Keep On Top Of Your Bodies pH : Get The Acid / Alkaline Balance Right

Several factors affect the pH or acidity/alkalinity of our blood, with some of the most prominent factors including exercise and the food we eat. From the outset, it’s important to note that the actual pH of a foodstuff itself is not necessarily the same as the effect the food has on your body’s pH. A great example of this is citrus fruit because despite them being relatively acidic prior to consumption; they’re actually alkaline-forming once they are assimilated into the body. So why worry yourself about the effects certain foods have on your body’s pH? Well research by Schwalfenberg (2011) refers us back to the eating habits of the Paleolithic era, and it’s pretty clear that the foods we eat on a daily basis have taken a change for the worse in many ways. You’re probably aware that it’s not ideal to consume too much fast food, processed meals, sugar and saturated fat, and yet as a nation we continue to binge! More specifically, since the agricultural revolution (some 10,000 years ago) and industrialisation (in the last 200 years), we have seen a rise in salt relative to potassium, and thus a rise in chloride compared to bicarbonate. The modern diet is generally low in potassium and fibre, whilst being significantly higher in saturated fat and simple sugars. As you will come to see later in this article, some foods have a more acidic forming tendency than others which may alter the pH of your blood, potentially placing strain on your organs, most notably your kidneys. If your diet is high in processed sugars, fat, sodium and chloride, and is low in fibre, potassium and magnesium, then your body is likely to remain acidic (pH below approx 7.35). If an acidic internal environment persists, or if the kidney is unable to remove enough acid from the body then a condition known as diet-induced metabolic acidosis may arise. Although an extreme case, metabolic acidosis may cause headaches, anxiety due to hypoxia (low internal oxygen supply), nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness and weight loss. Metabolic acidosis is extreme, but a real possibility if a poor diet and lifestyle persists (Schwalfenberg, 2011).

By no means is this article intent on scare mongering, nor is it prescriptive in any way, but if you feel that you are consuming a large amount of acid forming foods (according to the list below) then it may be in your interest to amend it slightly in order to get the balance right. Following the nutritional guidance on the Eatwell plate is the safest bet every time, it illustrates the appropriate foodstuffs in their optimal proportions for health and longevity, but for your information why not take a look at the list below for the relative pH of some common foodstuffs, and try to get a balance between the acid and alkaline forming foods.

Table 1 : The Relative Alkaline/Acid Forming Tendency Of Some Common Foodstuffs

Food Category Most Alkaline Alkaline Lowest Alkaline Lowest Acid Acid Most Acid
Sweetners Stevia Maple/Rice Syrup Raw Honey1 Processed Honey White/brown sugar Artifical Sweetners
Fruits2

 

 

Watermelon, Garpefruit, papayas, Lemons Dates, blueberries, apples, pears Bananas, cherries, oranges, avacados Plums, Processed fruit juices Rhubarb Blackberries, Cranberries, Prunes
Vegetables2 Asparagus, raw spinach, onions Green beans, okra, Celery Carrots, Mushrooms, Tomatoes String Beans, Cooked Spinach Most Beans,  
Nuts & Seeds3   Almonds Chesnuts Most Seeds Pecans, Cashews Peanuts, Walnuts
Oils / Spices Olive Oil, Herbs Flax Seed Oil, Cayenne Pepper4 Canola Oil Corn Oil    

 

Gains / Cereals     Millet, Wild Rice, Quinoa Sprouted  Wheat Bread, Spelt, Rice White Rice, Corn, Oats, Rye Wheat, White Flour, Pastries, Pasta
Meats5       Venison, Cold Water Fish Turkey, Chicken, Lamb Beef, Prok, Shellfish
Dairy     Soy, Goat Milk, Whey Eggs, Butter, Yoghurt, Cottage Cheese Raw Milk Cheese, Ice Cream
Beverages6 Herb Teas, Lemon Water,

Purified water7

Green Tea Ginger Tea Tea Coffee Beer, Carbonated Drinks

Try some of these Alkalising supplements

Try an alkalising agent such as PhD Nutrition Greens pH 7 or Udo’s Choice Beyond Greens which helps to buffer hydrogen ions and thus reduce the acidity of your blood…a key contributing factor to cramp!

References

Riches, R. (2013). pH Scale: The Acid/Alkaline Connection. pH Balance. Retrieved 10th July, 2013, from https://www.robriches.com/nutrition/view/84#.Ud1n3_n2a_R

Schwalfenberg, G, K. (2011). The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? Journal of Environmental and Public Health. doi:  10.1155/2012/727630

About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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