I often find that comparing our bodies to cars works really well: we’ve got intake systems, and output systems, and we require fuel to keep ourselves going. Fuel intake depends on the size of the model, and different fuels have different effects, etc. I’m not really very good at the mechanics or the engineering side of cars, though, so I’m going to have to find another analogy for this particular post.
Our bodies are a little bit like water…and given that we’re made up largely of water, that shouldn’t really be too far left field. Water has pH levels, dictating its acidity of alkaline levels – acid, sour; alkaline, er…not-sour? Help me out here, chemistry majors – and so do our bodies. One of the most acidic materials we produce as human beings is bile and stomach acid, which help us digest our food by breaking the substances we consume down into absorbable bits. Fairly straight forward.
For most healthy people, that’s a simple fact of life: you eat, your body digests, you go to the bathroom. Simple. For those of us struggling with health issues – whether it’s migraines, diabetes, PCOS, gall/kidney issues – this gets a little trickier. We might be on a variety of medications that can upset our digestion, or we might be on a particular diet that isn’t necessarily easy to digest, or both. For example: I’ve written about how I had my gallbladder removed in 2012 here, and have subsequently gone on to talk about the agonizing ‘phantom gallbladder attacks’ – a.k.a. bile-dumping – which still occasionally cause me great discomfort and pain. No fun. Lately, I’ve had very few issues with it, a fact which I attribute to switching to this LC diet I’m on: less processed food/sugar to digest has made it a lot easier for my body to regulate its bile production.
Every now and then, however, I do get an attack. They usually happen when I’ve consumed a particularly fatty meal for dinner – not exactly unheard of in an LCHF (Low-Carb High-Fat) diet! – and gone to bed before it’s had a good chance to digest. It starts off like heartburn and escalates to the feeling of someone driving a red hot knife up through my ribcage. Agony. For you girls who, like me, suffer(ed) from menstrual pain, this is worse. Usually rolling over to lie on my left side – not my preferred side – helps, otherwise I need to reach for the Quick-Eze or antacid meds, which usually knock me out of ketosis >.<.
A week ago, this was happening more and more, and I was getting more and more confused. After all, I’d had no trouble since I’d switched my eating habits, so what was the problem now? Turns out all the protein I’d been eating that week – primarily red meat and yes, cheese – was raising the acidity levels in my system to the point where the bile that my body produced to deal with the protein I’d consumed was so highly acidic that it was just agonizing in even small amounts.
Once I’d figured that out – thanks to Google and my GP – I immediately took action. This meant adding hot-water with lemon to my morning regime, and drinking water with apple cider vinegar in it throughout the day. For whatever reason, drinking these diluted acid compounds will raise your alkaline levels. Go figure. I’m sure there’s some sort of sciencey math in about it, but I haven’t got a head for that sort of thing… It’s meant to be really good for your overall health too, not just digestive.
What I’m getting at is that it’s important to maintain your body’s internal balances, especially when you’ve changed your eating habits or had some sort of digestive intervention.
If anyone finds any good sources for this, let me know? I’m keen to add to my reading list!