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Primary Causes of Overacidity

This is page 3 of a four-part article.

Since most people in Western society tend to run overacid (except vegans, who tend to run overalkaline) let's focus on what causes excess acidity.  There are four main causes of an over acid system.  Here is a description of each of them and what can be done to correct them.

1. Lack of OxygenBreathing 1.jpg

It takes oxygen to burn the nutrients we eat to create energy for our bodies.  When the blood isn't carrying enough oxygen to the tissues, this contributes to the creation of more acid waste.  Deep breathing therefore, can help to alkalize the body.

Supplements which increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood will also help. Liquid Chlorophyll is one of the best supplements for increasing the oxygen supply in the blood.  It appears to work by decreasing agglutination (where the red blood cells clump together, decreasing their oxygen-carrying surface).  Agglutination can also be decreased by following the principles of the books Live Right For Your Type and Eat Right For Your Type by Peter D'Adamo and by taking digestive enzymes when you eat, particularly protease enzymes.

The formula Chinese Lung Support from Nature's Sunshine Products is very helpful for nourishing the lungs and balancing pH.  My consulting business partner, Kimberly Balas, who uses blood chemistry analysis in her practice, claims that the first layer of pH buffering in the body is regulated by the lungs and highly recommends this formula as a general tonic to help balance pH levels.

Deep breathing will also oxygenate and alkalize your system—very rapidly in fact. See the article How I Learned to Breathe Freely for more tips on how to increase your breathing capacity.

2. Poor Digestion

Digestion 2.jpgAlthough there are many tables showing how various foods contribute to acidity or alkalinity in the body, the truth is that any food we don't digest properly creates acid waste.  Hence, you can eat the best food on the planet and will still be overacid if you are lacking in digestive secretions.  So, the second thing we need to do to maintain balanced pH is to maintain good digestion.

With the high percentage of cooked and processed foods in our diet almost everyone needs to take plant enzyme supplements. My favorite enzyme product is from Amazon Herbs and is called Digestazon Plus.  I also really like Nature's Sunshine Products Proactazyme and Protease Plus.  I determine which enzyme supplement is best for a given individual through muscle response testing, but I find that most people benefit from just about any enzyme supplement.

Oddly enough, a lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach also contributes to acid pH.  So, Protein Digestive Aid (PDA) from Nature's Sunshine Products is another supplement that may help here.  It supplies hydrochloric acid, which may be needed in addition to the plant enzyme supplements. Hydrochloric acid production may also be stimulated with liquid bitter herbs taken orally about 15 minutes before meals.  Some of the best herbs for this purpose are gentian root, orange peel, dandelion and goldenseal.  Swedish Bitters (available at most health food stores) is a good formula for this purpose.

A hiatal hernia will also interfere with hydrochloric acid and enzyme production in the stomach, which will also block deep breathing.  This will create a “double whammy” that drives your system toward acidity.  Since it is often related to the next item on our list, stress, it is probably a sign of a “triple whammy” that is throwing your biochemical balance out of whack.  Read the article Hiatal Hernia: Hidden Cause of Chronic Illness for information on how to identify and correct this problem.

3. StressStressed 2.jpg

We have two branches in our nervous system, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic.  The sympathetic nervous system is associated with stress because it becomes very active under the influence of the adrenal glands when we are scared or upset.  The sympathetic nervous system drives an acid reaction in the body that increases both tension and activity.  In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system drives a more alkaline nervous system reaction, which relaxes us.  Hence, one's pH can be overacid from stress alone.

Deep breathing and relaxation exercises can help to reduce stress, but who has time for that?  (That's the point, of course. We need to make time for relaxation or we'll never find it).  We can also take supplements that help reduce stress.  Adaptogens are particularly useful at reducing stress responses in the body.  My favorite adaptogens are Eleuthero root (formerly known as Siberian ginseng), Chinese Mineral Chi Tonic, and Nervous Fatigue Formula from Nature's Sunshine. Nervine herbs can also be helpful for reducing stress.  Here I have two favorite products—Nutri-Calm from Nature's Sunshine and Calmazon from Amazon herbs.  I also like Kava Kava as a single herb for this purpose.

Of course, a little stress management helps, too.  If you need help managing stress, read the articles Physical and Psychological Approaches to Stress and Relieving Anxiety: A Holistic Approach

4. Diet and Nutrition

Many people get confused about what foods are acid-forming and what foods are alkaline-forming in the body.  First, let's make it clear that the pH of the food itself does not determine whether a food will make the body more acid or more alkaline.  For example, lemons are very acidic, but they have an alkalizing effect on the body.  Meat, on the other hand, is very alkaline, but it has an acidifying effect on the body. 

There is some subjectivity in the acid and alkaline lists because of the differences in the way individuals are able to metabolize nutrients.  Remember that any food you can't digest or metabolize very well, or that causes your body stress, is going to contribute to acid overload.  Determining whether a food is going to be acid-forming or alkaline-forming for the majority of people is based on two major factors 1) its mineral content, and 2) its ease of digestion. 

There are seven minerals that act as electrolytes and help buffer acids and alkalines in the body.  Four of these are alkalizing.  They are sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium.  When there is too much acid in the body, these minerals can be used to buffer the acids and maintain stable pH levels in the blood.  Hence, foods that are high in these minerals tend to have an alkalizing effect on the body.

The three mineral electrolytes that are acid-forming are sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine.  Foods high in these minerals tend to add to the acid load in the body.

These acidic and alkaline minerals form 12 mineral salts, or electrolytes. They help to balance and regulate energy production and fluid metabolism in the body.  These twelve salts are:

  • Potassium chloride
  • Potassium sulfate
  • Potassium phosphate
  • Sodium chloride (table salt)
  • Sodium sulfate
  • Sodium phosphate
  • Calcium chloride
  • Calcium sulfate
  • Calcium phosphate (the main component of bones and teeth)
  • Magnesium chloride
  • Magnesium sulfate
  • Magnesium phosphate

Without going into tiresome and boring details, it essentially boils down to this—most fruits and vegetables tend to be alkalizing because they are easy to digest and high in alkaline minerals, while most grains, legumes, nuts and protein foods (dairy, eggs, meat, fish, etc.) tend to be acidifying because they are more difficult to digest and higher in acidic minerals.  Green veggies like celery, dandelion greens, Swiss chard, collards, kale, etc. tend to be very high in potassium salts, magnesium and calcium, which are great alkalizers for the body.

Grains and meat tend to be high in phosphates that form more acid, but this acid is important in winter as these foods tend to help keep the body warm.  So, acid-forming foods are not necessarily bad; balance is the key!

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