Are you the type of individual, who strongly believes in being totally healthy? Unfortunately, living a healthy life is more challenging than most people imagine. The majority of consumers are well aware of the foods that are healthy, as well as those that are not. Nonetheless, they may not fully understand the enormous importance of the acid-alkaline balance or the protective micronutrients found in whole plant foods, especially vegetables and fruits, which influence this delicate balance. Within this comprehensive guide, you will gain more understanding of alkaline eating and its immense benefits.

Understanding Micronutrients

When it comes down to it, a lot of consumers are well aware of the macronutrients. They include protein, fat and carbs. While these nutrients are absolutely essential and needed in large quantities, micronutrients are different since they are needed only in very small quantities. However, if you do not consume enough micronutrients on a daily basis, you could find yourself dealing with serious health problems. Just remember that it is pertinent to consume the appropriate amount for your needs, where more is not always better. To understand the importance of micronutrients, you should realize that they are utilized for each and every function your body performs. This includes your brain’s activity and bone growth, as well as the maintenance of the acid-alkaline balance.

What Are the Micronutrients?

In order to make sure you’re obtaining the appropriate quantity of micronutrients each day, you will need to gain more insight into these nutrients. Most people will simply refer to micronutrients as the minerals and vitamins. While this is true, it is also important to break the category down further and identify each specific micronutrient by name. For your consideration, some of the most common micronutrients are listed below.

  • Vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Iodine
  • Fluoride
  • Selenium

Again, you should remember that your body will not need a large quantity of these nutrients. Instead, you will only need to consume a small amount of each on a daily basis. However failing to do so, results in various short-term and long-term health complications. And unfortunately our modern-day, highly processed diets, full of refined foods are greatly deficient in micronutrients.

The Rich Spectrum of Micronutrients Contained in Whole Plant Foods

To remain healthy, it is absolutely pertinent to learn precisely what foods contain the micronutrients that your body needs. Many people will immediately identify vegetables and fruits as good sources of these nutrients. This is true, but it goes well beyond this limit. At the same time, you must put together a balanced diet. If your diet isn’t balanced and doesn’t contain whole (unprocessed) vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, you will not be able to properly obtain the nutrients that your body needs so desperately.

To ensure you’re obtaining enough micronutrients, you should predominantly eat a lot of colorful vegetables and fruits each day. Purple grapes, carrots, cherries, and bananas will prove to be very helpful. And leafy greens, as well as all green vegetables, will be your best contributors of micronutrients that support an optimal acid-alkaline balance. There is a basic rule which suggests that the more colorful a diet is, the better it is.

Common Problems Associated with Micronutrient Deficiency

As mentioned above, failing to obtain the appropriate quantity of micronutrients can result in various health problems, including chronic acidosis. In fact, the World Health Organization suggests that micronutrient deficiencies are a major threat to the Earth’s population. You also need to realize that there is no such thing as “micronutrient deficiency” as a whole. Instead, it is possible to have a deficiency for one or more specific, individual micronutrients. Therefore, you can suffer from an iron deficiency or iodine deficiency or deficiency of both. All of these problems will fit into the same category.

Iodine Deficiency

While each specific micronutrient deficiency is enormously risky, a lack of iodine may very well be the most serious. This is because a lack of iodine can lead to severe brain damage. Women that are pregnant are much more likely to experience a miscarriage or stillbirth, if their iodine levels are below the norm. At the same time, their child may suffer from mental retardation. In order to avoid these problems, it is essential to have a trusted source of iodine in your diet, like sea vegetables.

Vitamin A Deficiency

A lack of Vitamin A can also be a major problem. Younger individuals will suffer from the most devastating side effects. If a child does not obtain enough Vitamin A from their diet, they may end up suffering from blindness. Pregnant women should also be very cautious of their Vitamin A levels. These women may experience night blindness, due to a lack of Vitamin A. Finally, maternal mortality rates will increase substantially, if the pregnant female does not obtain enough Vitamin A.

Iron Deficiency

A deficiency of iron is another common problem associated with a lack of micronutrients. Surprisingly, this problem is sometimes very mild and can go unnoticed for a long period of time. However, it will worsen as the levels of iron in your body drop below the recommended amounts. The symptoms associated with iron deficiency are listed below for your consideration.

