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ACID-ALKALINE BALANCE

Updated 7/24/2013   


         Dr. Bernard Presser D.C.

5696 Magnolia Woods Drive

Memphis, TN 38134



 

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Chemically, acidity and alkalinity relate to hydrogen.  In the body, acid-alkaline (or acid-base) balance is a dynamic state of equilibrium of the hydrogen ion concentration.  Normally, the hydrogen atom is a proton circled by one electron.  If the electron is lost, it becomes a hydrogen ion (H+), an electrically-charged, chemically unstable particle.  The degree of acidity depends on the number of hydrogen ions present.  The degree of alkalinity depends on the number of hydroxyl ions (OH-) present, a negatively-charged combination of hydrogen and oxygen to which a free electron has been added.  So, an acid releases hydrogen into a solution and an alkali removes hydrogen from a solution.  The amount of free hydrogen is measured on a pH (potential of hydrogen) scale ranging from 1 to 14, denoting degrees of acidity or alkalinity.  A pH value is a measurement of the number of positive hydrogen (H+) ions compared to the number of negative hydroxyl (OH-) ions - a subtle indication of electrical balance.  A pH less than 7 indicates acidity, more than 7 indicates alkalinity, and 7 is about neutral.

Acid-alkaline balance in the body is essential since many biochemical, physiological, and enzymatic functions work best at or occur only at certain pH levels.  Various areas of the body (organs, tissues, fluids, etc.) have particular levels of acidity or alkalinity.  Many factors regulate acid-alkaline balance including respiration, digestion, excretion, and cellular metabolism.  In the blood, buffers act chemically to resist changes in pH, including bicarbonate, hemoglobin, amino acids, albumin, and globulin.  Other regulation of blood pH is performed by the lungs and kidneys.  The lungs remove carbon dioxide from the blood.  Carbon dioxide combined with water forms carbonic acid, so removing carbon dioxide is essentially removing acid.  Respiratory rates vary depending on the acidity or alkalinity of the body, speeding under acid conditions to remove carbon dioxide and slowing under alkaline conditions to retain acids.  If the blood is too acidic, the kidney excretes extra hydrogen atoms into the urine and retains extra sodium.  With high body acidity, the kidney excretes ammonium ions, which contain hydrogen atoms, into the urine.  With excess alkalinity, the process is reversed and hydrogen is retained.

Acid-alkaline balance may be affected by digestive processes.  When food is consumed, the stomach secretes hydrochloric acid.  The pancreas secretes bicarbonate to neutralize stomach acid for proper function of pancreatic enzymes.  Secretion of alkaline bile helps reduce the acidity of gastric juices.  After eating, there are normally transient changes in blood pH that correspond to these various secretions.  The blood usually returns to its normal pH fairly quickly.  But if there are digestive disturbances, then pH balance may be adversely affected.  Diarrhea, with a loss of bicarbonate, and vomiting, with a loss of acid, can affect pH.  The acid-alkaline environment inside cells is regulated within certain bounds.  Cellular membranes have pumps that cause hydrogen to enter or exit from the cells.  These pumps require nutrients such as phosphorus and magnesium to function.  Diffusion is another method of maintaining balance.  Cells may also regulate chemical reactions that generate or consume hydrogen.  Physical activity produces lactic acid and carbon dioxide (thus carbonic acid). Oxidation of phosphorus and sulfur produce phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid.  Elements such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium help buffer acids.  There are many other examples too numerous to list.

Severe disruptions of acid-alkaline balance in the blood or respiratory system may occur with certain diseases, shifts in fluid status, and certain medical or surgical treatments.  If severe imbalance remains uncorrected, a multitude of detrimental effects (ranging from electrolyte abnormalities to death) can ensue.  There are basically four clinical acid-alkaline disorders medically recognized:

Respiratory acidosis, caused by decreased ventilation and increased retention of carbon dioxide by the lungs.  The lungs are unable to remove carbon dioxide.  Acute cases can occur due to sleep apnea, asthma, pneumonia, aspiration of a foreign object, acute respiratory distress syndrome, pneumothorax, pulmonary emboli, etc.  Chronic cases are associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema, obesity hypoventilation syndrome, certain neurological or neuro-muscular diseases (kyphoscoliosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, myasthenia gravis, botulism, polymyositis, etc.)

