An ongoing controversy among those who study nutrition science is whether there is a need to adjust the alkaline levels of the body. The gist of the controversy is that the modern-day diet is so far away from resembling the optimal diet set by evolution that it leads to various diseases and negative health effects. Specifically, this involves a greater consumption of processed foods, such as meats, processed grains, and refined sugar. The balance between sodium chloride or salt and potassium has also changed in favor of salt. All of this adds to the acid load of the body. The argument stems from just how serious these effects on body acidity are. Many scientists often point out that pH, or the balance of acids and alkalinity in the blood, is tightly controlled through a number of natural buffers that exist in the body. These buffers work by neutralizing excess acid, which raises the pH level to more alkaline values. This is vital, since out of control acidosis, or excess acidity levels in the blood could prove fatal. But those who suggest that there can indeed be a metabolic imbalance between acid and alkalinity say that it's more of a low-grade systemic metabolic acidosis, not enough to provoke severe medical reactions, but enough to perturb normal maintenance of various health measures.
What is pH and why is it important? "pH" is shorthand for "potential for hydrogen." Hydrogen ions are what produce metabolic acidity. The pH level was first defined in 1909 as the concentration of hydrogen ions in a fluid (such as blood plasma) and is expressed as moles per liter of fluid. All acids are known to produce hydrogen ions, while bases accept those ions, which neutralizes the acid effect. In the body, the major buffer or base is bicarbonate, which is produced in the kidneys. The pH is measured on a scale that ranges from 0, which is highly acidic to 14, which is highly alkaline or base. A pH of 7 is considered neutral. The blood acid-base balance must be tightly controlled to maintain a range of 7.3 to 7.4 pH. The body uses various backup systems to maintain this narrow range, including functions of the lungs and kidneys, and even the sweat glands. The lungs work to adjust pH by excreting carbon dioxide. Another source of pH control is the calcium stored in bones, which aids in maintaining the blood pH levels and plasma bicarbonate concentration. Skeletal muscle also provides some buffering effect in the form of phosphates and carnosine. One of the controversies related to the consumption of a chronic high protein diet is that some of the amino acids that constitute protein produce higher acid levels in the body. This, in turn, causes calcium to be leached out of bones in order to maintain the vital narrow range of optimal pH in the . . .