Fat Loss Nutrition Series: Alkalinity

High Acid Load

Before we get started, let’s discuss pH. PH is a measure of how acid (or alkaline) something is (in our case, the body). A pH value of 7 is considered to be neutral. Anything below 7 is considered acidic, and the lower the value, the higher the acidity level. Anything higher than 7 is considered alkaline, and the higher the value, the higher the alkalinity.

In order for your body to function properly, its level of acidity must be within a certain range. The ideal level is a pH of 7.4 (slightly alkaline), but it functions optimally between 7.0 and 7.5. Naturally, the body will strive to maintain its level of acidity within the appropriate range. If your pH drops, it will release stored substances in an effort to rebalance the pH. This means you can just live your life and your body will automatically recalibrate itself. Sounds great, except let’s explore this process further.

When the body becomes acidic it will first “mobilize” stored calcium and phosphorus in an effort to alkalinize. Where does the calcium and phosphorus come from? Your bones. This means that your body’s effort to rebalance pH can actually weaken your bones.

Another substance that can be used to alkalinize the body is sodium bicarbonate, which is released by the pancreas.  When you are in a constant state of acidosis though, the pancreas becomes overloaded and this can have harmful effects that reduce its capacity to produce insulin and may even lead to diabetes.

Glutamine, an amino acid that is most abundant in muscle tissue, is another buffering agent.  When you become acidic, your body will breakdown muscle tissue (meaning that you lose muscle) to make glutamine available.

The kidneys, which much like the pancreas are responsible for sending bicarbonate to the blood, are working overtime every time your body needs to be de-acidified, while the liver is responsible for excreting acids. If you are in a constant state of acidosis long term, these organs will suffer damage. Even in the short term, acidosis can kill your progress.

Summary

When the body is in a long-term state of constant acidosis, these things happen:

  • Weakening of the bones (loss of calcium and phosphorus)
  • Loss of muscle or significant difficulty building muscle and recovering from training (due to muscle breakdown for glutamine release)
  • Negative impact on hormonal profile (GH resistance, decrease in IGF-1, problems with the insulin system, increase in cortisol)

Simply put, if your body is constantly re-balancing itself because your nutrition is too acid-forming, you’re in for an uphill battle to lose weight, gain muscle and/or get healthy.


Take Action

There’s a lot more to be said on the subject, although I don’t want to get you mired in all the details. More importantly, here are some simple, very effective methods to help your body balance its pH levels:
  • Eat a serving or two of vegetables with each meal.
  • Cut back, or stop eating acidifying foods like grains, sugars and processed foods.
  • Supplement with low doses of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and glutamine.

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