It’s hard to believe that our general health and well-being largely depends on the pH value of our body, but it is true. The ideal pH of blood being somewhat around 7.4, a slightly alkaline constitution is healthy. Not surprisingly, complex homeostatic mechanisms are in place for keeping the pH value of the body within a narrow range of 7.3 to 7.5. Any increase over 7.7 and decrease beyond 7 is nearly always fatal because the enzymes that catalyze the chemical reactions can function only within the above range.
Certain parts of the body are highly acidic, the pH value inside the stomach is around 3 due to the hydrochloric acid secreted to aid digestion. But, as soon as the stomach contents pass into the intestines, the acidity gets neutralized. The constant circulation of blood to every part of the body helps remove acidic byproducts from wherever they are produced.
For example, when we work out, lactic acid accumulates in the muscle tissues. This toxic substance is carried away by the blood to the liver where it undergoes further changes to release energy, precipitating carbon dioxide as the final waste product.
CO2 is also an acidifying substance, but its removal is carried out efficiently by the lungs through the gaseous exchange taking place during pulmonary respiration. Kidneys also play a role in flushing out acidic waste products.
10 Reasons To Keep Your Body Alkalized
1. Better gastrointestinal health
What we know is that acidity is caused by the overproduction of stomach acids. The hydrochloric acid secreted by the stomach glands is essential for the digestion of proteins in the food but its passage back into the esophagus, known as acid reflux, causes heartburn. Frequent episodes may permanently damage the esophageal walls and may even trigger cancers.
Stomach acids mixed with the food that passes into the intestine normally gets neutralized by the sodium bicarbonate secreted by the pancreas in the first part of the intestine called duodenum. If the neutralization is not effective, it may inflame the intestinal walls and cause discomfort. Acidity is often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, indigestion, and bloody stools. Since acidity interferes with the normal digestive process, nutritional deficiencies are a common outcome.
Overeating, alcohol consumption, spicy foods, excessive amounts of protein in the diet, and stress are some of the reasons for acidity since they over stimulate the stomach glands. Oral antacids are often used for temporary relief, but including more alkalizing foods in the diet has a more lasting effect.
2. Weight loss benefits
Accumulation of toxins in the body is one major reason for obesity since these harmful substances are stored away in fat tissue. Acidosis, or excessive acidity in the tissues is a serious problem; it can even be fatal. Acid is produced all the time as part of normal metabolic processes, but various adaptive mechanisms pitch in immediately to bring the pH back within the normal range.
However, when there’s too much acid due to some reason or other, or if the acid cannot be easily processed and excreted, weight gain becomes an adaptive mechanism to handle the excess acidity. Reducing the acidity of the body can prevent its storage in the fat tissue. That’s why people who shift to alkalizing diets often experience noticeable weight loss from fat reduction.
3. Energy boost
A surge in energy levels is a positive outcome of alkalizing the body. It is not surprising since the metabolic pathways function at their highest efficiency when the body has a pH level between 7.35 and 7.45. When the pH shifts out of this narrow range, the focus of the body also shifts to remedial measures.
For instance, when there’s a lactic acid build up in the muscles, blood carries it to the liver where it is converted to pyruvate, and then into glucose that can be used for energy. However, more energy has to be expended to complete this cycle, precipitating a large deficit in the total available energy.
Elimination of the acid also involves neutralizing it with minerals to form soluble compounds. Many body tissues, including muscles, are cannibalized to source these minerals, which naturally reduces their functioning. That’s why acidosis often precipitates fatigue and lethargy.
Alkalizing the body helps combat acidosis at the tissue level and makes extra energy and chemical substances available for the normal activities.
4. Improved immunity
Resistance to diseases is the job of our immune system. White blood cells work in several different ways to combat disease-causing organisms and toxic substances. They produce several antibodies specially tailored to inactivate antigens or foreign proteins of the invading microbes. Chemical messengers called cytokines are released to mount a consolidated attack on the offending organism or material. Phagocytosis is a process of engulfing the foreign particles, thereby taking them out of circulation.
All the above immune mechanisms work best in a pH–balanced body. Too much acidity can interfere with their actions and make us more susceptible to pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It can even weaken the natural defense mechanisms against cancer cells. That’s why alkalizing the body increases resistance to diseases as well as reduces the risk of cancers.
