Systemic Acid/Alkaline balance
Maintaining your body’s acid/alkaline balance is something you must take note of if you wish to sustain optimal health. Optimal acid/alkaline balance is necessary for:
- Healthy stress responses
- Weight management
- Preventing chronic disease
An acidic system will: decrease the body’s ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients, decrease the energy production in the cells, decrease its ability to repair damaged cells, decrease its ability to detoxify, help tumour cells thrive, aid invading pathogens such as fungi to thrive, and make you more susceptible to fatigue and illness. Also associated with an acidic system is: osteoporosis, obesity, metabolic syndrome, muscle wasting, and type 2 diabetes, athletes foot, cancer, atherosclerosis, chronic fatigue, osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, adrenal/thyroid disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, influenza, psoriasis, thrush, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, acne, headaches, obesity, metabolic syndrome and fibromyalgia (just to name a few).
If you have any of the above health problems you are most likely to be acidic. Research shows that unless the body’s pH level is slightly alkaline, the body cannot heal itself. So, no matter what type of modality you choose to use to take care of your health problem (even if they aren’t included in the above list), it won’t be as effective until the pH level is up. If your body’s pH is not balanced, you cannot effectively assimilate vitamins, minerals and food supplements. Your body pH affects everything.
Restoring an alkaline environment can help restore health. This is why improving the acid/alkaline balance in the body by increasing alkalinity is an important part of your health plan to getting well.
An acidic pH can occur due to several reasons which include: an acidic diet – which is a typical western diet many of us are currently on, emotional stress, toxic overload, immune reactions, food allergies/intolerances or any process that deprives the cells of oxygen and other nutrients. The body will try to compensate for acidic pH by using alkaline minerals such as calcium from your bones to neutralise the acids. If the diet does not contain enough minerals to compensate, a build up of acids in the cells will occur.
As you can see acid / alkaline balance is vital for your health, as it simply affects cellular health causing inflammation & oxidation (cellular rust). This in turn makes you older biologically beyond what your chronological age may be. Keeping your body in an alkaline state increases longevity and improves quality of life at any age. One of the best ways to assess your acidic / alkaline balance is by looking at your bicarbonate levels in a full blood count. If they are low within range then this means you are systemically more acidic, (total anions may also reflect this by being high within range). Within a blood test your levels can be assessed by your practitioner and further information can be given as to your status and how to effectively treat this if necessary. Almost all foods that we eat, after being digested, absorbed, and metabolized release either an acid or alkaline base into the blood. Not only does systemic acidity contribute to inflammation & oxidative stress but it also strips your body of minerals which can contribute to a whole gamut of problems. On the opposite side of the coin alkaline foods are cancer preventatives. They tend to be higher in fibre which helps control blood sugar and improves bowel health. The friendly bacteria in the gut need fibre to function. Without them, not only does the digestive system suffer, but also the immune defences.
So what can we do to reduce the impact of an acidic diet? For one, reduce the serving sizes of acidic foods, while increasing the amount of greens and other alkaline fruits & veggies during a meal is a great start. Ideally an appropriate balance would be 80% alkaline foods with 20% acidic foods. A few suggestions that can help you add more alkaline foods to your diet include:
-Have a big salad at least once a day, based on green leafy vegetables (kale, endive, spinach, deep green lettuce, mustard greens etc). Select other alkaline vegetables to add like sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, garlic, green beans, onion, peas, zucchini, parsley, asparagus and capsicum.
-Squeeze lemon or lime juice on fish, salads or in your drinks
-Snack on pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, almonds and add them to salads & in cooking
-Use Himalayan salt rather than regular table salt
-Use Apple cider vinegar on salads or in water throughout the day
-Drink herbal teas like ginger, dandelion, and peppermint, licorice instead of coffee or black tea
-Eat fruit like rockmelon, berries, mandarins, grapefruit, coconut, and pomegranate
-Snack on celery & carrot sticks with nut butter, tahini or hummus
-Use avocado on sourdough toast with Himalayan salt instead of margarine
-Consuming Alkaline Water at a pH of around 9.5
-Wheat grass & barley grass are very alkalising (can be taken in a juice form – usually in a small 30ml shot added to smoothies, juices or straight)
-Cook with tofu & tempeh
-Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil, avocado oil, pomegranate oil, nuts & seeds
Minimize to 20% of the diet or avoid the following acid forming foods:
-High starch vegetables – potatoes
-Grains – wheat
-Very sweet fruits which are high in simple sugar and low in fibre
-Meat, fish and eggs
Supplements that help to treat acidosis usually include citrate forms of the alkaline minerals such as – potassium, calcium and magnesium citrates. Using bicarbonate to treat an acidic system can be tricky especially if it is taken at the wrong time. The digestive system and stomach need to be acidic to breakdown food & absorb nutrients. When taking bicarb it can neutralize the acidity in our stomach and digestive system thereby inhibiting digestive processes and then all that is absorbed is a neutral chyme which doesn’t act to alkalise the system. However citrate forms of minerals do not react in the gut and are easily absorbed. Once absorbed, enzymes convert the citrate into bicarbonate and thereby produce a neutralizing effect in the blood & circulation to reduce systemic acidity and improve cellular health.
Food, water and supplements aren’t the only way to decrease systemic acidity. Other ways that we can reduce acidity & stress (mental & physical) on our systems is through our lifestyle choices. Paying attention to sources of stress and minimizing where possible is important. But deeper than that, processing out & letting go of our negative emotions like depression, guilt, hatred, anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, low self worth etc. This allows us to let go and move on with love, joy & happiness and is certainly a health promoting & life changing action.
Also work to detoxify environmental toxins, minimize pollutants, chemicals and radiation through a detoxification program.
Balance exercise with a combination of controlled aerobic activity (walking, running, climbing), weight resistance and stretching. This decreases stress and acidity within our system. It is far more beneficial than continuous high intensity strenuous exercise that is done frequently.
I hope this gives you a greater understanding of the importance of the acid/alkaline balance for your overall health & wellbeing. If you require any further information please don’t hesitate to discuss this further with your practitioner.