- In general fruits and vegetables are metabolically alkaline (particularly raw), and meat, dairy, and grains are acid-forming. But a much bigger factor in whether a food is metabolically acidic or alkaline is determined by your immune response to it. Immune responses create inflammation. Inflammation begets excess metabolic acidity.
- To regulate metabolic pH in your blood and internal tissues, your lungs and kidneys play a major role. Your kidneys use citrate mineral salts, (particularly potassium citrate), to buffer and/or excrete excess acid. In addition to eating a lot of raw vegetables and fruits, one of the fastest ways to reduce excess acid is to supplement with a rich source of citrate mineral salts.
- Excess acidity and inflammation form two different ends of a vicious cycle. Increasing /decreasing either one acts to increase/decrease the other, respectively. Anti-inflammatory herbal combinations like Opti-A.I Extra, and alkalinizing mineral salts like Opti-Alkaline work as companion products because they address the two different ends of this inflammation-acidity cycle.
Metabolic pH...a Misunderstood Concept
One of the most misunderstood areas in the field of nutrition is the issue of internal acid/alkaline balance, i.e. metabolic pH. Though it is possible to be over-alkaline, the vast majority of people living in Western societies are very over-acidic, compared to what is required for optimal health. Being over-acidic both results in, and causes, poor oxygenation of our blood and tissues resulting in less energy, and more pain and inflammation.
Now most M.D.’s and conventional health scientists will scoff at this and tell you that it doesn’t matter what you eat or drink your body just buffers it out, and that your blood pH is maintained within a very narrow range. Yet, this is accomplished at the expense of your other tissues from which alkaline reserves and buffers are drawn. For example, if the blood becomes acidic, minerals are extracted from your bones to buffer it, and your bone density decreases. (1) It’s also important to remember that pH is a logarithmic scale, and very tiny changes in your pH level can have a huge impact on a person’s overall state, and how they feel. Moreover, yes your body is an amazing buffering system, but every system has its limits. If all you put in is acid-forming foods and beverages it’s eventually going to catch -up with you, and contribute to a myriad of problems.
5 benefits of maintaining an alkaline state.
1. Better oxygen delivery to your tissues.
Energy The benefits of being adequately alkaline start with our blood. Oxygen is transported on the iron-containing hemoglobin molecule. Hemoglobin loaded-up with oxygen is what makes our blood red. The better oxygenated our blood, the brighter red color it is. Yet once your hemoglobin is loaded-up how does your body control when to release the oxygen so that it makes it to your cells? The answer lies in a molecule called 2,3 DPG. (2,3 diphosphoglycerate).
It is responsible for releasing oxygen off the hemoglobin molecule at the right time so as to properly deliver it to your tissues. But the catch is that in an acidic medium, the 2,3 DPG releases the oxygen more readily. The more over-acidic you are the more easily/quickly your oxygen is released, and this can happen prematurely before it makes it to your tissues. So the most immediate benefit of being adequately alkaline is that your blood does a better job of properly delivering oxygen to your body’s cells.
2. More energy through better mitochondrial function
Once in the cell, what does your body do with the oxygen? Well, it is essential to run your energy-producing furnaces called the mitochondria. In general, assuming your mitochondria aren’t damaged, the more oxygen delivered, the more energy produced, and the better you feel. This is why repeatedly, when you talk to someone who has gone on an alkalinizing diet the very first thing they say, almost without exception, is how much more energy they have, and how much better they feel.
3. Loss of excess fat, water and weight
Obviously, if your mitochondrial furnaces are burning energy more efficiently, because they have a better oxygen supply, one of the things this is going to quickly affect is your energy stores, such as fat. Of course there are a lot of hormonal influences that come to bear here, like thyroid, sex, and adrenal hormones, but directly or indirectly all of them also impact the mitochondrial output…serving to speed it up or slow it down. In general, if you are burning more fuel and producing more energy, as long as your calorie intake is within reason, you will begin drawing energy from your fat stores. One of the other things people commonly report after achieving a more alkaline body is weight loss… sometimes dramatic weight loss.
As for water loss, if your cells are overly toxic and acidic, what do you think your body’s most immediate response is to balance this out? To retain water! After all, as the saying goes, “The solution to pollution is dilution.” (To illustrate, all you have to do is think of someone who looks puffy after a heavy night of drinking.) If you neutralize, and/or eliminate excess metabolic acid from your cells, the need to hold onto extra water decreases. This is a big part of the reason that people embarking on an alkalinizing diet can lose weight so quickly. This also applies to foods that a person is allergic or has an immune response to, but this will be covered in more detail in Part 2 of this article.
4. Reduced tendency for inflammation and pain flame
When someone experiences excess inflammation from any of the usual causes such as:
- emotional stress
- physical trauma
- lack of sleep
- elevated blood sugar and insulin
- excess adipose tissue, (i.e. fat)
- hormonal imbalance
- an excessive or imbalanced immune response
...one of the things that comes along with inflammation is a lot of oxidation.
