Excess stomach acid or acidosis is caused particularly by the consumption of acid-forming food and drinks. Food acidity is assessed by pH scale (amount of free hydrogen ions = potential of hydrogen). The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. If pH is above 7, alkalinity increases. Conversely, pH below 7 indicates acidity. The lower the pH, the more acidic the environment.
Excess stomach acid or acidosis is currently recognised as a disease of civilisation, yet it belongs to the most dangerous degenerative health problems. Signs and symptoms of acidosis should be taken seriously, because a long-term acidosis may result in a more severe condition. Frequent recurrence of excess stomach acid is a result of food chemicals, preservatives and artificial colourings that significantly clog the body with acid. Apart from eating habits and lifestyle, the pH balance is affected by stress and mental strain.
Risk factors of acidosis
An ultimately essential factor of acidosis is poor diet. Regular and frequent consumption of white flour, white sugar, red meat, artificial food, coffee or alcohol causes an increased production of acidic gastric juices. Acidosis is also a result of low content of fruit, vegetables and herbs in diet. Gastric juices and the entire body are also affected by the way of food ingestion. Insufficient chewing and gulping of food are particularly poor eating habits that promote stomach acidity. Similarly to other diseases, smoking is a high-risk factor in gastroenterology. Tobacco smoke causes a weakening of the closure mechanism between the stomach and oesophagus which leads to its main symptom – heartburn. A lack of sleep, weak immune system and a lack of outdoor exercise are other risk factors of excess stomach acid.
Signs and symptoms of acidosis
Excess stomach acid or acidosis influences the function of the entire body. It can manifest as many signs and symptoms, but the most obvious is pressure and burning in the chest, the so called heartburn. This symptom of acidosis tends to be accompanied by fatigue, lack of sleep or intestinal problems. Heartburn often occurs in pregnant women when there is an increased pressure of the growing uterus on stomach. However, in terms of pregnancy problems resolve after the childbirth. Acidosis is associated with other ailments that may appear as signs and symptoms, but they are the cause. These include immunity disorders, allergies, eczemas, gynaecological inflammations, infertility, overweight, impaired psychological well-being or cancer at worst.
Diagnosis of acidosis
Symptoms listed are not always an indicator of acidosis. Acidity in the body is measured by a simple method using litmus pH paper strips. This test takes only several days. If a paper strip remains in contact with urine with no colour changes, it signalises high acidosis. Green-blue strips show basic pH and indicate alkalinity. After several days, the measurement can reveal acidic or alkaline body environment.
The primary prevention of acidosis involves following a healthy diet. Particularly, it is necessary to include fruit and vegetables and limit white bread, fatty red meat, white sugar and especially alcoholic drinks and black coffee. Smoking and drug use are entirely forbidden. Food to include is mushrooms, whole grains, omega 3 oils (canola, nut, sesame, linseed, etc.), herbs, vegetables of all kinds, etc. Keeping healthy diet as well as psychological well-being, frequent outdoor activities, sufficient sleep, natural supplements to boost immunity, and medications to minimum are all an important part of prevention.
Treatment of acidosis
Even though some people may find dietary restrictions unthinkable, a bit of effort and self-restraint is always better than treatment of serious consequences of the body acidosis. A balanced ratio of acids and bases in the body has a great impact on the course of all biochemical and enzymatic reactions taking place. Unbalanced pH may lead to osteoporosis, impaired intestinal microflora or a growth of tumours. It is therefore better to avoid disease treatments by maintaining adequate prevention. Excess stomach acid can only be cured by keeping the diet principles already mentioned and adequate fluid intake containing water, vegetable juices and herbal teas. Medications for excess stomach acid may neutralise the acidity, but it is no long-term solution. In recurrent heartburn and acidity the immune system should be boosted as it helps to restore balance in the body.
Impact of the immune system on acidosis
Excess stomach acid or acidosis may have a life-long course. Additionally, if the immune system is weak, there is a risk of serious diseases. The body has insufficient defence mechanism against acidosis and it is unable to resist external influences. So if heartburn or another symptom of acidosis appears, the immune system needs to be strengthened, ideally using a natural food supplement.