Understanding the acid-base balance

OUR BODIES ARE OUR BEST FRIENDS

Our bodies will always be there for us, no matter how badly we treat them. For the good and the bad, they’re in for the full ride. They regulate our temperature, they make sure each and every cell is provided with water and energy and they keep track of our acid-base balance. Even when we choose not to treat our bodies with much care and respect, they still make their best to keep everything up and running.

OPTIMAL ACID-BASE BALANCE

An optimal acid-base balance is necessary for healthy cell and organs function so it is actually indispensable for our overall health. The healthy acid : base ratio is 20 : 80, which means that for every 2 acids, our body requires 8 bases to work properly. To be able to measure this ratio, we use the pH value that ranges from 0 to 14 and has an neutral value of 7. The lower the value, the stronger the acid and, vice-versa, the higher the value, the stronger the base.

Our organs and bodily fluids have each an optimal pH value – saliva, stomach, pancreas, blood, muscle cells, vagina, sperm, etc. Most of them prefer a basic environment so it’s only logical that we should also supply our body mostly with bases. But what does that mean in practice?

EXCESSIVELY ACIDIC DIET AND LIFESTYLE

It is unfortunately often the case that people live on an excessively acidic diet and mostly because it is cheap, quick and convenient. Is is also (wrongly perceived though) often delicious.

By an excessively acidic diet I mean one that consists primarily of industrially processed foods:

  • Processed wheat products (baked goods and pasta)
  • Processed fats and oils
  • Sugar and all its industrial substitutes
  • Sweet snacks, soft drinks
  • Instant meals with plenty of artificial flavors and sweeteners
  • Processed animal products (meat, dairy from pasteurized and homogenized milk)
  • Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, salt

But it’s not only food that contributes to acid development in our body. It’s also the lack of exercise, lack of sleep, stress, wrong breathing, environmental chemical substances from household detergents or conventional cosmetics and, last but not least, medications. Daily, our body takes in and produces (from metabolizing all the foods listed above) more acids than it needs. This leads to overstraining the mechanisms that regulate the acid-base balance which soon develops in symptoms like, but not only:

  • Problems with the blood sugar levels and high blood pressure
  • Sleep disorders and fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Susceptibility to inflammations and allergies
  • Hair loss and skin problems (acne, skin blemishes)
  • Headaches
  • Cellulitis (oh yes!)

I know I’ve made acids look entirely like the bad guys, but before going further, I want you to know that there are also HEALTHY ACIDS out there. Produced by our body are the gastric acid, the lactic acid in the colon and the lactic acid in the vagina. These are actually necessary to support the proper functions and ‘duties’ of their respective organs. There are also organic acids from healthy food (especially fruits) that support digestion, peristalsis, enzymes formation.

Simply put, everything that enters our body from an unnatural diet is problematic. Both quantity and frequency of these foods are obviously important. There are UNHEALTHY ACIDS that we directly consume like carbonic acid (in sparkling water), tannin (in coffee in black tea), and phosphoric acid (in soft drinks like cola). But during the metabolization of other foods that should not be consumed in excess, other bad acids are formed within our body. For example, digesting animal products creates uric acid. Metabolizing white flour products or sugar containing food and drinks produce acetic acid.

The more UNHEALTHY ACIDS we consume or our body produces, the more minerals (bases) we need to be able to neutralize those dangerous acids. The body takes care to regulate everything, remember? Nevertheless, our current lifestyles impede us from consuming more bases. But, in fact, we are the ones who impede ourselves from consuming what our body needs in order to properly function.

HOW DOES OUR BODY DRAINS ACIDS?

  • Through the lungs via a deliberate breathing.
  • Through the kidneys, the draining specialists, via the urine.
  • Through menstruation and it’s said that, the higher the body’s acidity, the stronger the menstruation.

WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE ACIDS THAT ARE NOT ELIMINATED?

The acids that are not eliminated (when the drainage capacity is limited because we consumed too many acids) need to be rendered harmless so that they don’t hurt our body. Therefore bases are used for neutralizing these acids. But since we don’t provide our body with enough bases, these need to be taken from the body’s best supply areas: bones (causing osteoporosis), connective tissue (causing cellulitis), scalp (causing hair loss and / or dandruff).

