THE ACID – ALKALINE BALANCE
by Walter Last
Our blood is slightly alkaline, and the body makes every effort to maintain this alkalinity at a constant level. For this purpose, we normally have an ample reserve of alkalizing minerals.
Most of our foods supply minerals. The total balance of minerals in a particular food may be either acid or alkaline. Mineral salts are composed of an acid group (anion), such as chloride or phosphate, and of an alkaline group (cation), mainly metal ions such as sodium, calcium or potassium. If one of these groups is stronger than the other then the salt is either acid or alkaline on balance.
In plants strongly alkaline metal ions are usually combined with weak organic acids There may be a surplus of organic acids not bound to cations, and this will make the food taste acid, as in fruits. However, in the body these free organic acids, as well as those bound to metal ions, are oxidized. In the end, this leaves an alkaline residue. Therefore, we say vegetables and fruits are alkalizing or alkaline-forming.
Animal tissue, on the other hand, contains a high percentage of strongly acid phosphoric acid bound to weak reacting proteins and other bio-chemicals. The organic compounds in food of animal origin will be oxidized, and a strongly acid residue remains. Accordingly, we may classify our food as either alkaline-forming or as acid-forming.
- Alkaline-forming Foods are grass juice, sprouted seeds, vegetables, fruits, almonds, most legumes, the outer parts of potatoes, bananas, millet, buckwheat and brown rice.
- Acid-forming Foods are meat, fish, eggs, cheese, most grains and nuts, peanuts, peanuts and the core of potatoes.
- Neutral Foods: fats and oils.
In order to maintain an ample alkaline body reserve, we should eat approximately four times the weight of alkaline-forming food compared to acid-forming food, or 80% alkalizing to 20% acidifying food. There are food tables available to show the amount of acid or alkaline equivalents in different foods. However, I regard these as practically useless. Some of the listed foods may change their values in the body due to metabolic problems.
Sugar, which is chemically neutral and also fruits are usually acid-forming in sensitive individuals and no matter how alkaline-forming a food is supposed to be, if you are sensitive or allergic to it then it is acid-forming for you. On the other hand heavy meat eating can lead to an over-alkaline condition as explained below. Alkalizing minerals may remain bound to phytates and not be available from whole seeds unless these are sprouted or fermented. Even the same food may change from alkaline forming to acid forming if it is incorrectly combined with other foods or when you are emotionally upset.
All of this is contrary to what you would expect by using acid-alkaline food tables. Furthermore, the values in these tables reflect the mineral content of the food, which varies greatly depending on soil conditions, production methods, storage and cooking. Therefore, the only reliable and meaningful method is to observe your own body, your skin sensitivity, tendency towards inflammations, allergic reactions and possibly test your urine and saliva acidity.
The main reasons why people become overacid are:
- inefficient metabolism
- allergic reactions,
- eating sweet foods when the blood-sugar regulation is poor;
- acids accumulating after eating fruits,
- strenuous muscle activity,
- Candida problems.
Chronic overacidity has a serious effect on the body. It causes a continual loss of minerals needed to neutralize excess acid; the body becomes hypersensitive to pain and outside influences and the whole metabolism becomes more and more inefficient. Furthermore, the more acid the tissues are the more histamine is being released. This means acidity causes and greatly increases inflammations and allergies and makes the skin very sensitive to insect bites and other irritants.
Over acidity is on the one hand a cause and on the other hand an effect of a poor blood-sugar metabolism, as in diabetes, hypoglycemia and in the widespread conditions leading to these diseases. People with a weak carbohydrate metabolism cannot properly oxidize glucose to carbon dioxide and water. These end products are normally expelled with the urine and the air, and leave the body in a neutral balance. However, in a weakened condition, any excess of glucose, as after eating sweet foods, is only partly metabolized to form organic acids.
This leads to an accumulation of organic acids and an over acidity of the body tissues, which is felt as pain, most prominent in arthritis and rheumatism. If the alkaline reserve is insufficient to neutralize these acids, more and more calcium will be mobilized from the bones for this purpose causing the bones to become brittle and the tissues and joints to calcify. Furthermore, tumors grow only if the surrounding tissue is too acid. This acidity may be due to the lactic acid production of the tumor itself. However, sensitive individuals are too acid all over which leads to rapid tumor growth and much pain.