Respiratory alkalosis is caused by increased ventilation and elimination of carbon dioxide.  This can occur centrally (e.g., secondary to head injury, pain, anxiety, sepsis, cerebrovascular accident, tumors), by peripheral stimulation (e.g., secondary to pneumonia, hypoxemia, high altitude, pulmonary embolism, congestive heart failure, cirrhosis of the liver, interstitial lung disease, etc.), by drug use (excess salicylates like aspirin, synthetic progesterone, etc.), and pregnancy aberrations (usually third trimester).

Metabolic acidosis, a state in which the pH of arterial blood decreases to below the normal range of 7.35 to 7.45 due to an increase in circulating acids or a reduction in bicarbonate levels.  It occurs when chemical changes in the body disturb the acid-alkaline balance, creating an excessive amount of acid in bodily fluids.  This can occur with kidney failure, diabetes, alcohol withdrawal, certain drugs (such as huge doses of aspirin) or poisons, liver diseases, tumors, sepsis, adrenal disorders, stomach ulcers, malnutrition, obesity, ketosis, improper diet, toxemia, fever, consumption of excessive amounts of synthetic ascorbic acid or niacin, some psychological states (severe anger, stress, fear), anorexia, renal tubular acidosis, gastrointestinal bicarbonate losses, chlorine gas exposure, certain medical treatments, etc.  Ketosis occurs in diets high in man-made fat and lacking in carbohydrates (or in diabetes or starvation) when the body burns fats rather than carbohydrates.  But ketosis may not occur when fats are whole, natural, unaltered, unrefined.

Metabolic alkalosis, a state in which the pH of arterial blood exceeds the normal range due to an increase in bicarbonate levels or a reduction in circulating acids.  This may occur with fluid loss through the gastrointestinal tract (like excessive vomiting or diarrhea), kidneys (as may occur with diuretic use), skin, lungs, or with postoperative ascites; decreased serum potassium; high cholesterol levels; some endocrine imbalances; excess glucocorticoids or mineral-corticoids as may occur with use of steroid drugs; osteoarthritis; poor diet; excessive intake of an alkali such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) for the treatment of gastritis or peptic ulcers; decreased blood flow to the kidneys; etc.

Symptoms associated with acidosis may include chronic fatigue, drowsiness, frequent sighing, breathlessness with exertion, muscle pain or cramping especially after activity, a feeling of a constant "lump" in the throat, edema, insomnia, recessed eyes, arthritis, muscle weakness or atrophy, bone loss, abnormally low blood pressure, migraine headaches, acidic or strong perspiration, dry hard stools, foul-smelling stools and burning sensation in the anus, alternating constipation and diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, halitosis, a burning sensation in the mouth and/or under the tongue, sensitivity of teeth or mouth to vinegar and acidic fruits (as citrus), bumps on the tongue or roof of the mouth, hives, urinary tract infections, asthma, and more.

Symptoms associated with alkalosis can include over-excitability of the nervous system, highly nervous conditions (possibly with hyperventilation or seizures), sore muscles, migrating nerve and joint pain, creaking joints, morning stiffness (alleviated with movement), insomnia, bursitis, drowsiness, protruding eyes, hypertension, night cramps, hypothermia, edema, allergies, asthma, chronic indigestion, night coughs, vomiting, too rapid blood clotting, menstrual problems, hard dry stools, prostatitis, thickening of the skin with burning and itching, and inappropriate calcium deposits such as bone or heel spurs, and more.

Some researchers now believe that acidosis contributes to osteoporosis, muscle loss, insulin sensitivity problems that lead to diabetes, heart failure and other heart diseases, and acidic tissue levels during the initial formation of many types of cancer.  Consumption of altered or rancid fats OR improper digestion of fats may contribute to acidosis.  Removal of the gallbladder (and elimination of the bile salts it secretes to aid fat digestion) can lead to acidosis.  Or excessive loss of alkalinizing minerals like sodium may contribute to acidosis.  For example, the adrenal glands help regulate sodium levels, so adrenal insufficiency (weakened or poorly functioning glands) might contribute to acidosis because, with stress, increased amounts of sodium are flushed out through the kidneys, contributing to dehydration and decreased ability to neutralize acid.  Even chronic back pain may be related to an over-acid condition.  Patients diagnosed with soft tissue problems (such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and other conditions) given an alkaline mineral supplement experienced increased alkalinity of their blood and other body tissues along with a significant drop in pain.