Don’t imagine this happens immediately after a Big Mac menu at McDonald’s. As said in the beginning, our body is our best friend and it’ll make all the effort to keep you safe and sound for as long as possible. Nevertheless, when that Big Mac (which is only meant to represent the whole palmares of industrially processed foods) becomes a habit, our body will focus on keeping us alive rather than on making sure we have beautiful skin, healthy scalp or healthy bones.

GAIN WEIGHT DUE TO EXCESS ACIDS

There’s actually a direct connection between the consumption of excessive acids and overweight people. To protect the tissue and organs from the dangerous excessive acids, the body builds up additionally fatty acids. On the other hand, the enzymes responsible with burning fat do not function properly in an acidic environment so this affects the fat burning process and leads to gaining weight.

HOW TO GET RID OF THOSE ACIDS / THE DEACIDIFICATION PROCESS

The main idea is to, slowly but surely, turn around the ratio between acids and bases that we consume. But if one or some of the symptoms mentioned above already occur, below some holistic measures to get rid of those harmful acids.

  1. Consume more ALKALINE FOODS

The first step would be to integrate foods containing a surplus of bases or  base-forming minerals in your daily nutrition:

  • Almost all vegetables and salads
  • Mushrooms
  • Potatoes
  • Sprouted nuts, seeds and legumes (which means soaked overnight before consuming)
  • Spices and herbs
  • Quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat as replacement for wheat products as they are only mildly acid-forming

Even healthy foods can produce acids in our bodies. Generally all seeds, grains, legumes and nuts are acidic, unless they are sprouted. When the seeds are soaked, and they swell and break the hull (skin) to emerge as a sprout, an extraordinary action takes place & they become alkaline. It’s only a couple of years ago that I started to eat sprouts and they’re simply such an easy and delicious way to boost that intake of vitamins and minerals. And last week I even made my first alkaline seed crackers that are an absolute divine bread replacement for breakfast or any other meal. Find the recipe here.

2. Drink (more) water

It’s better if you up your water game temporarily (at least 2.5l a day) as the body needs more water to quickly wash out the diluted acids.

  1. Alkaline baths

When the main emunctories are already tired (lungs, kidneys, etc.), our body excretes acids through the skin. Foot baths are highly recommendable, as our body can excrete acids through the soles of the feet and sometimes it might be more efficient that a daily long and full bath. To make a bath alkaline, you can use alkaline bath salts. 🙂

  1. Deliberate breathing

Stress, hurry, impatience, bad posture, they’re all reasons that influence a dysfunctional breath. Carbonic acids are actually discarded through the breath, but so very few of us actually take the time to breathe. This is why, among so many other benefits, yoga can further help you to release those extra acids. If that’s not your thing, you can simply just breath with purpose. Relax and consciously observe your breath for 2 – 3 minutes. The, breathe in through your nose while counting to three (or five if you can) and breathe out through your nose while counting to three. Repeat this at least 10 times.

  1. Exercise and sauna

Go for a daily 20 minutes walk or do some moderate physical exercise to support your deacidification through the lungs. If you have the option, sweating in the sauna is also useful.

  1. Dry brush massages

I very much underestimated this for a long time, but ever since I’ve starting using a dry brush regularly, not only is my skin softer, but I also feel lighter. It’s easy: dry brush massages support the lymphatic flow, which transports waste outside of our bodies.

  1. Bitter substances

I haven’t tried them yet (but I do consume bitter foods), but it’s said they support digestion and the metabolism, hence accelerating the acids discharge. The most ‘known’ one is dandelion root extract that you can consume about 30 minutes before each meals (1 drop in 1 glass of water). Bitter substances also improve your sugar cravings (improves here means you’ll crave less sugary foods or drinks) which actually further supports deacidification and an optimal weight.

Of course there are other measures that complement what I’ve listed above. There are also specialized clinics that have programs that support deacidification. But I firmly believe that getting rid of those bad and harmful acids shouldn’t a one off effort. Instead, it is important to understand the power of prevention and to be willing to make small changes towards a balanced nutrition one day at a time.

Always happy to receive your questions.

Corina

 

More about Corina

I believe taking care of yourself is the only way you can take care of others. Ever since I realized that my life became calmer and happier. Corinan.com is where I write about simple and practical ways you can take care of your body and mind. I spend most of my time working in Marketing and studying to become a Nutrition Consultant. Bits and pieces in between, I paint smoothies, do yoga, and travel the world.

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