Health Notes

Health Notes: November 2016

By Rachel Silverstone

Fall is the dusk of the seasons, and, oh boy, is our sky alight with beautiful sunsets! Now is a time for drawing in, resting, storing the energy of those sunlit summer days in your roots, and preparing for the wonders of winter. Taoists mimic nature and the cyclical flow of the seasons to attain order and harmony within the body. I’ll be doing just that, by breathing deep and laying down foundations for health in the year ahead. I hope you’ll join me. 


Hearing problems in aging generations—is it your ears or your brain?

Adults aged 61-73 with otherwise normal hearing have a harder time understanding speech in a noisy setting than their younger counterparts, say researchers from Maryland University.

When neural signals were analyzed for processing time, they were surprised to find the same pattern continues even in quiet settings for those adults.

Most interesting: The problem has to do not with the ears, but with the brain, according to results from the multidisciplinary study conducted by Anderson, Simon and Presacco.

“It is an age-related imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory neural processes in the brain,” specifically in the auditory cortex, says Presacco.

It brings to mind the saying you might hear from an older person, “I can hear you, I just can’t understand you,” says Anderson.

Researchers are looking into whether brain training can help. In the meantime, let our more experienced generations have the advantage of two senses to help understand: Look directly at the person while you speak.  “When someone can see you speaking, instead of only hearing you, their visual system can sometimes make up for that loss,” said Simon.

Cut your elders’ some slack this Thanksgiving. Look at them while you speak, and be patient—older brains are working harder to understand!


The alkaline lifestyle: It’s a “thing.”

The idea is that your body’s pH level reflects your health. A poor-quality diet, stress and pollution acidify the body, making it more hospitable to disease. While bodies removes acid regularly through respiration, perspiration, urination, and defecation. you just might want to put out a bit more effort  to be on the alkaline side.

So says Richard Davidson, of My Ion Health, who truly walks the talk. A vibrant 75 years young, Davidson teaches and lectures on the health benefits of an alkaline lifestyle here in Salt Lake City. In case you slept through chemistry class, here are the basics:

Alkaline, or basic, refers to one side of the pH scale. The pH (potential hydrogen) scale measures 0-14. Low values of pH (0-<7) are acidic and have more positively charged hydrogen ions (H+), whereas high values of pH (>7-14) are alkaline/basic and have more negatively charged hydroxide ions (-OH) in a solution. Pure water is neutral with a pH of 7, when (H+) and (-OH) are equal.

The pH is a logarithmic scale because it has an enormous range for possible values. (Other parameters measured logarithmically include sound—in decibels, dB—and energy released—the Richter scale, for earthquakes.) “Logarithmic” means that it measures by an order of magnitude (i.e. base 10), such that a 4 on the pH scale is 10 times more acidic that a 5. A mathematically clear (though impractical) way to think about this: If you have a neutral pH of 7 and eat something with a pH of 5, you will have to drink 20 times the amount of neutral water to return your body pH to 7 (7-5 = 2.   2 x 10 = 20).

Blood is a separate, highly monitored and buffered system, that maintains a pH of 7.365. Much change to it and we will lose the ability to function normally. For instance, at a pH of 7.1, a body goes comatose. Luckily, the kidneys, lungs and other organs help to closely regulate the proper pH level of the blood by buffering the blood. What we’re concerned about here is the pH of the rest of the body, which varies widely depending on what we consume. Also, incompletely chewed food causes the body to release hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach, which helps break down of the food, specifically proteins, raising the pH (a good thing).

Fresh fruits and vegetables are alkaline. Soda, alcohol, sugar, processed grains, meats, dairy and anything fried are acidic in nature. The latter can result in metabolic acidosis, along with inflammation and all its accompanying issues. People with diabetes and cancer have low pH levels, according to Davidson.

Davidson says that by going completely alkaline for 90 days—eating only foods and drinks that are of alkaline nature—one will see the amazing effects of a state of alkalinity in the body.

A less aggressive yet still beneficial goal is to eat and drink 80:20 alkaline to acid ratio, says Davidson, “but the bottom line is alkaline.” u Recommended reference: book The Acid Alkaline Food Guide by Susan Brown.

This article was originally published on November 1, 2016.