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Acid-Base Balance – Why we should care

What is “Acid-Base Balance”?

“Acid-base balance” – everyone has probably heard of it before, but only a few people really know what it is about. What are acids and bases and why should we even deal with them?

The acid-base balance is an important component in the interaction of our body functions. Countless processes run through our bodies every day that make our lives possible. An elementary component of the functioning of these processes is our body fluids, as they ensure that every single cell is well supplied. However, for this transport to work smoothly, a balanced ratio of acids and bases must exist.

For me, it’s just like the optimal temperature: If it’s too cold, I’m cold. Is it too hot, I sweat. The golden mean is just right for me to feel comfortable and to work optimally – and so it is with the acid-base balance.

What are acids and bases?

To keep it simple, it can be said that acids are characterized by positively charged hydrogen ions H+ and bases by negatively charged hydroxide ions OH-, ie a compound of water and an oxygen ion (hydroxyl group). If more H+ ions are contained in a solution, it is acidic. If we find more OH- ions, it is alkaline. To translate this to our temperature to explain it more vividly: If there are more H+ ions in the air, it is warmer and the more OH- ions are contained, the colder it is.

The acid-base balance is measured by means of the pH value (potentia hydrogenii). The pH value indicates how high the concentration of H+ ions in a liquid is and is indicated on a scale of 0 to 14. Everything below a pH of 7 is considered acid and above 7 as a base. A pH of 7 is considered neutral and contains just as many acidic as alkaline parts. You could also say that there is an equilibrium here. An optimum pH for our blood is 7.4.

Our acid-base balance loves to be treated with vegan and plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables
Our acid-base balance loves to be treated with vegan and plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables

Why is pH so important?

If the pH value in our body fluids deviates from the optimum, negative effects occur. Even small fluctuations can damage our cells and severely limit the effectiveness of hormones and enzymes. Different body processes work best under different pH-values: Our stomach likes it a bit more acidic. An optimal pH is between 1.2 and 3 – hence the name “stomach acid”. By contrast, our pancreas loves it alkaline and works best at a pH of 10.

These different pH values ​​are regulated by different buffer systems. Our lungs, liver and kidneys have an elementary function in addition to the blood pigment, blood protein and cell proteins. If we have too many acids in our body, our connective tissue can also be used as acid storage and strongly favors cellulite in women. Our sweat (pH 5) as well as our stomach helps with the regulation. If we are heavily acidified, it goes so far that our base tanks are tapped to neutralize the acids and render them harmless. The problem is that our bones are the main base storage. Tapping them too often to regulate acid excess in the body can lead to osteoporosis.

How do acids and bases form?

“You are what you eat!” – this also fits here. Acids can either be absorbed by our food or result as a product of metabolic processes. There are many different causes of hyperacidity (acidosis): our lifestyle, organic causes, or diet. We know, for example, how harmful acids can be like corrosive cleaning agents, salt acid, or battery acid.

Causes of acids in our bodies are stress, smoking, and drug abuse as well as lack of sleep, lack of fluids and exercise. In addition, alcohol, coffee, sugar, highly processed foods, animal protein, hydrogenated, saturated fats are poison for our cells. Also, free radicals are strong acids. Base excess is hardly realizable in practice and is also much easier for the body to deal with. Therefore, I focus only on excess acid. But if you also want to hear more about the base excess, please write me a comment below and I will take that into account in the future.

How do I notice a hyperacidity?

Acidification means that our pH is no longer optimal. There are various signs of hyperacidity, as well as various illnesses that are linked to long-lasting acidification of the body. These include all diseases that are associated with inflammation in the body such as gout, rheumatism and arthritis. In addition, osteoporosis, skin disorders such as eczema, cellulite, hair loss, muscle atrophy and constant fatigue, migraines or cold hands and feet are symptoms of hyperacidity. Those acids are poison for our bodies. In extreme cases, this can also lead to colon cancer, esophageal cancer and Crohn’s disease.

For our acid-base balance it is also important to have a good work-life-balance
For our acid-base balance, it is also important to have a good work-life balance

What can I do against acidification?

As already mentioned, there are some buffer systems in our body that try to keep acids at check as well as possible. To support the removal of acid in our kidneys as well as possible, sufficient drinking is very important. In addition, we can exude acids through our skin and so a sauna session or outdoor sports can work wonders. The sport even has a dual function, as it also promotes the excretion of acids through the lungs by exhaling.

The biggest source of acid, however, is our food. A too acidic diet can cause lasting damage to our digestive tract. So it can happen that our intestinal flora is damaged, it comes to decay and fermentation. The main problem here is that a disturbed intestinal flora also has a disturbed immune system as a result. If our intestinal flora is repeatedly damaged, it can also lead to food allergies such as gluten intolerance and, in extreme cases, to cancer.

Almost all animal products like meat, milk, and dairy products as well as eggs. Furthermore, processed foods, white flour, and sugar are the biggest acid-sins tp our body. So, almost all pastries, juices, and sweets are acidic. At the very top of the list are foods like figs, cucumber, endive, spinach, and soybeans. In contrast, almost all fruits and vegetables are alkaline. Foods that are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and especially dark green leafy vegetables are highly useful in neutralizing acids. Plus,  Quick help with a strong hyperacidity is healing earth. It binds excess acids in the stomach. Sometimes stress affects my stomach and healing earth causes miracles.

A good work-life balance is always recommended

Hyperacidity can also be caused by too much stress, too little exercise and too little sleep. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to these things, to drink a lot, to sleep and move sufficiently. You can test your pH at the doctor or by means of test strips for urine.

Have you ever dealt with or even heard about the acid-base balance? Or even tried healing clay? What are your experiences?

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Check the scientific evidence and studies used in this blog post

Adeva, M. M./Souto, G. 2011: Diet-induced metabolic acidosis, in: Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 30, 2011, No. 4, pp. 416-421.

Ausman, L. M./Oliver, L. M./Goldin, B. R./Woods, M. N./Gorbach, S. L./Dwyer, J. T. 2008: Estimated Net Acid Excretion Inversely Correlates With Urine pH in Vegans, Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians, and Omnivores, in: Journal of Renal Nutrition, Vol. 18, 2008, No. 5, pp. 456-465.

Deriemaeker, P./Aerenhouts, D./Hebbelinck, M./Clarys, P. 2010: Nutrient based estimation of acid-base balance in vegetarians and non-vegetarians, in: Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, Vol. 65, 2010, No. 1, pp. 77-82.

Kerstetter, J. E./O’Brien, K. O./Caseria, D. M./Wall, D. E./Insogna, K. L. 2005: The impact of dietary protein on calcium absorption and kinetic measures of bone turnover in women, in: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Vol. 90, 2005, No. 1, pp. 26-31.

Schwalfenber, G. K. 2012: The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health?, in: Journal of Environmental and Public Health.

Waheed, N./Cheema, H. A./Suleman, H./Fayyaz, Z./Mushtaq, I./Muhammad/Hashmi, A. 2016: Celiac Crisis: A Rare or Rarely Recognized Disease, in: Journal of Ayub Medical College Abbotabad-Pakistan, Vol. 28, 2016, No. 4, pp. 672-675.

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