Indicators in the blood are commonly used to assess pH since it is possible to measure them.  One such test is the ‘anion gap,' the difference between measured cations (positively charged ions) and anions (negatively charged ions).  But not all cations and anions are measured.  Usually only sodium (cation) without chloride and bicarbonate (anions) are measured.  Results may be within normal range when there is a pH imbalance.  Or alkalinity may be indicated when acidity exists.  In other words, the anion gap does not always present a clear picture of pH status.  Plasma levels of carbon dioxide may be helpful.  The ability of the plasma to combine with carbon dioxide to form bicarbonate depends upon available alkali, so carbon dioxide capacity is a measure of alkali reserve.  Values below normal range suggest metabolic acidosis; values above suggest metabolic alkalosis.  But pH may not be determined by carbon dioxide combining power alone.  Levels of sodium, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate may also be measured.

Obviously, blood tests do not always provide a definite answer.  It is difficult or even impossible to measure the pH of other tissues.  Some clinicians have used pH values of saliva and urine, but these occur within a wide range and change frequently.  Internal pH cannot be determined by urine or saliva pH alone.  The kidneys have several methods for disposing of excess acid and each has a different effect on urine pH.  Saliva pH is affected by bacteria and other microorganisms in the mouth and is not a reliable indicator of the internal environment.  Symptoms are not always a reliable gauge since they may occur with any number of other problems.  Nevertheless, some blood and urine tests may be helpful indicators of acid-alkaline disturbance. i

THE PLOT THICKENS

Normal body metabolism is always producing acids.  For example, most bodily waste products are acid.  Exercise tends to make the body more alkaline, but over-exercise causes a buildup of lactic acid levels.  Carbon dioxide, released as a waste product from cells into extracellular fluid, is converted to carbonic acid.  Phosphorus and sulfur are converted by oxidation to phosphoric and sulfuric acids.  Complete digestion of protein foods makes hydrogen ions available, promoting acidity.  Metabolic breakdown of protein produces uric acid.  Fat metabolism produces acetic acid. Incomplete breakdown of fat produces excess ketones which are acid-forming.  Other examples abound.  However, organs such as the liver and pancreas produce and secrete alkaline enzymes that reduce acidity.  Peyer's patches (lymphatic tissue in the small intestines) produce chyle, an alkalizing enzyme.  Elimination of acidic waste products involves transport of carbonic acid in the blood to the lungs, where the acid is eliminated as carbon dioxide and water.  Blood is constantly circulated through the kidneys, where acids are removed and excreted through urine.  Other acidic wastes are released by sweat glands and through evacuation of feces.

The body constantly strives to main the correct pH for each of its various tissues and fluids.  When the body does become overly acidic or alkaline, it is primarily because there is an underlying malfunction, disorder, or disease, and/or the body is overwhelmed by toxins.  Furthermore, there is no absolute acid or alkaline.  An acid solution always contains some alkaline factors, and an alkaline solution always contains some acid factors.  All earthly elements are made up of different combinations of acid particles (positively charged protons) and alkaline particles (negatively charged electrons).  Although neutrality may be considered an ‘ideal' condition (in which acid and alkaline are equal), it is not realistic.

The pH-altering effect of different foods has been studied since the early 1900s.  Even today, much debate revolves around determining which foods are acidic and which are alkaline.  Laboratory testing is an "accepted" way to label foods as acid or alkaline.  Various foods are burned to ash and the pH of the resulting ash is measured.  In this way foods are classified as acid, alkaline, or neutral ash foods.  Alkaline-ash foods are those containing large amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and/or iron.  Most fruits and vegetables are considered alkaline-ash, for example.  Acid-ash foods are those containing chloride, phosphorus, iodine, or sulfur, minerals that form acid compounds.  Thus meats, fish, poultry, grains, eggs, and legumes are considered acid-ash, for example.  However, human biochemistry and physiology are far more complex than a lab's Bunsen burner, and foods are not "burned" by literal fire in the belly!  The effect a food may have on a living human body cannot be determined in this manner.  How much acid or alkaline a food's ashes contain does not mean the intricate biochemistry will, after all its actions and reactions, net the same acid or alkaline effect.

