Would it surprise you that lemons aren’t acidic but sugar is? When it comes to measuring the impact of our daily diet on the pH level of our body, particularly our blood, then that’s exactly the case. Our blood is alkaline; and our body continually strives to balance its pH. This can have a significant impact on the rest of our body which is why this week’s post is designed to shed some light on the pH level of our blood and why that matters. Come and cook with us!
Remember back in chemistry class when we learned about pH levels measured on a scale from 0 to 14? Pure water has a pH very close to 7 at 25° C which is considered pH neutral. Solutions with a pH less than 7 are acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline. Our blood is slightly alkaline, in fact, its ideal pH level is 7.365. In order for us to survive, the blood has to stay within a very tight range which is made harder as every food and liquid we consume works its way into our blood stream. For example, most vegetables high in water (and some fruits) have an alkaline effect on blood chemistry, while meat, dairy and most cereals are more acid-yielding.
Let’s take a lemon. Though acidic in itself, a lemon will actually reduce the body’s acidic load once its mineral content is absorbed into the blood. That is because most minerals within the lemon have an alkalizing effect on blood chemistry. This occurs through a chemical process that turns them into sponges which soak up excess acidity.
But most of the food we eat in today’s Westernized diet, including animal foods and foods high in white sugar and white flour, push the blood chemistry to the acid end of the spectrum which is exacerbated by the lack of enough vegetables and fruits to counterbalance this excess acidity. The result is that our body is exposed to a chronic acid overload which forces it to continually draw on its alkaline reserves by releasing alkaline minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium from the musculoskeletal system (including the skin, tissue, bones and joints). Consistent mineral withdrawal can lead to a wide range of problems including osteoporosis, diminished mental acuity and memory problems contributing to dementia and early Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, many experts consider over-acidity in the body to be the principal cause of inflammation which coupled with a weakened immune system can lead to chronic inflammation (more on this in a future post).
If this all sounds too scientific, let’s remember that the food we eat has an impact on our bodies in more ways than we can imagine. Try to stick to a balanced diet rich in real foods with nutrients coming from a variety of different sources. If you are looking to specifically increase your intake of alkaline forming foods, eat more lemons, melons, root vegetables and leafy greens. For a more detailed overview, check out this handout I received from Meredith McCarty. Come and cook with us!