You need balanced blood pH for optimal health. In fact, it’s crucial.
Your blood pH can affect your health in several ways, two of which are maintaining robust respiratory and circulatory systems. In turn, efficiently running circulation and respiration effectively oxygenates your cells and clears carbon dioxide from your blood which helps to regulate blood and body pH.
Your respiratory and circulatory systems work cohesively to ensure nutrients and oxygen-rich blood reach your cells. This allows aerobic cellular respiration, which provides the energy to drive fundamental cellular processes.
As oxygenated blood is carried into your cells, they diffuse carbon dioxide into your blood, which your heart pumps up to your lungs for elimination.
How can pH imbalance negatively impact health?
- Cardiovascular issues
- Reduced oxygen transfer (exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide)
- Lowered immunity
- Electrolyte imbalance causing muscle weakness and numbness
- Poor gut health
- Stiff, aching joints and increased risk of osteoarthritis
- Increased risk of osteoporosis
- Increased risk of illness and chronic disease, including heart disease, cancer and metabolic syndrome
What is pH balance?
pH is how acid or alkaline a solution is. In humans, pH balance, otherwise known as acid base balance, is the pH measurement in your blood, stomach, and vaginal pH.
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral; the lower the number, the more acidic, and the higher the number, the more alkaline.
Your blood pH should stay between 7.35 to 7.45. Vaginal and stomach pH are slightly more acidic.
Your body tightly controls your pH balance, but things like diet, medication, stress, increased toxicity, insomnia and low electrolytes can affect your pH.
If acidity or alkalinity builds up in your blood, your body’s buffer systems must work harder to maintain balance.
The extra strain affects your entire system as it leeches electrolytes from other places where they’re needed and compromises gut health and nutrient absorption.
Consequently, you can suffer from increased toxicity, lowered immunity, and an increased risk of illness and disease.
There are specific steps you can take to aid your body in its quest to maintain a balanced pH. You can start by eating a healthy, balanced and nourishing whole food diet full of vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices.
Other essential additions are regular exercise, managing stress, and maintaining gut health.
Your lungs, heart and brain work together to maintain blood pH balance
Your lungs enable breathing and the healthy exchange of oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of your body. This helps to maintain pH (acid-base) balance.
Your circulatory and respiratory systems continuously work together. Your heart pumps oxygen-poor, carbon dioxide loaded blood to your lungs, where it can oxygenate, and the carbon dioxide is released into the air in your lungs, leaving your body through exhalation.
Your heart pumps the newly oxygenated blood throughout your body, where it’s released into your cells. At the same time, carbon dioxide from your cells is absorbed into your blood, and your heart pumps it back up to your lungs to eliminate it from your body.
Releasing carbon from the cells is essential for acid-alkaline balance. Your brain is constantly monitoring oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. If there is too much oxygen in your blood, it becomes alkaline, and your brain tells your lungs to slow the speed and depth of your breath so that carbon dioxide can build in your blood, correcting the imbalance.
If there is excess carbon dioxide in your blood, it becomes too acidic. In this instance, your brain tells your lungs to increase the breath to remove carbon dioxide and take in oxygen. It also signals your heart to pump harder and get more oxygen from your lungs into your blood.
If you’re chronically acidic, it can put added pressure on your lungs, heart and brain to carry out these crucial functions and maintain pH balance.
If your heart and lungs are working correctly, this process can run smoothly. But if they’re not, then problems can occur.
In addition to other causes, chronic systemic inflammation caused by pH imbalance can play a role in respiratory and heart conditions, including heart failure.
pH balance, circulation and oxygen transport
We need a healthy pH to maintain optimal circulation, respiration and oxygen transport, and we need optimal circulation, respiration and oxygen transport to maintain a balanced pH.
If your blood is too acidic, you can develop signs of acidosis. Even slight acidity can lead to lower oxygen transfer throughout your body, with fatigue and lowered immunity being the first signs.
If your body is in a chronic state of acidity, it struggles to transport oxygen effectively. Nutrients and oxygen can’t reach your cells as quickly or efficiently as they should, hindering aerobic cellular respiration.
Consequently, cellular energy and activity are impaired, along with their ability to drive vital physiological processes in the body.
The circulatory system includes the heart, blood vessels and blood. Healthy circulation is imperative for blood, nutrients and oxygen to reach your cells, then exchanged for toxic waste products, like carbon dioxide, which the blood promptly carries away for elimination.
pH imbalance can seriously affect the circulatory system. Chronic acidity can lead to inflammation, an underlying cause of heart disease, and related conditions, including atherosclerosis, where blood flow is impaired both to and from the heart.
With a reduction of the oxygen supply to the cells, inflammation may cause a toxic build-up of waste and mucus in the bronchi and lungs, potentially resulting in asthma, pneumonia and increased susceptibility to viruses, frequent colds and other infections.
So, as you can see, prolonged acidity has the potential to starve your cells of nutrients, hinder cell oxygenation and waste removal, cause systemic inflammation and decrease blood flow, increase the risk of respiratory illness and compound the problem even further.
How to restore and maintain pH balance
Through dietary and lifestyle choices, you have the power to ease the pressure on your body and its buffer systems to maintain a healthy acid-base balance.
There are a few ways to accomplish this, including:
- Eating a healthy, balanced and diverse whole food diet with plenty of brightly coloured vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices.
- Cutting down on sugar and alcohol.
- Increasing your intake of alkaline foods.
- Ensuring you’re adequately hydrated.
- Looking after your gut health.
- Sleeping well.
- Exercising regularly.
- Managing stress levels and looking after your mental health.
- Limiting your exposure to environmental toxins.
A balanced body pH is crucial for healthy blood flow, oxygen transfer and the successful delivery of oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to your cells. In turn, all of these contribute to the ideal pH balance.
pH imbalance (e.g. chronic acidity) can have a detrimental effect on your ability to transport oxygen to your cells and clear your blood of carbon dioxide, leading to prolonged blood acidity, inflammation and disease.
This can impact the health of your respiratory and circulatory systems, compounding the problem further.
Without proper delivery of oxygen and nutrients into your cells and excretion of carbon dioxide, aerobic cellular respiration is impaired. Your cells cannot produce the energy they need to perform basic and essential cellular functions, increasing the propensity for illness and disease.
It’s necessary to eat well, exercise regularly and maintain some healthy lifestyle practices (as mentioned above) to encourage a healthy pH balance.
Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.
Chronic acidity can lead to inflammation, an underlying cause of heart disease, and related conditions including atherosclerosis.