Chapter 10: Blood pH Level
Why is the overconsumption of animal products so detrimental to our health? Because the toxins that they contain can push the body into a state of acidosis. In order to live a healthy life, the blood must have a pH level of 7.3 to 7.4. If this number drops, it means that the body is entering a slightly acidic state. Over time, this has dire consequences.
According to Dr. Michael Lam, a specialist in nutritional and anti-aging medicine, a body in a state of acidosis is more prone to health problems and illness. He states, “In an acidic environment, red blood cells cannot repel, and stick together like a stack of coins.” This stacking formation decreases red blood cell surface area, and, therefore, limits the amount of oxygen the blood can carry. Dr. Lam goes on to explain that, “Reduced oxygen leads to fatigue, lack of energy, and weakness, just to mention a few symptoms. Furthermore, cancer cells [thrive] in an oxygen deprived environment much better than in an oxygen rich environment.” This means that maintaining the proper pH level is a critical factor in providing your body with the correct amount of oxygen. This will deter, “…cancer, infection, and a host of inflammatory disease.”1
Such illnesses are commonly seen in the elderly, because as we age, our blood tends to grow more acidic. A young person’s blood ranges from a ph measurement of 7.3 to 7.4, whereas, a senior citizen’s may measure from 7.1 to under 7.3. A low pH level means that there is a higher amount of acid in the body.
Aside from causing serious diseases, acidosis also weakens a person’s muscles. In one experiment, the meat of a mackerel fish was placed in diluted vinegar (pH 2.5). After two days’ time, the flesh had disintegrated, having been attacked by the excess hydrogen ions that acid contains. The same goes for our own muscles. If our bodies are in an acidic environment (under 7.3), the muscles will harden and lose flexibility. This muscle hardening decreases an individual’s activity level and makes it harder for the veins to return blood to the heart. Remember, acidosis also causes the blood cells to stick together which thickens the blood. Therefore, acidosis eventually requires the heart to work harder. From overexertion, the heart may develop an irregular beating pattern, which will only further chronic and inflammatory diseases.
Since high school science class, we have known that 7.0 is a neutral pH level. For example, water (pH 7.0) is neither acidic nor basic. If our pH level is lower than 7.3, we are not healthy. This slightly basic measurement means that there are more OH^- ions than H^+ ions in our blood. This proportion is necessary to our survival, because, without enough OH^- ions, our nervous system would have limited ability to function. This is why people with a low pH level (acidic) have slower reaction times than healthy people. 7.3 to 7.4 pH shows that a balance has been struck. If the blood pH level becomes too high (more basic than acidic), the nervous system will become overactive and people may experience spasms.
Because both acidosis and alkalosis (high pH level) have such detrimental effects, our body prevents imbalanced pH levels to the best of its ability. Our vitamin and mineral reserves serve two purposes: to keep a balanced pH level and to convert stored fat to energy. When the blood has too low or too high of a pH level, the vitamins and minerals are put towards restoring a healthy level. This means that no resources are put towards converting fat to energy, which leads to excess fat and obesity.
Another way our bodies counteract these acidic properties is by releasing calcium from our bones into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, too much of this reaction reduces our bone density, leading to osteoporosis. Some doctors tell those who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis to drink more milk. It was thought that this would strengthen the bones because of the milk’s calcium. In reality, milk has very little calcium in it. Consequently, consuming the milk worsens the osteoporosis, because the fat in milk actually furthers the acidosis, which continues to deplete calcium from the bones.
Ultimately, acidosis is inevitable. When we use our muscles and burn energy, lactic acid is produced. Most of this acid is recycled, but over many years of activity, it slowly builds up in our system.2 Luckily, we can decelerate this buildup, which, in turn, will also slow the aging process. As you learned in the previous chapter, the overconsumption of protein and foods high in fat leads to a buildup of sulfuric and uric acid. Eggs and milk are one example. The World Health Organization recommends that someone who consumes 2000 calories in a day needs about 48 to 56 grams of protein, and only 65 grams of fat in a day.3 Limited consumption of these products will keep our bodies from being pushed into a state of acidosis.
There are some simple techniques to determine if you have acidosis. For the first, pinch a portion of your abdomen and hold it. After a few seconds, let go. If the flesh does not spring back immediately, there is a problem. Inelasticity indicates a higher fat content, which means a lower blood PH. People who suffer from acidosis also tend to have swelling in their bodies or immense joint pain. We can avoid and fix these circumstances by learning from our ancestors.
Hundreds of years ago, people traveled on foot. Obviously, they needed to eat, but they could not carry pounds and pounds of food on their backs for miles on end. Instead, they relied on nature. For example, there is a lot of protein in beans, but raw beans are difficult for humans to digest. These nomads would sometimes stumble upon cow pies and pick out the beans. They learned that it is easier to digest beans after they have passed through a cow’s system because they have already been partially digested. Have you ever heard of Kopi Luwak coffee? It comes from a cat-like animal called the civet, which lives in Southeast Asia. The civet eats coffee beans, but it cannot digest them. The beans are fermented, so to speak, inside the animal and pass through it in one piece. Once they come out, the farmers gather the beans and sanitize them. Then, they are roasted and sold as very expensive coffee. It can run hundreds of dollars a pound.
Thus, years ago in Korea, it was a luxury to find partially digested beans in nature. Unfortunately, raw beans were more prevalent. These raw beans provided a source of protein, but they also caused diarrhea. To counter this, nomads would eat the skin or needles of pine trees. However, if they ate too much of these materials, they would get constipated and develop hemorrhoids.
