Why is pH balance crucial to health?
An optimal pH value is a crucial aspect for ones health. Diseases and disorders cannot take root in a body when pH is in balance. But what is pH?
Our blood needs a right balance of acid and alkaline compounds. Blood acidity and alkalinity is measured on pH scale. PH scale ranges from 1-14, where 7 is considered to be neutral. With increase in acid levels (acidosis) ph levels become less than 7. And an increase in alkalinity (alkalosis) leads to rise of pH levels. Our blood pH is 7.4, which is slightly alkaline. pH stands for potential of hydrogen.
Types of pH imbalances
An excess of acid is called acidosis or acidemia and an excess in bases is called alkalosis or alkalemia. The process that causes the imbalance is classified based on the cause of the disturbance (respiratory or metabolic) and the direction of change in pH (acidosis or alkalosis).
If the pH of our blood drops to 7.35 or lower, then we experience acidosis. Acidosis is basically of two types… (a) Respiratory Acidosis and (b) Metabolic Acidosis.
(a) Respiratory Acidosis. Increased concentration of carbon dioxide caused by inability of our lungs to remove excess carbon dioxide from the body results in respiratory acidosis. Causes of Respiratory Acidosis…
i. Factors hindering pulmonary ventilation like Injury to respiratory center in brainstem, Obstruction in airways, Diseases affecting gaseous exchange- pneumonia and emphysema and Chest deformities or injuries.
ii. Overuse of sedatives
Any of the above condition can increase levels of carbon dioxide in the body, which in turn increases level of carbonic acid and hydrogen ions in the body fluids- resulting in more acidic pH or acidosis
Compensation of respiratory acidosis… Increased concentration of carbon dioxide stimulates respiratory center, which by increasing respiratory rate and depth lowers carbon dioxide concentration. Kidneys may also help in compensation by eliminating excess of hydrogen ions.
Symptoms of Respiratory Acidosis… Symptoms of Respiratory Acidosis may include nervousness, drowsiness, fatigue, disorientation, shortness of breath and confusion. If not compensated timely, it may result in coma or even death.
(b) Metabolic Acidosis. Metabolic acidosis occurs either due to accumulation of too much non-respiratory acids, or when your kidneys are unable to eliminate it properly. Causes of Metabolic Acidosis…
i. Uremic Acidosis. Reduction of removal of excess acids produced by metabolism by kidneys due to kidney disease affecting glomerular filtration.
ii. Prolonged vomiting. Generally loses alkaline content of stomach and upper part of intestine.
iii. Diabetic Acidosis. Due to buildup of ketone bodies in type 1 diabetes.
iv. Hyperchloremic Acidosis. Loss of sodium bicarbonate a base) with severe diarrhea.
v. Lactic Acidosis. Due to build up of lactic acid after prolonged exercise, lack of oxygen, low blood sugar, alcohol abuse, seizures and liver failure
Symptoms of Metabolic Acidosis… Shortness of breath, Dyspnea, Fatigue and confusion. Severe cases can lead to shock and death.
Alkalosis occurs when the serum pH is higher than normal (7.45 or higher). Alkalosis is basically of two types… (a) Respiratory Alkalosis (b) Metabolic Alkalosis.
(a) Respiratory Alkalosis. Respiratory Alkalosis develops when your blood has low levels of carbon dioxide. This can be caused by…
ii. High altitude
iii. Lung disease
iv. Liver disease
v. Low level of oxygen
vi. Salicylate poisoning
vii. Hyperventilation (occurs during anxiety, panic attacks)
Symptoms of Respiratory Alkalosis… Dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion and agitation, tingling sensations. Severe cases can lead to tetanic like contractions of the muscles.
b.) Metabolic Alkalosis. Metabolic Alkalosis results by accumulation of bicarbonate ions (a base) in the body fluids.
Causes of Metabolic Alkalosis…
i. Hypochloremic Alkalosis: loss of chloride ions due to prolonged vomiting
ii. Hypokalemic Alkalosis: loss of too much of potassium ions from the body due to the side effects of certain medications such as diuretics.
Symptoms of Metabolic Alkalosis… Muscle twitching, decreased respiratory rate and depth, muscles tetany (in extreme cases), numbness and tingling, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, confusion
What affects Body pH?
In general People in today’s time lean towards having an overly acidic pH dominant body. Many factors can contribute towards having an acidic pH
1. Lack of sleep.
2. Chronic stress.
3. Low fiber diet.
4. Antibiotic overuse.
5. Radiation exposure.
6. Shallow/Tight Breathing.
7. Alcohol and Tobacco use.
8. Excess intake of animal meats.
9. Poor chewing and eating habits.
10. Lack of exercise or over-exercise.
11. Highly processed and refined foods.
12. Excessive sugar and artificial sweeteners.
13. Toxins from foods, environment and beauty products.
14. Declining nutrient levels in foods due to industrial farming.
How pH levels affect our body…
1. Cardiovascular system. Acidic pH is the principal cause of heart diseases. It can initiate inflammatory response in the arteries leading to atherosclerosis, which is the prime cause of hypertension, stroke and even heart attack.
2. Digestive system. Most of the digestive issues like bloating, indigestion, gastric reflux, nausea and constipation are mainly caused by increased acidity in stomach.
3. Immune system. Too much acidity can serve as a breeding ground for anaerobic pathogens and bad bacteria. According to Antoine Bechamp, “The germ is nothing, the terrain is everything”. Whether the pathogen incubates or remains dormant, all depends on pH at cellular level.
4. Raspiratory system. Transport of oxygen is hampered in acidic medium. This may cause hypoxia at the cellular level. Acidic medium also allows mucus and pathogens to build up in our lungs. This combined with inflammation can lead to frequent colds, asthma and bronchitis.
5. Musculosketal system. Acidity can leach calcium (most alkaline mineral) from the bones. This can lead to osteopenia or osteoporosis. Both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis is caused by imbalances in the pH. Accumulation of acid in the joint spaces damages cartilage, synovial membrane and bursae. This can lead to joint irritation and inflammation.
When acidity increases in the muscle cells, it affects the metabolism, glucose breakdown and oxygenation. This can lead to fatigue and muscle soreness.
6. Nervous system. Acidity affects nervous system by dampening oxygen supply to the brain tissues. It can affect both mental and emotional processing. Conditions like frequent headaches, migraine, mental fog and hormonal imbalances can be the result of too much acidity.
7. Integumentary system. Imbalance in skin pH can cause inflammatory skin conditions and make it susceptible to infections. Skin eruptions like acne, rashes, sores or skin lesions can be the result of altered pH.
8. Excretory system. Generally, any slight alteration in pH is compensated by kidneys and lungs. When our body is overwhelmed by excess acids, calcium (alkaline mineral) in the form of phosphates and carbonates are released into circulation to bring about PH homeostasis.
With modern diet, a loss of about 480gm of calcium over 20 years can takes place, which is almost half the skeletal mass of calcium.
Over time, Excess acids allow minerals build up in the kidneys leading to kidney stones.
9. Reproductory system. Acidity affects with three major reproductive functions…
- Male and female arousal.
- sexual enjoyment and orgasm.
- Female fertility.
Other pH imbalance associated diseases and disorders
- Morning sickness.
- Multiple sclerosis.
How to achieve a proper pH?
Our body has an incredible built in buffer system that regulates pH. However too much acidity or alkalinity can be controlled by exogenous buffering mechanisms by the help of
- Eating a diet of 75–80% of alkaline foods.
- Reducing uptake of acid forming foods.
- Physical exercise.
- Breathing exercises.