Did you know that the modern Western diet contains an excess of acidic foods? Foods that are processed such as bread, meat, sausages, dairy products, soft drinks, pastries and cereals are all considered acidic foods. This can ultimately affect the body’s acid-alkaline balance, but why does this matter?.
When we are consuming an excessive amount of these acid forming foods it can lead to something called metabolic acidosis, which is different to excess acid in the stomach or acid reflux. Metabolic acidosis is associated with diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Even a small alteration in the body’s pH may cause an imbalance in the way the body manages its chemical and physical reactions.
The normal pH of the blood is between 7.35-7.45 but even a change to 7.3 is cause for concern as health concerns may start to present themselves. The potential renal acid load or PRAL for short, is a measure of the acid/alkaline nature of foods when they are eaten. The average Australian diet can produce the equivalent of 100mEq/day of acid, but we can only excrete 40-60mEq per day so this then places an acid load on the kidneys. This then puts pressure on other areas of the body to buffer this acidity.
As a human body ages it loses the capacity to cope as efficiently with an acidic load which can further contribute to chronic health concerns such as bones loss, detoxification, muscle mass and general fatigue.
Do you consume soft drinks, juices or alcohol on a regular basis?
Are you feeling under stress?
Do you often eat processed cereals, bread or noodles?
Do you eat bacon, sausages, meat or dairy regularly?
Do you eat less than 1 cup of vegetables or salad daily?
Do you suffer anxiety?
Do you have muscle or joint pain?
Do you have poor sleep and low energy?
If you said yes to more than one of these questions then your body may be in an acidic state.
Connective Tissue and Musculoskeletal health – Connective tissues are made up of proteins that all attract water that contribute to elasticity, flexibility and strength. If there is acidity this can decrease the way the water binds leading to weakness, degeneration and damage to the connective tissues.
Detoxification and Liver health – For the body to eliminate effectively the cells excrete toxins into something called the extracellular matrix and the lymphatics before it is dealt with by the rest of the body. If the body is acidic then this drainage cannot occur effectively. When there is latent acidity the liver enzymes may be raised meaning dysfunction and extra pressure is put on the kidneys with an increased loss of vital minerals.
Metabolism – when improvements in metabolic markers are seen this leads to better carbohydrate metabolism which may lead to less insulin spikes, improved blood glucose levels and improved muscle tissue.
Pain regulation – many inflammatory and chronic conditions are accompanied by local tissue acidosis. This acidic state may lead to an increased pain response due to the acid-sensors in our nerve cells (pain sensors called nociceptors) increase the perception of pain.
Improved stress response – increased latent acidity can lead to an increase in the adrenal hormones that circulate in the body. This can lead to an increase in the stress response in the body with heightened anxiety and insomnia conditions.
So what can we do to reduce this acid load on the body?
Reduce stress. This may be harder than diet changes but we can support the way our body responds to stress with the use of meditation, yoga, exercise and using stress supporting herbs such as withania, passionflower and zizyphus.
Increasing the green leafy vegetables in the diet, every single day. Not one or two leaves but a few handfuls each and every day. Spinach, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage all contain high amounts of alkalising minerals. Our diet should be 2/3 alkaline and 1/3 acidic in nature. Not all acidic foods are bad for us and it is a healthy balance that we need.
Alkalising minerals such as zinc, calcium, magnesium and potassium in citrate form can help to re-establish acid-base balance in the body increasing bone mineral density, energy and reducing general inflammation. Mineral citrates provide a long lasting alkaline effect in the body as the citric acid consumes the acidic hydrogen ions in the body during metabolism. These are then converted to water and carbon dioxide, which is exhaled.
By modifying the diet, lifestyle and using supplementation of alkalising minerals you can help to reduce the metabolic acid load and improve general health along with reducing your risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
In health & happiness