Acidity and dysfunctional health
We need the right pH (measure of acidity) in our body tissues, fluids and blood for our natural physiological processes to function well. These processes are controlled by enzymes that are activated by mineral co-factors, magnesium being THE most essential mineral activator. These enzymatic processes effect all cellular energy production, detoxification and metabolic processes.
With my nutritional medicine training, I focus on the contribution of our overly acidic diets, typically high in animal protein, grains, dairy products, processed foods and caffeinated drinks, to being in a state of chronic metabolic acidosis (CMA). This reveals itself in
biochemistry blood test results reporting serum levels of sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate; and anion gap (a computed value):
A bicarbonate result of 26/27 mmol/L is a healthy value, reflecting a pH of 7.42/7.43.
A bicarbonate result of 23/24 mmol/L reflects a pH of 7.37/7.38, a typical age related decline in our bodies ability to cope with excessive acidity.
Serum bicarbonate value less than 22 mmol/L is considered a clinically significant marker of metabolic acidosis (Frassetto, 2019).
An anion gap above 12 is also suggestive of metabolic acidosis.
and may be experienced as symptoms of fatigue, greater pain sensitivity, arthritic pain. CMA can be the underlying driver of diseases including insulin resistance, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, musculoskeletal disorders, including bone and muscle loss, neurological disorders, immune incompetence, cancers.
The book “The Alkaline Solution: Surviving the Modern Western Diet” explains well how acid-base balance and magnesium deficiency impacts development of these adverse health conditions (Vormann and Ochsenham, 2016).
Our skeleton is a very significant reserve of alkalising minerals, calcium and magnesium, that are resorbed from bone as part of our body's innate ability to maintain acid-alkali balance, but thus weakening the integrity of our bones and increasing risk of osteoporosis as CMA continues.
We can reduce our risks of suffering from bone loss and development of chronic health conditions if we eat much more of alkalising foods, including the really valuable mineral-rich green leafy vegetables. You can find helpful charts and food lists to guide you in your food choices. I like this one, which I’ve had for years attached to the front of my fridge.
I have deliberately planted up more of green leafy vegetables in the Binnowee Community Garden to have this available for harvesting by those wise folk who value this food, as well as to raise awareness as I talk to the school students and other garden visitors about health matters.
But changing existing food habits and addictions and a common distaste for greens is hard. Most people are rather weak willed about taking on self-responsibility for healthy nutrition. It is easier as a practitioner to give them an alkalising formula that tastes pleasant as a drink, and provides alkaline minerals that facilitate acid removal from the body. A popular practitioner product is Basica. My experience with clients is that they do feel less fatigued and I’ve seen results showing improvement in bone density over two years. Research provides evidence of positive effects also against insulin resistance, kidney disease, hypertension, muscle loss, liver disease and cardiovascular disease (BioPractica, 2019).
I do however have reservations about the recommendations for increasing dosages, even while it has previously been the form of magnesium supplementation favoured for myself and clients based on our product training. More recently, I have been going back to biochemistry basics with my biochemic tissue salt training and learning to understand more about the importance of maintaining the correct proportions of minerals and electrical neutrality. Without the physiologically correct amount and relative ratios of minerals, our cellular metabolic processes are impaired, leading to adverse systemic effects.
An issue with an alkalising formula like Basica, is that a person may drink too much and upset their mineral balance with minerals they may not need; and they rely on this pleasant-tasting medicinal fix to protect themselves, without self-motivated behaviour change to better support their health with informed nutritional and lifestyle choices.
Tissue salts, including combinations of Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Phosphate and Potassium Phosphate, have become my preferred remedy for myself and for clients. I prescribe it on the basis of signs and symptoms and as part of health maintenance that considers a person’s constitutional weaknesses and environmental exposures.
If you’re interested in understanding how acidic your diet is, I can do a PRAL (potential renal acid load) assessment of your customary diet with you and advise you on how to better balance yourself with more alkalising food choices.
Then also advise on how you might effectively use an alkalising formula and an alternate tissue salt strategy e.g. with endurance exercise to improve exercise performance, reduce post-exertional fatigue and replace mineral electrolytes lost through sweating.
I can also guide you to safe and appropriate use of tissue salts individually and in combination to help remedy health conditions you struggle with, by providing missing minerals without which cells and metabolic processes cannot work efficiently.
BioPractica, 2019, "Acid-base Balance: Clinical Research Guide - The Foundation for an Optimal Healthspan", with references.
Frassetto L, 2019, “The trade-off hypothesis as a driver of acid-induced organ system damage and aging”, presented at Bio-Practica 2019 National Summit: The underestimated effect of mineral balance in aging, kidney & cognitive health”, Sydney 14 August 2019.
Vormann J and Ochsenham P, 2016, "The Alkaline Solution: Surviving The Modern Western Diet", Madhouse Media, 2016.