Nutrition - Food Acids And Body Acidity
( Originally Published 1954 )
There are some foods that taste sour, others that taste sweet, and some that are apparently neutral in taste. Certain foods contain acids that are assimilated by the body economy; other foods contain acids that are not easily assimilated by the body. The latter types of acids are even unwholesome, because the body must treat them as waste, and their elimination may cause irritation or inflammation in the cells of the organs through which they must be eliminated.
The latter acids, those that are classed as unwholesome, are oxalic acid, tannic acid, benzoic acid and uric acid. The wholesome acids are citric acid, malic acid and tartaric acid.
The common foods that contain the wholesome acids are: oranges, grapefruits, pineapples, apples, peaches and other seeded fruits. Tartaric acid is found in grapes, pineapples, potatoes, carrots and endive.
The unwholesome acids mentioned above are found in rhubarb, spinach, tea, cocoa, pepper, and sorrel.
There are some other acids in plant foods which play a major or minor role in bodily health. One is called phytic acid. This is found in the bran of grain foods. It contributes a laxative quality to these foods.
Acetic acid is an important acid that is taken into the body as a food accessory—in vinegar and salad dressings. It is formed in the body by excessive eating of starch- and sugar-containing foods. Ordinary vinegar contains 3 to 5 per cent of acetic acid. When starch and sugar are eaten to excess, the undigested portion ferments in the stomach and intestines, and the end-product of this fermentation is vinegar or acetic acid.
According to one doctor, acetic acid is a poison. Other authorities who have studied acetic acid in relation to human health are Sir William Roberts of England and Professor Boix of France. Sir William Roberts found that "one teaspoon of vinegar arrests salivary digestion of starch in the stomach." (In the digestive process of starch, after it is thoroughly masticated and salivated, the chemical action of the saliva on starch continues in the stomach.) When vinegar is included in a meal, normal digestion is thus impaired.
Professor Boix of Paris demonstrated by experiments on animals that "vinegar or acetic acid has twice the power of gin to cause cirrhosis of the liver" or "gin liver." From this finding of the French professor, the reader can deduce that vinegar is even more harmful than liquor as a cause of hardening of the liver. However, those who drink liquor take it in larger doses than by the teaspoonful.
Oxalic acid is found in minute amounts in many vegetables and fruits. It is found in rather notable amounts in rhubarb, spinach, tea, cocoa, sorrel and pepper. Dr. Kellogg claims that "a cup of tea or cocoa contains four times as much oxalic acid as the body produces in its normal excretions in a day."
This oxalic acid is neutralized by alkali minerals into neutral salts. The kidneys take on the burden of excreting a certain amount of oxalates (or salts of oxalic acid). One who drinks a cup of tea or coffee with each meal burdens the kidneys with twelve times as much oxalic acid as the kidneys are normally able to excrete. How can a normal kidney handle that excess? Dr. Kellogg further claims that "twice the amount of normal becomes pathological or damaging to the kidneys."
Suppose the organism does not contain enough alkali minerals to neutralize the excess oxalic-acid waste formed from too much coffee drinking, tea drinking, pepper, rhubarb and spinach? The kidneys suffer, becoming irritated by the passage of free oxalic acid (oxaluria). People who suffer from nephritis, or Bright's disease, must not take any foods or condiments that contain oxalic acid because it may prove disastrous to already diseased kidneys.
Rhubarb is used quite extensively. This is not a good practice because of the high content of oxalic acid in rhubarb (17 grains to the pound). Rhubarb may be used mixed with apples, pears or cherries-using one part (by weight) of rhubarb to four parts of any combination of the other fruits. A small amount of rhubarb may be tolerated by normally healthy people if the food intake includes such vegetables as lettuce, celery, cucumbers, squash, and the mineral-containing fruits such as pineapple, cherries, peaches and grapefruit.
Tannic acid is found in tea, making up one-eighth of its weight! A cup of weak tea may contain one or two grains of tannic acid but a cup of strongly brewed tea may contain seven to fifteen grains. This acid is a well-known astringent. It tends to neutralize the enzymes of the gastric juice.
Coffee contains about 45 per cent of "caffeotannic acid"-nearly one-half of its weightl Therefore, coffee has an effect on digestion that is even more injurious than tea. Cocoa contains a certain amount of tannin, which reduces to tannic acid, but this amount is less than in either coffee or tea.
Coffee and tea are, as a rule, taken with every meal by most civilized people today. Is it any wonder that there is so much chronic disease in the form of gastritis, ulcers, and other diseases of vital organs?
Benzoic acid is found in cranberries, prunes and plums. This acid is used as a preservative for canned foods. According to the pure-food laws, one-tenth of one per cent is permitted. When an excessive amount of cranberries, or even plums or prunes, is consumed, the kidneys or the bladder may be damaged. When taken in to excess, this acid combines with the alkaline minerals to form "gravel" or "stone" of the kidneys or bladder. The reader can readily see that it is advisable to eat moderately of foods that contain oxalic acid or benzoic acid.
