Diet induced acidity

Monday June 14 2021
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Ground nuts are some of the foods that can help solve acidity. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

By Beatrice Nakibuuka

Our diet today is deficient in fruits and vegetables but rather contains excessive animal products. This causes an accumulation of non-metabolisable anions and a state of body acidity whose magnitude increases with age and inactivity due to a decline in kidney function.

The buildup of the acidic medium is higher among older people and those who are physically inactive. An acidic medium favours growth of viruses and bacteria, cancerous cells meanwhile alkaline foods inhibit their growth. This therefore makes such people susceptible to various diseases. 

Amanda Twebaze, a nutritionist says the major cause of blood acidity is the food we eat and how it is utilized in the body. People who eat more processed foods that have lots of salt, artificial spices and also animal foods can gradually get into a state of metabolic acidosis. 

She says, “Someone’s blood can become acidic sometimes depending on the medical conditions they are managing.  For instance diabetes, if you mismanage it , you can develop acidosis. Some specialised diets such as the ketogenic diet can also predispose someone to high blood acidity.”

Causes

There are certain foods according to Lydia Aisu Pedun, a dietitian,  such as red meats, highly processed foods that form uric acid in the body. 

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“Generally, such foods are not as easy to expel from the body. They linger and cause an acidic medium in the body. In other words, the breakdown of these foods causes an acidic metabolism (remains after metabolised/ broken down).”

The symptoms and signs

When your body is acidic, there are signs that will show; one may get bloating, of the stomach, acid reflux in the form of a heartburn as well as fatigue. Twebaze remarks that high blood acidity affects the working of our endocrine system. 

“The hormones become affected which in turn affects body metabolism, making our bodies sluggish, fatigued, it brings about mind confusion, poor body coordination and even shock in severe cases. Also with high blood acidity, the body can be subject to inflammation causing body reactions like pain, swelling etc. Some people lose body muscle and bone mass as well due to this acidosis,” she remarks.

How to solve acidity

Contrary to animal based foods, most foods from the plant origin have alkaline metabolism. Therefore, eating a more varied diet with more plant-based sources as opposed to mainly animal foods is recommended if you want to reduce the acidity in the body. So usually, one needs to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to neutralise the acidic metabolites

Twebaze says,  “Many vegetables especially the green leafy vegetables which are more alkaline in nature  can help to reverse acidity.”

You can include mushrooms,  groundnuts,  peas,  French beans,  seaweed,  cucumbers,  cogette,  chayote,  dodo,  avocados,  sweet potatoes , pineapple, onions, garlic,  ginger,  lemon,  lime,  spinach and celery.

Drinking plenty of water is also very helpful to reduce acidity and is also essential in flushing out the unnecessary ions and toxins causing the acidic state in the body. 

“Herbs that are alkaline in nature like mint, peppermint and cardamom probably added to tea, to juices or water can also help. You could also mix some baking soda in your drinking water occasionally through the week to help with neutralising the acid.”

Since vulnerability of body acidity increases with age,  Aisu warns, “older people, obese and diabetics should minimise the intake of red meats, processed foods and exercise regularly at least 30 minutes daily to keep acid levels low. Even younger people should eat more fresh whole, plant based foods fruits and vegetables less red meats, processed foods, and sugary drinks especially in this pandemic.”

Causes

If there is a high ingestion of acid or acidic foods, poor removal or excretion of acid by the body maybe caused by underlying health conditions, low bicarbonate status in the gut or an accumulation of acid over time in the body, the body’s blood can become acidic

Aisu says, “Even mild acidity from metabolism can induce skeletal muscle resistance to insulin action causing metabolic abnormalities and the cardiovascular risk such as being overweight, obese and chronic kidney 

features@ug.nationmedia.com

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