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Acid-base balance (1/2): what it is, why it matters and how it relates to nutrition

Dernière mise à jour : 3 mars 2021

Today’s article is the first one out of two dedicated to the topic of acid-base balance. Register here to receive the next part and ensure you never miss a blog post!

A short introduction to the acid-base balance

An important property of your blood is its degree of acidity or alkalinity, indicated on the pH scale, which ranges from 0 (strongly acidic) to 14 (strongly basic or alkaline). Hitting the middle of this scale, we call a pH of 7 neutral.

The body's balance between acidity and alkalinity is referred to as acid-base balance. This balance gets out of whack when the body can no longer regulate acid-base changes, or when normal regulatory mechanisms stop being efficient.

What is the relationship with nutrition, you may ask? Well, imbalance can occur because of a chronically acidic diet.

To keep things simple, there are three main regulatory systems preventing acid loads from the food we ingest. Today we will focus on the one named kidney regulation. When ingesting, digesting and absorbing food, each of its components will get to the kidneys as an alkaline-forming or acid-forming compound. Your kidneys’ role will consist in maintaining pH levels stable.

Why acid-base balance matters

In order to avoid a host of health problems such as hormonal dysregulation, decrease in muscle mass and loss of minerals (unexhaustive list), the acid-base balance must be maintained within range as much as possible.

This is of such vital importance for your body that it will do whatever it takes to control acid-base levels- no matter what you eat. The issue? Your organism will use the buffering substances it needs, regardless of the source. Consequently, minerals can be borrowed from your bones (leading to higher risks of osteoporosis) and proteins from your hard-earned muscle. Just the dramatic opposite of a win-win scenario.

How nutrition affects pH levels

Most of the foods we consume nowadays have a high acidic load. If we improve our diet, our system will no longer be forced to work so hard to neutralize excessive acidity.

While nutrition is one of several factors involved in acid build up, you should be aware that it represents a crucial part of it. Your daily choices impact the acid/base status of your body. Consequently, you are vastly in charge of your overall health and recovery from physical activity (for the gym bunnies and athletes out there).

Ever heard of labeling aliments as basic or acidic? Consider yourself warned: how your food tastes will trick you in assessing whether it ranks high or not on the acidity versus alkalinity continuum.

For example, we would probably all agree that sugar is sweet, right? Allow me to disappoint you: it actually has high acid-forming properties. On the other hand, lemons and apple vinegar might surprise by their acidic taste, yet they have an alkaline effect when digested. What makes a food acidic or basic is how it decomposes in your body.

Stay posted! Coming up next

This is already a lot information to process (pun intended!). The aim was to raise awareness of how important it is to support your body to perform this crucial acid-base balancing act. Your health and vitality levels directly relate with it.

Next time, we will make the most out of the above scientific explanations and step into concrete action. In the second part of this article, you will receive all the tools you need to up your (alkalinizing) game by making informed nutritional choices.

Knowledge is power, so take it back and learn how to eat to preserve your acid-base balance. You will learn about alkaline-forming foods, acid-forming foods and since life is never black or white, neutral foods!

If you enjoyed reading this post and find it useful, please be kind and forward it to friends or family who could benefit from it or just be interested in this topic.

Thank you!

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