Some investigators refer to acid- and alkaline-forming foods, based on how the body reacts to each food -- the acid-forming or alkaline-forming ability of foods after digestion.  For example, limes have a pH of 1.9, containing strong acid, yet they are considered an alkaline-forming food.  Over acidity comes from eating too many acid-forming foods and not consuming sufficient alkalinizing foods.  Over-alkalinity comes from the reverse.  For example, most proteins in food are combined with sulfur and phosphorus.  When proteins are metabolized, these elements remain as sulfuric and phosphoric acid and must be neutralized by ammonia, calcium, potassium, and sodium before they can be excreted by the kidneys.  So high-protein foods, such as animal foods, are considered acid-forming.  Grains also contain much sulfur and phosphorus; when metabolized, they produce acids that must be neutralized, so are placed in the acid-forming list.  Organic acids in most fresh fruits and vegetables contain many alkaline elements such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium.  When these organic acids are oxidized, they become carbon dioxide and water; the alkaline elements remain and neutralize the acid.  Thus, most fruits and vegetables are considered alkaline forming foods.

According to many researchers, food intake plays a critical role in determining acid-alkaline balance in the body.  Many believe that disease occurs in an overly acid environment, that healthy cells are slightly alkaline.  A few clinicians go so far as to claim that "over-acidification of body fluids and tissues underlies all disease."  Acidosis is defined as a condition resulting from the formation or absorption of acids at a rate exceeding that of their neutralization or elimination.  Alkalinity is increased by ingestion of "alkaline" foods.  However, in truth, disease can occur equally in an overly alkaline environment as in an overly acid one.  Also, with illness, some tissues or fluids may be too acidic and/or too alkaline whereas others may be normal or imbalanced in a different direction.  And there are vast differences of opinion as to which foods are acid-forming and which are alkaline-forming.

Most "lists" of acid-, alkaline-, and neutral-forming foods place meats, beans, nuts, and grains in the acid forming column.  Others place some beans, some nuts, and some grains in the alkaline-forming column.  There are claims and some evidence that meat and other proteins can actually be alkalinizing.  Some contend that milk is neutral, cheeses are acid.  Others say milk is acid, some insist milk is alkaline.  Certain fruits such as plums, prunes, cranberries, rhubarb, and sour cherries may be classed as acid-forming since they contain either oxalic or benzoic acid, organic acids not completely broken down in the body.  Yet others class all fruits as alkaline or neutral.  Practically all vegetables may be considered alkalizing.  Or certain vegetables may be placed in the alkaline category (such as green leafy types, potatoes, squashes, and herbs), while others are placed in the acid category (such as spinach, string beans, chard, carrots, and peas).  There are even some claims that fruits and vegetables in general are acidifying.  Various fats can be placed just about anywhere.  One school of thought places ANY fat-containing foods in the acid forming group because excess consumption of fat results in some fats being incompletely digested, producing acetic acid.  Similarly, ANY foods containing protein may be placed in the acid group since, if over-consumed, will result in excessive blood urea nitrogen, causing the kidneys to excrete alkaline minerals.  Further, some researchers say animal proteins are strong acid-forming foods, whereas vegetable proteins contain alkaline compounds that neutralize acidic effects.  Fermented foods and lactic acid yeast mainly change bacterial flora in the large intestine, so may be classed as neutral or alkalinizing since "they don't acidify tissues or individual body cells.  "Rules abound regarding which foods contain an ability to decrease alkaline reserves of the body and which foods have the effect of replacing alkaline reserves.  Then for the conservative view: "It's well known that protein tends to increase the acidity of the blood slightly; fruits and vegetables lower it - that is, make the blood more alkaline.  But the body is very good at keeping its acid/base balance in the normal range.  You don't need any special acid-lowering diets or supplements." ii

CLUES AND COMPLEXITIES

Classification of foods as acid- or alkaline-forming can be very complicated.  For example, simple carbohydrates (such as "white" refined sugar) are classed as acid-forming because they are digested and metabolized very quickly, resulting in the production of lactic, butyric, pyroracemic, and acetic acids.  Refined sugars are also devoid of alkaline minerals, causing the body to use its stores of these minerals to buffer the slight acidity of the organic acids they produce.  Though grains are usually considered acid-forming, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains metabolize more slowly and evenly and do not produce organic acids.  Complex carbohydrates contain more alkaline minerals than acid minerals are believed to create an alkalinizing effect.  Another thought is that whole grains which have been germinated (soaked, slightly sprouted) can be alkaline-forming because phytates and enzyme inhibitors are loosed and minerals are released.  Refined grains, stripped of minerals and other nutrients, form acids.  Nuts, seeds, and beans soaked in water or sprouted also become more alkaline-forming when metabolized in the body. 

