The balance between acidity and alkalinity in your body is referred to as pH, or potential of hydrogen. Different factors can influence whether your blood has too much or too little acid, including food and the health of your organs to filter carbon dioxide from your body. Achieving pH balance is a complex process that occurs within your body, but you can help regulate it with healthy habits.
The level of pH is quantified on a scale of zero to 14. The lower the pH, the more acidic, and the higher, the more alkaline. Neutral pH is 7.0, the pH of water, and your level is in a healthy range between 6.0 to 7.5. According to Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, blood that is slightly alkaline, or 7.35 to 7.45, is optimal for proper body functions. Most people with an imbalance are too acidic, which can cause a variety of health ailments, including cardiovascular disease, complications of diabetes and bone fragility.
Kidney and Lung Complications
Metabolic or respiratory acidosis results from excess acid in the blood. In metabolic acidosis, an abnormal metabolism from the buildup of ketones in the blood, which occurs in uncontrolled diabetes, or overuse of alcohol or aspirin doesn't allow the kidneys to function normally. In respiratory acidosis, your lungs do not expel carbon dioxide properly, which might result from asthma or pneumonia. Symptoms might include vomiting, fatigue, breathing complications, weakness or confusion. If left untreated, acidosis can lead to kidney failure, lung collapse and constriction of blood vessels.
Alkalosis is the opposite of acidosis when too much bicarbonate is in your blood, causing excessively low acidity. Overuse of diuretics and hyperventilation can increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. Symptoms of metabolic or respiratory alkalosis include irritability, muscular twitching or cramps. Treatment involves replacing fluids to achieve acid balance or slowing your breathing in the event of respiratory alkalosis.
Maintain PH Balance
Foods you eat can help you achieve acid/alkaline balance. Highly acidic foods include prunes, blackberries, chocolate, walnuts, beef and cheese. Foods with high alkalinity include watermelon, asparagus, spinach and olive oil. To maintain pH balance, eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains that are middle alkaline or acidic and choose highly acidic foods when you have high alkaline pH. Hydrate with water daily, limit your alcohol use and follow medication instructions on the label to prevent high acid pH.
- Merck Manuals Online Medical Library; "Acid-Base Balance"; Dr. James Lewis; July 2008
- NaturalHealthSchool.com: PH Balance
- MedlinePlus: Acidosis
- "American Journal of Nutrition"; "Alkaline Diets Favor Lean Tissue Mass in Older Adults"; B. Dawson-Hughes et al; March 2008
- Second International Acid-Base Symposium; "Nutrition-Health-Disease"; September 2006