1. What is Acidosis?
Acidosis is not in itself a specific disease; it is a description of the acidic status of the blood. It is also the root of many different diseases such as: chronic bowel conditions, severe migraines, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, cancer, tumours and many more. Many people today have this blood condition without ever knowing it.
Alkalosis is a description of the blood where insufficient acid exists in the system. This is particularly problematic when the gut is not sufficiently acidic and a whole host of health problems may occur as a consequence, such as: nausea, numbness, prolonged muscle spasms, muscle twitching, hand tremors etc.
An acidic state inhibits nerve action whereas alkalinity stimulates nerve action. Someone whose pH is properly balanced can think clearly, decide and act well. They are more likely to possess mental composure and calm.
2. How can pH levels be raised naturally?
Diet is a very important factor for maintaining a healthy level of body pH. It is important to reduce intake of refined carbohydrates (sugars), red meat, dairy produce, alcohol, saturated fats, processed foods, and junk foods, replacing them with a diverse range of vegetables, fruit, pulses, cereals, nuts, seeds, herbal teas etc.
Using coconut oil in cooking is great for reducing the number of free radicals in the body, since normal vegetable oils are prone to oxidation, especially under high temperatures.
Drinking plenty of water to help eliminate toxic waste is essential. It is also important to exercise and have enough sleep to help the body rebalance itself and maintain homeostasis.
Magnesium is a miracle alkali-forming mineral, which many people are deficient in. It is vital to increase magnesium levels in the body if one is aiming to raise pH. Magnesium is best administered transdermally – via the skin – in a bath, massage, footbath or body spray. Magnesium supplementation is also a good idea, but oral magnesium supplements alone are not enough, since much of it is excreted without being processed by the body. Other minerals, which can help increase pH levels include: potassium, calcium, magnesium, caesium, rubidium, and sodium bicarbonate.
3. Vitamin D and mental health
Vitamin D is a generic term for the family of cholesterol-like, fat soluble substances called secosteroids and essentially functions as a ‘pro-hormone’ within the body i.e. it has the potential to be converted into molecules with hormonal functions that can operate in both endocrine and exocrine pathways.
Recent research has shown that vitamin D can have a positive effect on mood. The incidence of depression has increased particularly over the last 30 to 40 years, which has been linked largely to our changes in lifestyle over that time, including reducing our exposure to sunlight through our work/leisure time being more indoors, our use of cars (as glass blocks UVB rays) and our use of sun block. In turn this has contributed to reduced vitamin D levels in the blood. According to Klerman and Weissman’s research, major depression increases when vitamin D in the blood dips below normal levels.
In 1999, a study found that 10,000 iu of vitamin D administered in one oral dose improved depression more significantly than light therapy in a group of patients suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
The mechanism of the possible mood-modulating effect of vitamin D is unclear. It is speculated that it may influence brain serotonin levels. Research on vitamin D, exposure to sunlight and the role it plays in mood modulation is an area of great potential and one which can contribute significantly to our understanding of depression and other mental health issues.
4. Supplementation – a necessary evil
We now face the almost impossible task of trying to live nutritionally rich lives, which would give us our full biological potential and provide us with sufficient immunity to fight the many degenerative diseases that have become commonplace. So how on earth do we bridge this nutritional gap? Sadly at this point in our history, unless there is radical change in our relationship with the planet, all we really have as an antidote is the use of supplementation.
We would describe supplements as a regrettable necessity. It simply is not natural to be popping handfuls of pills every day; we were not designed for that form of nutrition. Nutrition should come from our food, as that offers the best configuration of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and micronutrients in the right biological context and proportions. No supplement is going to deliver the 700+ nutrients that can be found (for example) in broccoli or cabbage, and even if it could, matching the nutritional proportions and configurations would be impossible. We simply have to concede that nature does it better.
So carefully targeted supplementation is required to give us the best chance of optimal health. But do not make the mistake of just taking things on the back of the latest news item or something you’ve read in a magazine, or because a friend has mentioned it. Go and get proper advice from those with the experience, knowledge and skills in this area.
5. Eat the right type of carbohydrate
Carbohydrates form a large food group, which is composed of many different classes of compounds.
Although carbohydrates are best known for providing the body with its main source of energy, they also perform numerous other vital functions. Carbohydrates have traditionally been classified as ‘simple’ and ‘complex’. However, this definition fails to take into account the ‘intermediate’ carbohydrates, such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are ‘prebiotic’ carbohydrates. Prebiotic carbohydrates avoid being digested in the upper part of the intestinal tract and arrive in the large intestine where they are used by beneficial bacteria as a food source. Prebiotics are found in foods such as onion, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke and asparagus.
