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Acids and bases in the human body are in a balance of 80% bases and 20% acids. If this balance shifts towards acidity, we call it acidification. Acidification of this kind firstly costs the body a lot of energy to restore balance, secondly, acidification leads to illnesses.
Weak but long-term acidification, for example, inhibits connective tissue from absorbing nutrients, and as a result, we suffer from cellulite. The kidneys are stressed, and osteoporosis, a weakness of the bones, is also a risk. Blood supplies the cells and it is basic.
Acidification, medically acidosis, means acidification of the blood. Those who exercise too little, suffer from negative stress, malnourish themselves and also suffer from diseases that promote acid formation contribute to the fact that the body accumulates lactates, the salts of lactic acid.
Such chronic hyperacidity manifests itself in rapid exhaustion, loss of appetite, immune deficiency, nausea and lack of drive. Acidification causes the bones to decalcify and therefore break more easily, the heart beats weaker and therefore less blood gets into the circulation, the muscles break down, the potassium content of the blood increases and caries spreads in the teeth.
How does the acid-base balance develop?
The body converts food substances into acids and bases, as shown by the pH value. For acids it is between 0 and 7, for bases between 8 and 14 - with 7 an equilibrium is reached. The different organs have different pH values, but the blood needs a constant acid-base level of 7.4.
The body regulates the acids and bases effectively. It excretes excess acid through the kidneys, and we exhale it too, namely carbonic acid. When we sweat, we sweat the acid and our intestines free us from acidic bowel movements.
If a lot of acid is supplied to the body, it can cope with it for a short time. In the long term, however, the organism is disturbed and diseases are the result. This includes gout: gout arises because uric acid deposits in the joints, which then ignite.
Acidification also promotes ulcers, urinary stones, and possibly rheumatism such as immune deficiency.
Acid and base producers
Acids provide sugar and products containing sugar, white flour, pasta, coffee, black tea, alcohol, meat, fish, sausages and broth. Base suppliers, on the other hand, are potatoes, vegetables, untreated milk, herbs, and above all leafy salads, as well as dried fruits such as dates, figs and raisins. Water, butter, walnuts and cold-pressed oils have a neutral effect. If you eat enough of this, you can ensure deacidification.
Critical acid levels
Acidification of the blood begins at a pH of 7.36, but from 7.44 we speak of alkalosis, an excessive amount of bases.
However, latent acidification does not appear in the blood, but in the rest of the body tissue. It manifests itself in tension, pain, heartburn, pale face, brittle hair and hair loss, allergies, neurodermatitis, acne and gastrointestinal problems.
There is no classic diagnosis, since the pH value in the blood does not necessarily decrease in the event of chronic acidification of the organism.
A basic diet presumably alleviates the symptoms described and also has positive side effects, since it is generally healthy. The general rule is: low-fat meat or fish and lots of vegetables and fruit. 1 kg of vegetables or fruit compensates for the acidification of 400 g of meat, fish or cereals.
A lot of water should always be drunk with coffee or black tea, and breakfast with muesli with dried fruit, fruit spritzers and fresh fruit is also available. At lunchtime, vegetable soups, cooked vegetables and herbs bring the bases into high gear. Mineral water helps to excrete acids, but without carbon dioxide, because that too is an acid. In the afternoons and evenings, the metabolism works more slowly, which can lead to bloating in fruit and cabbage.
Acidification and fast food
Our fast food diet leads to daily acidification. Industrially produced foods contain a much too high proportion of mostly hidden sugar, regardless of whether it's milk powder for children or soup cubes. Coca Cola and most other soft drinks form a high level of acid, as do hamburger, supermarket pizza, bratwurst or chocolate pudding. Making food fresh alone already helps reduce the acids.
Hyperacidity refers to stomach acidity. It is not a separate disease, but a symptom of various gastric diseases.
Parietal cells in the stomach produce hydrochloric acid. This kills germs that get into the stomach with food. The acid also ensures that the digestive enzymes break down the food. The cells react to food and do not release the acid without stimulus. The smell of food, the expansion of the stomach during a meal and protein stimulate the formation of stomach acid.
