An acid-ash diet is the opposite of an alkaline ash diet. To understand why either of the diets suits you better, a general understanding of the nervous system is necessary.
The sympathetic nervous is like the accelerator of a car, whereas the parasympathetic system is like the brakes. The two parts of your nervous system must work together in balance for you to function well and feel healthy. If one is depressed, the other will dominate and problems will arise. Or, if one is “hyped-up,” depressing the other, different problems will come forth. Balance is the key.
A parasympathetic dominant person is one who is rather sluggish, tired, and depressed. These terms can be used to describe their state of digestion, mood, energy level, and so on. A sympathetic dominant person is one who is running on high. They are nervous, anxious, fidgety, and in a “hyper” mode. This is not the same as having a good amount of energy. Being in an over sympathetic state will eventually result in a crash. It is much like if you were to drive your car only in first gear on the highway; you will soon burn out the engine.
For a parasympathetic dominant person, an acid-ash diet is beneficial. Think of the need for an acid-ash diet when everything is in slow motion, like one is driving a car with the emergency brake up. The metabolism is slow so nutrients are not absorbed and assimilated, as they should be. Appetite is usually decreased and a feeling of being “toxic,” perhaps due to food taking too long to be digested, is sometimes associated. This may cause constipation, or constipation and diarrhea alternating. Heartburn may be present which can eventually lead to joint stiffness especially in the morning, as major nutrients such as calcium are no longer absorbed, as they should be. This may later lead to joint problems such as arthritis and bursitis. Calcium metabolism is also one of the reasons a person cramps up, usually at night, and most often in their large toes.
Along with the slow digestive system, the need for an acid-ash diet is seen in those who are feeling physically sluggish. A decreased body temperature, cold hands and feet, and always getting the chills or feeling like you need to steal your significant other’s sweater may point to the need for an increased parasympathetic system. Over time, if not corrected, the endocrine system may become more and more tired, fatiguing the person further. Blood pressure may be low, and perhaps one has been told that it is always low and that is just who they are. This is almost always not the case, yet the body has compensated to keep them going as they push themselves farther, and harder.
A feeling of dizziness or light-headedness may be present upon standing or arising from a lying position too quickly. Many people are told that this is “normal” but it is not, and its cause should be investigated. The adrenal glands and kidneys are not properly adjusting the blood pressure as postural positions change.
A slow heart rate may also be present. Western society, especially when dealing with athletes, looks at a lowered heart rate in terms of fitness, the lower the better. Although this is true in the complete context of the athlete, or an individual’s fitness level, having a body that is too alkaline, and too sluggish, will lower the heart rate for reasons not pertaining to fitness. This happens in many who are just plain fatigued, yet are reading their heart rate improperly. As fitness improves, heart rate with decrease to a certain point proportionally. If fitness levels are not improving yet training is increased, one’s health may be suffering and the lowered heart rate could be a warning sign that fitness will soon fall prey to injury, illness, or a mental feeling of not wanting to exercise. Always wishing for a rainy weekend so you can just stay in bed may be a clue that you are too alkaline.
Healthy-eating vegetarians (not bread-eating vegetarians) are those who commonly show a need for an acid-ash diet. This is because they are eating a lot of the opposite types of foods, the alkaline ash, such as fruits and vegetables. Although these foods are extremely healthy and necessary for good health and proper nutrition, overdoing them may throw the body out of balance leading to sluggish symptoms. In this case, the diet rich in acid-ash foods will benefit.
Acid-ash foods are primarily starches and proteins. In the case of starches, it is important to realize that there is a need for more of these foods but you should not resort to a life of bagels and pasta. Other problems may arise if that is done. Whole grains such as whole wheat, rye, barley, and oats can be consumed but only if you tolerate them as many people are sensitive to gluten. Rather, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and corn may be beneficial. Spread them out during the day and maybe only add in one or two starchy carbs per day – not every meal. Do not eat just a starch (potato, for example) for breakfast. Make sure you include some high quality protein. The protein sources that should be included in your diet are those such as fish, meat, shellfish, eggs, and cheeses. Again, include some form of protein with each meal throughout the day. A good breakfast would be eggs and rice, or bacon and potatoes. For lunch, have a chicken or turkey sandwich with some cheese. For dinner, some fish or red meat with corn. You should still eat some of the alkaline foods; an acid-ash diet is typically not healthy in the extreme. A piece of fruit during the day and some vegetables during lunch and dinner are often recommended.
*REMEMBER: Most people do much better eating proteins and vegetables with some fruit – tending more towards an alkaline type diet. It is not healthy to eat too much one way or the other but typically eating too acid-ash (very common) leads to health problems, especially if the starches are wheat based.