefree life. Several factors are involved in creating a state of inflammation in your body and one major contributor is consuming a “pro-inflammatory diet”.
Your body works very hard every single day to maintain all of your chemical and physical processes in a steady state – your breathing, your temperature, your heart rate, and of interest today, your pH. pH is a measure of acidity and in a healthy individual, your blood pH is maintained between 7.35 and 7.45 (pH is measured on a scale from 1 to 14, 1 being the most acidic, 7 being neutral – like water - and 14 being the most basic). As we can see, our blood is normally slightly basic. Consuming foods that are acid-producing can cause your blood pH to lower (become more acidic). If this happens, your body must work to raise it back to the normal range, as a significant fluctuation from these normal values can be fatal. One of the responses your body will have is to begin breaking down bone and muscle to release ions into the blood stream that will bring the pH back to normal. Over time, this can lead to decreased bone density. Additionally, the excess acid can lead to kidney stone formation, liver disease and increase your risk for other illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes2,3. Because acid is very reactive, it can cause a lot of tissue damage, especially in your digestive system. “Leaky gut” is a condition in which your intestinal lining becomes porous due to chronic irritation from diet-induced inflammation1. In other words, eating a diet that produces acid on a regular basis can irritate your intestinal walls to a point where gaps start forming between the cells, allowing chemicals and fluid from your intestines to seep out into your body and cause more damage1. Autoimmune diseases have been linked to Leaky Gut Syndrome because the body is at a constant state of defense, attempting to fix the problem and protect the body from the leaking chemicals1.
As a general rule of thumb, foods that are light or white in color are going to be the most acid-producing. These foods should be limited in the diet as much as possible. Here is a list of common acid-producing foods:
1. Whole milk
2. White bread
5. Meat: chicken, pork and beef
7. White and brown rice
Many of the foods on this list are quite delicious, making it difficult to avoid consuming them. However, you don't have to eliminate them from your diet entirely. As a matter of fact, many of the foods mentioned can offer important health benefits. The key is eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, which will help to ensure that your body maintains a normal blood pH and reduces the amount of inflammation present in your body. If you know that you’re consuming a very pro-inflammatory diet, you may also want to consider supplementing with some antioxidants such as Vitamin E and Vitamin C. These will help to soak up “free radicals”, very reactive ions that result from chemical reactions in the body, cause tissue damage, and have been linked to cancer development, due to their high capacity to cause damage to tissues. However, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements, dietary changes, or other lifestyle changes to ensure that it is safe for you to do so.
1. Arrieta, M.C., Bistritz, L., and Meddings, J.B. Alterations in Intestinal Permeability. Gut. 2006; 55(10): 1512-1520.
2. Barau E, Dupont C. Modifications of intestinal permeability during food provocation procedures in pediatric irritable bowel syndrome. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 19901172–77.77
3. Esposito, K., Giugliano, D. Diet and Inflammation: a link to metaboliv and cardiovascular diseases. European Heart Journal. October 11, 2005.
4. Fleming, A.E. Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic, LLC. 2016. www.nhwchiro.com
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