MAINTAINING MICROBIOME BALANCE ALONE ENUNCIATES THE DIRE IMPORTANCE OF pH
pH balance is without question of EXTREME importance for overall health and wellness to be possible! It’s not about being slightly alkaline in every area of the body to maintain this balance, as some may be falsely led to believe. The intestines, for instance, need to be on the acidic side for overall pH levels to be in sync. Many things can go wrong when intestinal dysbiosis is present.
When pH levels are either too low or too high in just this one area of the body alone, it can spell disaster for the entire system. The nutrients we absorb from our food for cellular structure, metabolism, and over-all health depend on this balance. Remember, up to 80% of our immune system resides in the intestines, so the optimal pH of our GI tract alone sets the very stage for sickness or heath. After all, 99% of our DNA is bacteria, which outnumbers our cells 10 to 1, and these bacteria are extremely pH sensitive! When pH levels get too high or too low the good guys or friendly bacteria get wiped out and pathogenic bacteria take over. An inflammatory cascade can result, hindering nutrient absorption and digestion, clogging up our elimination channels, and potentially allowing undigested food particles and toxic debris to leak directly into the bloodstream. This dangerous situation can lead to neurological conditions, intestinal, autoimmune, and just about every disease known to man! So, is pH balance one, if not the most important thing in the body to focus on? Undeniably so!
ENZYMES ARE PRIMORDIAL, AND THEY ARE NOT JUST FOR DIGESTING FOOD…
Enzymes are a catalyst for basically EVERY function in the body. They all must fit in a specific keyhole, but when the body is too acidic and inflamed it’s like trying to get your key in a gum filled lock in the dark. “pH control impacts every biochemical process in the body including… ENZYMES which are part of that biochemical process. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of enzyme processes which take place in the body. Many are so specific that they are like complex square pegs that need to “fit” into specific square holes in order to carry out their duty. If blood pH is off balance (even a little) some important pegs are not “fitting” their respective slots. Enzyme function, and thus life itself, begins to suffer.” –Dr. Darrell L. Wolfe has over 25 years of successful practice, experience, research and training in natural healthcare. The pH of every area of the body needs to be in the correct pH range in order for these enzymes to function optimally. For instance, if the pH is too high in the stomach, pepsin, an enzyme used for breaking down proteins, will not be properly activated. “Enzymes and other proteins have an optimum pH range and can become denatured outside this range.” Here again we see why maintaining balanced pH levels should always be of major concern.
A FEW QUESTIONS ANSWERED FOR SKEPTICS AND THE INTELLECTUALLY CURIOUS:
IF EXCESSIVE ACID IS ALWAYS THE CULPRIT, WHY DO MAJOR HEALTH ISSUES OFTEN SURFACE WHEN THE URINE AND INTESTINES BECOME TOO ALKALINE?
First of all, everyone must keep in mind, when we are talking about optimal pH levels being on the slightly alkaline side, we are talking about net pH of the body’s fluids (not JUST the blood, but interstitial fluids and lymph). I know this can be a bit confusing. Yes, the blood has buffers in place to keep pH levels slightly alkaline within a certain tight range under normal conditions to prevent injury and death (although being on the higher range of normal is proven to have therapeutic benefits). However, although the fluids that surround the cells and the lymph fluid should be on the alkaline side, unlike the blood, these fluids can become excessively acidic (dependent on diet and lifestyle), negatively impacting the entire system.
That being said, it does not mean that all other areas of the body require an alkaline pH to be in balance. Certain areas of the body like the stomach, intestines, urine, and vaginal area need to be acidic in various ranges in order to maintain an overall balanced pH state throughout the body. When these areas become too alkaline or too acidic the whole system gets thrown off. So, for instance, when the intestines and the urine become too alkaline when they are supposed to be on the acidic side, the body will be off balance, producing symptoms, leading to various adverse conditions.
So yes, although the body can be highly infected, acidic, and inflamed, urine pH can become overly alkaline, NOT reflecting health, but a warning sign that the body is out of balance. Sometimes alkaline ammonia is released from the kidneys in an attempt to neutralize the excessive amounts of acid produced in the body, or ammonia comes from accumulating pathogenic urea splitting bacteria. For the intestines to function properly, they should be mostly on the slightly acidic side, with the colon being more acidic than the small intestines for ideal functioning.
