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Finding balance

Updated: Apr 4


In this month’s blog I’m going to be examining balance. Initially, the delicate balance between acidic foods and alkaline foods and their impact on bone health, then looking at overall balance for the body with shiatsu and qigong.


Understanding the acid-alkaline/base balance

Every organ system in our body depends on pH balance, and our lungs and kidneys are the main organs that regulate it. Our bodies thrive within a narrow pH range and maintaining this balance is crucial for overall health, including bone health.


But what exactly does this mean?


Simply put, pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of a substance, ranging from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most alkaline). For optimal health, our blood pH needs to be very slightly alkaline, typically ranging between 7.35 and 7.45. You may well remember this from school chemistry classes. A pH level below 7.35 is called acidaemia and a pH above 7.45 is alkalemia. These are not diseases in themselves but are indicators that there is likely to be something else is going on in the body.


As it is so important to sustain a blood pH level in the required narrow range, the human body contains compensatory mechanisms.[1]  Each time there’s a change in the acid-base balance, our body automatically uses these inbuilt processes to push it back to normal. But if our blood pH changes significantly, that suggests these automatic mechanisms are not working properly.

 

The acidic diet dilemma

In today’s modern diet, acidic foods often take centre stage. Processed and ultra-processed foods, refined sugars, fizzy drinks and caffeine are high up among the culprits. Whilst our schedules and our tastebuds may make us reach for these foods sometimes, they can come at a price for our overall health, and our bones, if taken regularly. They can push the body’s systems to have to compensate for the higher acidic load and may lead to higher bone resorption (loss) and weaker skeletal integrity.

 

The antidote: nourishing your bones

Fear not – all is not lost. Making sure that we include a wide range of foods, both acidic and alkaline, in our overall diet helps maintain our pH balance and supports the body. You don’t have to search out a specific alkaline diet to look after yourself properly. To be honest, there is little evidence that a specific alkaline diet has any significant health benefit on bone health.[2] Having a diet that is balanced, with some foods that may cause more acidity in the body (grains, fresh meats and fish, sugar, and high-protein foods and supplements) with lots of lovely vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruit in your diet will help create an environment conducive to bone remineralisation and strength. The more alkaline foods like vegetables, etc., are rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium all of which are essential for bone health. Below is what an ideal plate could consist of.


At the end of this blog is a really easy recipe for French Sardine Paté. Make sure to eat the bones of the sardines as well, provided they are soft and well-mashed into the paté. Serve it with some lovely sourdough toast and a big mixed salad or just use it as a dip with vegetable croutons.



Shiatsu support: restoring balance within

In the realm of shiatsu, specific pressure points may help restore balance withing the body, promoting alkalinity and supporting bone health. One such point is Stomach 36 (ST36). The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that I also recommended this point last month when talking about vitamin D. ST36 is what is known as a tonifying point, so it has positive effects on the whole of the body and is generally a great point of support.


The point can be found 4 finger-widths below the kneecap and one finger-width lateral (to the outside) of the fibula, which is the bone to the outside of the lower leg. Stimulating this point by first locating it, then gently rotating a finger over the point for 30-60 seconds is believed to harmonise digestion and metabolism, so contributing to slight overall alkalinity. Do this on both legs. See the video here for how to locate the point.


Qigong harmony: aligning with Nature’s rhythms

Qigong offers another avenue for fostering balance and harmony within the body. Through gentle movements, mindful breathing and visualisation, qigong aligns with nature’s rhythms, promoting overall well-being, including bone health. This month’s video, here, is a longer one at almost 16 minutes. It is a whole set called ‘Five Element Qigong: harmonising fire and water’. It takes us through all four seasons and has a lovely section in the middle where we harmonise, or balance, the two most opposing elements – fire and water. It really is a lovely balancing qigong set and I hope you enjoy it.


It's important to remember that, whilst shiatsu and qigong can promote balance and overall well-being, it’s essential to approach them as a complementary practice and not a sole treatment, especially for a chronic condition such as osteoporosis. Consult your healthcare professional for their input as well as looking after your diet and exercise.



As I conclude this exploration of balance and of acidic and alkaline foods, let’s remember the importance of balance in our dietary choices. By embracing acidic- and alkaline-rich foods and incorporating practices like shiatsu and qigong into our routines, we pave the way for optimal bone health and overall wellness.


In the next blog, I’ll be looking into the fascinating world of bone-boosting herbal teas.


With warmth and wellness,

Ettaline




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