Alkalizing! What Does That Mean?

Joint disorders, nutrition | September 24, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Digestion

Alkalizing! What Does That Mean?

The human body is designed to be slightly alkaline. Alkalinity and acidity are measured on a ‘pH’ scale of 1-14 which ranges from highly acidic to highly alkaline. On that scale, 7 is considered ‘neutral’ and 7.35-7.45 is the pH of the majority of the bodies’ important cellular fluids and blood.

This measurement of acidity and alkalinity raises the concept of the Acid-Alkaline Diet.  This is based on the notion that the human body functions according to pH levels, which are in turn determined by foods. Highly acidic foods that are a constant in the diet will set-up an acidic environment and result in the body attempting to restore balance by leaching alkaline minerals from the bones, teeth, tissues and organs, which can give rise to a multitude of health problems. Therefore, to stay healthy, eating a diet that is mostly alkalizing is the best way to keep pH levels balanced and optimal health achieved. The ratio for this is the 80/20 principle aiming to have a diet that is 80% alkaline and 20% acidic.

Why an Acid-Alkaline Balance Is So Important

Why an Acid-Alkaline Balance Is So ImportantAn over-acidic environment in the body is known as acidosis. Acidosis occurs as a result of chronic and prolonged pH imbalances due to factors such as poor diet and lifestyle choices and continuing high levels of stress. Once acidosis is present, the body draws upon its alkaline mineral stores in order to buffer or neutralize these excess acids. While occasional withdrawal of these minerals is not likely to cause major health issues, it can start to cause problems when there is chronic acidosis. This leads to the loss of the minerals, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which can pose serious health risks once they start to affect stores, not only in the body tissues, but the organs as well.

This constant acidic environment can also prevent oxygen from reaching cells, which stops cells from functioning properly. When cells aren’t receiving adequate oxygen, they can’t transport oxygen to organs. This directly impairs the body from being able to perform critical functions such as digestion and energy production. Lack of oxygen also interferes with the body’s ability to carry out functions like cellular repair. It also impairs the ability of the mitochondria (the energy system of the cell) to function, leading to fatigue.

In an anaerobic, low oxygen environment, toxins and harmful microorganisms are also better able to flourish and proliferate. (It was German researcher, Dr Otto Warburg that was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery that cancer cells cannot exist in an oxygen-rich environment). As they do so, they interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. This poor absorption of nutrients make it much more difficult for the body to manufacture the enzymes, hormones, and numerous other bio-chemicals required for energy production, proper organ activity, and cellular repair. Blood sugar levels can also be affected, which further adds to fatigue and impaired physical endurance.

When acid build-up occurs to the point where the body is no longer able to successfully eliminate or neutralize these acids, a variety of problems can occur, including illness and, potentially, even death. Other problems related to acidosis include accelerated aging, demineralization (loss of the body’s mineral stores), fatigue, impaired enzyme activity, inflammation and organ damage, and the proliferation of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, moulds, yeasts, and viruses.

What makes a food acid or alkaline?

The pH of foods

What makes a food acid or alkaline?Every fluid and food has a pH value. The pH scale is the same with food as it is with body fluids with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being mostly alkaline, 7 being neutral.

Limes, for example, have a very low pH of 2.0 and are highly acidic according to the pH scale. Lemons are slightly less acidic at a pH of 2.2. Egg whites are not acidic at all, and have a pH of 8.0. Meats are also non-acidic, with a pH of about 7.0.

Confused yet?

Foods can be considered acidic as with citrus foods but they create an alkalizing environment once metabolised, whereas meat which is considered non-acidic has a very acid-forming effect on the body once it is metabolized. Therefore there is a difference between the pH value of a food and whether it has the ability to be ‘alkalizing’ or ‘acid-forming’ to the body.

Alkaline Foods to Increase

Lemons are the most alkalizing foods available. They taste highly acidic, but through the digestive process, they are transformed into an alkalizing substance that has benefits for the entire body.

Avocados have a pH of 8.0, which not only alkalizes the entire body but also helps to neutralize any other acidic foods in the stomach.

Ripe Bananas. Whilst unripe bananas can lead to constipation, acidity, and poor nutrient absorption, ripe bananas offer an extensive array of vitamins and minerals and provide alkalinity.

