Acid / Alkaline Balance
Acidity. It’s everywhere you go now-a-days. Acidity is something I personally call “meta” – a property that’s outside what we consider important for food. Everything has a PH – the measure of it’s acidity.
Before we get to why acidity matters, let’s think about your digestion system more completely:
The digestion process is an amazingly complex system of systems that work pretty much nonstop to render nutrition from the food you eat useful for the body. You place food in your mouth and so many of the systems in your body engage – it fascinates me to no end. Think about it – your tongue, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, kidneys, gallbladder, lower intestines, and large intestines (among other things) work non-stop to provide you life. These mini systems interconnect with larger systems and communicate-function using electricity, hormones, fluids, and probably a host of means we have yet to discover.
This system – an intricate machine of machines – maintains an internal and external environment. The internal environment is the organs, tissues, blood (body-stuff) – the external environment goes from your mouth to anus and is comprised of some critical systems, including other life forms – intestinal flora (bacteria). Think about it, you have a fully external environment inside of your body – a highly controlled “pocket”, flush with, at different times, hydrochloric acid, sodium bicarbonate (yes, baking soda!), chyme (nutritious black slime), and living organisms.
You place food into this system all day long =) When you put food into it, the food has properties that really matter. Let’s focus on acidity for the moment.
The body works hard to maintain acidity in your urine, blood, etc. The reason for this is that over-acidity does bad things to you – for example, denatures proteins (you need those) and stops the functioning of enzymes.
Ok, so let’s eat some food. What happens?
You chew it, swallow it, and it goes to your stomach, which is filled with hydrochloric acid (super low pH). It hangs there for awhile, where it finally exits your stomach into your duodenum. In here, it is showered with alkaline bile (thank you gall bladder) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, lol, thank you pancreas) to neutralize the PH of what is now Chyme. It exits this system into the lower intestines with a PH that is safe for the lower intestines. From here the food is digested, which leaves behind an chemical ash – one that can be alkaline or acidic depending on the nature of the food. Over time, this is where the body’s PH is probably affected.
All this to say really that your body is constantly managing the acidity of you and your food. And yes, you need acid!
But if things go too far…
If the body, system-wide, becomes acidic, you are in a state called acidosis. The body starts accessing minerals it’s stored to help maintain the balance of your blood, urine, and probably most fluids in your body. Where are these minerals stored? Among many other places, your bones. Another key action the body takes is that it stores fat to buffer against (dilute) the acid.
Wait, what?! Yep, mind blown.
Here’s Where I’m At
Studies will eventually show that the diet (especially the American diet) affects your PH. This has been my experience. I took my and my wife’s PH over a period of time, and we both experienced dropping acidity, which resulted in weight loss and just feeling better in general. This property (dropping acidity) was a symptom of our improving lifestyle.
And here’s a strange correlation.
I’m a fish nut. And a key component of the marine environment is the PH. I had some trouble equalizing this in one of my tanks, so I was able to observe an aquarium full of fish when their PH was acidic and when it was alkaline and when it experienced large swings.
When the tank was acidic (even slightly) it affected their mood and their health. When the tank was alkaline, they were calm and thrived. When it was acidic, they became sick more often and fought amongst themselves.
Can this same experience be translated to people? In my experience, yes. When my body is overloaded with acidic substances, I get irritable. Whenever the PH swings widely in an organism – it creates biological stress. Non-uniform stress often leads to fatigue in all systems, including biological ones (that’s just common sense). Are we better protected from the external environment than fish? Yes, granted. Does that mean our internal PH doesn’t affect us? Nope, I don’t believe so (it does, trust me).
Here are my hypothesis around the body and PH, ones that I have experienced as probable.
- A body that is acidic is a body in stress, drawing on reserves that most certainly can be exhausted. In exhaustion, disease is imminent.
- A body whose chemistry is rapidly changing is one in stress.
- Alkalinity promotes health by protecting internal mineral reserves.
- An acidic body is storing fat to protect itself. Alkalinity helps the body avoid this need.
Basically, your beautiful, essential fat rolls are saving your life. Often, we humans oversimplify things. We look at fat as “bad”.
Our bodies are miracles of insert-your-ideology-here. They have thousands, millions, of years of information stored and expressed through DNA. Biology isn’t known for wasting energy on superfluous activity. Fat isn’t just the inconvenience of stored energy – it’s a complex, critical agent in our bodies, storing acid and toxins to protect you from a shitty environment – part of which is outside your control, part of which is your choosing. Your body is constantly managing your acidity, this is a critical property to life. If it must, it eats your bones to maintain it.
I love this stuff – there are so many critical questions that need asking – shifts of perception that need to occur – before a body that is sick can achieve balance. For a large percentage of this environment, you’re in the drivers seat! Isn’t the freedom to choose great?!
Keep asking the right questions! The answers are often irrelevant, it’s the questions that often make discovery possible.