If these people ate the correct ratio of raw beans to pine tree materials, they would be healthy. These food items balanced the pH levels in their bodies, and prevented both diarrhea and constipation. Eventually, they learned to travel with a small sack of beans. Since pine trees were abundant, they did not have to bring anything else to eat.
In ancient Korea, feces were used as a measure of health. The ancient Korean dynasties believed it was healthiest to have “banana poop.” The best feces shape was (and still is) considered to be around 33 cm long and banana shaped. In fact, the color should be yellowish to brown. Black, gray, or white feces means that you have a health problem.
As such, the king’s staff would monitor his health by examining his feces for length, color, smell, firmness, temperature, and, as gross as this may sound, taste. They would then discuss with the king what they had found, and what they recommended he change in his diet to be healthier. Oilier, softer feces meant he was eating too many meat products. In that case, he would be asked to cut down his meat intake and eat a healthier balance of fruits and vegetables. What is the overall point? We must not forget the importance of maintaining a balance. Too much or too little of anything can hurt us.
I am not suggesting we should eliminate all meats from our diets, but we must eat it less frequently to avoid poisoning our bodies. Individuals who eat more fruit, vegetables, and grains have stronger hearts than those who primarily eat meat. Today, instead of balancing raw beans with pine needles, we must balance meat (which is acidic) with alkaline foods.
Now, you may think that, along with meat products, you should also cut back on acidic foods, such as citrus or vegetables. This is not true. In 1931, Dr. Otto Warburg was given the Nobel Peace Prize4 for making a very important health discovery. He discovered that cancer cells thrived in acidic environments, whereas healthy cells were always found in alkaline conditions. Additionally, certain foods that are “acidic” by nature actually help counteract acidosis within our bodies. For example, it is commonly accepted that lemons are acidic, but the consumption of lemon juice actually lessens the effects of gout and arthritis. Lemons have a pH of about 2, and are part of the citrus family, so how are these alkalizing effects possible?
Although lemon juice (and other foods such as vinegar) starts out as acidic, it undergoes fundamental changes when digested. After being fully metabolized and dissolved within the bloodstream, the new compounds have an alkalizing effect, meaning they raise the blood pH level.5
As you now know, the digestion of animal products leads to acidosis. When we eat too much meat (along with other fats and carbohydrates), our blood pH drops below the ideal range. When our bloodstream becomes acidic, our muscles are weakened, the kidneys’ function is inhibited, and there is a greater chance of cancer developing. If acidosis prevails over a long period of time, the kidneys will fail and this may result in dialysis treatment. Fruit, vegetables, and grains all balance out the side- effects of eating meat, which causes one to conclude that a balanced diet protects the body. Additionally, I also advise boiling the meat, as this makes it more digestible and removes some of the harmful toxins.
Lots of stress, being overworked, and a poor diet all contribute to the formation of free radicals. What are free radicals, and why are they unhealthy for you? Our bodies are made up of cells, which contain various types of molecules. Molecules are made up of atoms of the same or different elements, which are joined by chemical bonds. Free radicals are molecules that have unpaired electrons. They try to find another electron and, in doing so, cause damage to surrounding molecules. Basically, they create abnormal cells, and they can contribute to heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.
Too many free radicals put our bodies into an acidic state. This makes our bodies cold. People with cancer have cold bodies. Free radicals make us susceptible to cancer. We cannot stop free radicals from appearing. Their production is part of the natural process of the life cycle of a cell. This may be unfortunate, but there are steps we can take towards countering their ill effects.
How do we stop free radicals from slowly killing us? We must provide our bodies with anti-oxidants. One important anti-oxidant is Vitamin C. Many people take Vitamin C in the form of a man-made pill, but this form of delivery is not very effective. The reason is that supplements contain only a base vitamin, and they lack the additional materials that natural sources have that aid the digestion process. Another problem is that vitamin C stays in our body for only six hours. The solution is not to take in a lot of Vitamin C at one time, because any extra will be disposed of through waste. Instead, we must incorporate natural vitamin C sources into our diet, taking care to consume them every six hours. Great examples of sources to use include kale, strawberries, citrus, and kiwi. These foods also contain alkaline materials (higher pH levels), and help stop acidosis. So, by eating more fruits and vegetables in their natural form (not as juice), you will be healthier.
By slowing the acidosis of our bodies, we will promote longevity. As of 2015, a perfect example of a body in harmony is a man in Bolivia who is over 120 years old. What does he do? He eats natural foods, and consumes very little meat and dairy items. He walks a lot and exercises. Through this lifestyle, poisonous byproducts are removed from his body. By utilizing similar methods, we also have the potential to live long and fulfilling lives.
See The Importance of Having a Normal Body pH. Dr. Michael Lam outlines the effects of acid buildup on the body.
See What is lactic acidosis?. It is normal for our bodies to release lactic acid into the blood stream during intense exercise and the acid is mostly cleared out during rest by the liver. If Lactic acid builds up in the blood, lactic acidosis can occur. This means that the blood pH is too low due to too much lactic acid.
See the World Health Organization’s Dietary recommendations / Nutritional requirements.
See Dr. Otto Warburg’s Biography at Nobelprize.org.
See 8 Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water and Why You Should Drink it Everyday, How Can Adding Lemon Juice to Water Make the Water Alkaline?, and Citric acid cycle for more information about the benefits of lemon juice.