Blood Acidity – Keep It in Check

“You are what you eat”

This is such a true statement, and with the increase of variety in today’s supermarkets, it is more important than ever to understand what certain foods are and what they can do to your body. This week, I would like to discuss a phenomenon called blood acidity level, which is a very important indicator of your health and it also indicates whether some foods may be good or  bad for you.

In a healthy adult person, the pH of the blood ranges between 7.35-7.45. It is very important for the body to keep this pH constant, i.e. keep the hydrogen ion level balanced, because otherwise cell damage can occur. Blood is a buffer solution and thus it contains substances that help keep the pH constant. If your body digests and absorbs food, it will absorb nutrients, minerals, vitamins and so forth and depending on the composition of the food, this will have an alkalising (making basic) or acidifying effect on the blood.

The body will of course compensate as it is crucial to keep the pH at a certain range. However, this will starve your body of certain minerals and can have detrimental effects on your health. Thus, it is important to keep in mind if the food is acid-or base-forming, and not if it is acidic (i.e. sour) as such. A lemon for instance actually belongs to the group of alkalising foods.

Neither acidic nor basic is bad as such

Often acidic foods are quoted to be bad for you. This can be true, as a lot of junk food is high in processed fats and is acidifying. However, one should aim to have a balanced diet in order to help the blood maintain its natural pH. This includes ingesting the right ratio of alkalising and acidifying foods. If you ingest too much of either, you may encounter problems.

Symptoms of an unbalanced blood pH

Common symptoms of an unbalanced pH include heartburn, belching, bloating and feeling full after eating small amounts of food. Long-term symptoms can include insomnia, water retention, migraines, constipation or diarrhoea, fatigue and bad breath. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to consume a diet of two to four parts alkalising foods to one part of acidifying foods. The more exercise one does (in particular aerobic exercise), the more alkalising foods should be consumed. Exercise creates more acid (in particular lactic acid) which lowers the pH of the blood.

Alkalising foods

Some alkalising foods are: citrus fruits, most vegetables (except beans), common fruits such as apples and pears, almonds, spices such as cinnamon and chilli. For a comprehensive list, you can click here. Most teas are also alkalising and green tea is a fantastic way to keep your blood acidity levels in check (for a review, click on the previous article on green tea).

Acidifying foods

Some acidifying foods are: cheese and other processed dairy products, most grain products including pasta, bread and flour, beans, red meats and other animal proteins, plant oils, most alcoholic drinks, coffee and some drugs, like aspirin. Again, you can find comprehensive lists online.


Prolonged consumption of acidic foods can trigger early onsets of osteoporosis. Calcium is a major component of bones and the body uses Calcium ions to compensate for too acidic blood levels.

Can I test blood acidity levels?

You can of course see your doctor to get a blood test done. During blood tests, one of the things s/he will look at will be the acidity of your blood. Also, you can get strips to measure the acidity of your blood. Simply get a finger pricker and you can measure the acidity of your blood very easily. There are also electronic measuring devices on the market. Ideally, you should monitor the acidity before and after meals and draw a chart to see how it develops. Your body will always try to compensate, thus keeping an eye on it is a better option than a single test.

How should I go about this?

There is no need to panic and suddenly look at each ingredient in your diet. I would suggest to assess the main components of your diet and put them in a table. In the Western world we usually consume too much acidifying food but that does not hold for everyone. If you find your diet to be unbalanced in these terms, simply consume a little less acidifying food (such as bread and oils) and more alkalising foods (such as citrus fruits and vegetables). Also, try to avoid acidifying foods in the evening, as it will help your sleep and may prevent insomnia. If you have trouble sleeping, read the advice on insomnia in a related article from our health correspondent Bailey Bradmore.

I hope this information will help you with your diet. If you have severe problems with your digestion, you might also find our reviews in IBS useful: Coping with IBS – Visceral Osteopathy and Coping with IBS.

