Within this new alternative, or holistic, nutrition paradigm we speak quite often of balance: balanced diet, balanced food, balanced energy, etc. In the case of our pH—acid and alkaline—however, despite our rhetorical focus on balance, we tend to heavily favor one over the other. This is, to a very small degree, valid since the pH balance of our body should be very slightly alkaline; but aside from that very slight lean toward alkalinity, we require a virtual balance in our pH.
The reason there is such an obsessive focus on the alkalizing aspect of nutrition is because in our conventional diet, we have become incredibly acidic. The grain-, meat- and starch-based diet, which has become the norm for so long, creates an acidic inner environment that is a breeding ground for putrefaction and disease. It is true that this culturally inherited imbalance can lead to a myriad of disorders and diseases, yet the way to address this issue must be through a return to balance, not a pendulum swing to the other side of the spectrum.
The idea that we must alkalize is a popular, well-marketed approach that is quite apparent in today’s alternative, or “holistic,” diet world. This may be because it is much more difficult to fundamentally redress the balance of our diet than it is to distract ourselves with a polarizing struggle of this vs. that; creating a good and a bad so that we can “use” the good to “protect” ourselves from the bad. The truth, of course, is that there is no “good” or “bad,” only appropriation and balance. The concepts of good and bad are shortsighted oversimplifications that we use to deal with complex existential issues. If we see any part of our life as bad, we are reinforcing the idea that we are separate from it and ignoring our ability to find a way to harmonize with it. Using avoidance to increase wellness is ultimately counterproductive because it is essentially fear-based, and anytime we utilize fear for any purpose we strengthen the element of fear in all aspects of our thoughts and beliefs by tacitly justifying it as a useful emotion.
The fear-based tactics, in this case, can be overt with such examples as “Alkalize or die,” “Cancer can only breed in an acidic environment,” etc. These fear-based tactics, however, can also be launched passive aggressively in such cases as “Alkalize for your vitality”, “Alkaline foods are loving foods”, etc. The latter seems to be much prettier and gentler but, in effect, it is implying the same thing as the former. Avoiding a fearful result and praising the means of avoidance are the same thing. Fearing and avoiding an acidic internal condition and favoring alkaline food products are both means to avoid that unfavorable condition. Whether you fear and avoid grains due to their acidity or love dark leafy greens for their alkalinity, you are still creating an irrational polarity that requires a good and a bad; something to love and something to fear. Furthermore, it is completely irrational to favor alkaline foods over acidic ones as it would, in effect, always create an imbalance one way or the other. In the effort to find balance, the most logical pursuit would be to favor and seek balance itself.
After all, we are not simply a human body that is slightly alkaline. We are the coalescence of a myriad of organisms and living substances that all have unique and varying qualities and conditional requirements. As this mass of life developed into its own harmonious symbiotic eco-system, it found a complex and deliberate system to satisfy and nourish every single aspect of that organism therein. We harbor substances to nourish some particular organisms and other substances to nourish others. These different substances for different organisms also happen to vary in, what we have come to call, their pH, and the overall result when measured and quantified happens to be a slightly alkaline collection. This measurable result, however, is nearly irrelevant in any practical sense. The onus does not fall on our relatively limited intellect to know exactly how to construct the perfect food source with the ability to nurture and nourish all those countless various beings that comprise our body. This has already been done for us. As the complex symbiotic system of our body developed, the ecology around us—that is, part of us—developed right alongside it. It produced a reflective system of nourishment for this inner ecology of ours that is just as complex and just as perfectly balanced.
In order to find and follow this balance, all we must do is heed to our senses; the senses that are part and parcel to the whole of our organic biological composition. Acidic foods in their raw natural state are not pleasing to those senses, and neither are the alkaline ones. The most acidic foods that plague our diet today are flesh, grains and starches—meats, breads and potatoes. These foods are not only unpleasant in their unadulterated, unseasoned state but are also highly impractical in a natural context. Even nuts and seeds, which are also highly acidic, have a very limited availability to us and by virtue of the anatomical tools we were born with, require excessive labor to attain. It is only due to a system of specialized industry, technological tools and culinary perversion that we are able to “enjoy” these items as seemingly convenient. All of those systems that make this so, however, are highly self-destructive in an ecological and societal sense, which is clearly only a symptom of a foolhardy deviation from our ecological relationships.
Foods that are alkaline in nature are also just as unpleasant and impractical. In fact, the natural application of alkalinity in nature is as a poison. Plants utilize alkaloids to regulate the amount of their tissues that can be eaten by the creatures living in and among them. Plants, of course, have a role in providing food, but if they do not carefully preserve themselves to some extent, then they will not survive. A plant can afford for some part of itself to be given as nourishment, and, of course, different plants are nourishment for many different types of animals. The strength and type of toxic substance that plants produce in their leaves, flowers and stems is indicative of which animals can eat from it, which parts can be consumed and also at which stage of the plant’s development consumption is allowed. Our basic senses will alert us to this process and recognizing high levels of alkalinity is through the quality of its bitterness. The more bitter a substance, the higher its alkalinity and the more toxic it is to those who experience that bitterness. Not all levels of alkalinity are as toxic to all creatures because different animals have different requirements and allowances in that regard. That is why animals with different requirements have different methods of taste, to guide them through this complex and careful process with ease and even pleasure.
As we continue to intuitively follow our inherent senses, the foods we find will meet all requirements of balance that are the imperative of our complex symbiotic system we reductively refer to as a body. The sweet, delicious, aromatic, vibrantly colored fruits that grow abundantly in the warmth of our naturally suitable climates provide an excellent balance of acids and alkaline. Most fruits are very near our own natural balance when they are consumed in observance with proper combinations and level of ripeness. Of course, many sweet fruits are either equal in ratio or may even lean the slightest bit toward the acidic side. This is where our craving for salt becomes a heroic and invaluable evolutionary masterpiece. In most languages, the words “salts” and “minerals” are synonymous. Therefore, things that taste salty to us have a high content of the minerals we need to maintain our balance such as calcium and magnesium. When we consume salty foods such as tender greens, tomatoes and certain other nonsweet fruits, then we are consuming important minerals that also happen to be alkaline minerals. This ensures we get the minerals we need and circumstantially raises our overall pH to the level we would empirically determine is normal.
However it is my hope that the preceding essay has shown the reader that our pH level is in itself circumstantial and peripheral, making actions and dietary decisions based on this backward approach is holistically unproductive. If we see the delusion and futility of authoritarian institutions and stick to the essential tools of observation that we were given at birth, we will make the right decisions out of a passion for experiencing the sensual joys of life instead of making decision out of fear and avoidance.
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