Asparagus. Noted as one of nature’s most powerful alkaline forming foods, asparagus also gives the body plenty of fibre, water, vitamins, minerals and anti-ageing antioxidants. It has a pH is 8.5.

Acidic Foods to AvoidWatermelon has a pH of 9.0, and is packed with vitamins, minerals and electrolyte-balancing water. The high fibre and water content make it a great food for eliminating toxins, as well as providing the body with a good level of alkalinity.

Cayenne Pepper is an excellent anti-bacterial spice that has a pH of 8.5, and helps to improve circulation, lower blood pressure, eliminate toxins and boost brain function.

Papaya are known to be easy on the digestion, soothing multiple digestive ailments, and disorders. This is due to its highly nutritious and alkalizing flesh, which is packed with fibre, water, and vitamins.

Broccoli. Being a cruciferous anti-cancer vegetable, broccoli is a highly alkalizing food. It offers plenty of fibre and serves as a dense source of nutrients offering alkalinity.  

Garlic helps to neutralize the acidity of acidic foods such as meat, fish, cheese and eggs. Garlic and greens make a powerful combination high in fibre, nutrients and alkalinity.

Acidic Foods

Acidic Foods Meat. Animal protein such as chicken, turkey, and beef is considered acidic once metabolized. This is because animal protein contains high amounts of purines, which are compounds present in RNA and DNA, and form uric acid. When high levels of uric acid build up in the blood, not only does it have an acidifying effect on blood pH, but uric acid can also spread to tissues and joints, causing gout and kidney stones.
 

Dairy has a dysfunctional mineral relationship. Minerals for health are all dependent on how they synergistically work together in the body, which is why they are needed in specific ratios. When looking at cow’s milk, dairy products contain both calcium and phosphorus. Calcium and phosphorus are needed in the ratio of 2.5 to 1 for optimal health. Cow’s milk has a ratio of 1.27 to 1. This means that whilst receiving calcium from cow’s milk, those that consume it are also receiving far too much phosphorus. Phosphorus prevents the absorption of calcium in the small intestine, and the acidifying effects of milk require calcium to be leached from the stores in bones to prevent blood from becoming too acidic.

Grains. In addition to being acidifying, grains are difficult to digest and create inflammation in the body. Non-glutinous grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat are still acid forming, but rank lower on the acidity scale.

Acidic Foods to AvoidEggs are acidic for being rich in uric-acid forming purines like meat.

Nuts. From an acid-alkaline perspective, nuts are a better source of protein than animal products since they’re less acidic when metabolized. However, nuts are still mildly acid forming, so limiting their consumption is recommended.

Vegetable Oils and oils such as canola or sunflower seed oil have a mildly acidifying effect on the body and are pro-inflammatory.

Alcohol is highly acidifying and when metabolized, robs the body of alkalizing minerals such as magnesium.

Coffee is considered highly acidic because it requires the release of minerals from the body to be buffered when metabolized. All forms of coffee are acidic, but some are more acid forming than others, depending on how the beans are roasted and brewed.

Refined Sugar. White or refined sugar such as soda, muffins, pastries, candy, white bread and processed grains and other ‘junk’ foods are highly acid forming.

Supplements that help to Keep the Body Alkaline

Supplements that help to Keep the Body AlkalineGreen Food Powders primarily made from spirulina or chlorella algae and the juices of various types of grasses: barley, wheat, or alfalfa, help alkalize the body thereby promoting energy, improved resistance to illness, and less pain.


 

 

Calcium. To reduce acidity the body may withdraw calcium from the bones since it is a natural anti-acid mineral.  To help restore the amount of calcium in the body, supplement with 800-1500 mg daily.
 

Magnesium In the same way that the bones act as a reserve for alkaline calcium, the muscles are reservoirs for the mineral magnesium, which is also alkaline. Supplementing with magnesium is helpful and required for a large percentage of people. The range is 400 to 800 mg of magnesium.

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References

Remer T: Influence of nutrition on acid-base balance – metabolic aspects. Eur J Nutr 2001, 40:214-20

Bushinsky DA: Acid-base imbalance and the skeleton. Eur J Nutr 2001, 40:238-44.

Arnett TR: Extracellular pH regulates bone cell function. J Nutr 2008, 138:415S-8S.

(http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/2/415S.long)

Young, O and Young, S. R (2003). The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health. NY:Warner Books Inc.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195546/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4916623/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4008836

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28117137

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