Acid and Alkaline

Many nutrition and diet systems stress the importance of the acid-alkaline balance in the body. The subject can be confusing, so let us discuss some basic concepts related to acid-base balance and hair mineral analysis.

What Does Acid And Alkaline Mean?

Acid and alkaline refer to the concentra­tion of hydrogen ions in a system. It is also called the pH. The term is slightly confusing because the higher the pH, the lower the hydrogen ion concentration. A neutral pH is 7. A pH greater than 7 is called alkaline, while a pH less than 7 is called acid.

The pH balance is important because many enzyme systems are highly dependent on the proper acidity in order to function. A good ex­ample is the digestive enzyme pepsin, found in the stomach. Pepsin is inactive and cannot digest food unless the pH of the stomach drops below about 5. In similar fashion, hun­dreds of enzymes have optimum pH values at which they operate most effectively. An im­balance in the pH can render these enzymes partially or even totally ineffective.

The pH or acidity of the body cells remains fairly constant, due to a number of buffering systems. A buffering system is a system that is continuously compensating for changes in the pH to buffer or reduce those changes. This keeps the pH within a healthful range.

To buffer the pH of the extracellular fluid, the kidneys and lungs play a major role. The kidneys excrete H+ ions and can retain chlor­ide ions, or vice versa. The lungs excrete carbon dioxide which is acidic. Kidney or lung problems are one cause of pH imbalance.

The normal pH of the extracellular fluid is about 7.4. This is a slightly alkaline pH. It may vary by a half a point, but any larger variation causes severe health problems. Bear in mind that the body never is actually acid - the pH just becomes slightly more acidic than is ideal.

Oxidation Types And Acidity

An important cause of excessive acidity or alkalinity in the body is an unbalanced oxida­tion rate. A fast oxidation rate, in general, results in a more acidic internal environment. This occurs because the faster metabolism causes the produc­tion of more metabolic end-products, which are acids. The most important one is lactic acid.

Fast oxidizers tend to be more acidic for another reason. They often have low calcium levels. Calcium is used as a buffering agent and helps convert lactic acid to calcium lac­tate. With lower tissue calcium levels, fast oxidizers convert lactic acid more slowly, resulting in a more acidic condition.

Fast oxidizers with a low sodium/-potas­sium ratio may have another cause for over-acidity. If they have glucose intolerance, they are unable to burn glucose in the normal way. Instead they burn fat and protein and in ex­treme cases go into ketosis, which is also called ketoacidosis. It is an acid-producing metabo­lism. The situation is even worse if they consume grains and sugar, which produce acidic metabolic by-products.

Slow oxidizers produce less lactic acid and the tissue calcium levels are higher. For these rea­sons, the urine or saliva of many slow oxidizers are excessively alkaline. Slight deviations from the normal are not important, but if the pH varies significantly, digestion and other functions are impaired.

The over-alkaline state of many slow oxidizers makes it more difficult for them to produce adequate hydrochloric acid to digest protein in the stomach. In contrast, fast oxidiz­ers are more prone to excessive stomach acidity.

Diet And pH Balance

Diet can play an important role in the acid-base balance, although it is only one factor. The general rules are the following:

Protein, especially animal protein, has an acidifying effect. Cooked grain also has an acidic reaction. Both protein and grains are high in phosphorus, which binds calcium and therefore increases lactic acid levels. Protein also tends to increase the oxidation rate.

Sugars have an acidic reaction inasmuch as sugar interferes with calcium metabolism and because burning sugar produces acidic meta­bolic end-products.

Salt, fruit and vegetables generally have an alkaline reaction in the body. The effect has little to do with whether the fruit is an 'acid' fruit, like a lemon. The determining factor is whether the mineral ash is alkaline or acid. Sodium, potas­sium and chloride are alkaline ash minerals (and are abundant in fruits and vegetables). Phosphorus and sulfur are acid ash minerals and tend to be higher in proteins, meats and grains. Fat has a fairly neutral reaction. Raw foods tend to have a more alkaline reaction.

Breathing And Acidity

People who don't breathe deeply from the abdomen are in danger of becoming more acidic. Conversely, hyperventilation can pro­duce what is called respiratory alkalosis. Some people may be attracted to cigarette smoking to enable them to breathe more deeply and thus help maintain their pH bal­ance.

In summary, the oxidation type, diet and breathing all play a role in one's pH balance. By correcting the body chemistry through nutritional balancing, the pH will change toward normal.

This material is for educational purposes only
The preceding statements have not been evaluated by the
Food and Drug Administration
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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