How come it seems like younger people can eat anything they want, but even mildly spicy foods can send many middle aged and older folks rushing to the medicine cabinet for an antacid? It’s because the body’s ability to maintain a healthy pH balance declines as we age.
This makes middle-aged and older people more susceptible to a condition called metabolic acidosis. Metabolic acidosis is a temporary condition that occurs when the body’s pH balance drops to unhealthy levels. It has been linked to the progression of many diseases, and some research suggests that it can contribute to premature aging.
An analysis of studies conducted on the effect of age on the body’s pH balance shows that the body becomes progressively more acidic as we age. The study titled: Age and systemic acid-base equilibrium: analysis of published data evaluated the results of research which measured the pH levels of blood from a wide range of people aged 20 to 100. The study found that after age 40, levels of acid-forming Hydrogen ions in the blood increase rapidly. Because of this, middle-aged and older people are generally more susceptible to metabolic acidosis than younger people. The study authors speculated that progressively worsening metabolic acidosis is likely a product of declining kidney function as age increases.
How the kidneys regulate acidity
Metabolic acidosis is marked by a buildup of acid-forming hydrogen ions (H+) in the blood. In normal health, the kidneys respond to the buildup of acidity in two ways:
- Buffer the acidity with alkaline bicarbonates
- Discharge the acidity in the urine
Bicarbonate is an alkali, which when released into the bloodstream counteracts acidic hydrogen ions. But as we age, the body’s store of bicarbonate ions, known as it’s alkaline buffer, declines. The kidneys can also act to reduce levels of hydrogen ions in the blood by expelling them in the urine. But kidney problems such as diabetes will reduce the kidney’s ability to discharge acidity.
The Impact of Declining Kidney Function
As the ability of the kidneys to regulate acidity declines, they are less able to counteract the acidifying effects of rising levels of hydrogen ions. The body responds to that by tapping into another source of bicarbonate in the body: the bones. The bones release bicarbonate, which counteracts acidity in the blood. The problem is, the body doesn’t seem to be very good at replacing the bones’ bicarbonate once it’s gone. The body’s use of bone-based bicarbonate to balance blood pH is believed to contribute significantly to weaker bones, and ultimately osteoporosis.
Alkaline water shown to raise blood pH balance
Clinical testing has revealed the likely reason that alkaline water can reduce bone loss: When the body is in a state of metabolic acidosis, drinking alkaline water will raise blood pH. Research shows that drinking alkaline water when the body is in a state of metabolic acidosis will quickly raise blood pH by 40 – 70% within the normal pH range for blood – plain water was shown to have no effect on blood pH.
Alkalinity to the Rescue!
The simplest way to fight back against metabolic acidosis is reduce the acidity your kidneys must deal with by making your water and diet more alkaline. Medical experts believe that by lowering the renal acid load – amount of acid that must be neutralized by the kidneys – metabolic acidosis may be reduced or avoided.
There is strong evidence that alkaline water may prevent the bone loss which occurs when the body uses its store of bicarbonates in the bones. Drinking alkaline water has been shown to lower hormone markers of bone loss. Katherine Zeratsky, nutritionist for the Mayo Clinic, pointed out the fact that alkaline water has shown a link to maintaining bone health. Alkaline water may help prevent metabolic acidosis and alleviate the body’s need to rob the bones of bicarbonates.
Why your diet and water should be alkaline
The best way to prevent metabolic acidosis from robbing your bones of bicarbonate, and robbing you of your health, is to make your diet and water alkaline. If the foods you eat are acidic, they are going to put an acid load on your kidneys. If your kidneys aren’t up to the task of dealing with that acidity, your body ends up in a state of metabolic acidosis. Fight back by eating an alkaline diet, and avoiding highly acidic foods such as sodas.
Drinking alkaline water throughout the day will also help. Alkaline water is quickly absorbed by the body. When drank on an empty stomach, alkaline water passes through the stomach, straight into the intestines where it is absorbed. Once in the bloodstream, it’s alkalinity can go to work countering acidity immediately.
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