At the very core of human nutrition is chemistry and the millions (literally) of chemical reactions going on in our body at any given time. The human body is teaming with activity and if you think about what’s going on right now as you read this post, it’s mind-blowing.
So, speaking of chemistry I learned all about the role of pH the other day and it’s application from a food and drink perspective. From a technical standpoint, pH is a scale that measures the number of hydrogen ions (hydrogen atoms with a positive charge) in a solution. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 where 7 is neutral, 0 is the most acidic and 14 is the least acidic or basic. Stomach acid has a pH of 1.5, water is 7, and milk is around 9.
Here is where it gets good. Our blood must remain between 7.35 and 7.45 making it ever so slightly basic or alkaline. To ensure that the pH stays within that range, our body is constantly working on removing or adding acidic or basic molecules as necessary to maintain homeostasis. The major body systems involved in maintaining pH are the lungs and kidneys. You may have heard of acidosis? This happens when the kidneys and respiratory system can’t stabilize pH and the blood becomes too acidic which is quite dangerous.
So, while you probably know that soft drinks are high in empty calories, and contain artificial colours and flavours you may be surprised to know they wreak havoc on the pH of our blood.
The average cola has a pH of 2.5 and soft drinks in general range from 2.3 to 4.0 and once it’s ingested the contents pass through our stomach, and into our small intestine where it’s absorbed into the body and filtered into the blood via our liver. The highly acidic influx of pop causes our kidney’s to work extra hard to maintain a stable pH and rid the body of phosphorus which is present in high amounts in pop. A 2007 study found that drinking two more cans of pop a day increases risk for developing chronic kidney diseases.
Our amazing body does an AMAZING job maintaining a stable pH but why be a bully and force the kidneys to be a slave to our dietary habits? Coke (or any other soda) isn’t the only culprit of creating an acidic internal environment and unfortunately, our kidneys aren’t the only organ impacted.
Come back soon to learn about common conditions that are related to an overly acidic diet and find out what you can do to improve your health!
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