Triggers for stomach acidity can be: stress, poor nutrition, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, infections and poisoning. An upset stomach is harmless and usually regulates itself again. The situation is different when the gastric mucosa is infected by the Helicobacterium pylori pathogen. It can damage the mucous membrane or cause stomach ulcers.
Acid acidity in the stomach manifests itself in feeling of fullness, acid regurgitation, heartburn, stomach pain, nausea and feeling of pressure in the stomach.
So-called proton pump inhibitors work against acidification and the associated diseases of the stomach and intestines. At the same time, it is advisable to set the triggers, i.e. to largely avoid smoking, alcohol and fatty foods.
A medical history to research the medical history is necessary if it is a serious overacidification. The doctor asks the person concerned about their eating behavior, what symptoms they show and what symptoms they have. Gastrointestinal examination and gastric mucosal examination may also be appropriate to detect gastritis or gastric ulcer. An endoscope inserted into the stomach gives an insight into the duodenum and shows whether a duodenal ulcer is the cause of the symptoms.
If necessary, tests to detect the Helicobacter pylori bacterium or a long-term acid measurement to check whether there is a reflux disease follow.
Acidification of the muscles
Muscles need energy. If they are permanently burdened or overloaded for a short time, such as during bodybuilding, they can become acidic. The affected person feels slight pain in the muscles, and the muscles can do less in the long run. Acidification of the muscles is comparatively harmless since it does not affect any vital organs and the body can usually compensate for the acidification.
The muscles get their energy from different sources: by burning carbohydrates and fats, by splitting adenosine triphosphate and creatine phosphate, by breaking down glucose (this creates lactic acid).
The breakdown of glycose provides energy for top performance in the short term. When the glucose is broken down from the muscle glycogen, not only does the lactate of lactic acid develop, but also free protons and hydrogen ions are formed. These protons mainly cause the acidification of the muscles because they prevent the absorption of calcium, which is necessary for the ATP energy. Muscle contraction suffers because the enzymes are blocked.
Muscle soreness is caused by small tears in the muscle fibers, and this destruction of the cells causes the lactate to increase. During endurance training, the muscles probably don't overacidify due to such an increase in lactic acid, but rather due to a lack of calcium.
The body reacts immediately to the acidity. When the strain on the muscles subsides, it absorbs acidosis, for example through hyperventilation. The acute pain subsides. The released lactate uses the heart and brain to gain energy, and the muscles convert it to muscle glycogen.
Acidification from food
The acids that the body processes every day mostly do not come from eating, but from the burning of fats, carbohydrates and protein. The healthy body has no problem with this: more than 20 times as many base molecules as free acid molecules contain the acids.
Too much acid-forming food therefore does not immediately lead to overacidification or illness.
If the body could not process an excess of acids, we would hardly have evolved. What distinguishes people right now is that they adapt to a wide variety of food sources - from the Sahara to the Arctic. In many of these habitats, the food consists and consisted primarily of "acid images".
When we eat protein-rich foods such as eggs, meat, cheese and fish, acids form in the body. The body excretes these via the breath, sweat and urine. Vegetables and fruit neutralize the acids. The Consumer Advice Center Hesse wrote: "The body's natural buffer systems, a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits, moderate animal foods, plenty of drinking and exercise provide adequate protection against acidification."
Acidification, on the contrary, indicates disorders of the organism: We overacidify, for example, when the kidney is affected.
The warning about acidification of the healthy body from food dates back to the 19th century, when medicine knew little about metabolism. However, there are risk groups: overweight children often have problems excreting the acid via the kidneys, and adolescents who eat a lot of alkaline fruits and vegetables benefit from stable bones.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Eva-Maria Kraske: Acid-base balance - The key to more well-being, Graefe and Unzer Verlag, 2013
- James L. Lewis: Acidosis, MSD Manual, (accessed October 14, 2019), MSD
- Hermann Straubinger: Acidification, Mankau Verlag, 2nd edition, 2014
ICD codes for this disease: E87.2ICD codes are internationally valid encryption codes for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.