The PH Balancing Act
With the aging population of the United States, the incidence of so-called age-related diseases should be expected to rise. In fact the incidence of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a host of other diseases have been steadily rising for all age groups until it has reached epidemic proportions. That is because the factors of stress, lack of physical activity, environmental pollutants and a diet high in acid-producing foods collectively create the underlying cause of most degenerative diseases: acidosis.
Proper Acid/Alkaline Balance is Fundamental
What is acidosis? It is the reduced alkalinity of our blood and tissues. Why is this so important? Our body stays alive and healthy only because all of its 100 trillion cells communicate with each other. They do this through electrical, chemical and hormonal processes. In order for these signaling mechanisms to work, the body’s internal environment must be in a slightly alkaline state. If our body becomes too acidic, it adversely affects the functioning of all its parts: heart cells, blood cells, brain cells, nerve cells, muscle cells, bone cells, even skin and hair cells. Obviously, this leaves us vulnerable to all sorts of health problems.
The acidity or alkalinity of a substance is usually expressed as a number on the “pH” scale. The pH scale goes from 1 to 14, with 1 being most acidic, 7 being neutral and 14 most Blood balance alkaline. (The symbol “pH” is the abbreviation for “power of hydrogen,” a measurement of the concentration of hydrogen ions.) For blood, a pH level of 7.43 — just slightly alkaline — is optimal. Levels lower than 7.0 indicate an overly acidic state (acidosis) while levels above 7.5 indicate an overly alkaline state (called alkalosis).
The Problem with Chronic Acidosis
Acidosis begins when the body cannot properly dispose of excessive acids building up in the bloodstream. The body attempts to maintain proper pH balance by eliminating the excess acids through the kidneys, lungs and skin or by neutralizing the acids during the processes of digestion and cellular metabolism. However, when too much acid is produced, the body cannot keep pace. The excess waste overwhelms the system, polluting the blood and impairing the ability of the body’s cells to communicate.
In an effort to protect vital organs, the body diverts the harmful acids to store in tissues, joints and bones. This might make the organs temporarily safe, but the diversion can cause joint and skeletal problems such as osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis; skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema; and tissue problems such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
Over time, the acids build up in the organs where they begin to disrupt normal functioning. This produces more waste, which further lowers the body’s pH level. The decreased pH level means that the body is inundated with more dangerous acids and the problem becomes even more severe. Without restoring balance, cell walls harden and solidify. Our organs deteriorate as the cells die off, which further exacerbates our acidic condition. Now the body’s state of acidosis is a prime breeding ground for pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, molds and parasites, which feed off of the diseased tissues and organs. Acidosis literally destroys the body from the inside out, paving the way for disease to take over.
In an attempt to neutralize excess acids, the body draws on its store of alkalizing minerals. Calcium, magnesium and sodium are drawn into the bloodstream at the expense of the bones and organs that these minerals were taken from. The bones are often the hardest hit, as they are drained of their necessary calcium reserves, leading to bone thinning and an increased risk of osteoporosis, rheumatism and fractures. The teeth also suffer as a result of the demineralization, making them more brittle and cavity-prone.
Keeping the body in an acidic state for a prolonged period of time can dramatically accelerate aging. Cellular structures become altered. Cell membranes become narrower and weaker. The cells eventually begin making “mistakes” as they try to repair and regenerate themselves. Acidosis inhibits the production of collagen and elastin. Collagen is the principal protein of our bones, cartilage, tendons and skin and provides rigidity. Elastin is a protein that gives our skin, blood vessels and organs elasticity. Without collagen and elastin, the body loses its youthful appearance, as it is no longer able to sustain moisturized and wrinkle-free skin. Internally, the body is also aging more rapidly. The premature cell death impairs brain function as the neurons can no longer properly conduct impulses. We begin to experience memory loss and the abilities to learn and reason decline.
With untreated acidosis, excess acids within the body attack the tissues and organs, resulting in inflammation, lesions and hardening of organ tissues. The skin and kidneys are especially sensitive to the harmful acids. Hives, eczema, blotching and itching can occur from acidic sweat passing through the skin’s pores. The kidneys can become inflamed, which can lead to frequent urinary tract infections. Hardening of tissues and inflammation are also contributors to cardiovascular disease, and the resultant increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
In a state of acidosis, there is less oxygen available to the body. Many pathogens live in oxygen-deprived environments. Acidosis, then, makes the body a prime breeding ground for harmful microorganisms to live. Acid buildup also takes a nasty toll on the body’s immune function by seriously diminishing the production of white blood cells. The white blood cells that are generated are of reduced strength, making it even easier for disease and infection to take hold within the body. Dangerous microorganisms can now spread throughout the body, seeking out weakened areas. They break down tissues and interfere with biological processes, leaving behind a deadly wake of waste, which further perpetuates the acidic state.
Chronic acidosis also contributes to a state of insulin resistance within the body by interfering with glucose delivery to the cells. Normally, ordinary levels of insulin will escort glucose into the cells. With acidosis, the cell receptors fail to recognize the insulin hormone and deny it access to deposit the glucose, causing sugar to build up within the bloodstream. The pancreas, unaware of the insulin resistance, steps up insulin production in an effort to pump out enough of the hormone to remedy the situation. The body interprets the lack of glucose within the cells as starvation and begins to convert every calorie into fat. As a result, obesity and diabetes ensue.