The Dynamic pH Balance of the Body
Because pH defines the performance of much bio-chemistry, cells and organs have to regulate it.
But we are now so out of kilter from our natural diet, that we need to understand the chemistry behind it.
The Effects of Food on pH
The short version is to understand the difference between acid-forming and alkaline-forming foods. Notably, all the foods associated to alkilinity are foods we are 'designed' to eat, while those in the acid-forming group are foods we have learned to manipulate in order to get them into our diet. We have had to do this in many circumstances in order to 'fill us up' and keep us alive while moving to areas of the world we weren't designed to exist.
This list is neither definitive or exhaustive, but it is a good place to start. Dominate your diet in falkaline foods, and many human ills simply disappear.
pH Changes Through Fasting and Detox
Our pH balance is critical for every tissue, and the body uses specific elements to help it. If our stores of these elements become low, then the body will leach them from tissues that are less important than the over pH balance. Thus bones and teeth can become stripped of calcium in order to neutralise acids in the digestive system, leading to Osteoporosis - the most common symptom of all.
The best way to understand the basis of the pH scale is with water. When water is complete, it contains an Oxygen atom and two Hydrogen atoms. In this state it is stable and balanced. However, the bonds that link this trio together are relatively weak, and can easily be broken to give us new, interesting and powerful properties - especially where biology is concerned.
Once split, the newly formed compounds are very different. One contains an Oxygen and a Hydrogen atom (OH-), and the other contains a simple Hydrogen atom (H+). However there is a new component here - they both have an electromagnetic charge (- or +), and therefore they are suddenly called 'ions'.
In everyday water some of the molecules are being torn apart to form ionic pairs all the time, and then recombining as the pull of their charges dictates - but because they do not leave the water, its overall charge remains neutral (pH7 is indicative of a neutral solution).
When there is a difference between these ionic pairs in a given solution, we get either an overall positive charge (Acidity), or a negative one (Alkalinity). This is counted on a scale to make the concept easier to communicate.
The way that the 'pH scale' is written will start to make more sense now. It is a per Hydrogen scale.
If the solution being tested has a positive charge (excess hydrogen ions (H+)), then it must be below the neutral pH 7 making it an 'acid', whereas an excess of hydroxide ions, (OH-) means an overall negative charge, thus it is above pH 7 and therefore an 'alkali'
The pH scale goes from 1 (as acidic as a car battery), to 15 (as alkaline as Lye), either of which would scold your skin or eat through metal. The scale is not linear; For example, the acidity of a sample with a pH of 5 is ten times greater than a sample with a pH of 6. A difference of 2 units, from 6 to 4, would mean that the acidity is one hundred times greater, and so on.
Because of the corrosive qualities of the acids and alkalis, it is essential for the body to maintain a balance between them.
Different tissues and systems within the body have different thresholds and numerous chemicals and elements are used to satisfy them.
Reasons for the Tight pH Windows
In the graph above, notice how the blood pH is held to within very fine boundaries just on the alkaline side of neutral. Too great a change on the pH scale within the blood, and it would either not be able to give off nutrients to the tissues it feeds, or would leach minerals out of them. If the blood becomes more acidic than neutral (pH7) then you would die. Therefore, the body spends many valuable resources maintaining a high level of alkaline materials in the blood to keep you alive.
There are certain chemicals and elements in the body that are very effective in mopping-up acidic materials, and they will be used to keep the system within the limits above. however, only so much can be done with elements such as Calcium, Iodine, Sulphur, Silicon and Potassium, as the body has a limited supply. It is no mistake for the system to leach Calcium from the bones in order to neutralize these poisonous acids - osteoporosis may be degenerative, but acidosis is fatal !
The muscle structures can withstand much higher levels of acidity, and so if necessary the blood can use them as a acid dump when it is unable to alkalize itself by other means. This build up of acids in the muscles (primarily Lactic Acid from insufficient oxygenation during exercise, and Uric Acid from a high-protein diet) eventually leads them to form into crystals that irritate the muscle linings, leading to symptoms such as body odor, stiffness, and finally gout.
