“Acid” and “alkaline” in the context of food often refer to the potential effects of these foods on the body’s pH levels rather than the pH of the foods themselves. Here’s a breakdown of acid-forming and alkaline-forming foods and their potential impact on the body’s pH balance:
- Acid-forming foods are those that can potentially lower the body’s pH levels, making it more acidic.
- Examples of acid-forming foods include meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, grains (especially refined grains), processed foods, sugar, and caffeine.
- Consuming excessive acid-forming foods may contribute to an acidic environment in the body, which is associated with various health issues, including osteoporosis, kidney stones, and muscle wasting.
- Alkaline-forming foods are those that can potentially raise the body’s pH levels, making it more alkaline.
- Examples of alkaline-forming foods include fruits, vegetables (especially leafy greens), nuts, and seeds.
- Consuming a diet rich in alkaline-forming foods is often promoted for its potential health benefits, such as reduced risk of chronic diseases, improved bone health, and better digestion.
It’s important to note that the body’s pH levels are tightly regulated. We are told that what you eat doesn’t significantly alter blood pH, which remains within a narrow, slightly alkaline range (around 7.35 to 7.45); and that instead, the foods consumed affect the pH of urine and, to some extent, saliva. However, it is not quite true because the question arises as to how the body is able to maintain this tight pH.
How does the blood maintain its narrow pH in a very acid body.
The body maintains a narrow pH range in the blood, typically around 7.35 to 7.45, through a highly regulated system known as acid-base homeostasis. When the body becomes more acidic (a condition called acidosis), it employs several mechanisms to prevent significant changes in blood pH and to maintain a slightly alkaline environment.
One of the ways the body compensates for increased acidity is by pulling on alkaline minerals, primarily calcium, from various sources, including bones. This process, called acid-base buffering, helps neutralize excess acid in the blood. Here’s how it works:
- Bicarbonate Buffer System: This is one of the primary buffering systems in the body. The kidneys play a crucial role in regulating bicarbonate (HCO3-) levels in the blood. When the blood becomes more acidic, the kidneys can reabsorb and produce more bicarbonate to help neutralize the excess acid.
- Respiratory Compensation: The respiratory system can also respond to changes in blood pH. When the blood becomes more acidic, the body can increase the rate and depth of breathing to expel carbon dioxide (CO2), which combines with water to form carbonic acid (H2CO3). By removing CO2 from the body, it reduces the formation of carbonic acid and helps raise blood pH.
- Mineral Release: If acidosis persists and the other buffering mechanisms are insufficient, the body can mobilize alkaline minerals from various sources, including bones. Calcium, which is an alkaline mineral, can be released from bones to help counteract the increased acidity in the blood.
It’s important to note that while the body can use calcium from bones to buffer excess acid in the short term, chronic acidosis can lead to problems such as osteoporosis or weakened bones due to the continual release of calcium. Therefore, maintaining a balanced diet and avoiding chronic acidosis is essential for overall health.
The body’s ability to maintain blood pH within a narrow range is a vital aspect of homeostasis and is tightly regulated by multiple systems. If there are persistent issues with blood pH balance, it can be a sign of an underlying health problem.
Apart from calcium are there any other alkaline minerals used to maintain blood pH?
Apart from calcium, there are several other alkaline minerals that the body can use to help maintain acid-base balance. These minerals include:
- Magnesium (Mg): Magnesium is an essential mineral that can act as a buffer against acidity in the body. It is involved in various biochemical processes and is vital for muscle and nerve function, among other functions.
- Potassium (K): Potassium is another alkaline mineral that can help neutralize excess acid in the body. It is crucial for maintaining proper muscle and nerve function, as well as regulating blood pressure.
- Sodium (Na): Sodium is an essential electrolyte and an alkaline mineral that plays a role in maintaining fluid balance and acid-base equilibrium in the body.
- Phosphorus (P): While phosphorus is often associated with acid-forming compounds (like phosphoric acid), it also plays a role in buffering excess acid in the body.
- Zinc (Zn): Zinc, in small quantities, can have an alkaline effect on the body and may contribute to acid-base balance.
- Selenium (Se): Selenium is a trace mineral that is considered mildly alkaline and can have a role in maintaining overall pH balance.
These minerals, along with calcium, can be mobilized by the body to help counteract increased acidity. It’s important to maintain a balanced diet that provides an adequate intake of these minerals to support the body’s buffering capacity and overall health. Chronic or severe imbalances in mineral levels can lead to various health issues, so a well-rounded diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods is crucial for maintaining proper acid-base balance.
Dr. Sebi was a proponent of an alkaline diet, indicating that such a diet can promote overall health and well-being. Critics point out that the body’s pH is tightly controlled, and the effects of dietary pH on health are more complex than a simple acid-alkaline dichotomy. However, Dr. Sebi and a number of others in the natural health community have shown that an alkaline diet is key to maintaining health and wellness.