In my blog article on baking soda for kidney health, I expressed how the kidneys are constantly neutralizing acid produced during metabolism. The kidneys do this by producing about a pound of bicarbonate each day to keep the pH of blood and other body fluids at or near the pH of 7.4, which is a slightly alkaline fluid environment. The reason for this is simple. Our cells, through metabolic reactions, produce hydrogen ions as well as lactic acid. It is the lactic acid that actually produces muscle pains when exercising for a prolonged period of time. Normally, bicarbonate binds these acids, transports them to the lungs where they are eliminated as carbon dioxide. Some acid is also excreted by the kidneys.
However, as efficient as this system is, it can be easily overwhelmed. Primary examples are extensive, prolonged exercise, kidney insufficiency and lung insufficiency of any kind.
HOW ACIDITY AFFECTS US
Too much acidity slows down all metabolic reactions. All metabolic reactions are enhanced (sped up) by enzymes, and enzymes are proteins made of amino acids. Acidity basically denatures proteins (i.e. starts changing their shape) and thus makes them less capable of performing their job.Enzymes, and all proteins in the body for that matter, must maintain a constant three dimensional shape to perform their function. When they bind to something, the fit must be like a lock and key. When there is acidity, proteins, including enzymes, change shape and can not bind properly to whatever they are supposed to bind to. Heat is another example of an influence that can change the shape of proteins. Acidity also deforms the cell membrane and thus all the transports in and out of cells.
Sports Performance and Bodybuilding
In the context of sports and body building, the healthy activity of protein is very important. Sport activity produces excess acid. If the kidneys and lungs and the circulation to the lungs cannot keep up with acid production, we get muscle pains. The pain is due to the acid-activating pain nerve fibers. The acid also deforms muscle cells by deforming their cell membranes, making them less efficient in contracting the muscle. It also inhibits all the reactions within the muscle cell that are necessary for proper contraction and thus power and endurance. Finally, once deformed, the cell membrane of the muscle cell is less efficient in transporting nutrients into the cell and waste products out of the cell. This is very important during exercise but even more so post-exercise. It is then that the cells recover and muscle cells grow (as in body building).
During this time, the cells excrete excess waste formed during exercise and absorb nutrients to replenish the cells and make them grow. If this process is hindered due to excessive acid, the recovery period is prolonged, the pains in muscles can persist for prolonged period of time, and muscles will simply not grow as expected. This applies to both aerobic exercise and body building with weight resistance or free weights.
What Is The Solution?
So what is the best way to prevent this negative effect and keep the blood alkaline, even when involved in intense fitness training? There are a few effective ways. Perhaps the best way is to consume dark green leafy vegetables. They are very alkaline and thus neutralize acid. Examples are kale, spinach, and dark green leaf mixes. Another great way is to drink lemon juice diluted in water. Although lemon juice does taste acidic and it does contain some acid, it has the paradoxical effect of actually making the body fluids more alkaline. The third example is to drink a glass of water with a teaspoon of baking soda (dissolved in the water) right after a workout. Actually, doing it an hour before the workout also makes sense as this will produce better endurance capability by neutralizing blood before acid production during exercise. Drinking baking soda post workout on the other hand will neutralize any acid produced during the exercise period. One catch: make sure the baking soda does not contain magnesium. This magnesium is the one that is not particularly good for you (in contrast to the magnesium in pill or powder form that we take as supplements).
One more point. If you prefer a quick fix of greens and don’t like to eat three salads per day (that’s what it would take if you are exercising every day), there are great products that provide greens in a concentrated form.
See you next time.