When your digestion is compromised from a poor diet, lack of movement, and unmanaged stress, bacteria like candida (which is beneficial in its yeast form), can proliferate in larger numbers and then morph into its pathogenic fungal form. The candida then excretes ethanol, ammonia, and other toxic substances to create preferable conditions for its survival! Once in fungal form, the candida can then adapt to even more acidic conditions, which is why it is much harder to eradicate once it transforms into a fungus. E. coli bacteria in the colon is also beneficial until altered pH conditions allow it to become pathogenic. A similar problem occurs in an overly alkaline stomach with H. pylori being the culprit. So just like with hypochlorhydria and the need for stomach acid, we need to re-acidify the intestinal tract with lactic acid bacteria to regain balance. Hopefully this clears up some common misunderstandings!
WOULDN’T HYPOCHLORHYDRIA (LOW STOMACH ACID) OR ACHLORHYDRIA (NO STOMACH ACID) MAKE THE BODY TOO ALKALINE?
As you may know, the stomach is not a place in your body that you want low acid. After all, sufficient levels of stomach acid are required to activate enzyme production, assimilate and absorb proteins, B vitamins like B12 and folic acid, and many minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Low stomach acid can lead to bacterial infections, indigestion, heartburn, countless other digestive issues, and deficiencies that prevent your cells from getting the nutritional energy they need to prevent disease. As you have learned, certain areas of the body, like the intestines, need to be slightly on the acidic side as well to maintain overall pH balance. Hypochlorydria (low stomach acid) and achlorhydria (no stomach acid) are very common problems that may affect greater than 50% of Americans.
While some speculate that this condition can lead to a low grade metabolic alkalosis, the origin of the condition stems from a high-acid producing, predominantly cooked, over-cooked, and processed food diet, in conjunction with a stress filled, low activity, unconscious (negative toxic emotions, worry, pent up anger) lifestyle. Low stomach acid can also be seen in individuals with autoimmune conditions (Hashimoto’s) that destroy or damage the HCL producing parietal cells evident by hypergastrinemia, or high blood gastrin levels. This is also the case with people who take acid reducing drugs like PPI’s, which are all too common, masking symptoms, exacerbating the problem significantly over time.
So, can low stomach acid lead to metabolic alkalosis? The development of some form of metabolic alkalosis would seem likely with diminished stomach acid, but the research ONLY shows an obvious alkalinity of the stomach, not the body’s tissues. Due to the compensatory mechanisms in the body, like holding onto CO2 (used in the production of HCL), lactic acid, and other acids as weak substitutes for HCL, it is not probable or backed by much research or studies that an alkalosis would be present in the deficiency of HCL. Without the production of stomach acid, there is also no release of alkaline bicarbonate into the intestines either, which further increases lactic acid from the fermentation of improperly digested food.
Additionally, all cellular metabolic functions produce acid as a by-product, making it harder to develop alkalosis, like it would be, with let’s say, excessive vomiting. The body is constantly trying to utilize or eliminate acid waste. Yes, acid forming proteins are poorly digested in low HCL conditions, which means less acid forming protein absorbed, but undigested protein leads to more inflammation and more acidic conditions. Alkaline minerals are not being assimilated either, especially since the majority of people are on a very low ionized mineral plant food diet. Even if it were the case that a non-clinical metabolic alkalosis could be manifested in the absence or deficiency of HCL, the pH would need to be balanced. Whatever the end result, the stomach acid issue would need to be corrected by increasing HCL, as would an overly-alkaline intestine by re-populating beneficial lactic acid bacteria. In either case, the origin of the problem, in most all cases, is an excessively acidic diet and lifestyle that ignites the imbalance, even if it’s an autoimmune disease that pulls the trigger destroying HCL producing parietal cells.
In the case of hypochlorhydria or achlorhydria the stomach may need to be re-acidified through betaine hydrochloride therapy at least temporarily, or maybe permanently, depending on the condition. Digestive enzymes, in addition to an alkaline forming diet rich in enzymes, would also be a prerequisite for the natural stimulation and maintenance of HCL levels. The alkaline mineral potassium (gastric hydrogen potassium ATPase- an enzyme that acidifies the stomach) is also a key player in the natural production of stomach acid and metabolic function. Potassium is found in large quantities in fruits and vegetables, which most people are deficient in, exacerbating the low HCL issue. Sodium and chloride, found in sea salt, is also very important for HCL production.
In any event, the absence of gastric juices throws off pH levels throughout the entire body as proteins, many minerals, and thus vitamins cannot be absorbed and assimilated. First and foremost, the HCL issue needs to be corrected or one’s health can and will deteriorate RAPIDLY. So even if an alkalosis due to low or no HCL were possible, just like with clinical alkalosis, the acid would need to be replaced to re-balance pH levels through the administration of acid forming salts, in this case HCL supplementation. Once the stomach acid is replaced, the issue will be corrected. Then continue consuming an alkaline forming pH balanced diet that contains all the acid and alkaline minerals one needs for optimal health.
