What Is Metabolic Acidosis? Should I be worried about this?
The normal body maintains very tight control over the acid/base balance of the tissues. A healthy blood pH is in the range of 6.9-7.9; yet the body tissues' range is even more narrow, between 7.3 and 7.5. Very- small variation in cellular pH makes a big difference in cellular function. A slightly acidic cellular pH causes some serious metabolic problems, resulting in impaired mitochondrial function, less efficient metabolism and protein synthesis, increased free radical production, accelerated bone resorption and muscle breakdown, and suppression of GH with other hormones. Obviously this is not a good situation for anyone, especially is you are wanting to achieve optimal health.
The production of organic acids is a normal part of metabolism, but it can be pushed to abnormally high levels by diet and lifestyle factors. (Dietary choices are the most important.) The acidity of a food is not really important: how the body metabolizes the organic compounds in food is the key. For example, lime juice is acidic in your mouth, but in the body it is an alkaline forming food. Protein foods are the biggest source of acid-forming compounds. The sulfur containing the amino acids cysteme, cystine and methionine alone with the acidic amino acids aspartate, glutamate, proline, serine and threonine all increase tissue acid load. Protein consumption above 60 grams daily significantly increases tissue acid load. Dietary phosphate and sulfate also increase acidity. The other factor that affects metabolism is dietary fat. The long chain fatty acids found in most dietary fat also increase tissue acid load, when greater than 20% of the calories come from fat. Lifestyle choices make a big difference. Exercise increases metabolic acid production and a slight acidic change in muscle tissue during training is one factor that causes fatigue and the "burn". Stress, in general, increases tissue acid because of the release of cortisol and adrenaline. Organic acids are also produced by the immune system during the "alarm" response. All of this excess acid must be neutralized.
The body's ability to deal with excess tissue acid is limited and depends greatly on the diet. The body neutralizes tissue acids using minerals like sodium, magnesium, potassium, and carbonate. The greater the acid load, the more of these nutrients you need. A large amount of alkaline nutrients are found in and around the bone. This alkaline reserve can be depleted when there aren't enough alkaline nutrients in the diet. Inadequate alkaline reserve leads to chronic metabolic acidosis. Checking for metabolic acidosis is easy.
The pH of the body varies. True tissue pH can be determined by either the insertion of a needle or by tissue sampling. Obviously this is not a practical approach. Measuring the pH of urine is an easier method. Test strips can be found at most pharmacies. A sleeping body cleans house, mobilizing built up tissue acids. The eliminated waste collects in the urine, so the first morning urine is a good representative of tissue acid load. Excessive tissue acid load shows up as a more acidic first morning urine pH and the ideal first morning urine pH is between 6.5 and 7.0. A consistently acidic first morning urine pH, below 6.5, is a good indication of excessive tissue acid. This is a good indicator of your overall health.
Improve your health by decreasing your tissue acid load. A diet rich in alkaline-forming foods is essential. To help restore good health, the diet should be 80% alkaline-forming food and 20% acid-forming foods. Alkaline forming foods are most fruits, vegetables, lentils, spices, nuts, and seeds. Acid-forming foods are meats, fish, poultry, eggs, most grains and legumes. This will help to restore your alkaline reserve. But exercise requires a significant amount of protein for tissue repair, usually far more than the daily 60 grams. The right supplements can help. Ascorbate buffered by alkaline-forming minerals, magnesium, potassium, and zinc is essential.
Changes in lifestyle and training are also necessary. Avoiding over training and getting adequate rest are equally important: the body needs some time to heal and repair. Remember growth occurs during rest, not during training. Eliminating sources of immune activation is important. This is effectively accomplished by avoiding foods and chemicals that your body finds sensitive. Though these are different for everyone, foods like wheat, dairy, corn, eggs, peanuts and soy are the most common (to find out if you have any of these food sensitivities click here). Eliminating immune activation allows the immune system to heal and repair the body while it decreases acid production. Over time addressing all of these factors will allow the body to heal and your health to improve. The change will not happen overnight, so check your first morning urine pH to monitor your progress.
The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any health condition and is not a replacement for treatment by a health care provider.