Nutrition 103: pH balance

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Posted by: stak
Tags: nutrition
Posted on: 2012-06-16 09:13:28

Same disclaimer and meta-information applies to this post as my previous posts (Nutrition 101, Nutrition 102).

(Since I wrote nutrition 101 about sugars and 102 about fats, I was planning to make 103 about the final macronutrient group, proteins. But honestly I don't think I understand proteins well enough at this point to explain simply; so rather than hold up the series any longer I'll jump ahead and get back to proteins later.)

pH balance

So, let's talk about pH balance. pH is a measure of acidity/alkalinity on a scale of 1-14; 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. 7 is considered neutral, and your blood must remain in the range of around 6.8-7.8 in order for you to stay alive (usually it stays in the 7.3-7.4 range). This is absolutely critical, and so it makes sense that your body has all sorts of mechanisms to try and maintain your blood pH in that range.

One of these mechanisms is leaching calcium from your bones. That is, if your blood pH starts dropping towards the acidic side, you body starts breaking down bone tissue and releasing calcium; this triggers chemical reactions with a net alkaline output, and brings your pH back into balance. Over time this can lead to softer bones, osteoporosis and all sorts of other bad things.

So how can you prevent this and keep your pH in balance, you ask? Good question. Here is a link that shows you which kinds of foods are acid-inducing and which kinds of foods are alkaline-inducing: A list of acid/alkaline producing foods. Note how pretty much all fruits and vegetables (surprisingly, even acidic things like citrus fruits) are alkaline-inducing, and pretty much anything else is acid-inducing. Eat your veggies!

Calcium/potassium balance

Just as an addendum, if you're concerned about bones, another thing to watch out for is your calcium/potassium intake. If you don't eat enough calcium your body will use potassium as a replacement (they are chemically similar) in bone tissue. However, potassium is much softer than calcium, and again leads to softer bones and more chance of osteoporosis.

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