The acid-base diet – what to know about the acid-alkaline balance
As is already known, the human body is composed of about 70% of liquids. At this quantity biochemical processes – vital processes which occur in living organisms – are due. The knowledge of chemistry reminds us that any solution has an acidic, neutral or basic character. But how important is the balance and the acid-alkaline diet in the context of daily life and our state of health ? Can we triumph over a given disease if we support a certain acid-alkaline balance? Does the food play an important role on this balance? The answers to these questions, we will give them in this useful and very current article.
The acid-base diet and pH levels in the human body
The potential hydrogen or pH (in English potential hydrogen) measures the saturation and the activity of hydrogen ions H + in solution. That is, pH is a measure of the acidity and basicity of a solution. The pH indices range from 0 to 14.
If the pH of a solution varies from 0 to 7, it is called acid;
If the pH of a solution is equal to 7, it is called neutral;
If the pH of a solution is 7 to 14, it is called basic or alkaline.
The lower the pH (goes from 7), the more acidic a solution is. Thus, for example, the pH of pure water is 7 (neutral character), the pH of the bleach is 11.5 (basic character).
PH levels in the human body are not equal – while some organs and systems work better in an acid environment, others work better in an alkaline environment. The normal pH of the stomach, for example, is very acidic – between 1.5 and 2.5, so that the digestive enzyme (the protease) can degrade the proteins from the food that is eaten. The blood, for its part, is slightly alkaline (pH between 7.35 and 7.45).
But beware: disorders of the acid-base blood balance, called acidosis (pH below 7.35) and alkalosis (pH above 7.45) are harmful to health. Take into consideration that these two diseases affect only the sufferers of pathological diseases such as renal insufficiency, certain serious diseases, intoxications, etc.
The acid-base diet – what are the three types of foods
The theory that one is able to balance the pH of one’s body while dieting, is enjoying increasing popularity. The main idea here, supported by the alkaline diet, is based on the opinion that the body functions optimally when there is a balance between the consumption of alkaline and acidic foods.
Take into consideration that the pH of foods has nothing to do with their alkalizing and acidifying properties. The pH does not matter here, because later, the food goes through the acidic atmosphere of the stomach and afterwards it becomes lined up in the small intestine. It is important to know that once metabolized, food leaves an acidic or alkaline residue in the body. Lemon juice, for example, has a pH of 2, but despite this, it leaves an alkaline residue and it is estimated an alkaline food. That is, lemon juice has an acidic character, but it is not an acidifying food.
Which menu to choose for its acid-base diet?
Acidifying foods: meat , fish, eggs, dairy products, alcohol, coffee and cereals.
Neutral foods: edible fats (animal and vegetable), starch, sugar and honey.
Alkalizing foods: vegetables, sprouted seeds, most fruits, most leguminous plants, herbs and spices, nuts, avocado, olives, coconuts, chia seeds, seeds flax, quinoa seeds, millet seeds, buckwheat and green tea.
Corn, lentils, rice, etc. – cereals are necessary for a good state of health
Proponents of the acid-base or alkaline diet are of the opinion that the foods that are consumed exert a strong influence on the acid-base balance of the body. When we consume foods that leave an acidic residue, they disturb the blood balance which causes diseases. This is why, according to them, we must consume as much alkalizing food as possible, to balance the body’s pH level.
We know that certain reports, such as the one between omega 3 and omega 6, are very important for our health in general. But is the balance between alkalizing and acidifying foods important? Let’s try to find the answer.
For your acid-base diet, bet on green leafy vegetables …
… and about exotic spices
Food and blood pH
As already mentioned, even the small oscillation of the blood pH index can be very risky. PH below 7 and over 7.7 guarantees serious health problems, because the cells can not function in a similar environment.
This is why the body automatically reduces the blood pH level, by means of some buffering mechanisms, by maintaining the acid-base balance. The most important regulator is breathing. When you breathe, the lungs fill with oxygen and the opposite process is the expulsion of carbon dioxide. The high concentration of carbon dioxide lowers the blood pH level, but through the breathing process, the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide is maintained and, respectively, the acid-alkaline balance.
Which substances will be released by the urine and which substances will be reabsorbed in the body – this depends on the kidneys which, as we can see, play a role of great importance. If the blood pH level is low (therefore, if the atmosphere is acidic), the kidneys filter out bicarbonate ions, which combine with the acidic remains in the blood. The result of this reaction is the formation of salts, which the kidneys filter through the urine, and carbon dioxide, which is released by the exhalation process.
PH homeostasis can be maintained also via a third mechanism – these are different buffer substances such as calcium and other minerals.
So, there are three mechanisms – aspiration, renal function and buffer substances. Through these mechanisms, the body maintains the blood pH within certain limits. The truth is that you can not influence the blood pH of the food you eat. It is possible that the level of blood pH rises for a certain time, following the consumption of a large amount of baking soda, but, in general, it does not matter if one consumes alkalizing or acidifying foods, the blood pH will vary between 7.35 and 7.45.
Food and urinary pH
On the other hand, it is true that food influences the urinary pH. If for his breakfast we take a fresh salad and a lawyer, a few hours later the urine will be more alkaline than that of someone who took a bacon omelette, because the kidneys treat useless acidity and they reject by urine. That’s why pH ranges from 4.6 to 8 – much wider limits. It all depends on the food we consume.
One can easily test its urinary pH. This is one of the benefits of the alkaline diet that attracts so many people. It is always nice to be able to see your own health. The urinary pH test shows it – if the pH of the urine is alkaline, then we are on the right track. But the problem here is that the acidity of the urine is not a good indicator for the general balance of the pH of the body, it is hardly a clue to good health.
The acid-base diet and cancer
One of the most common beliefs is that the acid-base diet can cure cancer. The explanation is that cancer cells grow faster in an acidic environment. According to supporters of the alkaline diet, one can alkalize the body and stop the development of cancer cells. Unfortunately, this statement is wrong for a few reasons.
First, as has already been explained, foods – either alkalizing or acidifying – do not influence blood pH and intercellular fluid levels.
Second, cancer cells do not form only in an acidic environment. There is a lot of experimentation that says it and the scientists manage to develop cancer cells in an alkaline environment.
Thirdly, it is true that cancer cells grow faster in an acid environment, but the primary cause for their formation is different. It is not the acid medium that causes the formation of the tumor, it is the tumor that creates it.
Finally we can say that unlike many diets, the acid-base diet is really healthy. But it is a question to be debated if it is due to the causes that the supporters of this regime underline. This opinion is believed to be due to the fact that the diet encourages the consumption of many vegetables, fruits and other healthy foods, and prohibits alcohol, artificial sweeteners, soft drinks and fast food.
The problem with this alkaline diet is as follows: it prohibits or severely limits the consumption of meat, eggs and milky products. So, such a diet deprives the body of a good natural source of protein. There is no study that claims the claims that the acidic residue of these foods has a negative influence on our health. In reality, acidity is one of the main constituents of all living matter.