Understanding Acid Alkaline Balance
Written by Fiona Halar
Created Monday, 18 November 2013
Did you know that your blood must maintain a very narrow pH range of 7.35 to 7.45 for your cells to function properly?
In fact, if the pH of your blood falls outside this very narrow range it can lead to severe illness and even death! That’s sounds pretty serious, don't you think? Actually, it’s so serious that your body has a special maintenance mechanism in place to protect your blood at all costs, sometimes at the expense of other tissues. And when your tissues become too acidic, it can lead to osteoporosis, kidney stones, and a host of other undesirable health problems.
What is pH? pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a liquid is. With respect to your body, the liquids involved are your body fluids. A liquid that has a pH of 7 is considered to be neutral (pure water is generally considered having a neutral pH). Fluids that have a pH below 7 are considered to be acidic, and fluids that have a pH above 7 are considered to be alkaline.
Your enzymatic, immunologic, and repair mechanisms all function at their best in the alkaline range. But your metabolic processes—the processes of living, creating cellular energy, and the metabolism of food—produce a number of different acids that are released into your body fluids. Stress, exercise, poor sleep, and allergies can create substantial amounts of acidic compounds too.
And if your body is regularly exposed to large quantities of acid-forming foods and drinks as well, your body will neutralise the acid in your blood by drawing upon your calcium reserves. Over time, this may lead to structural weakness in your teeth and bones.
Drawing on your calcium reserves at a high rate can also increase the amount of calcium that is eliminated via your kidneys, which is why an acid-forming diet can increase your risk of developing calcium-rich kidney stones.
Which foods are acid-forming? Most grains, nuts, seeds, animal foods, and highly processed foods—like white flour products and white sugar—have an acid-forming effect on your body.
Which foods are alkaline-forming? Generally, most fruits and vegetables have an alkaline-forming effect on your body. It may seem strange, but lemons are alkaline. In this case, it’s not about the citric acid or a sour taste, it’s about what your body does with the food once it is digested.
So as you can see, it’s easy to consume an imbalanced diet high in acid-forming foods, even on a plant-based diet. This imbalanced diet pushes us towards an acid state. And your body responds by removing calcium and other alkalising minerals from your blood, bone, and tissues.
What do you need to maintain an alkaline state? You need a few simple things—oxygen, pure water, and alkaline-forming foods.
Here are my top ten alkaline super foods:
- Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
- Leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens)
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- Sea salt
- Spring water
Fiona Halar is a wholefood nutritionist, whose aim is to inspire others with engaging ideas, perceptive insights and passionate action to create vibrant health, and live ecologically sustainable and compassionate lives. Follow Fiona on Facebook
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