A popular saying goes that you are what you eat. In other words, the overall health status of an individual has everything to do with his dietary habits and preferences. Nowadays, under the pretext of modernization, a lot of us are fast substituting our healthy natural diets with killer foods that can only detract from our health and increase our risk of suffering from various avoidable ailments like cancers, diabetes, hypertension and so on.
One factor that has been of immense significance in determining the impact of foods on our health is the pH. Simply put, pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. By convention, It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14 such that a pH of 7.0 is regarded as neutral. Any value below 7.0 is acidic while values greater than 7.0 are alkaline. Interestingly, the human body system has been delicately designed to function optimally at a narrow pH range of 7.35 - 7.45 which is slightly alkaline.
However, disease sets in whenever something happens to shift this delicate balance to the acidic range. Such adverse acidifying factors include emotional stress, excess acid-forming diets, toxins or conditions that deprive body cells and tissues of oxygen supply. Furthermore, even when such factors disrupt the pH of the blood, the body has an innate buffer system made up of alkaline minerals to neutralize the insult. However, if the diet is predominantly acidic, this buffering system is soon overwhelmed, setting the stage for numerous disease conditions.
Can you imagine that a blood pH of 6.9 (acidosis) which is only slightly acidic may lead to coma and death? In the light of all this, experts recommend a diet that consists of 60% alkaline-forming foods and 40% acid-forming foods in order to maintain sound health. An acid-forming food is one which creates an acidic environment in the blood after being digested and absorbed whereas an alkali-forming food alkalizes the blood after metabolism. Moreover, note that an acidic food is not necessarily acid-forming nor is an alkaline food necessarily alkalizing.
For instance, although lemons are acidic in nature, they have a profoundly alkalizing effect in the body after digestion. Generally, acid-forming foods include carbonated soft drinks, alcohol, processed foods, artificial sweeteners, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, grains and legumes. On the other hand, examples of alkaline foods are green vegetables, most fruits like lemon and watermelon, nuts, peas, beans and spices. Did you notice that some of the acid-forming foods are also vital for normal growth and development? Hence, the emphasis is not on consuming only alkali-forming diets at the expense of the essential acid formers but on maintaining a crucial balance, bearing in mind the 60/40 ratio as earlier explained.
If you eat too much of acid-forming foods, you are setting yourself up for chronic acidosis which has been linked to osteoporosis, back pains, cancers, rapid aging as well as fungal infections. Below are two major health conditions associated with excessive acidic food consumption;
Chronic acidosis and Osteoporosis
The body responds to an acid load created by a heavy intake of acid formers by buffering with mineral salts such as calcium phosphates which are mobilized from the bones. This eventually leads to increased loss of calcium in the urine and weakness of bones as a result of depleted calcium, a condition termed osteoporosis (loss of bone density). Osteoporosis may be complicated by pathological fractures and back pain.
Chronic acidosis and Cancers
Chronic acidosis may also contribute to the incidence of cancers. Apart from the fact that some of the acid-forming foods such as carbonated soft drinks and processed foods are carcinogenic, an acidotic state may also deprive the body cells of oxygen supply leading to cell death. Untimely death of cells speeds up the process of aging. However, some cells survive this injury and eventually become malignant, capable of uncontrolled proliferation which leads to cancer development. Furthermore, some chemotherapeutic (anti-cancer) drugs such as adriamycin and epirubicin function best in alkaline environments with adverse effects more likely in acidic blood.
To ensure that your pH is maintained within the optimal range, here are few quick tips you can easily adopt.
1. Stay well hydrated as water helps to flush excess acids and toxins from your body. Experts recommend 6-8 glasses of water every day. You may also add lemon (alkali former) to your glass of water in the morning.
2. Take more fruits and fresh vegetables instead of processed foods and carbonated soft drinks or fruit juices.
3. Have a healthy exercise and sleep routine to avoid stress which can tilt your blood pH in the acidic direction. Ensure a minimum of 6 hours of sleep everyday in order to rest your cells and stay refreshed.
In conclusion, it cannot be overstressed that these simple tips can make a huge difference on your general health and wellbeing if adhered to.
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