Alkaline Foods become Acid-Forming
Because of this incomplete oxidation sugars, which are chemically neutral and even fruits, which are chemically alkaline, are highly acid forming in mineral-deficient bodies. It is similar with lactose. If this cannot be properly utilized, it forms a mucic acid, which causes mucus congestions as well as pain.
Other foods, which often form mucus and acids because of partial oxidation, are refined starches and wheat products. Also incorrect food combinations can cause normally alkaline-forming foods to become acid forming, and so can disturbed emotions during or after a meal, and eating when not well.
Basically, this shows us the vicious circle – or downward spiral – in which many diseased people are caught:
- Because the food lacks sufficient alkalizing minerals, the metabolism becomes inefficient, and acids accumulate in the body, which require additional alkaline reserves for neutralization and cause the metabolism to become even more inadequate. This in turn produces more acids and so forth.
Alkalizing the Body
Fresh green vegetable juices and vegetable broths are the strongest alkalizing foods, especially the broth of boiled potato peelings. Fruits and their juices, including cider vinegar, however, increase the acidity of those who are calcium deficient and with a tendency to allergies and colds.
However, dissolving dolomite or eggshells in vinegar or lemon juice until nearly neutral, produces a highly alkaline remedy. Alternatively, baking soda or potassium bicarbonate may be used to neutralize acid fruit juices and alkalize the body. For those with a normal carbohydrate metabolism, on the other hand – often those with raised blood pressure, being insensitive and showing signs of too much calcium – unneutralized fruits and their juices, especially acid citrus fruits, are excellent.
Using large amounts of vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid increases body acidity. This can lead to inflammation, increased pain and other problems in susceptible people (overacid/low-calcium type). Therefore, it is advisable to use either the neutral sodium or calcium ascorbate or to neutralize the ascorbic acid with dolomite, eggshell powder or baking soda.
If, on the other hand, one is too alkaline, it is preferable to use ascorbic acid supplements unneutralized or only partly neutralized with potassium bicarbonate, milk of magnesia or magnesium oxide in order to dissolve calcium deposits and stone formations.
During acute allergic reactions it is advisable to alkalize the body quickly. This may be done by taking repeatedly a teaspoonful of baking soda with plenty of water, best before breakfast or during the reaction.
A newcomer in the health arena is ionized alkaline water. This is produced with electrodes that divide the water into an acid and an alkaline fraction. The alkaline water has a pH of 8 to 10 and an excess of electrons and antioxidant activity. Drinking a liter or two daily is a good way to neutralize overacid conditions. A similar product in capsule form is Microhydrin produced by Royal Body Care to recreate the health-giving properties of Hunza water. You can find a variety of water ionizers as well as Microhydrin advertised on the Internet.
However, it should be stressed that the best alkalizing. Food or water cannot bring lasting improvement if one continues to eat food to which one is allergic, or if one eats sweet foods when the blood-sugar regulation is poor.
Using Sodium Bicarbonate
Baking soda (not baking powder) or sodium bicarbonate together with carbonic acid (dissolved carbon dioxide) is the main buffer system that maintains the blood at a constant pH of about 7.4. When there is not enough sodium bicarbonate in the blood, it becomes too acid and histamine is liberated – the body becomes oversensitive to pain as well as to allergenic influences, such as insect stings. In addition, mucus production increases, providing a breeding ground for germs.
The recommendation to use sodium bicarbonate for quick neutralization is contrary to the frequently stated opinion that baking soda is always harmful. Baking soda should not be used in cooking, as any alkaline reaction tends to destroy vitamins and makes many minerals less available, it is not advisable with gastric ulcers either, as it causes an acid over-reaction afterwards. If used with a meal, baking soda interferes with the digestion. However, these problems do not arise if baking soda is used as recommended by sensitive individuals to neutralize fruit acids and ascorbic acid or to minimize allergic reactions. If there is the possibility of an allergic reaction from a meal, it is best to use the alkaliser already 30 minutes after the end of the meal or as soon as any discomfort develops.