Some researchers believe that vegetables and fruits that are ripe are alkaline-forming, but when unripe can be more acid-forming.  Cooking can make some vegetables more acid-forming.  Fruits and vegetables grown by inorganic, commercially farmed methods are less alkaline-forming because they are grown in mineral-depleted soils.  Many vegetables which may be considered by some to be acid-forming, are actually effective cleansers of the body's acidic wastes.  Carrots and beets, for example, with their high percentage of acid-forming sulfur and phosphorus, help detoxify the liver and kidneys of acidic wastes.  Cabbage, high in acidic chlorine and sulfur, cleanses mucous membranes lining the stomach and intestinal tract of adhering acid wastes.  Alkaline-classified vegetables such as dandelions, endive, and lettuce are also effective cleansers.  It appears that acid and alkaline minerals in whole foods act together to cleanse and nourish. 

Meats, poultry, eggs, and seafood are usually thought of as acid-forming.  Yet biochemists explain that proteins act as natural buffers and amino acids can ionize and provide both acidic and alkaline groups.  The carboxyl group helps neutralize excess alkaline and the amine group neutralizes excess acid.  Overcooking denatures some important amino acids.  Many years ago it was discovered that dogs fed meat without its juices died much quicker than if fed nothing.  The meats had lost much of their buffering minerals and glutamine.  Frozen meats lose much of their juice, so are presumably more acid-forming. 

Refined sugars and flours, synthetic vitamins, soft drinks, artificial sweeteners, chemical additives, chemical colorings, preservatives, any refined and heavily processed food, and synthetic medications can all be considered acid-forming because they either never contained alkaline-forming minerals or the minerals were removed during processing and refining.  These items all have a slight acidifying effect of their own by requiring the use of alkaline reserves of the body for assimilation and removal.  Nutrient complexes from whole natural foods do not cause imbalances.  But isolated, synthetic vitamins can be acidifying.  One of the most acidifying is ascorbic acid, so it is often marketed as "buffered vitamin C," accompanied by calcium or sodium. 

Individual digestion and metabolism play roles in determining whether a food leaves an acid or alkaline residue.  For example, citrus fruits and tomatoes, which usually leave no acid residues, may be incompletely metabolized in some people and become acid-forming.  This may occur with inadequate hydrochloric acid production in the stomach or with thyroid under function.  One's health status, including the presence of inflammation or infection, tobacco use, and alcohol consumption, will influence pH balance. 

Some clinicians recommend various acid-alkaline balancing diets for good health.  A suggested diet may be comprised of 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods, according to the clinician's opinion of what is acid- or alkaline-forming. Not only are the diets quite different from each other, but the results from following such diets also vary considerably. 

According to evidence from studying many traditional populations known for their vibrant health and longevity, a predominantly "acidic" diet does not threaten the pH of the blood or cause disease or degeneration.  Dr. Weston Price found that the traditional "primitive" diets of healthy peoples were higher in acid-ash foods (such as natural meats, seafood, cheeses, whole grains, etc.) than in alkaline-ash foods.  These traditional diets were higher in minerals than the more refined modern diets.  Also far more fats and fat-soluble vitamins were consumed than would be approved today.  Various groups of "primitive racial stocks, living on entirely different native foods and in widely divergent climates and entirely different living habits," consumed "immunity-producing diets" usually found to be higher in acid factors than in alkaline factors.  All such peoples studied were generally in robust health, free from degenerative diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, etc.), and lived long, energetic lives. 

Actually, a diet in which proposed "acid" foods are absent can lead to deficiencies which undermine the body's ability to maintain the proper blood and tissue pH.  Foods rich in phosphorus and zinc, for instance, are necessary for the regulation of acid-alkaline balance.  Fat soluble vitamins (especially vitamin A) and fats of animal foods help maintain the health of the lungs and kidneys, two prime organs involved in acid-alkaline regulation. 

