Although disease can manifest in thousands of forms, almost all types of disease can be traced back to imbalances in the body. And a critical point of balance is blood pH, or acidity vs. alkalinity. If the body’s tissues are exposed to high levels of acid, there are cascading effects which eventually add up to disease. In short, the body is calibrated to be alkaline and performs best when acid levels are low.
As such, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that much of disease is the result of too much blood acid.
What Causes the Blood to Become Acidic?
It’s a matter of simple chemistry. The body’s tissues swell with water – more than 60 percent of every human is water, and it’s from water that alkaline or acidic compounds emerge.
Recall that every water molecule is two atoms hydrogen and one atom oxygen. The chemical bonds that hold these molecules together are strong, but in the dynamic body environment, they are in a constant state of splitting and donating ions to each other.
When water molecules split, they create hydroxide ions (HO-) and hydrogen ions (H+). Hydroxide ions are oxygen-rich, and the body’s tissues perform better when supplied with healthy levels of oxygen. Hydrogen ions are oxygen-starved and therefore reduce the overall concentration of blood oxygen when they are abundant.
To an extent, the body is capable of regulating its own acid and alkaline levels. This is an important aspect of homeostasis that the brain is constantly seeking to achieve. As such, the body’s acid levels will fluctuate naturally.
However, dietary and behavioral factors also influence acid levels. While diet itself cannot directly alter blood acid levels, poor digestion can lead to circumstances in the body where acidic materials are present in greater levels. Insufficient exercise and sleep can also throw off the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis – and the body’s pH.
How Does Blood Acidification Contribute to Disease?
The link between blood acidification and disease is still being explored, but there’s ample evidence to suggest that excessive acidification – a condition termed acidosis – is a primary disease driver. How?
In people with acidosis, acids crowd out oxygen-containing compounds, therefore reducing the amount of oxygen available in the blood. This condition is termed hypoxia. Hypoxia doesn’t just reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood, it reduces the amount of oxygen available to tissues. And when tissues are starved of oxygen, health issues are sure to follow. Here are a few ways that acidosis and hypoxia can damage health:
- Acids shed free radicals that cause oxidative stress on nearby cells. This oxidative stress can break down cell membranes and damage DNA.
- Acidosis forces the body to engage the immune system and produce inflammation. While inflammation is an effective way for the body to deal with short-term threats, chronic inflammation is a known risk factor for a variety of diseases. Chronic inflammation can also cause free radicals to be released in the body.
- If cells do not receive adequate oxygen, they may switch their method of metabolism from oxidation to fermentation. Cells in fermentation are more likely to become cancerous, as cancer cells require high amounts of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) to rapidly reproduce. NAD+ is a product of fermentation and therefore fuels cancer growth when it’s unregulated in the body.
- Oxygen is a critical element in a huge variety of bodily functions, including metabolism, immune system regulation, digestion, elimination, respiration and cognition. In people with acidosis, these functions are likely to be compromised.
- Without sufficient oxygen, it’s impossible for the body to efficiently convert nutrients into energy. This can leave people feeling fatigued, but it’s worse than that. Incomplete digestion means there’s a lot of undigested material being stored in cells, and this material congestion can reduce cellular efficiency further.
As you can see, there are several good reasons to avoid acidosis and the resulting hypoxia.
Correcting Blood Acidification and Improving Resiliency Against Disease
If the goal is to reduce acidosis, there are a few steps everyone can take. They include:
- Take oral digestive enzymes – Incomplete digestion is at the heart of many medical conditions, including acidosis. Our digestive enzymes are responsible for breaking down the foods we consume, but as we age, our bodies produce lower amounts of these enzymes. This can lead to digestive shortfalls, especially if diets aren’t adjusted in response.
Digestive enzyme supplements can boost levels of critical enzymes like protease, lipase, amylase, and others. By increasing enzyme levels in this way, fewer waste products and unburned nutrients will remain in the body – both of which increase acidity.
- Get regular exercise and sleep – Exercise and sleep promote homeostasis and the availability of oxygen in the body. Together, they can help our organs function better and remove acids from the blood.
- Make an effort to reduce stress – Chronic stress throws the body’s balance out of whack, causing inflammation and suppressing organ function. By reducing stress levels, homeostasis and balanced body pH will be easier to achieve.
- Reduce reliance on over-the-counter medication – Almost all over-the-counter medications increase the body’s acid levels. If possible, reducing these OTC medicines can also help support optimal body pH.
Balance is Key to Better Health – Balance in Diet and in Behavior
In the end, optimal health relies on balance at every level. This includes a balanced diet, balanced behaviors, and a balanced body. Together, this adds up to balanced acid and pH levels, and this leads to better resistance against disease.