Tag Archives: alkaline diet

The alkaline diet, colds, and cravings

A few months ago I came down with a cold that had the bizarre feature of getting noticeably worse overnight, as if a troop carrier’s worth of viral reinforcements had rolled in and disembarked. It was actually kind of scary. This monster was worse than the so-called Russian flu that went around Los Angeles in the mid-90s, which I caught three times in six months.

After reading Nancy’s post on how she solved her gallstone problems by changing to an alkaline-forming diet, I had found a lot of online anecdotal experiences from people who used baking soda (which is very alkaline-forming) to head off colds and flus. After seven days of this Cold From Hell, I started mainlining baking soda — 1/2 tsp every few hours. After four hours I was significantly better and 18 hours later the cold was almost gone. Even weirder, the insane chocolate cravings I’ve had ever since I can remember were down about 75 percent.

A few weeks before I had also started taking vitamin B2 and selenium, so that obviously had to be taken into account. If I lowered the baking soda to 1/4 tsp twice a day, or stopped the selenium and vitamin B2, the cravings came back. From this I concluded that:

1. My body is too acidic — duh. It’s not uncommon for celiacs, sugar abusers, or Standard American Dieters. Theoretically a too-acidic environment makes it harder for the body to fight off invaders or absorb nutrients.

2. My cravings for chocolate, which is very alkaline-forming, are in part my body’s attempt to balance that acidity. Even though the dark chocolate is wrapped up in sugar, I guess my body can register just enough of chocolate’s individual super-alkalinity to want more of it. (Why I don’t crave celery, also very alkaline, I don’t know.) This would explain why I prefer less sugary chocolate and have no interest in ice cream or anything sweet that is not mostly chocolate. Except the occasional Pepsi.

3. The more alkaline environment made the selenium and vitamin B2 work a lot better. I’ve suspected for a while that part of the chocolate cravings thing is that my body can’t produce enough glucose, which fuels your brain. Vitamin B2 helps with glucose metabolism, which is needed for oxygen transport. Selenium might or might not help with glucose metabolism (some say yes, some say no) but it does help with oxygen transport and energy production.

Supporting #2 is that according to alkaline diet experts, the body becomes more acidic as you sleep, and I unfailingly want to eat chocolate in the a.m., as disgusting as that sounds. During this alkaline experiment, when I ate chocolate at that time of day I would feel sick like a normal person. Eventually I didn’t bother trying and went straight for the cantaloupe (also alkaline-forming). Some weird retraining of taste going on there.

I also discovered that if I cut dairy (acid-forming) from my diet, the cravings almost disappeared. If I fell off the wagon with soda pop or dairy, the cravings came back. This observation made me wonder about what the ladies at Keeping the Pounds Off have said about dairy triggering food cravings for them. (Their cravings are much more severe and seem to include all foods). I’d never eaten a lot of dairy before — just yogurt and whatever is in chocolate — and I never noticed a correlation before this experiment.

The more alkaline diet did not seem to do anything for my semi-monthly desire to drink Pepsi and eat half a bag of gluten-free cheese curls.

Unfortunately, I was not able to continue with the experiment. Possibly because of the very acidic red meat I refused to stop eating, it took nothing less than 1/2 tsp twice a day of baking soda to see an effect, and after several weeks this was clearly too much for my digestive system. (Be warned that the sodium in baking soda can affect levels of other minerals in your body.)

On refusing to part with my gallbladder

by Nancy

The battle for my gallbladder started in 1999. I was living in Seattle and receiving regular monthly acupuncture treatments from a local practitioner, Yehosha. In my mind that was how I was staying healthy. I noticed sensitivity on what turned out to be the gallbladder meridian. Yehosha told me that it was the “decision maker” and asked if I was having a hard time making up my mind about something. I replied with a little surprise that I was: I had recently fallen in love with the Southwest and was trying to decide if I should move to Arizona.

When I started having a lot of bloating, gas, and burping, sometimes for an hour at a time, I assumed it was just stomach upset. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it until one day it turned into strong, sharp pains across the front of my stomach and across my back. Even taking deep breaths hurt.

I went to the emergency room. When the attendant asked me if I was in pain and I replied that it was worse than childbirth — and I’ve given birth to five children — I was hooked up to an IV and given pain meds and a sonogram. The results revealed a large gallstone and an inflamed, enlarged gallbladder. I was admitted to the hospital for five days of IV feeding and lots of discomfort despite the medication. The doctors didn’t want to operate to remove the gallbladder until the stone passed and the gallbladder had time to heal, so when I was released I was told to return in one month for surgery.

I thought about what Yehosha had said about decision making, about being afraid of the unknown and of leaving the security of what I had here for another part of the country. I decided I was going to rest, investigate other treatment options, and move in one month. I WAS NOT going to have the surgery.

I compiled a list of foods that irritate the liver and gallbladder, which are responsible for bile production and processing, and a list of foods that cleanse them. No red meat, high fat foods, fried foods, nuts, or coffee (waaaaaaaaaa!). Lots of filtered water, salmon and other fish, and broccoli. An apple a day (they help break up stones), radishes, beets, and lemons. Chamomile tea for calming. Small, frequent meals rather than large. Digestive enzymes with every meal. Everything organic.

I focused less on restricting bad foods and more on emphasizing foods that help break up stones, and — the key for me — on keeping my body alkaline rather than acidic. Most modern-day foods and drinks are acidic. (Editor’s note: Trying to find reliable info on the acidity of different foods is frustrating, as sources frequently contradict each other. Sandy Simmons has compiled a list of alkaline/acid foods on her Connective Tissue Disorder Site, based on her own research and experience.)

I started feeling much better. The only complication was that I was losing weight. The gallbladder has to process that fat, so I kept an eye on not losing too much too fast.

Soon after, a spa in Sedona called me for an interview (I’m a massage therapist). That was my “go” sign: I put everything in storage and hit the road. The first night I remember a terrific amount of fear, but once I got to the first overnight stay and awoke the next morning I felt a little braver.

That was 13 years ago. Since then I’ve had two gallstone episodes, both in the last year. I managed to help the stones pass on their own, with some discomfort, with a liquid diet of miso, lemon water, and lots of juiced apples.

I believe that our body is our telegraph office rather than our enemy. It wants us to know when something is not in balance, whether it is emotional, spiritual, or mental. (The author Louise Hay is an excellent resource to explore the power we have to heal ourselves.) Our bodies are quite magical and intelligent. We are the pilots and navigators of our own little universe. As long as we pay attention and make the corrections that we can, it will cease its warnings. Obviously I believe in alternative and natural methods of medicine before allopathic, but we all have to walk our own path. I honor the body/mind/spirit connection.

Because I didn’t have health insurance, that five-day stay in the hospital cost me close to $7,000, which I also did not have. Two years later I had to file for bankruptcy. But I made it to the Southwest and didn’t regret any of my decisions.