An "alkaline" diet is apparently not necessary for the maintenance of health or for a normal blood plasma pH.  Clusters of acidic, toxic wastes in various parts of the body (including adipose or fat tissues) do not necessarily raise blood acid levels.  An "alkaline" diet probably does not make significant inroads into concentrations of acidic wastes located in intercellular fluids or capillaries or the liver or fat stores.  The amount of digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, bile, and other metabolites the body manufactures in order to break down nutrients is not determined by blood pH.  Selective absorption - the body's ability to obtain specifically needed nutrients (including various "acid" or "alkaline" minerals) from whole foods - is another balancing ability.  Years ago Dr. Roger Williams demonstrated that there are vast individual differences in organs, tissues, blood constituents, and cellular organelles.  This biochemical individuality includes distinctive patterns of nutritional needs, including those for "acid" or "alkaline" foods.  Some clinicians have devised various methods of body or metabolic typing to classify people into specific groups (such as oxidative types, autonomic types, sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system dominance), recommending an ideal diet for each group.  But the fact that there are so many methods of body typing and that each has only limited success shows that categorizing people, like categorizing foods, is not the answer.  People are all unique with unique needs for food.  What may be acid-forming in one person may be alkaline-forming in another person.  What may be needed now for alkalinizing may not be needed later.  But people are all alike in one essential aspect: the need for real, natural, unaltered, unadulterated food. iii 

WHAT TO DO?

Nowadays, acid-alkaline disorders "are common clinical problems resulting from a wide variety of pathophysiological conditions..."  A pH imbalance may range from severe to mild.  Studies show there is far more acidosis in modern times than previously.  The historical shift to increased acidosis was tentatively believed to be the displacement of plant foods for cereal grains.  But plant-based diets were not prevalent in all historic peoples.  A more definite association is found in "eating contemporary diets," causing "a mismatch between the nutrient composition of the diet" and nutritional requirements for optimal systemic acid-alkaline status.  Consumption of calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods creates imbalance.  Reasons for the historical change from balanced acid production to excessive acid production have a lot to do with "modern processing and preparation of foods," leading to considerable loss of alkaline-forming nutrients.  People consume a "modern net acid-producing diet" consisting of refined, overly-processed, depleted, denatured, embalmed, chemicalized, un-foods (once were foods) and non-foods.  "Acidity correlates with more junk food," such as refined sugars and flours, soda, processed meats, distilled alcohol, and any other stripped, over-cooked, degenerated, adulterated, fake non-food.  Many illnesses, disorders, and diseases are being associated with increased acidity, from chronic back pain to cancer.  "Normal adult humans eating Western diets have chronic, low-grade metabolic acidosis..." 

Modern people consume a lot of animal proteins that come from unhealthy animals, raised in unnatural environments, fed pesticide-laden feeds, given numerous drugs and hormones.  Grains and other plant foods are commercially farmed on soils that are depleted of minerals and practically devoid of essential microorganisms; synthetic, acidic fertilizers force growth but do not feed; unhealthy plants are drenched with pesticides to preserve their existence until they are harvested; then they are transported long distances, artificially stored, and often processed and refined.  All this contributes to acid buildup. 

Exposure to pollutants and other toxic chemicals is ubiquitous.  The "total load" of toxic exposure and biochemical individuality of a person can contribute to a tendency for acidosis.  People with multiple chemical sensitivities and/or food intolerances are usually too acidic.  Acidosis damages end vascular pathways, connective tissue cells, ground substances (extracellular matrix), and the final autonomic and somatic end nervous structure.  This disturbs the information dissemination system throughout the body.  The proper acid-alkaline balance and presence of oxygen enhance the biochemical enzyme detoxification system.  Damage by a toxin might compromise detoxification pathways so that other substances formerly metabolized by this pathway may not be degraded properly. 

Anything that alters the H+ and OH- ion ratios will alter pH.  It is not simply a matter of acid or alkaline minerals.  In the body, pH is the result of nutrient interaction, not the cause.  When nutrients are balanced, pH will stabilize automatically in the correct range.  Nutrients in organic (food) form are balancing; inorganic forms can cause imbalances.  Using supplements of very concentrated acids or alkalis can cause more harm than good.  Either extreme can be destructive, denaturing, or neutralizing to living bodily proteins.  Essentially, eating and living in harmony with Nature promotes balance.  Unnatural un-foods or non-foods, many drugs, pollutants, hazardous chemicals, and other toxins lead to imbalance, are disruptive and destructive to living systems. 

