Chances are, you have. It seems to be a topic which is on most people’s minds. Even young people think about aging...although in their cases, it is usually with a positive viewpoint—looking forward to being independent, driving, having their own homes, creating a family, etc.
Often, the older we get, the more the topic of ‘aging’ feels negative. Yet, science and medicine have made great advances in helping people stay healthier for longer. Let’s look at one of them…
If you are not a math lover, don’t worry. You are going to understand the following equations by the end of our explanation. Just hang in there:
< serum bicarbonate levels = > dietary acid
> dietary acid = > chances of disease
- Let’s look at each part of these equations, and then, put it all together.
Serum (blood) bicarbonate
One of the components of our blood is bicarbonate (HCO3-). If you bake, you will be familiar with sodium bicarbonate (aka ‘baking soda’). Sodium bicarbonate is a household remedy for tummy aches. Some antacid pills still have a ‘carbonate’ as one of their ingredients. Same in our blood—bicarbonate acts as an antacid.
Serum bicarbonate levels and dietary acid
As our cells work, they produce waste. This waste is acidic. When the body is functioning normally, this waste is removed from our bodies.
Simply speaking, the main job of serum bicarbonate is to keep our blood from becoming too acidic. Bicarbonate neutralizes the acid in our blood, so that our blood pH is kept at the correct level (between 7.35-7.45) and the acid wastes are removed.
When there is not enough bicarbonate, our blood cannot manage this waste removal correctly. This excess acid waste accumulates in our bodies in forms such as cholesterol, fatty and uric acids, and kidney stones.
Dr. Lynda Frassetto is a researcher, internist and kidney specialist at UCSF Medical Center. Her research shows that in general, as we get older, the level of bicarbonate in our blood decreases. (see image below) This causes the acid levels in our blood to rise, causing a low-level metabolic acidosis.
Dietary acid and chances of disease
As we said above, over-acidity in our bodies is called acidosis. Research has shown, and continues to show, that acidosis is associated with disease. In other words, the more acidity in the body, the easier it is for disease to develop—health issues such as metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, less resistance to environmental toxins, and especially cancer. Some other effects of acidosis include kidney disease and worsening cognitive (brain) functions.
Overall...Keeping the correct level of bicarbonate in the blood can help us to be healthier for longer. (See...you got it in the end!)
Some researchers have begun to think in a new way. They say, “Instead of saying that reduced blood bicarbonate is a result of aging, perhaps this situation is a cause of aging. If so, what can we do to keep the blood bicarbonate levels more normal for longer?”
In other words, how can we combat the natural trend to acidity or how can we keep the body more alkaline?
Foods and Special Diets
Some data shows that an alkaline diet may be useful in reducing sickness and disease. However, there is not a lot of overwhelming evidence, and this is not a solid conclusion.
Let’s take a moment to look at how food can affect the acidity of the body.
We are sure you have heard things like “burn up the calories”. That is because our body burns food to get energy. Just like in a regular fire, ash remains. Depending on the components of the food, the ash is either acidic, neutral or alkaline. The theory is that this ash can change your blood pH.
The evidence does not support this theory. There is some data to show that food ash can affect the pH of your urine but not your blood.
So, an alkaline diet will most likely not improve the bicarbonate level of your blood.
What might be useful is adding baking soda to your diet. WebMD reports that, “A daily dose of sodium bicarbonate can help people whose kidneys can no longer remove enough acid from their blood.”
If you exercise, good for you. If you don’t, you know you should. That’s because exercise is a major factor in keeping ourselves as healthy as possible. Exercise helps burn excess calories, keeping our weight within normal levels. It also causes us to sweat. Acidic waste is removed via sweat.
Some people think that exercise can cause acidosis. It can but not the type we have been talking about. If we overdo it or don’t exercise properly, we can suffer from lactic acidosis. This is when too much lactic acid builds up in our muscles. So, not the same.
Specifically, exercise will not improve the bicarbonate level of your blood.
A Bulgarian researcher, Dr. Prakova studied workers over a period of ten years. One sample of 100 workers worked in a polluted factory. Another sample worked in a cleaner, office environment. After a decade, Dr. Prakova once again examined the two groups. He found that the serum bicarbonate levels of the blood in the factory workers was significantly less than those of the office workers.
Pollution? Hard work? Stress? Other factors? Dr. Prakova did not make a conclusion, but we can definitely say that our lifestyles affect our health. The food we eat, the beverages we drink (including soft drinks and alcohol), the habits we have (such as smoking and pills for every ailment), the pace at which we live...all these affect our wellness.
We can’t change everything about how we live...and some things we can’t change at all. What we can do, however, is try to keep the correct level of bicarbonate in our blood to help us be healthier for longer.
So, how can we recharge the Bicarbonate in our blood?
Fortunately, there are two effective methods: drink high pH alkaline water and/or take enteric-coated alkaline mineral pills.
Alkaline water was developed in Japan over half a century ago. Since then, the Japanese have been drinking alkaline water. Despite existing clinical research data from Japan, people in the U.S. have not yet fully recognized the health benefits of alkaline water. Fortunately, these benefits are being accepted not only by homeopathic and holistic doctors, but by an increasing number of mainstream doctors as well. In case your healthcare professional is not up-to-date, here is how the process works.
The process of hydrochloric acid production is:
H2O + CO2+ NaCl = HCl + NaHCO3
In other words…
Water + Carbon dioxide + Sodium salt = Hydrochloric acid + Sodium bicarbonate
The hydrochloric acid goes into the stomach, and the sodium bicarbonate goes into the bloodstream. The stomach cannot produce hydrochloric acid without producing bicarbonates at the same time.
So, the more alkaline water we drink, the more hydrochloric acid is produced. This results in more bicarbonate in the bloodstream. The higher the water pH, the more hydrochloric acid must be produced.
Did you get all that? Here’s a recap, just in case...
As we start losing bicarbonate in our blood around age 45, we begin to agephysiologically, including increased chances of disease. Recharging the bicarbonate in the blood can help to maintain more good health for longer. This is the basis for the new theory on reverse aging.
This concept goes far beyond wrinkle removers or Botox. One of the key ingredients of life and longevity is bicarbonate in the blood. There is scientific data to support this.
When you come across products that claim to have anti-aging results, ask yourself if that product adds bicarbonate to your blood; and if so, how?
Many health improvement methods and devices are available: diets, exercise, yoga, supplements, vitamins, herbs, organic foods, antioxidants, acupuncture, magnetic devices, detoxification, massages, and saunas. They all improve health and well-being in some people some of the time. However, they are not the most effective way of replenishing bicarbonate—this critical element to our health and longevity.
The easiest, most effective way to increase bicarbonates in the bloodstream and restore the pH balance in the body is to take alkaline supplements regularly or drink high pH water.