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Alkaline Diet and Health

By Sang Whang - 02/28/97

"You are what you eat". Indeed, what we eat is very important for us to sustain life and maintain good health. Unfortunately, there are many conflicting theories as to what is good food and what is bad. This paper is not trying to tell you what to eat and what not to eat.

A major part of the foods that we eat is made of 4 elements: carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen. Less than 2% of the foods are inorganic minerals, alkaline and acid. Only protein contains nitrogen; fat and carbohydrates are strings of carbon and hydrogen mixed with oxygen. (Without oxygen mixed in, it is called hydrocarbon and is food for the automobile: gas and oil.)

Foods burn with oxygen in our cells to give us energy to live. When completely burnt, carbohydrates become CO2 (carbon dioxides) and H2O (water). The chemical formula for cholesterol and fatty acid is incompletely burnt carbohydrates; which means they can be burnt later to give us energy. If we fast, or stick to a low carbohydrate diet, our body burns stored fatty acids to get the energy. This is how we can lose weight.

We don't get fat because we eat fatty foods. Fatty acid comes from incompletely burnt carbohydrates. In other words, if we eat foods high in carbohydrates and don't exercise, the foods become fat. Look at cows: they only eat grass but beef is the highest in fat and cholesterol; because cows don't exercise. For decades, Americans were told to eat a low fat high carbohydrate diet; today, obesity is our nation's "biggest" problem. (Pun intended.)

Carbohydrates come in many forms, usually strings of carbon and hydrogen mixed with oxygen. Some have longer strings, some shorter. The shorter the string, the faster it burns. Sugar has short string and burns faster, grains have longer strings and burn slower. Since sugar burns faster and easier, it takes away the opportunity for the longer grain-carbohydrates to burn, creating more fatty acids. We all know that sugar is not healthy. In the family of carbohydrates, there is one that burns even faster than sugar: alcohol.

Burning carbohydrates produces carbonic acids (H2CO3), which goes into the blood stream. When this carbonic acid goes through the lungs, the lungs remove CO2 and leaves only H2O. This removal of CO2 by the lungs is the quickest way to reduce blood acidity, and blood from the heart contains very small amount of CO2. When we drink alcohol, it burns so fast that the lungs cannot remove CO2 fast enough, and blood with the high level of CO2 goes into the brain, and we get intoxicated.

In February 2000, the U. S. Department of Agriculture sponsored the "Great Nutrition Debate" on weight loss diets. Many prominent diet gurus, including Dr. Robert Atkins, Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. John McDougall, were there to debate the merits of their respective diet programs: the low carbohydrates high protein diet, the ultra-low-fat regimen, the Asian rice plan, etc. The only thing anyone could agree on was that Americans need to lose weight; other than that, the debate's conclusion was "they all agreed to disagree". All the doctors have personal experiences in successful weight reduction cases, but they do not have scientific understandings of their experiences; therefore, they could not agree with other people's experiences.

As laypeople, we find it very difficult to decide which diet program to follow. Different programs suggest contradicting strategies; not only that, those who advise on specific diets do not have the technical understanding of what is in the food nor do they know about individual needs. This is the blind leading the blind. As a result, many people develop nutritional deficiency problems, especially among the so-called health-conscious people.

Dr. Atkin's diet is right for weight loss purposes, but a diet high in protein has its problem. When protein is oxidized, it becomes uric acid and develops ammonia. Uric acid is a poisonous acid, and, unless neutralized by alkaline minerals, could be dangerous. In the absence of sufficient alkaline minerals in the diet, the body robs calcium from the bones to change uric acids into urates (a primary cause for osteoporosis). Uric acids in the joints cause gout urates in the joints cause arthritis. Gout is very painful because uric acid is poisonous.

Some people diet to lose weight, others select special diets to reduce acidic wastes in the body. Among the latter group are vegetarians and macrobiotic diet people. At the beginning, these diets seem to work; but after an extended time, people's health begins to deteriorate due to nutritional deficiency. But based upon their experiences of health improvement at the beginning, more people believe they should increase their special diets. This is a vicious cycle.

Unfortunately, there is no medicine for nutritional deficiency syndrome; alkaline water cannot help either. Food supplements may help, but the chances of finding the right supplements are very slim. Another thing to watch out for is that some natural herbal supplements work as blood thinners to help blood circulation. These supplements could mislead us as if they give us more energy; they do not reduce acids, but they only force blood to be fluid even under an acidic environment, like aspirin does

My recommendation is not to overeat or indulge in any particular food, and do not exclude any food. Eat a wide variety of foods and let the intelligent body select the needed nutrients. Do not try to use foods to eliminate acidic wastes in our body; we will wind up creating more acidic wastes. Let alkaline water do the cleansing job.