No one who truly understands pH balancing would ever say that alkali therapy is the answer to every condition. Especially with critically ill patients, where metabolic alkalosis from vomiting, the use of chloruretic diuretics, and nasogastric suction are common among hospitalized individuals, or when the kidneys and respiratory systems are malfunctioning. A clinical alkalosis or acidosis should be treated immediately under a physician or practitioner’s care. However, a pH balanced anti-inflammatory diet still contains a great portion of alkali and acids that will help to maintain the balance, once corrected.
However, once again, the origin of the issue almost ALWAYS stems from a prior acidosis issue. The take away here, besides the importance of HCL, is that acids are just as important as bases. Its excessive dietary and lifestyle induced acids that pose a problem, let’s not get it twisted!
An acid food may be alkaline forming for me and acidic for someone else? Carb types? Protein types?
Metabolic typing is a program that looks at the person’s autonomic nervous system, cellular oxidative capacity, pH, family history, and other factors to potentially determine the ideal diet for that specific individual. It can have its benefits, especially for more complex individuals, but it’s just not practical for most people. It takes a few hours to fill out the questionnaire, it is not fail proof by any means, and the diet that is suggested can be somewhat complicated and limiting. Here is an example of the impracticality and complexity from Dr. Kelley’s metabolic typing protocol:
“After one follows the nutritional guidelines at the back of the questionnaire for their metabolic type for a few weeks or months they will want to take the Self-Test again to determine if their metabolism has switched to another type. Everyone should recheck their metabolic type every six months to a year, because it can change. If and when it does, one’s diet and supplemental program will have to be changed accordingly.” If this were the only way to achieve optimal health and wellness, which it certainly is not, the majority of people would opt out and take their chances!
If you are struggling to reverse a particular condition, infection, fatigue or other symptoms, and after performing a deep cleanse and following a basic anti-inflammatory pH balancing protocol, you do not experience gradual relief, there may be a more complex underlying issue that needs to be specifically addressed. At that point, you may want to do some more investigating. Remember – no one system is 100% fail proof. Explore the possible extremes, and employ a more target specific program in addition.
These adverse conditions did not manifest themselves overnight by any means, so they don’t necessarily correct themselves overnight either. There are many things to look at such as heavy metal toxicity, fungal candida infection, parasites, are you digesting your food well enough, are you highly stressed, have you taken antibiotics, are you producing enough HCL, enzymes? There are many things I would look at before I would travel that path towards a unique, often times complicated program like metabolic typing, that brings pH balancing to extremes.
If you have money to go to a naturopathic doctor, or an integrated practitioner, it would be highly recommended, especially if you have been struggling with a condition and are on medication. It is best to order the right tests to ensure a proper diagnosis, so you can go on a target specific protocol without playing guessing games. Naturopathic doctors can work with your primary doctor, so you can order the tests through insurance.
Sometimes it just takes a little tweaking. You may just have to make some simple adjustments. For example, if you happen to be one of the exceptions, testing too alkaline because you’re eating a lot of alkaline forming greens, and/or on a low protein vegan or vegetarian diet; instead of taking the highly beneficial greens out of your diet, you may just want to add some more acid producing protein, as well as making sure you’re digesting the protein you’re already consuming. It can be as simple as that. Remember, it’s pH balance that we are striving towards, and acids are a big part of that balance in a proportionate manner. With that being said, most people need far more alkaline forming vegetables, not more acid.
FURTHER CRITIQUING METABOLIC TYPING
As far as macronutrient balance goes in relation to metabolic typing, yes there are some people who may do better on a higher carbohydrate diet as opposed to a higher protein-fat diet. However, we all need a certain amount of all macronutrients to function optimally. The very nature of protein or amino acids produces non-volatile acids that need to be removed by the kidneys, so it would be highly unlikely that protein would be alkaline forming for some people once metabolized. We all need protein in sufficient amounts for enzyme production, detoxification, and growth and repair of the skeleton and all the body’s tissues. It also depends a lot on how much we are absorbing, as well as how much we are eating.
