A large percentage of people suffer from some form of ingestion, including heartburn, bloating, gassiness, and constipation. In the 21st century, it is unfortunately so easy to visit the pharmacy and purchase medicine that we ignore the causes of the condition. As a result, we never give ourselves the chance to attempt the healthiest and most natural treatment options. Most forms of indigestion are easy to overcome with an alkaline diet.
Proteins and Stomach Acid
Unlike an acidic diet that contains too much protein in the form of meat and dairy, an alkaline diet contains an appropriate amount of protein in a good balance with other food groups. High protein meals require a huge amount of stomach acid (called hydrochloric acid) to be properly digested because proteins are tough and dense.
This acid needs to be very active, swirling violently to cover all the protein sufficiently well to break it down. This often causes the acid to bubble up into the oesophagus, a process we call heartburn or acid reflux. That is why heartburn is always at its worst after a large meaty meal.
Even worse, a high protein diet causes the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid long after digestion has ended, in anticipation of the next high protein meal for which it will be needed. This can cause or worsen stomach ulcers. An alkaline diet does not require such large amounts of active stomach acid.
The typical response by meat eaters is that they can take antacids to keep acid reflux and heartburn at bay. In the long term, this will be significantly less effective than an alkaline diet, however, because killing stomach acids responsible for digestion will only increase indigestion.
The stomach is one of the few body parts that needs to be acidic to function properly. If an antacid forces it to become alkaline, the tiny bit of acid that remains will have to churn even more violently to coat the food for digestion, which increases the chance that the acid will end up in the oesophagus. The alkaline diet does not inhibit or even block stomach acid; your stomach can simply use the appropriate amount of acid to digest the food.
Pepsin is one of the main acidic enzymes responsible for digestion in the stomach. When it lives in the stomach, it does a good job. The problem, however, is its ability to live in the oesophagus. Once it is attached to the oesophageal tissue, which can happen after just one occurrence of acid reflux, it can be activated by acidic substances that you swallow. Once activated, pepsin erodes the oesophageal lining which causes heartburn and ultimately cancer.
In other words, heartburn is not triggered only by acid that pushes upwards from the stomach, but also by acid from the acidic food and beverages that you swallow. An alkaline diet prevents the pepsin in the oesophagus from being activated, and thereby prevents the heartburn and the erosion of the oesophageal lining.
A study that made participants drink pH eight water discovered that this problematic pepsin could be de-activated for good, which is a promising result that verifies the benefits of swallowing alkaline substances. In fact, since the participants in the study were allowed to continue their normal acidic diets, an alkaline diet together with alkaline water would probably have given a significantly better result.
Drug-Resistant Acid Reflux
In 2011, one small study concluded that the restriction of dietary acid could relieve acid reflux symptoms in people for whom conventional drugs had not worked. Of the 20 participants, 19 experienced an improvement of their symptoms while three subjects became completely asymptomatic. This study did not even apply a terribly strict version of the alkaline diet.
Participants were simply told to refrain from food with a pH below five. They were not advised to eat, for example, 70 or 80 per cent of genuinely alkaline food with a pH above seven.
Theoretically, it is thus possible that many subjects experienced the improvements while still eating mainly moderately acidic food. As mentioned above, as medication that inhibits or blocks stomach acid contributes to the problem of acid reflux, it should not be surprising that drug-resistant acid reflux can be treated well with an alkaline diet.
The Alkaline Intestines
Once the food moves down from the stomach into the intestines, other forms of indigestion are common. These include bloating, gas diarrhoea, constipation, and so forth. Unlike the stomach, the intestines are supposed to be an alkaline environment to aid nutrient absorption.
This alkaline environment is difficult to maintain in an acidic body, as all the cells inside such a body, including those in the intestines, are acidic. The pancreas then needs to over-work to achieve a properly alkaline intestinal tract. If it fails to achieve sufficient alkalinity, your body will no longer be able to absorb sufficient nutrients. Moreover, the bacteria inside your intestines will proliferate out of control, which may not only cause further ingestion of especially carbohydrates with which they are supposed to help, but could also lead to a variety of other illnesses.
In addition to the absorption of carbohydrates, the bacteria in your intestines serve an additional function that is crucial for health. When mixed with a good balance of nutrients, they secrete hydrogen, which an increasing number of studies have found to be a promising supplement to treatments for anything from diabetes to depression.
Hydrogen's promise as a type of medication is one of the reasons why consumers of hydrogen-rich alkaline water believe in it so strongly. If you make it difficult for the good intestinal bacteria to thrive in a moderately alkaline intestinal environment, you lose all the advantages that studies are starting to attribute to hydrogen. You will then have to take most of your hydrogen orally.
The Fibre Advantage
Unlike a fibre-deprived acidic diet, an alkaline diet contains a healthy amount of fibre. Between vegetables, fruit, whole grain, and pulses, there is an abundance of fibre to improve digestion. When consumed together with enough water, fibre aids digestion in two ways.
Firstly, while the body struggles to digest it (some fibres are in fact completely indigestible), fibre slows the progression of the food through the intestines to allow more complete absorption of the nutrients before the waste is excreted.
Secondly, when mixed with water, the fibre expands and drags all the food that is stuck in your intestines downward to be excreted. As a result, the food you eat will either be absorbed or excreted, instead of becoming stuck in the intestines where they cause bloating and gas.
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