Acid-Alkaline Balance and Good Health
One of the wonders of human body is homeostasis, which means maintaining biological parameters within narrow
limits. For instance, the pH of blood plasma is kept in the 7.35 - 7.45 range. A drop in pH to 7.1-7.2 is a sign of metabolic acidosis
that can cause significant physiological effects, particularly affecting respiratory and cardiovascular systems. A further drop in pH
to 7.0 or 6.9 sends the body in a downturn spiral that ends in coma and death.
If blood pH is tightly controlled not the same is true for body tissues. An acidic environment in body fluids (other
than blood) and tissues can arise from an acid ash forming diet, toxic overload, emotional stress, lack of rest and other factors.
The term ash refers to that part of the food that remains after food was digested and metabolized (burnt). Vegetables and fruits
leave an "alkaline ash" i.e. metal ions such as potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. Proteins, after metabolization leave
an "acid ash" such as the negatively charged ions NO3- (nitrate), SO4
2- (sulfate), PO43- (phosphate), all part of strong acids. So, a diet based mostly on meat
products will eventually lead to health problems (see figure below).
To fight an acidic environment the body will call upon its alkaline reserve that is the alkaline minerals (potassium,
sodium, calcium, magnesium). If the diet does not provide an adequate supply of alkalizing minerals a build-up of acids will result.
The slow deterioration of body functions can go undetected for many years before clinical signs become apparent. By then
correcting the damage done is much harder to achieve. Mild acidosis, as it is common in many people consuming an animal protein
based diet can lead to:
- cardiovascular damage that includes:
- depression of myocardial contractility
- sympathetic overactivity, which includes tachycardia, vasoconstriction, decreased arrhythmia threshold
- peripheral arteriolar vasodilatation
- vasoconstriction of peripheral veins
- effects of hyperkalaemia (increased plasma potassium) on heart
- respiratory problems:
- hyperventilation: this is a compensatory response
- shift of oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve to the right (decreased affinity of hemoglobin for oygen)
- other pathological conditions:
- increased bone resorption (in chronic acidosis)
- bladder and kidney conditions, including kidney stones
- weight gain, obesity and diabetes
- rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis
- immune deficiency
- low energy and chronic fatigue
- premature aging
In the table below (adapted from website: www.i-amperfectlyhealthy.com/) you have a list of alkaline ash-forming foods and acid ash-forming foods. By choosing your foods so that 80% are alkaline ash forming and 20% acid ash forming you ensure that your body is in good health.
Alkaline ash-forming foods
Whey protein powder
Fresh fruit juice
Alkaline antioxidant water
Acid ash-forming foods
Hemp seed oil
Hemp seed flour
Medicinal drugs Psychedelic drugs
But how do we know the pH status in body fluids? By measuring the pH in two body secretions, i.e. saliva and urine
we get a pretty good idea about the acidity or alkalinity of our body tissues and internal fluids. This is done by using pH paper strips
to determine the pH in saliva and urine. If the morning urinary pH fluctuates between 6.0 and 6.5 and 6.5 and 7.0 in the evening the
body is within a healthy range. The pH of saliva should be 6.5-7.5 all day for someone in a healthy state. The measurements should
be performed one hour before a meal or two hours after a meal. A pH reading below 6.0 indicates that you should pay immediate
attention to your diet by modifying it accordingly as discussed above.
It is interesting to note that only now have nutritionists started to pay attention to what enlightened physicians like
Dr. William Howard Hay said as early as 1933 about all diseases being a state of autotoxication or self poisoning caused by a
build-up of acidic end products of cellular metabolism. His far reaching ideas are now, 70 years later, recognized as valid and worthy
to be heeded. Thus, a recent nutritional epidemiology report presented evidence that a cysteine and methionine rich protein diet has
a negative effect on bone mineral density (1). If not used for protein synthesis these sulfur-containing amino acids leave an acid ash
(sulfate) upon metabolic degradation. In order to buffer this acidic environment the bone will release calcium and magnesium so it
becomes demineralized and in the long run this can lead to osteoporosis and other complications.