SKIN & LUNGS :
Huge amounts of acids can be gassed-off through the lungs and skin (greatly aided by the presence of sunlight and lack of clothes)- the results are of course bad breath and pungent body odor - and the increased risk of infection from bacteria that prefer these acidic conditions. However, when it comes to maintaining an Alkaline state, your body will endure these minor risks, to keep you alive.
If the alkalizing compounds used in the process of digesting proteins (Calcium & Potassium) are not replaced from our food, then we have another net loss of these vital minerals. The ready supply of these compounds comes from our assimilation processes which are powered by the bacteria in the bowel. If they die because their environment becomes too acidic, then other bacteria present (but held in check by the alkaline conditions) would explode into dominance and auto intoxicate the system with their unchecked metabolic wastes.
Candida is a ready test of bowel acidity, as it can only proliferate in an acid environment. If it is sufficiently overgrown to be causing noticeable symptoms outside of the bowel (IE; Thrush, skin irritations, etc) then we have cause to address a systemic acidity problem. Diseases as diverse as schizophrenia, and ME have been cited as symptoms of Candida Albicans proliferating in the Brain and Central Nervous System due to their over-acidification.
Because the first solution to come into contact with potentially acidic foods is saliva, it has a huge pH window. However, the greater the acidity here, the more damage is done to teeth by virtue of calcium leaching, and bacterial overgrowth.
Because of this however, it can be used as a good indicator of alkalizing mineral supply. A series of periodic Litmus tests on the saliva after eating a known acid (IE; a lemon has a pH of 2) will show us the time taken to neutralize these acids, thus indicating a ready supply, or not.
For our purposes, the Urine is the best analysis group to work with, as it is not generally changed by external factors. As Uric Acid crystals are melted during the usual process of Catabolism (detox), they will drain away through the Kidneys into the bladder. This we can easily test during the retreat, and will be seen to fluctuate as the process goes through its various cycles.
Over acidity of the system, called 'Acidosis' is very common condition, with a wide range of symptoms pointing to it, such as Osteoporosis, Gout, Headaches, Rheumatism, Body Odor and even Candida. But it is a fairly rare cause of death, because of the body's fabulous defences against it. But these defences - like any other - come with a price-tag, and if overused, the body looses the option and suddenly the individual is faced with far worse than an acrid smell.
There are noticeably less records of anyone dying of alkalosis - it is not a generic problem today, not a life threatening one until the very last minutes.
Thus, we are better off focusing on choices that decrease our acid-content and increase our alkalinity.
In this simplified table, we have placed the most effective means of alkalizing the system at the top, and listed the rest in decreasing order of effectiveness. The activities listed below the neutral zone increase in acidifying qualities as the list goes on.
The idea here is to exemplify what can be done to decrease the acids in the system through the daily lifestyle choices that we make. If all of our efforts are to either minimize internal production and storage, or maximize the elimination of acids from the system, then we are on the right track.
Effective means of affecting pH balance
- It is generally agreed that a diet of 80% Alkalizing foods maintains the best moderate balance - this allows 20% for foods you like that don't like you.
- Never eat more than 80% of your hunger -if you cannot climb a hill after eating, you ate too much too quickly - slow down and eat less !
- Eat more than 25 different varieties of food each week - According to Chinese medicine, a householder is dutybound to find more than 55!
- Exercise according to your breathing capacity -if you cannot speak afterward, then it was too vigorous for you today.
- A relaxation regime should match the exercise taken - aching limbs are a sign of Lactic Acid saturation caused by insufficient oxygen in available blood flow.
- Sleep in complete darkness to ensure deep relaxation of the nervous system, and take every opportunity to bathe closed eyes in sunlight to stimulate hypothalamus vitality.
- Immerse as much of your body as possible in soft sunlight as often as possible (esp. in UK).