Answer: Acid/ alkaline balance 

The human body has mechanisms in place to maintain a tightly controlled pH of about 7.4. When the pH is out of balance, the result can be metabolic acidosis. Metabolic acidosis is defined as “a condition where the body produces too much acid or the kidneys are not removing enough acid.” Metabolic acidosis is inflammatory. The food and liquid we consume has a direct impact on our pH levels.

Some of the conditions associated with metabolic acidosis are bone loss, kidney stones, muscle function, exercise capacity, hypertension, insulin resistance, and diabetes. Many of these conditions are grouped into, what we call today, chronic illness. 

The ongoing (chronic) intake of excess sodium, animal protein, and other foods high in phosphorous contribute to the acid load. In addition to a high dietary acid load, we do not eat enough “base” foods (vegetables and fruit) to balance the intake of acid-forming foods. 

Let’s look at bone loss for a moment; our bones are the largest mineral storage unit, made up of mostly “base” or alkaline salts. These alkaline salts help maintain blood pH. When the blood is too acidic from a high acid diet, the body will try to balance the acidity by pulling minerals from the bones, and increasing the excretion of bone supportive proteins. In one study from the British Journal of Nutrition, over 1000 women between the ages of 45 and 54 were given a lower dietary intake of acid-producing foods. This simple change in diet led to an increase in hip and spine mineral density. 

Kidney stones are far too common today.  In the same article mentioned above, over 200 people who were “stone-formers”, the greatest risk factor was the acid load of the diet.  When alkaline dietary changes and supplementation were used it reduced the recurrence of stone formation. This was done by reducing animal protein and increasing vegetable and fruit intake. Supplementation was done on an individual basis. 

Every system in your body is sensitive to pH and has its own pH. Enzymes and hormones are sensitive to pH and these two components drive most metabolic processes. 

The available research provides a compelling argument that dietary habits are the greatest cause of metabolic acidosis. Changes in dietary patterns can have significant impact on the acid/ base balance in our bodies. Metabolic acidosis is inflammatory. The effects of inflammation range from serious illness to impaired immune function. 

At Integrative Acupuncture, nutrition is a key factor in helping patients create change and promote health. 

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