An easy way to think of this relationship is like heat that comes with a flame. Now you can have heat without having a flame, but when you get enough heat, then you get a flame. And if you’ve got a flame, then you automatically get the high heat that goes with it.
Likewise, you have oxidation that occurs in a cell, (and it is actually essential.) But if you get too much of it, it can cause inflammation. And, if you’ve got inflammation then you’ve automatically got a bunch of oxidation. The two come together, part and parcel.
Combatting oxidation is why there is such a focus on the benefits of anti-oxidants. But itcan be even more productive to reduce inflammation, because in doing so you rid yourself of a bunch of oxidation at the same time. Virtually all herbal/botanical anti-inflammatories are also highly anti-oxidant, and this is one of the thrusts behind Optimum Health's Opti A.I. Extra. Yet, how they work can be a lot more profound than simple anti-oxidants like vitamin C. (This topic, involving what are called Nrf2 Activators, will be re-visited in part 2 of this article.)
But what does all this have to do with being over-acidic or alkaline? The problem with inflammation and the high levels of oxidation that accompany it is that they create acid...lactic acid to be specific. And this effect can dramatically contribute not just to feeling lousy, but to a whole host of chronic diseases like cancer, and neurological diseases such as Parkinsons and MS. How, you ask? By shutting down our energy producing mitochondria.
Like an explosion that extinguishes a furnace, a big wave of inflammation knocks out the ability of your own furnaces, the mitochondria, to properly utilize oxygen. Energy production drops accordingly. If the inflammatory response is big enough, your oxygen utilization and energy production stop. To whatever degree this happens your cells then switch over into the auxiliary method of producing energy, i.e. lactic acid metabolism, which requires no oxygen, but produces lactic acid as a waste product.
This is a very inefficient way to produce energy, yielding only 2 molecules of ATP instead of 36… an 18 fold difference… and it can acidify your system very quickly, (due to high levels of hydronium ion.) This acidity adds to the oxidation in the cell, and in the absence of an alkaline influence to push things the other way, it becomes a vicious feed-forward cycle, creating even more inflammation...and more acid.
To counteract or prevent this, you either need to neutralize the acid by introducing alkalinity, (say by eating a whole bunch of raw green vegetables), or you can take something that helps you buffer the acid, or get it out of your body. This is where citrate mineral salts come in, such as Potassium, Magnesium, or Calcium citrates. You see your kidneys use citrate mineral salts to buffer and excrete excess metabolic acid, and the minerals also help buffer it in your blood. (1,2,3) Because alkaline and anti-inflammatory influences feedback on the same cycle, they work even better together than either alone to reverse it. And as anyone with a painful condition can attest to, less inflammation means less pain. This effect can be both local, and systemic.
5. Better tissue and organ function resulting in an anti-aging effect, and a better, healthier appearance
So, let me ask you a question… how many of your tissues function properly without energy. None of them!* And if you’ve got lots of alkaline reserve, and are using oxygen and producing energy properly, and your inflammation and oxidation are reduced, this positively affects all of your systems…yielding healthier tissues and a better appearance…(particularly your largest organ, i.e. your skin.)
Since one of the fastest ways to age yourself is to go through a lot of inflammation, and being over-acidic directly contributes to this, the opposite also holds true...i.e. reducing inflammation and taking steps to ensure healthy alkaline reserves reduces aging!
Achieving optimal alkaline status starts with the diet. In general vegetables and fruits are metabolically alkaline, and meat, dairy, and grains are acidic, but a much bigger factor in whether a food is metabolically acidic or alkaline is determined by your immune response to it. Immune responses create inflammation, and as we have just covered, inflammation begets low oxygen and metabolic acidity.
In fact, one of the most common problems I see in the people I counsel is immune responses to the food they are eating, whether that be gluten, dairy, soy, corn, etc… You can also read part 2 of this article here
* For the nit-pickers Red Blood Cells, and certain connective tissues may arguably be said to function in the absence of energy production.
References and Sources
- Jehle,S., Zanetti,A.,Muser,J., Hulter,H., Krapf,R.:Partial Neutralization of the Acidogenic Western Diet with Potassium Citrate Increases Bone Mass in Postmenopausal Women with Osteopenia. JASN; Nov 2006; vol 17 no 11; pp 3213-3222. http://jasn.asnjournals.org/content/17/11/3213.full
- Suyfried, Thomas N.: Cancer as a Metabolic Disease - On the Origin, Managment, and Prevention of Cancer. Wiley; 2012
- Managing Biotransformation: The Metabolic, Genomic, and Detoxification Balance Points;13th International Symposium on Functional Medicine; April 19, 2006, Tampa, Florida http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_citrate
Further references available upon request.
Disclaimer: The above information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.