We all know blood has a crucial role in keeping us alive. Lose too much and your life is in danger. However the composition of our blood is also essential if we are to stay healthy. This is where the acid-base balance comes in.
What is the acid-base balance?
In order to do all the jobs that are asked of it, your blood needs to be perfectly balanced between acid and alkaline.
To achieve this the pH of arterial blood should sit at around 7.35 and 7.45. This measurement is referred to as the acid-base balance. If the pH level heads too far in either direction (and it doesn’t need to be by much) the body experiences an imbalance. If the pH goes down due to an increase in acid or not enough base, acidosis results. If the pH goes up due to a decrease in acid or too much base, the result is alkalosis.
Either of these situations can be problematic for health. In particular acidic blood prevents our cells from working properly – or at all. This can be fatal at its worst, but even when it is experienced long-term in a less severe form it can still lead to such conditions as muscle wasting and glucose intolerance.
Should you be worried about what you eat?
There are plenty of reasons to be worried about your food intake if you eat too much fatty or sugary food or you overeat on a regular basis. However the body is essentially very efficient at adjusting the pH levels in your blood according to how acidic (or not) the food is that you choose to eat.
Go online now and search for any combination of acid alkaline diets, alkaline diets and everything in between and you will see that there are lots of plans, diet books and other products seemingly designed to frighten you into adopting this type of diet. In truth though our bodies are exceptionally good at maintaining that ideal pH level we need to survive.
One of the essential ways we do this – without even realising – is by breathing. Our lungs keep a metaphorical eye on our blood’s pH level all the time. Respiration increases to reduce acidity levels and decreases to raise them. Again, this happens on a constant basis. We also rely on our kidneys to help balance things out, although they are a lot slower than the lungs in achieving this purpose, taking several days to have any effect. The body also has other buffer systems which consist of pairs of acids and bases. When an imbalance is detected the pairs can adjust to help make up for it.
Is it true acid-forming foods are harmful to bone health?
This is another question regularly doing the rounds online. Fortunately there is no truth in it. Dairy and protein are two of the key areas of our diet that generate more acidity in our bodies. However research has shown that protein increases absorption of calcium without taking any from your bones. Dairy has been shown to have positive effects on the bone density of those with osteoporosis, which seems to fly in the face of the panic forming warnings spread by some online.For the most part then, a healthy balanced diet is the way to go. It doesn’t do any good to eat more acidic foods or to focus on an alkaline diet since the body will automatically adjust to the pH in the blood anyway. It is far better to eat naturally and healthily and let your body carry on what it’s been doing for years already.