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Healthy Exercising

Know your limit

First of all, I would like to advise you to listen to your own body. Whether you have avoided sport your entire life or are a professional athlete, you have to know your exercise level. I have often observed people completely over-or underestimate their capabilities. Obviously, if you underestimate yourself, you may not get very far. If you overestimate yourself, you risk injury and fatigue. I will explain these points in detail in this article.

For beginners – choose a sport that suits you

Everyone is different and everyone likes different things. The same thing applies to sport and exercise, too. There are three basic categories of sports and they can be classified as:

(1) Team sports. These entail sports like football, basketball, hockey and so forth.

(2) Companion sports. These are sports that you do with a small number of people. Such as tennis, running with your friend or badminton.

(3) Individual sports. For example working out on your own, running on your own etc.

What you prefer can be dependent on your personality type. Your body will tell you what sports are good for you. If you have naturally big legs and are tall, you might find football or rowing easy. If you do not like to spend too much time with large amounts of people, you may prefer companion or individual sports. If you have strong shoulders, tennis might be easier for you. There are so many sports on offer these days and everyone can find his or her sport to enjoy.

I think it is best to choose a sport that is compatible with your personality type (Do you like to compete? Do you like to be on your own or in a team?) in conjunction with the capabilities of your body.

Exercise program

It is important to have a program and monitor your progress. This is somewhat easier if you are participating in team sports as others will help motivate you and improve together with you. If you exercise on your own, it is more important to keep an eye on your performance, progress and on your health. Most gyms offer their clients individual exercise programs these days, so do not hesitate to ask a member of staff.

Frequency of exercise

This is very much dependent on your fitness level. It is recommended to have three cardiovascular exercise sessions a week at a length of 30 minutes for a healthy adult person. Of course, many people like to exercise more. It is also increasingly popular to go to the gym. if you like to exercise a lot, that is fine. However, you should give your body one day rest a week when you do not exercise at all. Your muscles will have to recover.


On average, it is recommended to have three week cycles of more intense workouts and then a week of lighter workouts to recover. This is particularly important if you exercise a lot or train for certain events. Try to adjust your body to it. If you are a beginner or light exerciser, this may not be as important for you.

Warm up and cool down

It is imperative to warm up before any sport. Take your time for that as it may prevent injuries and also increase your performance and health benefits from the exercise you are about to pursue. Equally, it is important to cool down after your sport and give your body time to adjust. Slowly decrease your heart rate and prepare your body that the exercise is finished.


We will soon report on dieting for exercise in another article. The diet is an integral part of your exercise program. Give your body the necessary energy to perform well. Carbohydrates are necessary before cardiovascular exercise. Try to eat about two hours before exercise Equally, if you like weight training, make sure you eat the right amount of protein about half an hour after your exercise, to give your body the necessary ingredients in order to increase muscle size and heal your muscles.

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Coping with IBS – Visceral Osteopathy

Chronic fatigue, stress and pain in your belly?

The medical profession has advanced quite far these days and doctors usually have a solution or a suggestion to help or cure you when you are feeling ill. But what happens if modern medicine falls short or when even your doctor may have to google the answers? What if you feel gross for some inexplicable reason but nobody can assist?

Humans are very complex individuals and every person is different. The life style most people lead today can be very demanding and exhausting. Furthermore, the life most of us lead in big cities nowadays is completely unnatural. You might be in trouble if you see your GP and s/he tells you that you have a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This week, I would like to draw the attention to chronic fatigue that can be connected to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

When your GP uses the word syndrome you might be in trouble

Often, people talk about syndromes when they have no explanation for the cause of an illness. Diagnosis is a difficult job and not everyone can rely on Dr. House to pinpoint obscure causes as to why we are feeling unwell. So what is chronic fatigue? It is not particularly helpful to tell a patient that he is chronically fatigued if s/he feels tired. You may not necessarily need a doctor for that. Equally, if you have a pain in your belly but no common tests can detect anything abnormal, it may not be helpful to have someone tell you that you have an irritated belly (i.e. suffer from IBS). What are you supposed to do with this information?

