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pH (potential Hydrogen)

a figure expressing the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a logarithmic scale on which 7 is neutral, lower values are more acid and higher values more alkaline.

Wikipedia

What does this mean for us?

The body has the very important task of keeping different parts of the body at different pH levels – for it to operate smoothly. While blood may be slightly alkaline, for example, other parts will be slightly acidic.

Too much of a good thing?

If there is too much acid = acidosis.
Too much alkalinity = alkalosis.
Either one of these can cause severe malfunctions in the body and eventually death.

When nutritionists speak about alkaline-forming or acid-forming foods, they are referring to the state of the food after you eat it. Many food substances are acidic in their raw form and then becomes alkaline when broken down inside the body.

A physical description of an acidic substance would be “sharp or sour to the taste buds”. Litmus paper is an easy way to determine whether a substance is acidic. Acidic substances (e.g. grapefruit juice, coffee, tea, vinegar, sour milk, lemon juice, tomato juice) will all turn blue litmus paper red. The red colouration is a manifestation of the substances’ acidic characteristics. Red litmus paper will turn blue if it detects an alkaline substance. Yet, when alkaline and acid substances are combined, they neutralize each other, forming salt and water – neutralisation.

Usually, the metabolic processes of the breakdown of foods from the vegetable kingdom transform in character from acidic to alkaline, but the foods from the animal world change from alkaline to acid during metabolism.

All foods have within them a combination of both acid-forming and alkaline-forming elements. The particular effect a food will have on pH will be decided simply by which elements are prevalent, the acid elements or the alkaline elements. These elements, when broken down, will either release (H+) ions, and thus create an acidic medium, or they will take and combine with (H+) ions, forming an alkaline medium.

Keep in mind the following basic concepts:

  • Organic matter is taken into the body in the form of food.
  • This organic matter is broken down into simple compounds (monosaccharides, amino acids, lipids etc).
  • After metabolism, these compounds leave an acidic or alkaline residue in the body.
  • The simple compounds contain elements such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium and sulphur.
  • These minerals determine the H+ concentration and therefore the acidity or alkalinity of the body.

These elements are either acid-forming elements or alkaline-forming elements. The acid-forming substances are sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine, while the alkaline formers are sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron.

Most proteins contain phosphorus and sulphur within their chemical structures. These substances are broken down into phosphoric acid and sulphuric acid when metabolised. Various chemical reactions will then have to be used to neutralise these acids in the body. Uric acid is another by-product of protein metabolism and is a major contributor to the development of arthritis – especially gouty arthritis. Uric acid has to be neutralized and excreted from the kidneys. This is why protein-based foods (especially animal products) are considered acid-forming.

Within the plant kingdom, the organic acids found in fruits and vegetables are metabolized and eventually become carbon dioxide and water. The alkaline elements such as potassium, calcium, sodium and magnesium remain. Although many fruits are acidic, when broken down into their constituent elements, the acids are rendered neutral and the alkaline elements are dominant.

Therefore, the result of the organic breakdown and digestion of fruits and vegetables is alkaline in nature.

Since we are constantly supplying alkalies and acids to our bodies through the various foods we eat, we must consider the balance between these two extremes. If we consume excessive amounts of acid-forming foods, such as dairy and animal products, the body must tap into its alkaline reserves (buffer salts) to maintain the proper pH. The kidneys, lungs and entire physiology are overworked in the process of eliminating the neutralized acids from the body. This strain eventually leads to a deficit of buffer salts and the deterioration in the physiological functions of various organs, including the kidneys. Many different organ malfunctions are referred to as “disease,” while the underlying cause, acidosis (due largely to faulty diet), has been overlooked. The thing to remember is that any drug, condiment or food that is overly acidic utilizes alkaline reserves and overworks the different organs. This type of dietary abuse may be tolerated for a while, but ultimately, the body will no longer be capable of managing this overload and will slowly start to break down.

Please be patient, we have a problem…

Before I list the possible issues associated with acidosis, let’s first look at how the body maintains a normal pH balance.

The body has three physiological control systems in place:

  1. a buffer system for bodily fluids – controls the hydrogen ion fluctuations with acid-base buffers
  2. kidneys – they will excrete either an acid or alkaline urine
  3. respiratory – releasing more carbon dioxide to prevent build up of carbonic acid in the blood

Now, if any of these control systems are not working, you will get an acid or alkaline build-up in your body.

How will I know if I have acidosis?

  • Disorientation and lack of vitality
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Allergies

How do I fix this?

Eating a diet rich in raw fruit and vegetables, a small number of nuts/seeds, as well as young leafy greens, will go a long way in assisting your body in maintaining the correct pH balance. In turn, this will aid in combating the common ailments due to poor diet. It would even be beneficial, to begin with, a (supervised) water fast of between one and five days before amending your diet.

Together with daily exercise, fresh air, sunshine and quality water, you will be well on your way to enjoying a healthy life.

If you feel that you need some help or guidance, please get in touch now. We can meet up via Skype or Zoom and chat about how we can work together to get your health back on track.


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