5. Anti-ageing effect
Aging refers to visible signs like wrinkled skin and graying hair, but it has far more serious health implications. Our cardiovascular system and neuromuscular system are also equally prone to the ravages of aging. It is quite obvious from the higher incidence of cardiac events, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases in the older population.
While aging is a natural process none of us can escape from premature aging. For instance, sun exposure causes photoaging, which is premature aging of the skin tissue. Similarly, acidosis accelerates the natural aging process. But keeping the body alkalized can prevent it.
6. Prevents osteoporosis relieves arthritic symptoms
Our body considers acidosis as an emergency and quickly streamlines measures to counteract it. Minerals such as calcium are often sourced from the skeletal tissue to convert the acid into mineral salts so that they can be easily flushed out. This leaching of minerals from the bones make them porous and brittle, a condition referred to as osteoporosis. Diets high in acidifying foods like red meat, cheese, and soda increase your risk of fractures, while increasing the intake of alkalizing foods can mitigate it.
7. Increases mental clarity and focus
Mental decline is associated with aging, but acidosis can also have a similar effect because it reduces the production and functioning of neurotransmitters. Increasing evidence shows that the cause of several neurodegenerative diseases is excess acidity in the body. Keeping the pH around 7.4 can probably reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Better skin, hair, and nails
Dry skin and dull hair are common symptoms of increased acidity of the body. Another one is thin nails that break off easily. These conditions result from the inadequate formation of the connective tissue protein keratin. Hair, nails and the outer layer of skin are all different versions of the same protein. What makes them strong is proper mineralization.
Acidosis and consequent mineral leaching affect the skin, hair, and nail health. Increasing alkalization, and even topical application of olive oil and other alkalizing agents helps improve their condition.
9. Improves dental health
Sensitivity to hot and cold drinks and acidic foods, mouth ulcers, brittle teeth, painful and bleeding gums, frequent infections, including tonsillitis and pharyngitis can be traced to increased body acidity. Gargling with astringent mouthwashes such as green tea extract and herbal teas made from sage, Oregon grape root, or white oak bark helps alkalize the mouth and remedy these problems.
10. Reduces arthritis symptoms
Arthritis is a common joint problem caused by the degeneration of bone and cartilage. The pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion associated with this condition make it extremely debilitating. People with acidic constitution seem to be predisposed to arthritis, and meat-based diet often aggravates the symptoms. Alkalizing diets help reduce the pain and inflammation of the joints. Having a drink of alkaline water first thing in the morning can reportedly put arthritis in remission, if not completely reverse the damage.
How To Alkalize The Body
The normal acid-base balance of our body should be maintained at 20:80 ratio for optimum health. A healthy diet should ideally have a similar ratio of acidifying and alkalizing foods, but imbalances are often caused by overconsumption of acidifying foods. Certain metabolic disorders and disease conditions also precipitate excess acidity. We can regain the balance by reducing the intake of highly acidifying foods like meat, refined grains, cheese, coffee, etc., as well as including more alkalizing foods in the diet. Completely avoid soda and sweetened beverages; they do nothing but harm the body.
Some of the best alkalizing foods to add to your diet:
Green leafy vegetables – Kale, spinach, parsley, chard, and watercress are good additions to an alkalizing diet. Wheatgrass juice and green smoothies are excellent ways of incorporating more greens into the diet.
Cruciferous vegetables – Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels’ sprouts and cauliflower are alkalizing vegetables. An added bonus is that the isothiocyanates in these vegetables are a known cancer preventive.
Lemon juice – Warm lemon water is one of the most alkalizing foods you can have. It does contain citric acid and feels acidic on your tongue. But once the components in the juice dissociate, the high mineral content makes it a strongly alkalizing food.
Alkaline water – Naturally occurring alkaline water contains high amounts of minerals from the mineral rocks in the natural water reservoirs. Alkaline herbal water can be prepared by infusing cucumber and lemon slices overnight in plain water. Try this refreshing and rejuvenating morning drink and enjoy the benefits of alkalizing. Here are some more ways to make your own alkaline water and why you should drink it.