Acid vs. Alkaline: What’s the Big Deal?

by Dr. Jason Barker June 03, 2011

Acid vs. Alkaline: What’s the Big Deal?

Talk about acid and alkaline diets is big right now. But, a bit of background first.  Our internal environment (specifically the blood) is maintained within a very tight range.  Acidity and alkalinity is measured on the pH scale, which ranges from 1 to 14. The lower end of the scale represents greater acidity while the higher end represents greater alkalinity. Our blood is very tightly maintained at a pH between 7.35 and 7.45, slightly alkaline. Very small fluctuations can occur, but if the blood moves out of this range in either direction very serious health problems occur.

After all foods are digested, they eventually affect the acid-base balance in our bloodstream, with either a net alkaline or acid effect.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a net acid-producing diet due to the high amounts of grains, cheese, meats and salty processed foods – all at the expense of vegetables and fruits.  

The ONLY foods that create alkalinity in the body are vegetables and fruits.  That’s it. 

ALL other foods create acidity on some level. No need to provide a list of acidic vs basic foods here. If it’s a fruit or vegetable, it will be basic. If it’s ANYTHING else, it is acidic. They key here is to consume adequate amounts of vegetables and fruits to reverse acidosis and limit muscle and bone wasting.

The body does two things to neutralize the acid – move protein from the muscles, and move minerals (calcium) from the bones into the blood stream to buffer the acid.  This occurs quite readily until the blood achieves its basic state.

A chronic acidic environment will do two things – contribute to muscle wasting and bone demineralization (otherwise known as osteoporosis).  

A good example of this is the fact that American women consume more calcium (in food and supplements) than any other group of women in the world, yet they have more osteoporosis than anyone else.  What’s wrong here? Is it the over-processed, acidic diet that is so widely consumed?

When our internal environment tends toward the acidic range, nearly all poor health conditions, from infections to inflammatory disease, will thrive in an acidic environment. Further, these conditions go on to create more acidity in our bodies. 

Similarly, heavy exercisers are more prone to acid production and blood acidosis as a byproduct of exercise.  That’s why it’s especially important to consume A LOT of vegetables and fruits if you are physically active. 

After a long workout, we make a green drink to help quench that acidity and improve recovery. We always add Greens First to it to make it taste better; Greens First gives it a sweeter taste (and really helps the flavor!) or, just add a scoop or two to a tall glass of cold water for a quick pick-me-up.

Dr. Jason Barker
Dr. Jason Barker


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