Following an acidic lifestyle can contribute to a serious pH imbalance and omega-3 deficiency that can lead to the initiation of long-term chronic inflammation for your patients.
What the research suggests
Acid-alkaline balance is an important concept in the health of your patients that is seeing increasing support in the literature. Two researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, published a peer-reviewed study that investigated age versus blood-acid levels. They found that as people get older, their blood acid levels rise and their alkaline reserves are reduced, leading to a nearly complete loss of bicarbonate reserves by age 40.1
They determined that the primary reason for this bicarbonate loss was largely the standard American diet (SAD). They went on to conclude that the role of age-related metabolic acidosis in the pathogenesis of the degenerative diseases of aging warrants further consideration.
The authors point to four factors:
1. Fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium salts, a natural buffer. Neglecting these foods deprives the body of potassium, a mineral that protects against hypertension and stroke. Research suggests that humans evolved eating a 10-to-1 ratio of potassium to sodium, referred to as the biological baseline. Today, because of heavily salted processed and fast foods, combined with a low intake of fruits and vegetables, the ratio is considered now to be more in the range of 3-to-1 in favor of sodium. That reversal wreaks havoc with pH and the dependency on potassium.
2. There has also been a similar reversal in the consumption of naturally occurring bicarbonate (such as potassium bicarbonate) in foods, and added chloride (mostly in the form of sodium chloride, or table salt). Bicarbonate is alkaline, where chloride is acid-yielding.
3. Eating large amounts of animal protein (including beef, chicken, and seafood) releases sulfuric acid though the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids, also contributing to greater acidity.
4. Grains such as wheat, rye and corn have a net acid-yielding effect, regardless of whether they are in the form of white bread, breakfast cereal, pasta or whole grains.
The real problem is one of alkaline deficiency, more than one of too much acid, the authors conclude. People eat plenty of acid-yielding animal protein, dairy products, and grains. The missing piece is an appropriate amount of fruits and vegetables to produce an alkaline yield.
The acid-alkaline issue is one of mineral adequacy and depletion. It’s like over-farming and depleting mineral levels in soil. If a person constantly eats foods that create an acidic pH level in the body, they will deplete their bones and muscles of stored alkaline reserves.
The study may have only scratched the surface when it comes to health problems related to mild life-long acidosis. Low-grade acidosis increases insulin resistance, the hallmark of both pre-diabetes and full-blown type-2 diabetes. It increases the risk of kidney stones and kidney failure. And one study suggests that it might even alter gene activity and raise the risk of breast cancer.2 The consequences of a fundamental shift in the body’s acid-alkaline balance, are likely far reaching.
The role of alkalizing supplements
Supplements that can rapidly alkalize the body are helpful. You can recommend your patients try a high polyphenol fruit-and-vegetable-based powder as a green drink, or a concentrated alkalizing mineral powder, or both.
Because most patients are not consuming the recommended five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, they can supplement with an organic green drink powder. If after about a month there is not a significant shift in their urine pH, to the range of 7.2 to 7.4, they can add a concentrated powdered supplement containing a combination of calcium citrate, magnesium citrate and potassium bicarbonate.
This usually reverses acidification within one or two weeks, and most people will report feeling better. When essential nutrients like calcium and magnesium are lost from bones and muscle tissues, there is more space for acidic toxins to be stored. Therefore, supplying adequate calcium and magnesium is a form of detoxification.
High potassium diets—those rich in fruits and vegetables—help promote alkalinity. In another study, researchers found that potassium citrate supplements protected against calcium loss, even when people ate a high-salt diet.3
Measuring pH balance
While not a typical medical test, a patient’s urine pH can be a strong indicator of overall health. Ongoing monitoring of urine pH is a useful method for evaluating the effectiveness of diet, supplements and overall lifestyle modification.
Monitoring urine pH also provides an opportunity for the patient to take part in the management of their return to health, vitality and wellness. Correcting a chronic acidic pH helps patients feel better, while also helping to replace needed alkaline reserves and reducing long-term chronic inflammation.
Measuring fatty acids in the blood
Perhaps the best clinical marker for measuring long-term chronic inflammation in the body was first demonstrated in 1989 by researchers who measured inflammatory cytokine markers in the blood. The omega-3 and trans-fat index identifies fatty acid biomarkers in the red blood cells that are essential to health and bodily functions.
The ideal omega-3 index, which is the percentage of EPA and DHA in the cell membranes is best when found between 8 and 12 percent. This value correlates with research on the longest-living and least-inflamed people of the world, the Japanese population. By comparison, the average American has an omega-3 index of less than 4 percent.
The simple-to-use omega-3 index assessment only requires a finger poke and patients can collect their own sample at home and use a pre-paid mailer to send it to a lab. In approximately seven days their doctor receives an e-mailed blood report that contains the results of the patient’s fatty acid profile along with a personalized recommendation on how to improve it.
Patients would also have been instructed on how to test their urine pH at home and record their findings for review. Most professionals charge an additional office visit to go over the blood and urine test results and make lifestyle and anti-inflammatory nutrition recommendations. Research shows that tracking omega-3, trans-fat and urine pH levels helps patients reach their anti-inflammatory goals.
The findings of these objective tests all respond to diet and supplementation. A patient can change their numbers simply by changing what they eat, and the supplements they take.
Everyone responds differently to dietary and lifestyle changes, however, so the only way to know the level of chronic inflammation any patient has is to test it. As with any health condition, the most beneficial solution to low-grade chronic inflammation and cellular acidosis is addressing the underlying cause. Look particularly for sources of acidifying elements in the diet and don’t forget stress.
Donald L. Hayes, DC, is a clinician, educator and author of several books, including Alkalize Now. He is the founder of the Greens First line of nutritional products and The EndFlame Chronic Inflammation Support Protocol. He can be reached at 866-410-1818 or through greensfirst.com.