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.)