Natural Medicine: B12 Benefits, Adrenal Fatigue, pH-balanced Diet, and Optimal Juicing
I’m hearing about more and more people getting vitamin B injections, but then I read that this is appropriate only for people with a deficiency. What’s your advice?
Vitamin B12 works with folic acid in many bodily processes, including the synthesis of DNA, red blood cells, and the myelin sheath that speeds the conduction of signals along nerve cells.
Vitamin B12 is found in significant quantities only in animal foods. The richest sources are liver and kidney, followed by eggs, fish, cheese, and meat. Strict vegans are often told that fermented foods like tempeh are good sources of vitamin B12, but that is not true. Therefore, vegetarians should supplement their diet to get enough B12.
In order to benefit from the small amounts of B12 in food, the stomach secretes digestive juices that increase its absorption in the small intestine. Aging and the use of acid-blocking drugs can lead to impaired absorption.
Injection of B12 is not necessary, even in cases of deficiency, if the person is taking a vitamin supplement orally.
How important is the body’s pH balance? Alternative health professionals say it is very important for saving bones and maintaining health. Conventional practitioners say your body will always achieve the proper balance. Who’s right?
One of the basic goals of the body is to maintain the proper balance of acidity and alkalinity in the blood and other bodily fluids. There is accumulating evidence that certain disease states like osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and many others are influenced considerably by the acid–alkaline balance of a diet. For example, osteoporosis may be exacerbated by consuming more acid-forming foods (especially soft drinks and meat) than alkaline-forming foods, leading to the bone being constantly forced to give up alkaline minerals (calcium and magnesium) in order to buffer the excess acid.
With regard to maintaining a proper pH balance, the dietary goal is quite simple: take in more alkaline-producing foods than acid-producing ones. Basically, an alkaline diet is one that focuses on vegetables, fruit, and legumes while avoiding the overconsumption of grains, meat, dairy, and most nuts except hazelnuts. Keep in mind that acidic foods are not the same as acid-forming foods. For example, while foods like lemons and other citrus fruits are acidic, they actually have an alkalizing effect on the body. The pH level of the food in the body is determined by the metabolic products of digestion. For example, the citric acid in citrus fruit is metabolized in the body to its alkaline form (citrate) and may even be converted to bicarbonate, another alkaline compound.
Many of my friends have “adrenal fatigue.” Is this a legitimate thing or a catchall for every malady?
The adrenal glands control many bodily functions and play a critical role in our resistance to stress. If an individual experiences a great deal of stress, or has taken corticosteroid drugs like prednisone for a long period of time, the adrenal glands will shrink and not perform properly, contributing to symptoms like anxiety, depression, or chronic fatigue. A popular term used to describe this occurrence is adrenal fatigue, and it is a legitimate thing. An individual with adrenal fatigue will also typically have a reduced resistance to allergies and infection.
One of the best ways to support your adrenal glands is learning how to effectively deal with stress through relaxation techniques and exercise. Another is to ensure adequate potassium levels within the body. This can best be done by consuming foods rich in potassium and avoiding foods high in sodium. Most Americans consume twice as much sodium as potassium, but a natural diet rich in fruits and vegetables can flip that around, giving you more than 50 times as much potassium as sodium. If you want a quick hit, try bananas (with a potassium-sodium ratio of 440 to 1), or oranges (260 to 1).
I’m juicing vegetables every morning and only recently started adding some of the fiber pulp back to the glass because I was worried that I was missing out on the fiber. How much fiber is necessary?
I often get asked, “Why juice? Aren’t we supposed to eat whole fruits and vegetables to get the fiber?” The answer is, “Of course you are, but you should juice too.” I don’t think it’s necessary to add fiber pulp back into the juice. Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables does provide some fiber, particularly soluble fiber, which has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Think about it—fiber refers to the indigestible material found in plants. While it is important for proper bowel function, the juice is what nourishes us. Our body actually converts the food we eat into juice so that it can be absorbed. Juicing quickly provides the most easily digestible and concentrated nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Naturopath Michael Murray is the author of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Please send your questions to [email protected]