A patient or client with acidosis or alkalosis should be considered holistically.  Any existing disorder, condition, or disease should be approached since it may affect pH balance.  Total toxic load should be taken into account and a detoxification program may be initiated.  Elimination of "junk" foods from the diet and inclusion of organically-raised whole foods should be stressed.  Clinician and client can work together to determine what types of whole foods and food supplements are especially needed to restore balance. iv 

This website has excellent nutritional protocols for Acid-Alkaline Balance which are available in conjunction with the Symptom Survey.  Take the Symptom Survey to discover specifically what nutrition you need for your individual health problems. I want to emphasize that the nutrition I recommend CANNOT be purchased in any retail store: so-called "health food" store, drug store, super market, etc.  The nutrition I recommend will help rebuild your body and help restore your health.  Those other products will only give you a pharmaceutical (drug) effect.  They will attempt to deal with your symptoms, which is the ONLY thing any drug can do, while leaving the state of your health unchanged. 

i Food, Nutrition & Diet Therapy, 10th Ed., eds: LK Mahan & S Escott-Stump, Philadelphia(WB Saunders), 2000: 153, 160-2; M Morganroth, J Crit Illness, Feb 1990, 5(2): 138-50; P & J Balch, Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd Ed., NY(Avery), 2000: 122-24; V Worthington, PPNF Health J, Winter 1997, 21(4): 1-8; J Trace Elem Med Biol, 2001, 15(2-3): 179-83.

ii RL Calabro, Living in the Raw, Santa Cruz(Rose Pub), 1998: 10-12; H Kristal & J Haig, Health & Healing Wisdom, Spring 2001, 25(1): 7; T Willard, Herbs for Health, Mar/Apr 2003, 8(1): 9; NK Fuchs, Women's Hlth Lttr, May 2002, 8(5): 8; UC Berkeley Wellness Lttr, Oct 2001, 18(1): 7; R & S Young, The pH Miracle, NY(Time Warner Co), 2002: 5, 13; H Aihara, Acid & Alkaline, Oroville(Geo Ohsawa Macrobiotic Fndtn), 1986: 9- 94; T Remer et al, Am J Clin Nutr, May 2003, 77(5): 1255-60.

iii G Cousens, Conscious Eating, Berkeley(North Atlantic Books), 2000: 239-269; RL Calabro, Living in the Raw: 11-12; H Aihara, Acid & Alkaline: 51-55; R Lee, Acidosis & Nutrition, Dec 1947: 1-6; R Wildman & D Medeiros, Advanced Human Nutrition, Boca Raton(CRC Press), 2000: 137; W Price, Acid- Base Balance of Diets, lecture, NY Dental Centennial Meeting, 4 Dec 1934; FD Kliment, The Acid Alkaline Balance Diet, Chicago(Contemporary Books), 2002: 8-37; V Worthington, PPNF Health J, Winter 1997, 21(4): 8; H Kristal, The John R Lee MD Med Lttr, Nov 2002: 5-6; RJ Rowen, Second Opinion, Jan 2002, 7(1): 4-7; Wise Traditions, Spring 2003, 4(1): 6.

iv S Rogers, Total Wellness, Mar 2000, 2-4; L Frassetto et al, Am J Clin Nutr, Sept 1998, 68(3): 576-83; A Sebstian et al, Am J Clin Nutr, Dec 2002, 76(6): 1308-16; T Remer & F Manz, Am J Clin Nutr, Oct 2003, 78(4): 802; A Sebastian, Am J Clin Nutr, Oct 2003, 78(4): 803-4; S Gluck, The Lancet, 8 Aug 1998, 352(9126): 474-79; D Williams, Alternatives, May 2002, 9(11): 81-88; N Ashfod & C Miller, Chemical Exposures, 2nd Ed., NY(Van Nostrand Reinhold), 1998: 110; W Rea, Chemical Sensitivity, Vol.4, Boca Raton (CRC Press), 1997: 2017, 2260, 2542, 2668; A Andersen, Science in Agriculture, Kansas City (Acres USA), 1992: 19-73.

Originally published as an issue of Nutrition News and Views, reproduced with permission by the author, Judith A. DeCava, CNC, LNC.