Sensitive individuals easily become overacid when eating fruits or drinking fruit juices. This happens especially with oranges or tomatoes or any other acid fruits. To neutralize fruit juices add a pinch of baking soda several times until it does not fizz anymore when stirred. You have to be careful not to add too much as that gives a rather unpleasant taste. If that does happen, then just add a little more acid. When eating whole fruit you may just drink a small amount of water in which half a teaspoon of baking soda has been dissolved.
Furthermore, baking soda, possibly in combination with potassium bicarbonate, is valuable in order to neutralize the duodenal content after meals. If the intestinal content is too acid, the pancreas enzymes cannot work efficiently. Baking soda is the natural alkalizing agent released by the pancreas and gall bladder to neutralize the acid stomach content. If used as a general digestive supplement, it is preferable to wait about two hours in order to allow sufficient time for the gastric phase of digestion. With a light meal this interval may be somewhat shorter and after a heavy meal or with flesh foods one may wait even longer for at least 3 hours.
Body too Alkaline
With insensitive people the body metabolism usually is too alkaline. This is associated with potassium deficiency and may lead to calcium deposits, as with arthritic deformations and kidney stones. Another problem is a lack of gastric acid resulting in poor protein digestion and mineral absorption. Bacterial overgrowth may extend into the stomach, causing belching, foul breath and gastric complaints.
A main reason for this condition is a weak liver, usually in combination with a high meat diet. If amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, are used as fuel, the amino group is split off and converted to urea in the liver. But this process requires additional energy as well as specific enzymes, both of which are in short supply in a weak liver.
Therefore, an increasing amount of ammonium salts are formed which use the body store of acid anion groups, such as phosphates and chlorides. In active people, there is a plentiful supply of metabolic acids, such as lactic acid from muscle activity. However, if these people lead a sedentary lifestyle then not sufficient metabolic acids are produced to neutralize the excess ammonia and the body becomes too alkaline.
An additional factor is the formation of ammonium salts in the kidneys from glutamine and other amino acids. Normally, this occurs only to neutralize excess acids in the urine. However, with heavy meat eaters this may also be used to dispose of surplus amino groups, requiring additional acid ions for neutralization.
The most common cause of over alkalinity is a sluggish metabolism (slow oxidizers), which leads to a lack of normal metabolic acids. Patients with cardiovascular and other degenerative diseases are often affected in this way. The inflammation response is suppressed and histamine remains tightly bound to proteins making skin and body insensitive. When the body is too alkaline, use plenty of acid fruits, ascorbic acid, possibly cider vinegar and take acids with protein meals.
The Regulation of Body Acidity
The body tries to maintain the acidity of the blood constant within a very narrow band between pH 7.35 and 7.45. This is actually a slightly alkaline reaction. “pH” is a measure of acidity or alkalinity and indicates the hydrogen ion concentration in a fluid. These hydrogen ions are the actual originators of acidity. A pH of 1 indicates the highest hydrogen ion concentration and with this the highest acidity. At the other end of the scale is a pH of 14 with the lowest hydrogen ion concentration arid the highest alkalinity. A pH of 7 is neutral.
In younger years our metabolism often is too fast, too many acids are being produced and the body becomes chronically overacid. Later in life, however, with decreasing muscle activity and vitality, more and more potassium is lost from the cells and the metabolism becomes sluggish. With this, the body often becomes chronically too alkaline. If the blood is too acid, this is called Acidosis, and when it becomes too alkaline, we speak of Alkalosis.
By excreting with the urine either more acid or more alkali, the body tries to maintain a normal blood pH level. In addition, the breathing rate may be changed: increased volume of breathing makes the blood more alkaline by releasing additional carbon dioxide into the air. Decreased breathing, on the other hand, increases the carbon dioxide level in the blood and makes it more acid. The balance in the blood between carbon dioxide and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is the main “buffer system” to keep the blood pH constant.
If the body succeeds with these measures of changed’ urine pH and adjusted breathing rate to keep the blood pH within the limits of 7.35 and 7.45 despite a deranged metabolism, then the acidosis or alkalosis is said to be compensated. If, however, the pH exceeds these limits, then the condition is called ‘uncompensated’.
If the metabolism is efficient then the acidity of the urine depends mainly on the acidity or alkalinity of the diet. A diet high in acid-forming foods will naturally produce acid urine. This is not dangerous as such, but it is an indicator that the diet is unbalanced and may in time lead to exhaustion of the alkali body reserve.
