Sports Nutritionist Eoin Lacey and Jeff Willoughby
The pH Balance
There are many different substances in your body that is needed for functioning on a daily basis. There are approximately 20 amino acids, several dozen sugars and fatty acids, approximately forty vitamins and one hundred or so minerals and trace elements. Each one of these play(s) are vital role in the body but can all be classified into two basic groups – Alkaline or acids. They are complete opposites and your body needs both to be in balance for optimal health to occur.
An acid is anything that breaks down in water releasing hydrogen ions. When a substance has more acidic minerals than alkalising minerals it is said to be acidic. An alkaline is something that does not give off hydrogen ions in water.
The pH scale is a scale that ranges from 1 – 14. With 7 being Neutral. Anything below 7 is acidic and anything above 7 is alkaline. Although it is important to note that the scale is not so generous as 1 – 14 indicates. A state of balance is measured at 7.36 (so slightly alkaline), Anything between 7.36 and 7.42 is considered normal. Death will occur if the body reaches below 7 or above 7.8 death will occur. This shows what are balancing act the body is playing all the time and balancing the body is truly a life or death matter.
However with the increasing consumption of sugar and dietary bad habits in today's modern world, it often sees us eating foods that are more acidic in nature causing the body to struggle to constantly fight to keep a pH as close to neutral as possible. This acidic imbalance that occurs all to frequently and opens the door to potential sickness and disease
When the body is in a state of declining pH, the blood to maintain balance pulls alkaline minerals out of our tissues in order to regulate the balance. This means that minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are used to react with acids which create far less detrimental substances that can be eliminated by the body. Many people are deficient in these substances and take supplements to correct it, but it is the pH balance that needs to be corrected first.
pH Miracle, Robert Young & Shelley Young. 2002
Acidosis is by far the most common - more than half the population suffers from this condition
The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimal Health, Christopher Vasey 2006
Common problems with acidic people
- Weight gain
- The body creates fat cells to carry acids away from your vital organs to try to
- The chaos of an imbalanced body will exhaust the adrenal glands, and the
resulting low levels of energy contribute to weight gain
- The more imbalanced your body is (the more acidic) the more toxic it will
become. It is the liver that tries to detoxify these toxins, which distracts the
liver from efficiently metabolizing fat and sugar, again adding to weight gain.
- The body creates fat cells to carry acids away from your vital organs to try to protect them.
- An acidic state severely stresses the immune system. Thus it is always
stressed and over worked. The result can be sensitivity leading to allergies
like asthma, environmental sensitivities and food sensitivities. Soreness,
swelling, watery eyes, runny nose and eczema are all ways of eliminating
- An acidic state severely stresses the immune system. Thus it is always stressed and over worked. The result can be sensitivity leading to allergies like asthma, environmental sensitivities and food sensitivities. Soreness, swelling, watery eyes, runny nose and eczema are all ways of eliminating acid toxins.
- The toxins you produce in a acidic body reduce the absorption of protein, minerals and other nutrients which in turn weaken the body's ability to produce enzymes and hormones and the hundreds of other chemical components necessary for cell energy and organ activity. This also interferes with the reconstruction of cells and other necessary components of energy production. The result is fatigue, poor endurance an inability to add muscle tone, and general weakness pH Miracle, Robert Young & Shelley Young. 2002
How our body gets rid of these acids
- The Kidneys
- The kidney helps to get rid of solid acids through urination. In its excretion of
acids, the kidneys utilise various alkali reserves. If these are not coming from
the diet then the kidney calls upon the alkali reserves stored in the watery
layer around the bone and in the bone itself.
- The kidney helps to get rid of solid acids through urination. In its excretion of acids, the kidneys utilise various alkali reserves. If these are not coming from the diet then the kidney calls upon the alkali reserves stored in the watery layer around the bone and in the bone itself.
- The Lungs
- The lungs also work to keep the body's pH levels balanced by eliminating
volatile acids. The lungs naturally get rid of carbonic acid through respiration
which helps to keep overall pH balance.
- The lungs also work to keep the body's pH levels balanced by eliminating volatile acids. The lungs naturally get rid of carbonic acid through respiration which helps to keep overall pH balance.
- It is important to note that the body increases respiration to try to get rid of a
build up of acids which can be a tell tale sign of over acidity.
However Christopher Vasey in his book The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimal Health points out that this method is capable of only dealing with weak acids.
- Fixed acids which are nonvolatile and cannot be exhaledas a gas by the
lungs, can be eliminated through e kidneys only
- Sweat Glands
- Although the sweat glands do not get rid of nearly as much acids as the kidneys or lungs, it is important to note that an increase in acids can produce a strong odour when sweating which can be another tell tale sign of over acidity.
Source: The Acid Alkaline Food guide, Brown & Trivieri 2006
So the question becomes, what do we do with this knowledge? Some campaigners would have us life on a island as a vegetarian only eating broccoli wit the rest of our lives. Although this would put us in a very healthy state I believe we can take a more realistic approach to the matter. Acidic food is not bad, eating too much acidic food without alkaline food is what creates internal problems. Understanding that Cheeses, oils, Whole grains, oats, wheat (all cereals) bread, pasta, white sugar and meats are all acidifying, if this is what makes the basis of your diet (which is the case for most people) we need to change what we eat to incorporate more alkaline foods. Alkalising foods are green vegetables, coloured vegetables, cottage cheese, cream, butter, bananas, almonds and brazil nuts, raisins, avocado and cold pressed oils. Incorporating these into your diet while reducing refined foods such as bread, pasta and white sugar will go along way to balancing out your pH.
But adding avocado to your meat or snacking on nuts and raisin throughout the day are all good tips. 2 Rules that I like have been created by Christopher Vasey are
1. A meal should never consist of solely acidifying foods but should always contain alkaline foods.
2. The amount of alkalising foods should be greater than the amount of acidifying foods at any one meal.
Make sure most of your diet is from fruits (dark berries and strawberries especially) and green vegetables
80% o your diet must be from alkalizing foods like green vegetables
pH Miracle, Robert Young & Shelley Young. 2002
|Foods||Alkaline - Forming||Acid - Forming|
|Wine (red or white)|
|Mixed Nuts & Seeds|
|Unsweetened Apple Juice|
|Asparagus, Kale & Kelp|
|Preserves & Jams|
|Most Beans (expect for lentils which are alkaline)|
|Seafood - Most|
|Beef, Bacon, & Ham|
|Chicken & Lamb|
|All biscuits and cakes and Deserts|
|Flour - White (Except Wholemeal flour which is Med)|
|Tortilla Chips & Tacos|
|Coffee (expresso is high)|
Include a green drink with fish oil supplements in the morning and also a multivitamin. Include some pH drops in your water throughout the day and you should be on your way to optimal pH balance and optimal health.