As far as fats go, we all need adequate amounts of them for basic cell structure, hormone production, and brain function. Fat is the most abundant, dense energy source that the body prefers the majority of the time. Carbohydrates are needed for adequate brain function (depending on your school of thought), a healthy immune system, and all anaerobic activities like running, weight training, heavy lifting, and even getting up from a seated position. Remember, type 2 muscle fibers require carbohydrates to function, unless you would rather burn your own muscle tissue to get the glucose! This is why carb timing is so essential, dependent on your activity level. We also have adequate glycogen storage space in our muscles for a reason, designed to preserve energy in times of need, like sprinting to safety. The carbohydrates we store in our muscles make our muscles look fuller aesthetically, and give us much needed energy stores for our next workout, provided it’s not 2 weeks later!
So, whether you are more of a carb type, or a protein-fat type, you still need all of these macronutrients in your diet in sufficient amounts anyway. If you are gaining weight on a higher carb diet, then you may just be considered “carb sensitive”, meaning there might be excess insulin in the blood storing the sugar as fat. Then you may just want to eat more fats and low glycemic vegetable carbs (unless you’re working out or doing strenuous physical activity). However, as of 2014, statistics show that 86 million Americans are insulin resistant, meaning they are fat storage machines. Before you go thinking that you need to be on a lower carb diet for life, you may just need to correct the insulin resistance issue first. If you have high blood levels of triglycerides, it’s a good sign that you’re insulin resistant to some extent.
Can one be more inclined to consuming meat as opposed to being a vegetarian type? For some, consuming meat is a moral issue, and they will work around it no matter what “metabolic type” they may be. Others intuitively know what they should eat because they are grounded and more consciously connected to the earth and the Universe. However, it is very true that for generations, your family may have been mostly meat eaters, or more vegetarian types, and the body has learned to adapt to that particular diet. That does not mean, however, that you cannot adapt to a new diet over time. Take the Ketogenic Diet for example. Some people claim it works so well for them after the body metabolically adapts to the changes. They eat very minimal carbs and have a higher protein, very high fat diet. They even claim that the brain can adapt to functioning optimally without much glucose. I am not a big fan of that diet for a few reasons. Unless you really know what you’re doing it is very easy to become overly acidic and inflamed. Also, who wants to adapt to such a low carb diet? You’re cutting out so many delicious foods! This diet does have amazing benefits, if you experience chronic seizures like with epilepsy, or temporarily when you’re trying to overcome diabetes or certain cancers. This is just an example of how the body can adapt to a particular diet if it needs to for survival, but this diet, like any other diet or lifestyle program, still needs to be pH balanced!
For most, it’s a much simpler, more practical approach. Most do well on a clean, organic, whole foods diet, with a macronutrient balance that suits their lifestyle, food preferences, ideal weight, and energy levels. The common denominator for everyone is high vegetable intake with the least amount of pesticides and chemicals. Not even the Eskimos can truly adapt and prevent disease without this prerequisite. The reason the Eskimos have one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world is not just because their meat or protein intake is extremely high, it’s the lack of alkaline forming vegetables that provokes the bone loss.
Now let’s take a quick look at type A or type B personality types believed to make a person more sympathetic or parasympathetic dominant. In most cases, high stressed, caffeine laced, adrenaline pumping, sympathetic dominant, type A personalities, in a constant state of “fight or flight”, will tend to be much more acidic. In today’s society, this type is fairly common, so a higher carb diet focused on fruits and vegetables (not so common), would be well suited for them. These nervous system imbalances can also be corrected by becoming more grounded, practicing self-awareness and living consciously as opposed to just focusing on the diet. It would suit these types to incorporate more parasympathetic increasing meditative practices into their lives, instead of over-exercising and over-working like these types tend to do!
There are also many people whose autonomic nervous systems are in balance. Regardless, for the average Westerner, this would still equate to them falling more on the acidic side. For the less common, more reserved, relaxed, easy going, type B parasympathetic dominant types that can possibly fall more towards the alkaline side of the fence, they would want to increase protein and fat intake as opposed to high carbs to keep pH levels in balance, similar to some vegans and vegetarians. Parasympathetic dominant types generally aren’t as prone to exercise either, so just increasing activity levels can help balance out their metabolisms. Overall, it may not need to be as complicated as many “metabolic-typers” make it out to be.
I could get much deeper into this subject, as I have done a decent amount of research on metabolic typing, being as open minded as possible, but this is as far as I’m going to go at this time. If you have any further interest in exploring metabolic typing here is Dr. Kelly’s website http://www.drkelley.info/dr-kelleys-metabolic-typing/ or Beverly Nadler’s, CHT, CMT- http://www.beverlynadler.com/html/metabolic.html