Chronic Low-Grade Metabolic Acidosis

By nature the body is acid producing, but by function it is alkaline. The body works to regulate acidity constantly and with no effort expended on our part. There are numerous automatic biochemical processes to buffer and remove acids from the body. It is well known that when a high amount of acid does accumulate in the body, it is life threatening as in diabetic ketoacidosis. Less well known however is that even a small amount of excess acid, such as that which can accumulate from dietary imbalances, jeopardizes optimal health.

When diet leads to a buildup of metabolic acids, the body has to rely on various protective mechanisms to neutralize the acids. If these pH-balancing mechanisms are called upon chronically, many of the body’s systems become compromised. Ultimately, this sets the stage for vulnerability to disease.

Even small changes in pH balance can have a big physiological impact. For example, all the chemical reactions necessary for proper body function are initiated by enzymes, and enzymes work in a narrow pH range. If pH levels change for any length of time, neither the enzymes nor the chemical reactions they initiate can function properly. Biological systems might not fail completely, but the body becomes weakened and prone to disease. That’s why it’s so important to establish a dietary balance that will not place an undue acid burden on the body.

Chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis
Chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis is caused by a persistent buildup of excess metabolic acids within the body. This acid buildup results from long-term dietary imbalances worsened by age as the kidneys weaken and bicarbonate levels decrease. Low-grade metabolic acidosis can be made worse by our acidogenic dietary patterns. These detrimental dietary patterns involve the overconsumption of acid-forming foods—such as proteins, grains, sugar, refined foods, coffee, and alcohol—and the underconsumption of alkaline-forming fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. As a result of these patterns, our biochemistry labors under a slight, yet chronic, acid tilt that produces a fertile breeding ground for a variety of health problems.