Likewise, on a diet rather high in alkaline-forming foods, the urine is always quite alkaline. This can easily lead to stone-formation in the urinary tract and shows that the cells have not enough fruit acids for efficient energy production. This often causes elderly heavy meat eaters to become too alkaline while young vegetarians commonly use too much sweet food and that makes them too acid.
A normal mixed diet, containing about 80% of alkalizing and 20 of acidifying foods should give slightly acid morning urine of about pH 6.4, provided the metabolism is reasonably efficient. Urine formed in the body after meals is naturally slightly alkaline as a result of the production of gastric acid.
Test Your Body Acidity
In order to obtain an indication of the acid-alkaline balance of your body, you may test your first morning urine from time to time. In evaluating the result you should take into account if your present diet in general and the last meal in particular was generally balanced or rather acid or alkaline forming. If you test the urine during the day, the result may be much more variable because of the alkaline tide after eating.
Indicator paper for testing the acidity of body fluids should preferably have a range from about pH 5.5 to pH 7.5. However, it may be available only from 5.4 – 7.0 or from 6.0 – 8.0. If you expect to be too acid then buy the low pH and if too alkaline the high pH paper. You may obtain it from a scientific supply shop, possibly also from a chemist, a health professional or a health food supplier. For an approximate test you may also use litmus paper.
In addition, it is valuable to check the saliva acidity, especially if there are any digestive difficulties and if you do not seem to get sufficient value out of your food, also as part of allergy testing. An allergenic food makes the saliva too acid. The saliva approximates the pH of the lymph fluid.
Normally, the saliva acidity before a meal is 6.4 -6.7, while 30 – 60 minutes after the meal it should be above 6.8. If the level is below 6.4 before the meal and especially if the pH after the meal remains below 6.8, we may assume that the contents of the small intestines are too acid for the pancreas enzymes to unfold their full activity. In this case you may take an alkaliser 2 to 3 hours after the meal.
With suitable test paper or better with a digital pH meter you can also try the following test 2 to 3 hours after a meal: Accumulate a lot of saliva in the mouth and then swallow it. Fill the mouth with saliva a second time and again swallow it. Then test the pH in the newly formed saliva. It should be nearly neutral or slightly alkaline, best between 6.9 and 7.4. If it is much lower you may wait 2 hours and then repeat the test. If the saliva remains acid the body is generally overacid and mineral or calcium deficient. With allergies and often with advanced cancer the body is very acid, down to pH 4.5, due to overproduction of lactic acid.
Instead of using pH strips you may use the yellow powder turmeric or possibly just some curry powder. Dissolve a teaspoon of the powder in half a litre of methylated spirits or rubbing alcohol, shake and let it settle to produce a yellow solution. However, in an alkaline solution it becomes a ruby red, it turns colour right at a pH of 6.8, the pH that urine and saliva should be most of the time. To make a test pour some of the yellow solution into a test tube or a small drinking glass. Add a few drops of urine or saliva, if it turns red then what was added had a pH greater than 6.8, if it stays yellow then the pH is still acid and less than 6.8.
Also red cabbage juice can be used as pH indicator. Finely chop some red cabbage, pour hot or boiling water over it and soak for 10 to 20 minutes, then filter through some gauze or tissue. In a small clear glass add a small amount of the filtered juice to a similar amount of a test liquid (e.g. urine, saliva, lemon juice or sodium bicarbonate), stir gently and compare with the colour chart. Keep the rest of the juice refrigerated, use within a week or two. Also other purple juices containing anthocyanin work in a similar way, just experiment.
Alkalizing and Acidifying Supplements
If one wants to alkalize the body quickly because of a cold or pain, then it is advisable to take half a teaspoon of baking soda with water before breakfast for several mornings and possibly also at bedtime. Drink another glass of water or herb tea afterwards to flush it quickly through the stomach. On a low sodium diet use potassium bicarbonate or Milk of Magnesia instead. You may use Food-Muscle-Testing to find a suitable alkaliser. Also over-breathing, breathing faster and deeper than necessary, makes the body more alkaline by releasing excess carbon dioxide with the breath.
