The Acid – Base balance in our body.
Our blood has a certain acid/base balanced level and this level in the plasma is expressed as a pH value. The normal range is 7,35 – 7,45. This difference in value might look small and thus unimportant, but our body is very sensitive to deviations of pH. Outside this narrow range of pH, proteins will denature, digested and enzymes will lose their function. Extreme deviations will even cause death.
Without going into scientific details about how imbalances will affect our health, one can say that consuming foodstuff that will generate a significant surplus of acids in the blood stream for a long time, will cause slight to severe discomfort in daily life, such as: chronic fatigue, concentration difficulties, aching muscles (sometimes with cramps) and painful joints, increased susceptibility for infections, fibre-based allergies, nervous problems, fatigue, diabetes, psoriasis, eczemas, general allergies, frequent infections of the urinary tract, digestive problems, overweight and cancer.
When the body is over-acidified for a while, bacteria and fungi (like Candida) will flourish as they prefer an acidic environment.
The majority of modern food will lead to a chronically acidification of blood. Our body will try to keep the balance and will reduce or modify other body functions:
extraction of calcium from the bones to neutralise the excess acidity, which will lead to osteoporosis, arthritis, …
increase of the cholesterol level to protect the venereal system, which will lead to cardiac problems
increase of fatty tissue to store excess acids, which will lead to overweight and obesity problems.
We have to take into account that not only our eating behaviour is creating these symptoms; also our way of sedentary life is contributing to this. By exercising regularly and using respiration techniques, one can increase the body oxygenation. Lack of good and regular sleep, stress, negative emotions like rage, fear, hate, anger, etc will increase the acidity level of your blood, as well as pharmaceutical products (anti-biotics and other chemicals).
Our body has efficient systems to eliminate most of the acid surplus that is generated by intake of wrong food and drinks. In the frontline are the so-called chemical buffers (bicarbonates) in our body that will neutralise acute excess of acids in the blood; the second line of defence is our respiration where we exhale the CO2 that comes from the excess acids which are turned into water and CO2; the last line of defence are our kidneys that will clear our blood from excess acids and dump it in our urine. Therefore our urine is slightly acidic.
Acid food does not mean acids in the blood!
One might be confused about the fact that the acids in the blood do not (necessarily) come from acid food, but from standard food that is not acidic in the mouth. Why? The acidity in the blood does not come from the food that we take in, but it comes from the metabolic products – the digested remains – from our food. For example all citric fruit – lemons, grapefruit – are acid in the mouth, but their metabolites after digestion will make our blood basic. Later we will see that all fruits will turn our blood basic, and some of them really are “Base-Bombs”.
Which food is generating acidic or alkaline blood?
There are in general two major parameters that will lead to an overall acid load: the food/drink type and the amount we take in. Generally speaking, the metabolism of Sulphur and Phosphor containing molecules will lead to acids. Sulphur can be found mainly in Amino acids which are part of Proteins from meat, fish and milk products. Phosphor can be found in soft drinks. The acid/base influence of the food mentioned hereafter is based on their PRAL* values.
Below a limited list of foodstuff:
Strongly alkalising: barley, oats and wheat grass; spinach, Brocoli; Goji; Lemon; herbs tea; Onion; Arugula; Tomato, black garlic.
Strongly acidifying: alcohol; coffee; chocolate; marmalade; cheese; cow milk; yoghourt; white flour products; carbonated drinks; fried food; butter; oranges, whole bread; fish; eggs.
A whole range of other products – macrobiotics – which have been used for years now can also contribute to a lower acidity level and also are mineralising: sea weed like Wakame, Kombu, Nori, etc; Miso; Tamari; Gomasio; Umebashi plum seeds; Shitake; Maitake; Reishi (mushrooms); Daikon; Cinnamon; fermented vegetables, aromatic herbs; Dandelion; Burdock; green tea; Kukicha (Japanes tea); Ginger tea.
Once you start to change your eating habits, you soon will notice differences in digestion, mood, sleeping quality, concentration and clarity of thoughts. Also your immune system and your ageing will benefit from this, as these products also do have anti-aging properties.
Can I measure the acid level in the blood or the urine?
There are methods to measure the acid level in urine, but the simplest ones are not very reliable because it only will be a “spot” measurement of one urine sample and one can only measure the free acids, which are only about 1% of the total acids in the urine. Multi-sampled urine tests and blood tests are more complex and expensive.
How can I start to reduce the acidity of my blood?
In ancient times when most of the activities were done by hand, body or feet, people were working off their excess calories (if any) and were exhausting vast amounts of CO2 to eliminate excess acids. With our sedentary life of today and sometimes erroneous nutrition, our body will become stressed by trying to eliminate the daily acid overdose.
For those people who would like to help their body to become healthier, here are some solutions:
your food should contain 80% of alkaline elements and 20% of acidic elements to keep your body in balance,
do not eat meat or fish with vegetables, but vegetable with meat or fish. Select vegetables that you like and that will eliminate most of the acids, generated by the meat or fish,
Increase the consumption of fruits, mainly during the day as consumption too late in the evening could cause fermentation in the intestinal tract overnight,
Drink 1,5 – 2 litres of still water at room temperature per day. It will help to dilute the acids and their effect on your body. Additionally it will help your kidneys to eliminate the acids (and other metabolites) without reaching a stress level. (Tip: the colour of your urine should not be darker than that of cava or dry white wine. If it does, then you drink not enough water).
Are there other methods of reducing acidic blood?
For those people who want to help their body in reducing the acid level in their blood, there are food additives and basic mixtures, based on Potassium, Calcium, Sodium or Magnesium Citrates, that are resistant to the stomach acids and do their neutralising work in the intestinal tract – more specifically in the small intestine. You can also help your body by using Superfood detox powder-based mixes that you can add to your juices and shakes: barley and wheat grass; Kale cabbage; etc… You can use bicarbonate once and a while. Use Himalaya Salt – a type of salt that contains all 84 elements which also are in your body – to cook your food.
Alkaline water is a mineral water from a well with a pH value that will help to equilibrate your body acid/base values. Being alkaline, it improves your physical strength. It hydrates and rejuvenates your skin tissue, it improves your digestion, it helps to avoid kidney stones, de-calcification of the bones, osteoporosis and some dental problems. It will help to compensate the effects of contamination, coming from toxic products and bad nutritional behaviour. It also is an anti-oxidant. It will return vitality and a feeling of well being. After using it for minimum 2 months, you will experience a significant difference in almost all functional levels, as our body is made of about 80% of water. You can purchase it at the Pachamama Health Shop (see below).
Consult your naturopath or health shop for detailed information.
This article has been written in co-operation with Herbolario Pachamama, Corralejo.
*PRAL: Potential Renal Acid Load (mEq/100g)