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The pH Balance of Acidic and Alkali Foods: Effects on Health - Arbor Vitamins

The pH Balance of Acidic and Alkali Foods: Effects on Health

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the impact of dietary pH and net acid load on human health. The shift from a hunter-gatherer civilisation to modern agricultural and industrialised societies has brought about significant changes in our diet, leading to potential health consequences. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the relationship between acidic and alkali foods, their effects on the body, and the scientific evidence surrounding the alkaline diet.

  1. Evolution of the Human Diet: Over thousands of years, the human diet has transitioned from a potassium (K)-rich and sodium (Na)-poor composition to the opposite. The agricultural revolution and industrialisation further exacerbated this shift, resulting in a modern diet that is deficient in essential minerals such as magnesium and potassium, while being high in saturated fats, simple sugars, sodium, and chloride. This dietary change may induce metabolic acidosis, which can be incongruous with our genetically determined nutritional requirements.

  2. pH in Various Cells, Organs, and Membranes: The pH levels in different areas of our body vary significantly. For instance, the stomach has high acidity (pH 1.35-3.5) to aid digestion and protect against harmful microbes. However, even in the stomach, there is a protective alkaline layer outside the epithelium. Similarly, the skin, vagina, and urine have specific pH levels to provide protective barriers against microbial overgrowth. Understanding these pH variations is crucial to grasp the intricate balance within our body.

  3. Chronic Acidosis and Bone Disease: The modern diet, with its high acid load, can lead to the release of calcium salts from bones to maintain pH homeostasis. Over time, this urinary calcium loss can contribute to a negative calcium balance, potentially increasing the risk of osteoporosis. However, the relationship between dietary acid load and osteoporosis is complex, and factors like vitamin D deficiency and compensatory phosphate intake need to be considered. Supplementation with bicarbonate and adequate vitamin D levels may help mitigate bone loss.

  4. Alkaline Diets and Muscle: Loss of muscle mass is a common age-related concern, but chronic metabolic acidosis can accelerate muscle breakdown. Correcting acidosis through diet or supplements may help preserve muscle mass, especially in conditions like renal failure or diabetic ketosis. Sodium bicarbonate supplementation has shown promising results in reducing exercise-induced acidosis.

  5. Alkaline Supplementation and Growth Hormone: Metabolic acidosis in children has been associated with low levels of growth hormone and impaired growth. Correcting acidosis with alkaline supplementation has shown to increase growth hormone levels and improve growth. This finding has broader implications for cardiovascular health, body composition, and cognitive function.

  6. Acidic Foods and Dental Health: Consuming highly acidic foods and beverages can erode tooth enamel, leading to dental problems such as tooth sensitivity, cavities, and enamel erosion. Acidic fruits, carbonated drinks, and certain acidic condiments are common culprits. It's important to balance the intake of acidic foods with proper dental hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups.

  7. Acidic Foods and Digestive Health: Some individuals may experience digestive discomfort when consuming large amounts of acidic foods. Acidic foods can irritate the gastrointestinal lining, leading to symptoms such as acid reflux, heartburn, and stomach ulcers. For those with pre-existing digestive conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or peptic ulcers, it's important to moderate the intake of acidic foods and consult with a healthcare professional for personalised dietary recommendations.

The pH balance of our diet can play a crucial role in maintaining overall health and preventing various diseases. By gaining a deeper understanding of the pH balance of acidic and alkali foods, we can make informed choices about our diet and strive for a more harmonious relationship with the foods we consume.

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