American College of Nutrition Certified Nutrition Specialist | Author | Professor of Nutrition


Trust Yourself

Trust Yourself!

marinara sauce

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to speak at a retreat for breast cancer survivors. There are few groups more targeted by sellers of crazy health cures than women with breast cancer. As we were talking, one woman asked me if marinara sauce – the kind you put on pasta and pizza – was bad for our health because it made our bodies acidic. She read it on the internet.

Let’s set aside the acidic/ alkaline issue for a moment. This lovely woman knew in her heart this wasn’t true, but didn’t trust herself enough to fully believe it. Knowing she wasn’t a nutrition expert, she thought maybe she was wrong and avoiding all acidic foods would help keep the cancer from returning.

Nothing makes us question ourselves more than fear.

That’s what so many marketers play on, the fear of getting sick. It may be subtle, but its there.

For thousands of years, before TV and newspapers and the interwebs, we had to decide what to eat based on our senses. Did this look, smell, touch and taste like it would be a good food for us to eat? If yes, then we gave it a try. If no, we wisely set it aside. All of the marketing noise aimed at us now makes it harder and harder to hear that wise voice inside of us, the voice of our body telling us what is good and healthful.

Marinara sauce is olive oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes and herbs. All incredibly healthy foods, and potent cancer fighters. Anyone who says it is not a healthful food is not well educated in nutrition and human physiology.

Now to answer the acid/alkaline question. Our kidneys keep the pH level of our blood in a very narrow, healthy range which is pretty neutral pH. If we are truly acidic, we end up in the hospital. Eating a diet that generates a lot of acidic by-products makes our kidneys work harder, but does not make our bodies “acidic.” Our urine may become a little more acidic, which is the healthy way for our bodies to stay in a healthy pH range.

Which foods generate a lot of acid by-products? Soda, meat and poultry, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. A diet high in animal products creates lots of acidic molecules that our kidneys have to neutralize. So does a diet high in soda, or sugar and white flour.

A diet high in marinara sauce? Not so much. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains all generate more neutral or even slightly alkaline by-products, which are great for our kidneys and the rest of us. You will see it in your skin when you eat more of these foods – you will look fabulous.

When you hear something that just doesn’t sound right, listen to your gut. Gut intuition beats marketing hype every time. There is no man-made food that beats what nature provides. There is no “protein bar” (usually full of sugar and chemicals), that beats a piece of fruit and some nuts as a snack. No powdered smoothie mix is better than veggies with hummus or bean dip.

Next time you are in doubt about what your body really wants you to eat, take a minute and listen to your gut. Trust what it says. The noise around you may be screaming nonsense about alkaline water, nutrition bars or super greens powder. Your gut will be asking for some healthy marinara.

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