What causes IBS?

An irritated and painful bowel can have many causes and I would urge you to try and see a doctor to go through all the standard tests. Cancer in the bowel region as well as some parasites have to be treated quickly in most cases to increase success rates of the treatment. Don’t hesitate to go and see your GP. But what if all this is fine and you are left with questions and don’t know what is wrong? One reason why your bowel hurts or is irritated can be because your gallbladder or liver is malfunctioning, or, especially after successful treatment of intestinal parasites, your intestines (in particular the small intestine) is damaged. If you had a parasitic infection, you have to make sure the parasite is gone. Many parasites can nest themselves into the gut lining and thus be undetectable in stool samples. Hence, most parasitic infections of the bowel should be treated symptomatically and not by exclusion. If in particular your small intestine, gallbladder and/or liver are malfunctioning, this will have a huge effect on your life.

If I have IBS, what else happens in the body?

An irritated bowl is dangerous. If your body cannot take up all the necessary nutrients, in particular vitamins (such as the vital vitamin B12) and minerals, your entire body will suffer. First of all your hormone system will be malfunctioning, often making patients moody and unpredictable. Secondly, the effect on the brain can be deleterious over a long time, causing depression, irritability, and insomnia and in long-term sensitivity to noise and light. These symptoms often make the patient believe something is “wrong in their heads”. Actually, the people are perfectly sane, but the brain is deprived of certain substances for so long, that horrific symptoms can occur. At this stage, often medications for head symptoms are being prescribed, amongst them antidepressants. These can make symptoms worse and slow down healing of the body.

How is IBS coupled to CFS?

As iterated above, if your bowel is not working properly and you lack nutrients, your central nervous system gets affected. This will ultimately tire you out and make everyday stresses unbearable. If the cause of your CFS is not found and the reason lies in your belly, even resting can actually worsen the situation and symptoms as you are loosing valuable time. So maybe in this case it would be good to act and not procrastinate. The different parts of your body are connected and the symptoms in one part of the body may stem from a malfunction in another part.

What test should one do if all the standard tests fail?

First of all it is important to get a total blood count as well as getting your liver and kidneys checked. Be cautious, often the values can come back as normal, as often GPs only look at a range of values normalising them to the population rather than comparing them with one another. Thus, it is important to compare your values. Some substances in the blood have very subtle levels and an abnormality is often not detected. I also advice you to make an allergy test, as some allergic reactions can have a very damaging effect on your body (in particular food allergies such as nut and gluten allergies). Make sure that you monitor your stool. If it has a weird and oily consistency and small yellow or white spots, there might be something wrong with your liver and/or gall bladder. Also, make sure you see an expert in the field. As brilliant as most GPs are, they not necessarily do have the specialised knowledge to help you here. Also, as head symptoms caused by bowel issues are often more severe than the symptoms you experience in your belly, doctors can misdiagnose, simply because they do not know.

What is your advice on treatments?

There is no such thing as a generic treatment for irritated bowels. This is highly individual and many avenues may have to be exploited in order to help the patient. A change in diet catered to the individual is generally the best starting point. Cutting out highly allergenic nutrients such as eggs, dairy, bread (gluten) and cane sugar usually helps patients a lot. (This regiment has to be followed through without exceptions!)

However, a generically very helpful treatment which is not very wide-spread, is visceral osteopathy. There are of course many other treatments, but this method is highly successful and tackles the problem at its roots, rather than trying to battle some of the symptoms. Visceral Osteopathy is a technique which tries to re-establish normal organ function by stimulating the organs using a specialised massage therapy. It thus supports organ function and can trigger self-healing of the organs. It can help re-establishing the normal flow of the digestive system and thus help fix the organs without invasive techniques. This technique can in particular help problems with the gall-bladder, liver, the kidneys, the intestines and also the adrenals.

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