Both exercise and diet play vital roles in keeping your dog’s body (and your own!) oxygenated and in a healthy alkaline state.
We often taking breathing and eating for granted. Yet the breaths we take into our bodies, and the foods we eat, have an effect on our health – and our dogs’ — that goes beyond the basic purpose of keeping us alive. By ensuring optimal oxygenation and an alkaline pH level in the body, we can help keep cells and organs healthy, and even prevent disease in ourselves and our dogs.
Atmospheric levels of oxygen have changed
During the days of the dinosaurs, the oxygen content of the earth’s atmosphere was 50%. Scientists discovered this by taking tiny bubbles found in Arctic ice and amber and removing the air from them to measure their oxygen content. A century ago, the oxygen content of the atmosphere was down to 38%. Now it’s around 21%.
How oxygen works in the body
We all breathe oxygen. When oxygen levels are increased, the red blood cells pick up the extra oxygen and provide it to the cells and tissues. More oxygen means more efficient waste and toxin removal. Cells function better when they have ample oxygen available to them. Importantly, most disease-producing organisms, as well as cancer, like environments with low or no oxygen.
Oxygen also helps neutralize acids in the body. One example is the lactic acid resulting from muscle overload. Oxygenated cells burn fat more efficiently. Ample oxygen assists in the digestion of foods and generates energy. Because all the cells in your dog’s body perform better when they have enough oxygen, immune system function also improves.
A generation of couch potatoes
We are living in a very different world from the one the dinosaurs knew. Dinosaurs could never be considered couch potatoes. While some moved quickly and some more slowly, they all moved. They had to search for food and water, avoid predators or catch prey. All the while, they were breathing 50% oxygen. Movement and activity improves blood and lymphatic circulation and the ability of the lungs to use oxygen.
Nowadays, as we’re only breathing 21% oxygen, we’ve become a generation of couch potatoes – and so have many of our dogs. This is why oxygenation through walking, running and playing is so important. Increasing our respiration blows out carbon dioxide and creates a more oxygenated and alkaline body. When we look at it this way, exercise is about more than physical fitness. It’s also about pursuing a healthier, more oxygenated body for ourselves and our dogs.
Increasing our respiration blows out carbon dioxide and creates a more oxygenated and alkaline body.
Oxygen and alkalinity
In high school science class, you may have learned about pH using strips of litmus paper. These paper strips would turn various shades of red or blue after being soaked by a liquid, thus indicating the pH of the liquid. You would have found that vinegar and lemon juice are acidic (they taste sour) while baking soda is alkaline (it tastes bitter). When you are measuring the pH of a substance, you’re finding out if it’s acidic or alkaline. The abbreviation pH stands for “potential hydrogen”. The pH of any solution is the measure of its hydrogen ion concentration. The higher the pH, the more alkaline and oxygen-rich the fluid is. Being oxygen-rich is key to the health of cells and organs. Healthy functioning of the liver, pancreas, gallbladder, heart, kidneys and all other organs and systems depends on alkaline conditions. The more alkaline the environment, the better they perform. Cells are surrounded and bathed by an interstitial fluid. This fluid is actually secreted by the cells themselves. An alkaline interstitial fluid allows organs such as the kidneys and liver to function far more efficiently. In fact, the kidneys and liver function almost 40 times better in an alkaline environment!
The higher the pH, the more alkaline and oxygen-rich the fluid is.
pH levels and food
The food your dog eats will determine the pH of his body. However, a food’s pH, measured when it’s sitting in a bowl on the counter, is not going to reflect the effect it has on the pH in your dog’s body. In fact, a food’s original pH can have the opposite effect in the body. A food’s pH effect is determined after it is digested. For example, a lemon is acidic outside the body, but when eaten and digested, will make the body fluids more alkaline. Milk, an alkaline food outside the body, will actually make the body more acidic when ingested. Apple cider vinegar is, of course, acidic. But it will create an alkaline effect within the body. Fermented foods will also alkalinize cells and organs. Meat, poultry and similar protein sources make the body more acidic. There’s an interesting explanation as to why this happens. When these proteins digest, molecules of both sulphur and phosphorus are formed, making the intestinal tract acidic. Meat also contains nitrogen which, when digested, transforms into ammonia. Ammonia is toxic to cells, so the body needs to neutralize it and then excrete it. The body neutralizes and manages these excess acids and toxins by using its stores of bicarbonate. These bicarbonate stores are pulled into the gut in order to neutralize the acidic environment created by the ammonia and other compounds in the intestinal tract. When these stores are released and lost into the bowels, the intracellular fluids — having lost their stores of bicarbonate — become acidic.
When the body becomes too acidic, three different organs are responsible for eliminating the extra acids and toxic materials: the kidneys, lungs and liver. Too many toxins and too much acidity put great stress on these organs. The liver is one of the most important organs because it can process 40 times more toxins than the kidneys can. When the body is acidic, it cannot adequately perform the tasks of maintenance, cleaning and generating cellular ATP (the cells’ source of energy). Without ATP, the cells’ batteries run low and carcinogens build up.
Diet and exercise are key
It should be pretty obvious how both diet and exercise have a powerful effect on bodily health. Excellent oxygenation of the tissues and cells promotes better health along with more resistance to diseases and illnesses.
Although dogs are carnivores, they should also receive foods that help alkalinize and oxygenate the cells and organs in their bodies. They should also be encouraged to exercise every day. Simple, everyday activities, often taken for granted, can have an important impact on the health of your dog (and yourself)!
Oxygenate your dog with exercise
- Take your dog out for a power walk.
- Play fetch with him.
- Take him swimming.
- Go up and down stairs.
Foods that promote an alkaline pH
- Barley greens
- Beet greens
- Chard greens
- Collard greens
- Green beans
- Mustard greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Apple cider vinegar
- Molasses, blackstrap