The whole concept of acid balance hasn’t received much attention from Nutritionalists and Dietitians and I think this is a huge oversight. What is it? Well, if you remember back to your high school science class, acids and bases (alkaline) were measured on the pH (Potential Hydrogen) scale. The scale ranges from 0-14, 0 being extremely acid, 7 being the neutral point and 14 being extremely alkaline. Ok? Class dismissed.
These foods will fix your acid balance.
Our bodies need to maintain a slightly alkaline environment of 7.36 to 7.44 on the pH scale, because every cell in our bodies functions optimally within this pH range. When we consume food, all the micronutrients present themselves to the kidneys as either an acid forming compound or an alkaline forming compound. The sum total of all that we eat can then be calculated as either a net acid or a net alkaline load to the body.
One of the problems with the modern western diet is that we consume far too many acid producing food types and not enough alkaline foods. This can lead to a condition called Acidosis, meaning we’re in a chronic state of high acidity.
The problem with this is that the body must, at all costs, remain in its normal pH range of 7.36 – 7.44. As a result, the body has mechanisms designed to maintain homeostasis and stay within this range. It does this by correcting the body’s pH level by leaching alkaline substances from the body’s cells.
This can lead to a number of health conditions. Hypercalciuria, which is indicated by a high concentration of calcium in the urine. Since calcium is a strong base, it is leached from the bones to neutralise the highly acid environment and consequently, the bones are weakened. This can also lead to osteoporosis. Acidosis can also lead to muscle breakdown. Got your attention now? This is caused by Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in the muscles, being leached out to neutralise the acidity in the body in much the same way that calcium is leached from the bones. Calcium that is robbed from the joints can cause them to lock up and crack and after a while the immune system will start to attack the acidic cells leading to arthritis. Sodium is another alkaline mineral that is leached. Sodium can be leached from the esophagus, which can cause heartburn and eventually lead to an acid reflux.
When the body gets to a point where is can no longer rob the body of alkaline minerals, it will try and excrete the acid via the bowels, kidneys, skin and respiratory system. With no more minerals to rob, the cells themselves become very acidic. This is problematic because the enzymes used to break down cells cannot function properly in an acidic environment. The enzymes therefore cannot remove the growth of abnormal cancer causing cells and therefore become protected from the immune system/enzymes.
Why are we so acidic and what can we do about it?
The shift in the modern western diet from alkaline producing foods to acid producing foods is mostly the result of displacing high alkaline fruits and vegetables with grains high in acid. Modern pre-packaged foods are also generally highly acid, as is high protein animal foods. Consequently, we need a return to eating more alkaline rich fruits and vegetables and limit our intake of grains.
Try to avoid to much of this.
Fresher and sweeter fresh produce typically has a higher alkalinity and chewing your food more thoroughly can also increase the alkalinity. If possible you should choose organic food as it is generally more alkaline due to the higher levels of vitamins and minerals.
On the flip side, cooked, canned or frozen foods tend to be more acidic than their fresh counterparts. Consequently, consumption should be kept to a bare minimum.
There are also a few supplements that can help to reduce Acidosis. Glutamine supplementation has been shown to reduce Acidosis. A cheaper alternative is sodium or potassium bicarbonate (baking soda) added in a small quantity of around 2 grams to meals with are deemed to be highly acid.
Addressing acid balance may not be the sexiest topic in health and fitness and is probably not going to help you get a hot body, but I think it deserves more merit than it gets. With the increasingly high incidence of osteoporosis in our society, this should be a big concern of ours looking to the future.
There are a few online resources people can consult to calculate their acid balance and it usually requires only small changes in the diet to rectify the problem. Making these few changes may be the difference between chronic Acidosis and a healthy alkaline diet.