Commercially a mixture of 2 parts of baking soda and I part of potassium bicarbonate is available and may generally be used for alkalizing the body during an allergic reaction or after a meal if the pH remains below 6.5, take half a teaspoon of the alkaliser in water or herb tea. If the pH remains between 6.5 and 6.8 after the meal, a quarter teaspoon is sufficient.
If, on the other hand, the level is above 6.7 before the meal and especially if the pH does not rise much after a meal, the body may have difficulty producing gastric acid. In this case you may take one or two hydrochloric acid tablets with proteins, depending on the size of the meal. These tablets contain hydrochloric acid bound to Betaine or Glutamic Acid, sometimes also pepsin is present.
You may save money buying a diluted 3% hydrochloric acid from a chemist and take half to one teaspoon in half a cup of herb tea after a protein meal. Possibly use a straw to protect the teeth, also use a plastic spoon rather than a metal spoon for any contact with acids. With mild gastric acid deficiency it may also be helpful to use half a teaspoon of ascorbic acid or some lemon juice or cider vinegar with protein meals. You may experiment with Food-Muscle Testing to see if you may need more acid for digestion: hold a protein food with and without a hydrochloric acid supplement to assess if you are deficient in gastric acid. For details on this method see Muscle Testing. Also see Hydrochloric Acid in Healing Foods.
Sometimes there is a lack of gastric acid despite general overacidity, often indicated by soft fingernails. This causes deficiency of proteins, vitamins and minerals. In this case use hydrochloric acid supplements as well as sufficient alkaliser.
Alkalizing with Calcium and Magnesium
A recommended way of obtaining more calcium and magnesium and at the same time alkalize the body is by neutralizing dolomite with vinegar or lemon juice. When this is metabolized, the acetic or citric acid tends to be broken down and converted to energy while the mineral remains to alkalize the body. This is most important for sensitive and overacid individuals who tend to be chronically deficient in calcium.
Keep several tablespoonfuls of finely powdered dolomite together with a glassful of vinegar or lemon juice in a jar Preferably stir or shake the mixture occasionally to speed up the reaction. Drink about 50 ml of the decanted liquid once daily before a meal, best diluted with water or other liquid. If a calcium supplement is taken with a meal then the calcium tends to combine with fatty acids in the food and form soaps, which are not absorbed. Also the casein in milk tends to bind calcium.
When using dolomite in 50 ml of 5% vinegar we get approximately 500 mg of calcium and 300 mg of magnesium. Add more dolomite when no more bubbles appear after adding more vinegar or when the neutralized liquid remains too acid or does not reach a pH of about 5. Dolomite contains inert residue, therefore you cannot simply wait until it is all used up. In regard to vinegar, it would be best to use organic cider vinegar but this is also ten times more expensive than bulk white vinegar, while normal cider vinegar may contain pesticides. Therefore, if you have limited financial resources then white vinegar is adequate for this purpose.
After the initial reaction keep the dolomite-acid mix refrigerated, especially when using lemon juice. With lemon juice and other acid citrus juices you may also just mix half a teaspoon of dolomite powder with citrus juice, and pour off the juice after 30 to 60 minutes. Use fresh dolomite powder for the next lot of citrus juice. If you take magnesium supplements separately, then you may just use egg shell powder for neutralizing fruit acids.
Dolomite or egg shell powder may also be used by sensitive individuals to neutralize acid yoghurt or Kambucha tea, or acid fruit such as pineapples or sometimes tomatoes. A pinch of sodium bicarbonate may be used in addition for full neutralization. Individuals with an insensitive body and raised blood pressure, on the other hand, do not need additional calcium and may neutralize part of their food acids with magnesium oxide or magnesium carbonate. Instead of acids in food you may also use ascorbic acid to neutralize with magnesium powder or dolomite.
Dolomite supplies calcium and magnesium in the generally desirable ratio of 2 : 1. However, if you are already routinely using magnesium chloride or only additional calcium is required to reduce an overacid condition, then you may use powdered egg shell or powdered shell grit or commercial calcium carbonate for neutralizing. This applies especially to individuals who experience cramping or weakness when taking any additional magnesium. 50 ml of neutralized vinegar will carry about 800 mg of calcium into the body.
