By Nicole Boisvert R.H.N
We all remember as a child our mothers telling us to eat our vegetables. She was right in more ways than one especially in the case of acid base balance in the body.
So what is pH balance anyway?
Every cell of the body functions within a certain pH range which is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity. The pH of your body is always around 7 and we have built in mechanisms to keep the pH within a very small variance. This is a good thing, since having a steady neutral pH is absolutely vital for our survival. One way your body maintains a steady pH is to borrow, beg and steal important minerals like calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium from your bones and vital organs to neutralize any excess acid.
So what does it really mean to be acidic or basic?
According to experts it’s the pH measurement of the water content in your body. Many things can affect the pH of your body, but one of the major determining factors is food. Each type of food has an acidic or basic (alkaline) value based on methods developed by researchers, who were able to figure out what foods cause an acidic or basic effect to your body. The more your diet consists of acidic foods the more likely your body will have an acidic environment and vice versa. Industrialized societies tend to have diets that produce what’s called a “low grade chronic metabolic acidosis.” There are a number of diseases that cause severe acidic affects on the body, however we are looking at lower levels of acidity. Therefore, your practitioner probably won’t notice the problem. Your cells will recognize the problem however.
So how do food choices affect acid base balance?
The acid base balance in our body is strongly influenced by our diet. Protein is acidic and most fruits and vegetables are basic (alkaline), so if you consume the proper amounts of both macronutrients, you should have no trouble balancing out your pH levels. Most of us have an acidic body due to our poor choice of foods. Foods that are high in acidic value include red meat, cheese, dairy, refined carbohydrate foods (i.e. bread, rice, and pasta), nuts, sugar, and pretty much all processed foods. Basic (alkaline) foods include most of all fruits and vegetables. It’s no surprise that eating highly acidic foods without adequate intake of basic foods to counter balance it, can cause enough strain on your body to lead to serious health problems like osteoporosis, joint pain, muscle pain, immune deficiency, kidney and bladder problems, premature aging and cardiovascular problems, just to name a few.
So what can I do?
Eating a diet containing approximately equal quantities of acidic and alkaline foods helps to maintain the body's internal environment at levels suitable for perfect functioning of the body. Eating a varied diet helps the body to maintain an acid base balance and allows it to absorb the trace elements, vitamins and minerals which it needs for optimal functioning. Here’s a quick summary of how you can easily achieve an acid base balance through food:
- Eliminating refined grains and processed foods is probably the simplest way to make the biggest difference in your diet in order to reduce unnecessary acidic food intake.
- Consume as many vegetables as you want to and eat moderate amount of fruits to make sure that you’re getting enough basic (alkaline) foods
- Eating protein is important and necessary, even though it’s acidic in nature. Make sure to consume adequate amounts of lean protein with a focus on plant proteins.
- Fats are neutral, so you don’t need to worry about it in terms of affecting the acid base balance. Stick to eating moderate amounts of healthy fats
It isn’t always convenient or easy to get as many fruits and vegetable as you might want in your diet. We all lead busy lives and it can be hard to fit everything in, all the time. The easiest ways to get vegetables in is to take a greens supplement. There are several varieties available including ones with additional nutrients, raw greens supplements and liquid versions as well, for easier absorption. You can also purchase drink mixes that are alkaline in nature that are meant to be drank first thing in the morning. An alkaline multi-mineral supplement may also be right for you. Speak to an associate in the health and body care department of your local health food store or your health care provider to learn which product is best for you.
Managing stress in your life is a good general recommendation for better health no matter what condition you are dealing with. Learning effective ways to cope with stress is crucial to any health plan. It's not possible to completely eliminate stress; it's a part of life. But you can learn to manage it. Whether you go running, do yoga, or practice deep breathing exercises. Find what works for you and make it a part of your daily life.
*This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your health care practitioner. For any health related concerns, please consult your health care practitioner. Community Natural Foods and all of its associates shall not be held accountable for how this information is perceived or utilized.