ELECTROLYTES, CELLULAR VOLTAGE, AND pH!
The major minerals that are in charge of maintaining the critical pH balance of our body systems, which are of vital importance for life to exist, are known as electrolytes. Electrolytes, also called macro minerals, expedite the passage of fluid in and around the cells through a process known as osmosis. All the body’s buffer systems that were just explained are fed by these invaluable live ionic minerals and carry a positive or negative charge. The buffer systems help manage and balance these energy producing minerals to keep the blood, other fluids, and surrounding tissues from getting too alkaline, or in most cases too acidic.
Electrolytes are supplied through the diet and of course by adequate absorption of these minerals. The best way to acquire and absorb these mineral electrolytes is in organic form from plant or naturally fed animal sources. Minerals obtained from whole foods are already in ionized electrolyte form, unlike inorganic salts, which need to be ionized in the gut. Basically, plants ingest these inorganic salts or elemental minerals from the soil and convert them into organic ionic form. So, by eating the plants, or the animals that eat the plants, you are getting ionized minerals from your food! This is why minerals derived from whole food sources are superior to their inorganic stepsisters that require protein transporters and sufficient amounts of stomach acid to be absorbed. With that being said, a lot of people, especially as they get older, lack adequate gastric juices to process inorganic minerals, so minerals in this form are not the best choice.
As you have learned, a sufficient supply and reserve of these minerals allow the buffers to mostly neutralize and remove unwanted acids from the system with ease. When you come up short on macro minerals and fall out of balance, which is all too common in modern day society’s dissatisfactory diets and high stress lifestyles, the bones and tissues are forced to give up their invaluable mineral stores. This impedes an efficient state of equilibrium or homeostasis in the body. When this emergency situation is allowed to continue, the body cannot expel acidic waste and oxygenate the system properly allowing the overall functioning of body systems to become tired and worn out. This weakens overall immunity and thus the body’s ability to deter bacterial and viral infections, ADVANCING the aging process and the initiation of disease!
When more extreme dangerous electrolyte imbalances occur, like with clinical chronic acidosis or alkalosis, death can result if electrolyte fluids in the right proportions are not administered in a timely manner to correct the imbalance, at least temporarily.
Ultimately, electrolytes conduct electrical current in aqueous solutions. Energy is produced through adequate balanced concentration of these charged ionic minerals inside and outside the cells as they move across the cell membrane. Functions like nerve impulses, muscle contraction, blood pressure, fluid balance, etc., are all at the mercy of these electrified minerals. Let’s take a deeper look at how this process works and identify specific electrolytes involved.
Out of the at least 75 trillion cells in the human body, an incredible 40,000 biochemical reactions take place per second in each cell. All of these reactions are electrical currents that require a constant flow of negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons.
Healthy cells have what they call a normal membrane potential of -85 mV (millivolt- the measurement of electrical potential across the cell membrane) required for aerobic life, and allows for the normal continuance of all biochemical cell reactions in the body. If this normal cell membrane potential of -85 mV decreases, metabolic cellular functioning is compromised. As a result, cells cannot accept nutrients or expel waste efficiently and oxygen levels become depleted.
Nobel Prize winning Laureate Dr. Otto Warburg once stated “cells maintain a voltage across their membrane which is analogous to the voltage of a battery.” He found that cellular voltage drops as a result of overwhelming modern daily stressors, a toxic environment, and a more rapid aging process. So when your cells are running on low energy, at first it may result in joint pain, fatigue, poor digestion, and/or brain fog. Then eventually this poorly circulating environment can lead to chronic degenerative diseases like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, dementia, and yes cancer. Be aware, cancer cells have a very low cell membrane potential of -20 mV to -30 mV compared to a normal cell. In this low oxygen, inflamed, free radical filled environment, cells will start to degenerate and eventually the cell will prematurely die, or even worse survive and grow abnormally, just like a cancer cell does. On a cellular level, health maintenance is a metabolic energy game, no doubt about it!
Bio-electricity is a critical component for the human organism to function and live. In order for the body’s interconnected complex systems to be able to manufacture and voluntarily produce electrical current throughout the body (blood, muscles, nerves, brain, etc.), as mentioned earlier, the body needs to be supplied with adequate amounts of electrolyte minerals.
As you now know, positively or negatively charged ions are conductors of electricity. These ions are now free to combine with other molecules to become acids, bases, or salts (acid, basic, neutral). The major mineral ions or electrolytes are calcium (Ca++), magnesium (Mg++), sodium (Na+), and potassium (K+), which are all positively charged cations. In chemistry, opposites naturally attract. These cations have a positive electrical charge and are attracted to the negatively charged hydroxyl OH-ion making them alkaline. Negatively charged acid anions phosphate (PO4-), chloride (Cl-), sulfate (SO4-), and bicarbonate (HCO3-) accepted electrons to become ionized and ready for use by the body. Even though bicarbonate, which is almost always paired with sodium is alkaline, the term acid anion still applies because it is an anion produced by dissociation of carbonic acid. These electrically negatively charged minerals are attracted to positively charged hydrogen ions (H+)making them acidic, namely (hydrochloric acid (HCL), sulfuric acid (H2SO4), phosphoric acid (H3PO4), and carbonic acid (H2CO3).
It may get a little confusing when you see electrolytes like sodium (Na+) and magnesium (Mg++) carrying a positive charge, being referred to as positive cations, and being alkaline at the same time. After all, the pH scale says the more (OH-) the more basic and the more (H+) the more acidic. You have to remember that the positive charge these cations carry attracts negatively charged hydroxyl ions (OH-) making them alkaline. So the positive charge in sodium (+) represents a donated electron and does not make it an acid (H+), just as the negative charge of chloride (-) represents an accepted electron and does not make it a base (OH-).