If we would simply take calcium carbonate or dolomite instead of neutralizing vinegar we would have to use up our precious supply of gastric acid to neutralize and dissolve the carbonates. Many individuals have mineral deficiencies precisely because of a lack of gastric acid. If, on the other hand, we use an inorganic mineral supplement, such as calcium or magnesium chloride, then we can absorb the calcium or magnesium but it will not reduce any overacid condition of the body.
THE CALCIUM-PHOSPHORUS RATIO
In good health the ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the blood is 10:4. If there is a glandular imbalance, especially in regard to the parathyroid glands, then this ratio will be maintained at a different level, causing long-term health deterioration. In particular, a high ratio of phosphorus to calcium sensitizes the body and increases inflammatory tendencies.
In addition to this regulation by the parathyroid glands, the calcium-phosphorus ratio is also affected by our food choices. If we consistently eat food high in phosphorus and low in calcium, then this tends to make the body overacid, depletes it of calcium and other minerals and increases the tendency towards inflammations. These effects can be minimized by selecting suitable foods. You may judge from the following list of symptoms if you might have an unbalanced calcium/phosphorus ratio in your blood or your food. A low phosphorus intake is also indicated with cancer and leukemia. However, this ratio may change, as for instance in alternating periods of acute attacks and deposit formation in arthritis.
As you can see from the following food list, it is easy to obtain sufficient phosphorus. In fact, if the calcium level is high, magnesium generally is in short supply rather than phosphorus. If the calcium level is low, however, a special effort must be made to obtain a steady supply of calcium-rich/phosphorus low food, spread out during the day. During digestion fatty acids tend to form soaps by combining with calcium and thus make the calcium unavailable for absorption. Therefore, any calcium supplements or calcium-rich foods are best taken without fats or oils before meals.
You may wonder how the body can maintain the blood ratio in favor of calcium despite its relative scarcity in food. The reason is that normally about 1 g phosphorus, but only 150 mg calcium are expelled daily with the urine. In metabolic imbalance, this excretion ratio is changed. In addition, using more phosphorus will lead to the excretion of more calcium together with the excess phosphorus.
Table 1: SYMPTOMS OF CALCIUM – PHOSPHORUS IMBALANCE
|Calcium level too high||Phosphorus level too high|
|Colds and ‘flu are rare
Insensitive to pain and noise
Signs of magnesium deficiency
Blood pressure raised
Blood is too alkaline
Caries of the crowns
Tartar on teeth
Calcium kidney stones
Fusion of vertebrae
Arthritic deposits causing bone deformations
|Frequent colds and ‘flu
Sensitive to pain and noise
Signs of calcium deficiency
Tendency to low blood pressure
Blood is too acid
Caries near the gum
Gums very red & tender: pyorrhea, gingivitis
Tendency to inflammations and swellings
Acute arthritic attacks
Allergies, palpitations Headaches, nausea
From the following list, select mainly food with a favorable ratio according to your symptoms. An excess of up to 1:3 in favor of phosphorus might still be regarded as metabolically neutral. If the ratio is worse, as for instance in grain products, add suitable calcium supplements to the meal. In addition to the ratio itself, the actual amount of the excessive mineral is, of course, important. Therefore, within limits, the generally recommended daily calcium allowance is rather meaningless if not geared to the levels of phosphorus and magnesium. With low blood pressure the calcium intake should be about double the intake of magnesium. However, with high blood pressure it is better to have equal amounts of magnesium and calcium or sometimes even to have more magnesium. The higher the phosphorus intake, the higher should be the combined calcium and magnesium intake.
Table 2: CALCIUM – PHOSPHORUS RATIO OF FOODS
|Ca/P ratio mg/1OO g||Ca/P ratio mg/100 g|
|Carob flour||352/81||Cottage cheese||90/165|
|Dandelion greens||187/66||Soy beans, dry||226/554|
|Green Barley powder||1100/590||Bananas||8/26|
|Grass juice||150/75||Beans, dry||135/460|
|Goats’ milk||129/106||Eggs, whole||54/205|
|Cow’s milk||118/93||Egg yolk||141/569|
|Grapes||16/12||Peas, dried cooked||11/89|
|Lemon juice, apples||7/10||Rice, brown||37/292|
|Apricots, fresh||17/23||Sunflower seed||120/837|
|Peas, fresh||62/90||Pumpkin seeds||51/1144|