When carbohydrates are refined – such as when whole corn is processed to make high-fructose corn syrup (present in numerous soft drinks) – many vitamins, minerals and fibre are lost. Other examples of refined carbohydrates are white sugar, cakes, biscuits and white flour. Consuming these refined carbohydrates generally has adverse effects on the body (and is linked to obesity, digestive disorders and Type 2 diabetes). For this reason, most healthcare practitioners recommend eating foods, which have not been refined or that have been minimally processed.
6. Nutritional genomics – the future of medicine
Nutrigenomics: this branch of nutritional genomics is the study of the effects of foods and their constituents on gene expression. This fascinating discipline has focused its research on the molecular interaction between nutrients, food and the genome. Using systems biology, a map is developing around how the body responds and reacts, at the genetic level, to food and specific nutrients – and how by varying food and nutrient intake, those genes which when ‘activated’, make the individual more vulnerable to specific diseases, can in fact be ‘switched off’.
In other words our food and nutrient intake influences the biological expression of our cells. Our foods are said to have a ‘dietary signature’ and this dietary signature affects the metabolic pathways and also the body’s state of balance – homoeostasis. It has been identified that there are particular genetic markers, which respond quite specifically to the dietary signature of the food we are eating making us more vulnerable to certain latent genetic predispositions.
Running parallel to this field of research is nutrigenetics, which is looking at the ‘single gene/single food compound’ relationship. Basically, nutrigenetics is concerned with why one food, which may be beneficial for one person can cause harm to another.
One of the primary focuses of this discipline is to identify genetic susceptibility to diseases in order to offer what is in some quarters being called ‘personalised disease prevention advice’, which is offered based on the individual’s genetic make up.
Essentially, the researchers are looking for either positive or negative correlations between the risk genes and the various nutritional factors, in order that appropriate ‘patient specific’ treatment strategies can be devised.
Methylation is one of the body’s most important and most common chemical processes, occurring many times a second in every cell and organ of the body. Therefore it is a process that is vital for our health and wellbeing.
In essence, methylation is how the body keeps thousands of neurotransmitters, hormones and other essential biochemicals in balance. It is therefore fundamental to your metabolism and if things aren’t running effectively in this regard, a wide variety of health problems can emerge.
This health topic seldom reaches any prominence in the mainstream media even though the process of methylation, and the potentially serious health risks associated with impaired methylation function, is critical to well-being.
Heart disease, autoimmune diseases, thyroid dysfunction, hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, asthma, psychological issues such as depression and anxiety and even cancer can be related to, or caused by, poor methylation.
To measure whether our methylation processes are healthy or not, we need to understand the role of homocysteine. Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is produced as part of the methylation cycle and is, therefore, an important indicator of your methylation status. If homocysteine is too high you are not methylating effectively.
It is also important to understand that homocysteine can become too abundant when vitamin deficiencies are present and these are often related to poor diet and lifestyle choices.
8. The relationship between the brain/mind and the gut
The growing evidence that what is happening to the bacteria in our guts is in fact influencing our mood and with that our behaviour, is something that we now need to take very seriously indeed.
Our obsession with and overuse of antibiotics, in order to rid the gut and the body of bad bacteria, has led to a situation where ‘healthy bacteria’ is eliminated in the process.
What we are discovering now is that this doesn’t simply lay us open to re-infection from a variety of pathogens but it also leads to dysfunction in the brain and the mind.
Research in this area has concluded that poor or reduced activity of the microbiota makes us more vulnerable to our environments. The deterioration of brain function we see in the elderly is one manifestation of this and this is strongly connected to the reduction of healthy bacteria in the gut, which offers some explanation of the rise in the incidence of dementia, Alzheimer’s and other mental health issues.
The mechanisms and processes at work here have not yet been fully understood but what we do know is that the gut bacteria and/or the molecules they produce, interact with the vagus nerve in the gut (the vagus nerve is considered to be the primary dual carriageway between the brain and the gut). This interaction in turn affects hormonal signalling and the immune system via the neurons within the gut lining and the vagus nerve. This sophisticated communication between the gut and the brain is influenced moment by moment by what is happening in terms of the good and bad bacteria – according to their respective levels and potency our physical and mental health are either reduced or enhanced.