I’m sure you have all heard of the negative ionization (alkalizing effect) produced by air ionizers by now, as they have been marketed fairly heavily in recent years. In nature, negative ions are formed from things like waterfalls, rivers, crashing surf bubbles, mountains, filtered shower water, the earth’s surface (grounding), and plants. Besides the euphoric feeling associated with the ambiance of the miraculous wonders of the world, there may be tens of thousands of negative ions present, making you feel more uplifted and energized.
A waterfall, for example, can provide anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter, compared to the average office, which may provide none at all. Formed through water molecules, negative ions are oxygen ions with an extra electron attached. Negative ionization, referring to a surplus of alkalizing OH-ions, can be beneficial in neutralizing and eliminating health deteriorating, accumulating, positive H+ ions like the ones formed from most EMF radiation, toxins, free radicals, heavy metals, all of which are acid forming.
High quality spring water is negatively ionized and oxygen rich, producing an overall alkalizing effect. Distilled water, on the other hand, could not sustain the life of a goldfish. The fish would be unable to breathe as distilled water is low in dissolved oxygen. There are countless studies touting the benefits that negative ionization has on both our internal and external environments, even for conditions like depression.
Alkaline mineral ions in food work in a similar manor. For instance, potassium, being a strong alkaline base in fruits and vegetables, has the ability to neutralize the stronger sulfuric and uric acids produced from protein metabolism. When high OH-potassium combines with high H+ sulfuric acid, the resultant bond forms potassium sulfate, a neutral salt that can safely be eliminated via the kidneys.
Interviewed in the 2015 documentary-series The Truth About Cancer, Dr. Patrick Vickers, D.C., founder of the Northern Baja Gerson Center states, “When these fruit and vegetable juices break down in the body they form potassium hydroxide. Chemically written hydroxide is OH-. (oxygen, hydrogen, negative charge) What’s hydrogen? The acidic nature of hydrogen is a positively charged hydrogen ion H+. Imagine what happens when that juice breaks down into hydroxyl ions OH- and reacts with the positively charged hydrogen ion? That reaction forms water. Water is neutral, you neutralize that acidity, and you have now changed the charge at the center of the cell membrane, and you have now just allowed your body to properly oxygenate tissues, making the sugars in these fruit and vegetable juices able to be converted to massive amounts of energy. That is what ultimately fires up the immune system. At the same time the hydration is flushing the toxins out of the cells!”
So, in order to conduct the electricity effectively, body fluids and tissues require fairly accurate proportions of these charged minerals to maintain balance both intra and extracellularly. Mainly, minerals substances, when dissolved in water, disassociate (separate) into these charged ions called electrolytes. For example, in body fluids, like with digestion, ionic bonded sodium chloride (NaCl) disassociates into sodium cations (Na+) and chloride anions (Cl−) which are now electrically charged electrolyte minerals that the body can utilize. The Cl- can combine H+ to form much needed HCL for digestion and the sodium (Na+) can link up with the bicarbonate ion (NaHCO3-) to form chime neutralizing, blood balancing, fluid alkalizing, sodium bicarbonate.
How cells produce energy is a very complex process.
Simplified, the electrolyte fluids inside and outside the cells contain proportionate quantities of these cation and anion ions allowing the net electrical charge of the body to be neutral. So, in order for energy to be produced, a small excess of negatively charged anions accumulates promptly along the inner surface of the cell membrane, and an equivalent number of cations accumulates promptly outside the cell membrane. This is referred to as the resting state of the cell, or the electrical energy potential derived from the difference in positive and negative ion concentration of the cell membrane.
A battery is comparable, where one side has a greater concentration of positively charged particles, and the other has a greater concentration of negatively charged particles. When the ends of the battery are connected, charged particles can then move between the two sides generating an electrical current just like when ions move across the cell membrane. The use of this gradient is predominant in nerve cells. When sodium ions leave a cell, potassium ions enter the cell in the opposite direction.
An example of this is the Sodium-potassium pump in nerve cells. This pump moves two potassium ions inside the cell as three sodium ions are pumped outside the cell simultaneously, to stabilize the negatively-charged membrane inside the cell, maintaining its resting potential. Using sodium, chloride and potassium the cell generates energy from ATP to pump these ions against their electrochemical gradients. Sodium and chloride are the main ions in the extracellular fluid that contribute to the maintenance of concentration and charge differences across cell membranes. Potassium is the main positively charged ion (cation) inside of cells, while sodium is the main cation in extracellular fluid. Under normal conditions, potassium concentrations reach about 30 times higher inside as compared to outside cells, while sodium concentrations are greater than ten times lower inside than outside cells. As mentioned, the concentration differences between potassium and sodium across cell membranes create an electrochemical gradient known as the “membrane” or resting potential.
When the body’s sodium-potassium pump is interrupted due to overly acidic conditions, sodium and calcium can buildup in the blood. Also, an acidic pH environment with increasing free radical production oxidizes LDL cholesterol and allows it to bind with heavy metals and other cellular debris much more easily. Increased blood pressure, cholesterol oxidation, and the formation of plaque with heavy metals and calcium can damage and narrow arterial walls leading to a heart attack or stroke. In addition, when free calcium gets tied up with LDL and is used for buffering it becomes unavailable to other parts of the body needed for basic functions. Now much needed calcium needs to be extracted from the skeleton and teeth, leading to tooth decay and loss, arthritis, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, and many other degenerative diseases!
In order to maintain the electrical potential across the cell membrane and accelerate the sodium-potassium pump, the cells must produce energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), often referred to as the “molecular unit of currency,” transporting cellular energy for metabolism. In order to produce indispensable ATP, two separate metabolic pathways are harnessed, glycolysis and the Krebs’s Cycle.