NORMAL blood is always alkaline ; but this alkalinity is reduced by an excess of acid waste produced in the tissues as a result of improperly balanced nutrition, or by disease.
The term “acidosis” is used in a general sense to indicate any condition in which there is a lessened degree of alkalinity of the blood. If the blood has decreased in alkalinity from diabetes, this is acidosis. If it has decreased in alkalinity from nephritis, or from pernicious anaemia, or as a result of an unbalanced dietary, this is acidosis. The form taken makes little difference ; be the condition called anaemia, or neuritis, or nervous breakdown, the cause is usually one and the same.
Mineral salts (organic) in solution, as obtained from greens, succulent vegetables, and fruits, are of first importance in the maintenance of normal blood alkalinity, so necessary to the preservation of health, and of life itself. All the fluids of the body, blood, saliva, bile, pancreatic juice, must be permeated with these essential salts in order to insure the proper functioning of the body machinery.
The cleaning of the inside of the body means practically the same as the cleaning of the inside of the home; namely, the removal of waste. As the furnace fire leaves the ashes of combustion deposited on the grate, so the process of chemical reaction in the body leaves waste products, which are pushed out into the lymph spaces of the tissues, and finally make their way into the circulating blood.
All the processes of life consist in the building up and breaking down of body cells, which processes result in poisonous waste products of an acid nature. It follows, therefore, that the tissues must be constantly bathed in an alkaline fluid to neutralize the acids thus formed. Failure to provide the system with a sufficiency of these basic foods will result in acidosis of varying degrees of severity.
By way of illustration of this reaction which is constantly occurring in the tissues, take some kind of acid, such as cream of tartar, or hydrochloric acid, or sour milk, and stir into it a little common baking soda, which is a base. As soon as the soda and the acid come together, they begin to bubble and froth and foam, until, if mixed in the right proportion, they neutralize each other, forming a salt in solution. Some acids are strong, others are weak; but all acids are neutralized when brought in contact with bases, or alkalies, in the right proportion.
This will give some idea of the process of neutralization continuously going on in our bodies. If the basic, or alkaline element is predominant, an alkaline salt is produced. If the acid element is the stronger, the salt produced is acid. If the balance is in favor of alkalinity, the result is pure blood and clean tissue, with consequent good health. If the balance is in favor of acidity, the result is impure blood, diseased condition, and premature death.
Protein foods, particularly meat proteins, tend to form these acid wastes by decomposition in the digestive tract, in which case the acid is in the form of sulphuric acid, which, if not immediately neutralized, is very injurious to the cells.
Not infrequently, in the care of the sick, a physician is con-fronted with a case where the urine test shows an acidity several hundred times as great as the normal. Investigation in such cases usually shows the diet to have been “ham and eggs for breakfast, beefsteak for dinner, and roast meat for supper.” Whether it is the exceedingly high protein intake that is responsible for this condition, or whether it is particularly the resulting acid waste in the tissues, or both, is somewhat of a conjecture. Nevertheless, this type of diet often causes a man to fall dead on the street.
The first and most important procedure on the part of the physician is to remove from the diet of the patient the acid-forming foods, and put him on a strictly alkaline diet, until the surplus acid is neutralized, after which the proportions of acid-forming and base-forming foods in the diet must be carefully regulated.
The following table, adapted from Professor Sherman’s “Food Products,” pages 562-575, shows, by way of comparison, the “potential alkalinity,” or base-forming elements, and the “potential acidity,” or acid-forming elements, in too calorie portions of certain foods. While these lists are incomplete, they will be helpful in calling attention to a means of checking the modern tendency to a reduction in the alkaline reserve of the body.
The acid-forming elements, it will be observed, predominate in fish, meat, eggs, and cereals; hence these foods should be plentifully accompanied by those possessing alkaline elements, such as fruits and vegetables. The high protein, acid-forming fish and meats could well be dispensed with altogether. The tendency in modern dietaries is toward acidity. Very often, to the acid-forming meat, fish, eggs, or cereals, has been added, instead of base-forming vegetables and fruits, a preponderance of milk, fat, and sugar in various forms, all of which are practically neutral. Thus nothing is provided to offset the acid-formation in the tissues. If the amount of acid ingested, or produced in the body, is so great that it cannot be neutralized by the base-forming element present, the result is acid intoxication.
The efficiency of all the body processes is dependent on a proper balance between acidity and alkalinity ; and this balance may easily be disturbed, with most unfavorable results, by overindulgence in certain classes of foods. Therefore it should be clearly understood that to the foods which predominate in acid-forming elements, the fresh vegetables and fruits must be added liberally in order to maintain normal alkalinity in the tissues and the body fluids. It should be understood, furthermore, that an excess of base-forming elements in food is not objectionable, but on the contrary, is most essential. The following is from “Food Products,” page 355:
“An excess of base-forming elements in the food is not in any sense objectionable, since the oxidation processes in the body are constantly yielding such large quantities of carbonic acid that any surplus of base-forming elements goes to form bicarbonates which do not disturb the neutrality, but rather act as a reserve material for its maintenance.”