Butyric acid, as its name implies, results from the decomposition of butter. When one eats more of this good fat than the body can utilize for normal fat storage or for conversion to energy, the excess changes to butyric acid. Butyric acid is sometimes formed in butter that has become rancid.
People who suffer from diseases that tend to produce acidosis of the tissues, must not eat any butter or other fat. Diabetics are in this category.
The best way to eliminate or to dispose of fatty wastes is to eat and drink wholesome foods such as those that are rich in citric acid and in malic acid. Fresh oranges, pineapples, lemons, raw apples, pears, peaches, apricots and nectarines are all excellent food products supplying the body with wholesome acids and alkali that soak up such tissue wastes as butyric acid and other deleterious acids.
Uric acid is a waste that is an end result of the excessive consumption of protein foods. Some foods, even of the vegetable kingdom, have a tendency to reduce into uric acid. When there is a tendency toward the actual retention of uric-acid waste within the cells of the tissues, such organic diseases as gout, kidney and bladder calculi and other degenerative diseases may be caused.
In a pound of animal meat there are fourteen grains of uric acid; there are only about 1 grains of this acid in a pound of beans (Kellogg). A pound of beans contains about five times as much nutritive value as a pound of animal meat. This is a good argument for beans as a source of tissue-forming protein.
In fact, the New Knowledge of Nutrition points to many convincing facts tending to show that a vegetarian diet can more adequately nourish the human body healthfully, when the proper foods are selected. Uric-acid-containing foods, such as animal meats, when eaten to excess inevitably result in body disease.
The medical profession as a whole is unwilling to admit this truth, although it is aware of it. At this stage of scientific advancement, knowledge of food in relation to disease and health is fully accessible to medical practitioners and teachers. Yet many sick people—those who suffer from gout, kidney stones, hardening of the arteries, and other diseases—are considered merely as unsolved problems. It would be very easy for the sick to eat foods that contain no uric acid for a time, thereby using up the surplus from within the body cells or giving the cells a chance to eject the surplus.
The fruit and vegetable juice diet that I have been using for over twenty years of medical pioneering is a very potent means of soaking out of the tissues those organic wastes that cause disease, premature aging and untimely death. Dr. Kellogg also claims that "migraine" and neuralgia (two apparently unknown disorders that the doctor often meets) are caused by the poisonous effects of uric acid, as it irritates and plagues the nervous system.
"Pain is the cry of nerves for pure blood." This revealing fact was pronounced by one of the great 19th-century English physicians, Dr. Hilton. It is true today as it was in the 19th century that disease is accompanied by pain as one of its symptoms.
The sick body suffers from other symptoms that can be just as distressing as pain. That "tired feeling," nervous tension, and other signs are all caused by retained impurities within the cells of the tissues and organs of the body.
The public must learn to apply the New Knowledge of Nutrition in order to prevent and cure the chronic diseases. It is really amazing that the profession does not stress these facts in everyday practice. The sick are still being fed such things as dead animal meat. Coffee or tea is served on the invalid's tray, even when the patient is under the care of well-known physicians or surgeons.
Even cancer patients are being fed with meat, coffee, fried potatoes, and other poison-forming foods. Medical literature contains convincing classical writings on the subject of cancer in relation to diet. These authorities point to the fact that the poisons taken in through meat eating, coffee drinking and tobacco using may and do contribute to that devastating degenerating disease—cancer. Why not stress these facts in medical practice, in this day and age?
When a doctor gives voice to these facts in these times of general enlightenment, that voice is suppressed by all kinds of methods—by pushing such pioneers into obscurity, by flinging unfair and unjust epithets. Perhaps it is true today that fewer doctors who prescribe diets instead of drugs are called "faddists," but it is nevertheless still a difficult road to follow when one chooses the way of the pioneer.
Lactic acid should be mentioned as another important acid in relation to food and the body. Lactic acid is an end-product of the digestion of milk and buttermilk. A certain amount of lactic acid is required by the healthy colon, because this acid checks the putrefaction of foods by the colon bacilli. If an excessive amount of milk or other lactic-acid-containing food is consumed, some of this acid may be decomposed into acid wastes that often result in the skin rash and "diaper rash" of an improperly fed infant.
In patients with colitis and proctitis, a condition similar to diaper rash occurs. Reducing or cutting out lactic-acid-forming foods would help to cure skin rash of such origin.
Milk sugar (lactose) normally changes into lactic acid. For this reason, individuals with skin rash, even infants, can tolerate cultured milk (buttermilk) better than fresh sweet milk, because in buttermilk the lactic acid has already been converted in the process of changing the milk sugar or lactose into this acid.
There are a certain number of other acids found in association with foods that the body must neutralize and eliminate. Phosphoric acid and sulphuric acid, in the form of acid salts or neutral salts, are formed as the end-products of protein and starchy foods such as cereals, bread, beans and nuts.