CHAPTER THREE: Alkalize your Body and Absorb your Nutrients
THE P R O B L E M
After food has been broken down into microscopic particles, absorption occurs within the small intestine. This means that the nutrients extracted from the resulting liquid should be able to get out of the intestinal system and into organs, muscles, bones, etc. Unfortunately, because of problems with the digestive process, undigested food particles are released into the small intestine. These particles can cling to the interior lining of the small intestine, clog the flow of juices through the small intestine, and block the absorption of nutrients. As the particles begin to decay (ferment, go rancid, or putrefy) within the small intestine, they give off acids. Acid can cause irritation and inflammation of the interior lining of the intestines. Irritation leads to inflammation that further inhibits absorption. This cycle can cause an over-acid, under-oxygenated environment where microbials such as viruses, bacteria, fungus, and parasites thrive. Inflammation can also lead to many problems including malfunction of the immune system, neurological dysfunction, and even cardio-vascular irregularities.
To illustrate what can happen inside the intestinal tract, take a new sponge and dip it in water. Notice how the water is absorbed. Take another sponge and dip it in a combination of flour and water (paste). Now dip that same sponge in water. Notice that the second sponge cannot absorb as much water as the first.
The water represents nutrients. The sponge is your digestive tract. The paste represents the undigested foods you have eaten that are stuck to the walls of the intestine. Foods such as bread, pasta and cheese are some of the worst culprits for clogging the digestive tract. Any undigested food particles can cause problems.
Four Contributing Factors to Absorption Problems
1. Particles Instead of Liquid
The small intestine is designed to absorb nutrients from microscopic food particles through small finger-like projections called “villi.” Larger particles of food cannot enter the small pores in the villi. Only the nutrients available in the liquefied food will be absorbed. This lack of nutrients can cause a state of being malnourished, even though the person is eating adequate amounts of food.
DAILY 7 Health step: TAKE ENZYMES WITH MEALS AND BETWEEN MEALS.
2. Clogging Waste from Undigested Food
Anything that is not absorbed in the small intestine should be passed to the colon as waste. Sometimes the waste that does not make it to the large intestine clogs portions of the small intestine. The clogging waste mats down the villi and blocks absorption of nutrients. It also makes it harder for new food liquids to make it through the 24 feet of intestines. And, if that is not enough, undigested food rots and produces bacteria that are so small they get distributed to other body tissues just like nutrients.
DAILY 7 Health step: TAKE ENZYMES WITH MEALS AND BETWEEN MEALS.
3. Leatherized Villi
Because of the villi, the surface area of the small intestine is increased to about 180 square meters (several football fields). Acids and tannins in foods actually leatherize the digestive tract and destroy this large surface area. The less surface area you have, the fewer nutrients are absorbed. Some of the worst culprits that make the digestive tract leathery are coffees and black teas because they contain tannic acid. Tannic acid is used to tan leather. How absorbent is leather?
4. pH Imbalance
One of the most significant factors in absorption of nutrients is pH balance. pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. The solution is acidic if the pH number is lower on the pH scale or it is alkaline if the number is higher. Some vitamins, minerals, and nutrients are only absorbed in specific levels of pH. You could be taking in healthy nutrients and yet be unable to absorb them. This is because, while some minerals can be used through a wider pH range than others, all provide their greatest benefits when the body’s pH levels are balanced. For example, the body can only fully use iodine when the body’s pH is between 6.3 and 6.6. Iodine is key to the function of the thyroid gland. Does this give you a clue as to why people have thyroid problems?
Green foods and supplements are full of minerals and very alkalizing. Alkalizing substances help to buffer any excess acid in the blood. If minerals are needed to buffer the bloodstream acid, this may reduce the minerals available to nourish the rest of the body, including bones, muscles, nervous system, and organs. If you had a swimming pool with an algae problem, you would have two options. The first option is to keep scraping out the excess algae, but more would continue to grow. The second option is to adjust the chemical balance in the water so that the algae would not grow. Which one is better? If you have health problems, you also have two options. You can keep shooting at symptoms or you can address the root of the problem by balancing your pH.
Good for Microbials, Bad for People
Most microbials, such as parasites, viruses, and bacteria are anaerobic, which means they survive without oxygen. They also thrive in an overly-acidic environment. Parasites are becoming a problem in the United States. For example, candida (yeast) is a normal organism in our guts, but overgrowth from excessive sugar, alcohol, antibiotics, and chlorinated water can lead to intestinal inflammation. Once we develop inflammation in the intestines, we can become allergic to certain foods. This causes leakiness, which can lead to more allergies, creating a vicious cycle that worsens the imbalance of intestinal flora. 60% of your immune system is in your gastrointestinal tract.
Sources of Acid
Where is this acid coming from? Some of the acids come from your body’s natural processes. Acids are excreted from the colon, kidneys, lungs, muscles and skin. Stress and negative emotions also create acid. The greatest culprit of excess acid is most likely that we eat too many foods that are high in acid content and we don’t digest the foods. When acid levels begin to increase, the body becomes less capable of getting rid of it. The body will store the excess acid in body tissues, joints, muscles, and arteries causing stiffness, pain, tiredness, and a weakened immune system. The body will also attempt to neutralize (buffer) the acid by borrowing minerals from organs, bones, etc.
“The body apparently borrows calcium from the bones in order to balance pH, and this calcium borrowing may result in a decrease in bone density.” - American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan. 2001, vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 118-122.
Some Symptoms of Absorption Malfunction and pH Imbalance
Check any of the following that apply to you:
Seeing food or colors other than brown in your stool
Structural system weakness, including brittle bones and hip fractures
Brittle or easily broken fingernails
Loss of bone density
Bladder and kidney concerns Gray hair
Immune deficiency, parasites Joint discomfort
DAILY 7 Health Steps
Increase absorption by digesting your food so that it is in liquid form before it arrives at the small intestine. Take plenty of digestive enzymes and greens with meals and between meals. You can also help absorption by balancing pH levels. Get more greens in your diet and take green supplements with meals and in between meals. Take enzymes to help keep foods from rotting.
Steps for Bringing Balance to Your pH
Take digestive enzymes
Supplement your diet with extra greens
Supplement your diet with a multi mineral (see Your Food Choices section)
Drink approximately 70% of your body weight in ounces of purified water each day with fresh squeezed lemon in it
Enjoy an alkaline bath soak with 1 cup Epsom salts and 1 cup baking soda. Soak for 20 minutes, then rinse.
Eat 80% alkalizing foods and 20% acid-forming foods
The fresher the food tastes, the higher the alkalinity. Any food that is cooked, canned, or frozen is more acidic than it was in its natural state.
Chemically-grown food that is processed with preservatives or prepared with white sugar makes the food more acidic
Negative emotions like stress, anger, jealousy, and fear can be acid-forming.
Positive emotions like peace, kindness, and love tend to make the body more alkaline.
How Many Should I Take?
Taking enzymes and greens with each meal and several times in between meals helps to keep their pH in balance. It also will help increase your oxygen intake and energy. Greens are not just for absorbing and alkalizing, but they are also a meganutrient containing vitamins and minerals.
Help for Over-Acid Stomach
Most people choose to take an antacid when they burp up acid or when they feel heartburn. Neutralizing the acid improperly is the worst thing to do. Attempts to block acid with antacids will also block the absorption of B-vitamins and minerals. The best action for over-acid stomach is usually to add additional enzymes, greens, and probiotics so that the foods will be completely broken down and unable to create excess acid.
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