Is your body an Acidic breeding ground for disease?
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Let’s broach a hot and slightly controversial topic: Blood acidity and alkalisation. I’ll try to explain in the simplest of terms and offer some basic advice regarding this topic. So, as usual, let’s start with the basics so we can digest the information together properly.
What is pH?
pH stands for “potential of Hydrogen”. It is a measurement of hydrogen ions (charged particles made from hydrogen atoms) in any given solution. The more ions it has, the higher the pH value, and the higher the pH value then the more acidic a solution is. pH ranges from 0 (no hydrogen ions) to 14 (solution has reached a max number of hydrogen ions). A pH of 14 is Alkaline. A pH of 0- 6.99 is acidic. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, and it is just slightly above this number that the pH level of our human bodies, our blood and most living creatures operate. For the human body, the ideal operating pH is 7.365 and it is fascinating how precisely this number has to be controlled.
7.365 is the pH of our blood. If the pH moves by more then 0.1 it is considered a pathological state and can be dangerous as it means disease can exist easily in our bodies. If your blood reaches a pH of even just 7, you are already in a coma. So, the pH value of our blood is a serious deal and has to be maintained very precisely. Let’s continue, and then let’s talk about really simple things you can do to make sure your body remains Alkaline at all times.
When the pH falls towards the more acidic range, your nervous cells stop working properly, brain and nervous system signals get weaker, the blood stops being the perfect medium for all the nutrients and you slowly shut down. If it moves towards the more alkaline range (above a certain healthy value), the opposite happens, your nervous cells start firing at random, you get convulsions and spasms and usually suffocate. Those would be the most extreme examples. However, your blood can be slightly acidic, without exhibiting super drastic symptoms but some noticeable signals of acidity would be the following.
Some of the symptoms felt from slight acidity are:
· Low energy and motivation
· Frequent infections
· Digestive issues
· Gaining weight
· Brittle nails and hair
· Kidney stones
· Kidney deficiency
The body has many mechanisms to counteract any changes in blood acidity that have evolved through long periods of time. These mechanisms are quite robust, for the most part. The kidneys are the primary tool with which our bodies regulate the blood pH. However, there is a catch. The mechanisms which have evolved over millions of years have not yet had time to accustom themselves to the rapid changes that have happened to our nutrition in the last 60 years or so.
For some reason, mostly for practicality and profits sake, the low quality foods produced by food companies today that are peddled to us for profit are more acidic then foods found in nature. This goes especially for processed foods and animal-based products (animal based processed foods are a double zinger here!).
Now, when talking about acidifying our bodies and blood, I am not talking about the more pathological states of sudden and big changes, I’m talking about the slow buildup of acidity over long periods of time that slowly leads to symptoms listed above. When we overload on acidifying foods, our kidneys can’t keep up anymore and start to break down or form kidney stones (from the calcium in our blood which reacts to changes in pH by crystalizing).
Studies have shown that long term acidic overload can lead to various health conditions, including the already mentioned kidney stones, all of the above-mentioned symptoms and finally muscle and bone degradation and even wasting disease, arthritis, and cancer (Pizzorno, Frassetto, & Katzinger, 2009)!
So, what can you do to shift your body and blood more towards the alkaline end of the spectrum and avoid all these nasty symptoms and diseases? Well, here’s a list to live by, literally!
Food that alkalize:
· All Vegetables, especially when Green and Raw (not canned, or cooked)
· All Fruits like Melon, Apple, Berries, Grapes, Lemon. Some are slightly acidic, like Blueberries, Cranberries, and Plums, but still very good for you so don’t sweat it.
· Leafy Greens like Spinach or Lettuce, Cruciferous Vegetables like Broccoli, Kale
· Pumpkin, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Beets
· Mushrooms, Sprouts, Legumes
· Nuts & Seeds like Coconut, Almonds, Chia, Sesame
· Onions, Garlic, Leek and Herbs/Spices like Parsley, Ginger
· Wheat and Barley Grass, Algae like Spirulina and Chlorella
· Grains like Amaranth, Millet & Quinoa
· Fresh Beans, Green Peas, Lima Beans, Soy Products
Foods that acidify:
· Meat, fish, shellfish
· Milk, eggs, butter, cheese
· Coffee, soda, alcohol
· Processed and refined food
· Sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined grains
· Tobacco, preservatives
· MSG, canned food
So, as you can see, a vegan, or mostly vegan diet (no animal products — meat and dairy), by its very nature, will secure you with enough alkali to avoid the nasty effects of acidification!
Some more advice on how to alkalize yourself:
Drink a green smoothie every day, Kale, mango, water and lime (with the skin on) is my personal favourite..
· Drink plenty of mineral or spring water! — An adequate supply of quality water will help clean all the toxins from your body and keep all your systems well regulated.
· Exercise daily! — By stimulating the flow of lymph and oxygen through out bodies with physical exercise, we stimulate detoxification of tissues.
· Sweat out toxins from time to time! — a long hot bath or sauna can help sweat out the toxins from your body
· Reduce your stress! — Always good advice.
Aaron is the founder of www.thehonestearth.com To lead a quality life, one must be nourished with quality. We make the best plant based protein powders & supplements with sustainable ingredients from around the world.
Pizzorno, J., Frassetto, L. A., & Katzinger, J. (2009). Diet-induced acidosis: Is it real and clinically relevant? British Journal of Nutrition, 103(8), 1185–1194. doi:10.1017/s0007114509993047