My husband and I love a good documentary, and there is no shortage of nutrition-based films these days. When we first saw the film, “Food Matters,” it was an eye-opening experience. Whether individuals were aiming to reduce inflammation or overcome cancer, the words “alkaline” and “acidic” kept popping up.
We all remember discussing pH in chemistry class, but what many of us do not realize is that our bodies have an ideal pH. Like water, the human body needs to remain neutral with a pH of 7.365. When we eat foods that are acid-forming, this causes our pH to drop. In comparison, our bodies can also become too alkaline as our pH rises.
It’s all about finding that optimal acid-base balance and more importantly, understanding when your body is imbalanced. If your body was too acidic or too alkaline, would you be able to spot the associated warning signs?
Signs that you are too acidic
Long story short, acidic bodies are typically unhealthy bodies. When your body is in a constant state of acidity, this creates an environment that promotes illness. As your body tries to maintain equilibrium, it takes key nutrients from your bones and organs.
If your regular diet consists of a high intake of meat, dairy, grains, sugar, and processed foods in general, your body likely produces acidic waste products on a regular basis. If your body is currently in a state of acidosis, you may experience:
- Inflamed gums and/or mouth ulcers
- Recurring respiratory issues
- Low energy
- Weight gain
- Joint pain due to a buildup of lactic acid
- Allergies and an increased risk of infections
- Increased acne and dry skin in general
- A weakened immune system: You may be getting sick more often than usual.
- Poor circulation: Your hands may feel cold often.
- Brittle or thinning hair
Signs that you are too alkaline
Although an alkaline-forming diet is typically recommended to those suffering from a number of chronic health conditions, you can actually be too alkaline. This is what’s referred to as alkalosis. Although there are different types of alkalosis, including metabolic and respiratory, overlapping symptoms are typically present.
The most common causes are having too much bicarbonate in the blood, a sudden loss of acid from the blood, or low levels of carbon dioxide. All of these will cause the blood to become alkalotic. For the most part, these cases occur due to an underlying condition and if your pH rises above 7.8, your condition could be fatal.
The core symptoms and warning signs associated with alkalosis are:
- Muscle twitching
- Increased irritability
- Tingling in certain areas, including your fingers, toes, and around your lips
What does it all mean?
When dealing with blood acidity and blood alkalinity, this is what’s known as acid-base balance. To determine your body’s pH, your doctor will measure the levels of carbon dioxide (which is an acid) and levels of bicarbonate (which is a base) in your blood.
For the most part, this balance is regulated by your lungs and kidneys, as well as other key buffer systems. When aiming to combat an imbalance, the majority of Americans are too acidic. In this case, you’ll want to significantly alter your diet (80 percent of the foods you eat should be alkaline-forming and 20 percent acid-forming).
Consume a high intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially lemons, apricots, grapes, pears, cabbage, beets, dark leafy greens, sweet potato and cucumber. Also drink plenty of water, avoiding all high-sugar, processed beverages.
If you believe that you may be suffering from alkalosis, it is important that you identify the underlying cause. For example, you may be taking a medication that is causing you to eliminate too much potassium or chloride. Excessive vomiting can also lead to metabolic alkalosis.
At the end of the day, whether you are getting too much acid or not enough acid, when this happens, the chemical reactions in your body will not work properly. If you are diabetic, you need to be particularly aware of the dangers surrounding an acid-base imbalance.
Studies have shown that diabetic patients who consume an alkaline-forming diet, tend to display better insulin and blood glucose control. Since most alkaline-forming foods are nutrient-dense, plant-based foods, this type of diet is also believed to prevent type 2 diabetes.
The takeaway here is to listen to your body. More often than not, our bodies try to give us clues that something is not quite right. By intervening early, you could potentially reduce your risk of future illnesses and overall health complications.
Pain or discomfort may begin in one area of your body and as Plato once said, “The part can never be well unless the whole is well.” In that sense, self-love has never been so critical. For more information on alkaline-forming diets, please refer to the following articles:
- 17 Signs Your Body Is Too Acidic (And What to Do)
- Is Your Water Too Acidic? Here Are the Most Damaging Brands
— Krista Hillis