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Intense weakness
  • Pale skin tone
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Increased heartbeat

Experts believe that approximately thirty percent of the population suffers from iron deficiency. If you fall into this category, it is pertinent to begin consuming more iron-rich foods in your diet, like legumes, leafy greens and nuts coupled with foods high in vitamin C for optimal absorption.

The Importance of Minerals

Minerals have an extra special job when it comes to the acid-alkaline balance, as many of them like calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium are directly responsible for maintaining this balance in your body. To better understand the enormous importance of minerals and the role they play, it is essential to break them down and analyze their specific roles. The roles of a few minerals will be explored in greater depth below.

Manganese

  • Essential for the proper formation of bones. This specific micronutrient also plays a vital role in the body’s energy production process, and helps the body consume and metabolize other macronutrients, like carbs and fat.

Iron

  • Helps the body create more red blood cells. It also aids in the production of lymphocytes.

Iodine

  • Responsible for aiding in the body’s fat metabolism process. It also helps the body produce energy and grow.

Magnesium

  • Necessary to maintain optimum heart health. This particular micronutrient is responsible for helping the heart keep a stable rhythm. At the same time, magnesium is used by the body to aid the conversion of glucose into energy.

Chloride

  • Plays a vital role in helping the body regulate the quantity of electrolytes and water found in your cells. Chloride also helps to ensure proper cellular pH is maintained.

Measuring pH Levels

The pH level can measure the amount of alkalinity or acidity in foods, the body and other products. It is valuable to monitor these levels in your body on a routine basis to avoid an imbalance in your system and consequently various health problems. A reading above 7.0 is classified as alkaline, a reading below 7.0 is classified as acid, and a reading of exactly 7 is classified as neutral. The body functions most effectively when the pH level is slightly alkaline, as is illustrated with blood having a pH within the range of 7.35 and 7.45. Of course, the digestive system produces a high quantity of acid to activate enzymes that breakdown protein and eradicate bacteria from foods. So, not all acid is bad, but if the pH level of blood becomes too low, it could potentially lead to respiratory failure and death.

As part of a regular health routine, we can easily measure the pH level of our saliva or urine utilizing a pH dipstick, which can be purchased in most natural health food stores or online. All you need to do is dip the stick into urine or your saliva and wait a few seconds to receive the results.

  • In a pH balanced body, urine is slightly acidic in the morning, with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0, and more alkaline in the evening, with a pH between 7.5 - 8.0.

  • In a pH balanced body, saliva (before any food or drink) will be between 7.0 and 7.5.

Dangers of Alkalosis

As mentioned above, when the pH level is higher than 7.0, it is considered alkaline. High pH levels can lead to a very dangerous situation called Alkalosis. Although this condition is rare in the general population, it can happen and cause symptoms that include irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, syncope, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The individual may also be able to feel the heart pounding inside the chest. This is very dangerous, if not critical, because it compromises the blood flow to the brain and the rest of the body. If arrhythmia goes untreated it could lead to blood clots, which can break loose and lodge in the lungs or brain.

When someone arrives at the emergency room, with complaints of arrhythmia, the physician will immediately order a pH blood test. The test involves measuring the amount of sodium bicarbonate and carbon dioxide in the blood. These chemicals are responsible for regulating the heart rate, organ function and breathing.

Dangers of Acidosis

On the other hand, a pH level below 7.0 is considered Acidosis, which can be as serious as alkalosis. Low-grade and chronic acidosis is common in the general population, and since most people do not monitor their pH levels, they do not know that their acid-alkaline levels are imbalanced. Although the body will do everything in its power to balance the acidity it has to deal with each day, if it becomes overwhelmed, acidosis can lead to respiratory failure. Carbon dioxide will build up in the blood, compromising the respiratory system. The individual’s oxygen levels will decrease, which will further impair organ function and lead to sudden death.

Respiratory acidosis results in respiratory failure, while respiratory alkalosis results in seizure activity. Both of these conditions are life threatening, though they would typically only occur in extreme cases like a lack of oxygen or due to a high dose of legal or illegal drugs, including pharmaceuticals and alcohol. However as shared above, low-grade acidosis, which can become chronic, is very common and this is what we should be most concerned about on our health journey, as it creates an internal environment that increases the risk of all acute and chronic conditions, including infections, inflammation, osteoporosis, and even cancer.

The Benefits of Alkaline Eating

By consuming alkaline-forming foods, like whole fruits and vegetables, you will receive the best benefits, since they contain all of the necessary compounds your body needs to maintain optimal health, including those vital minerals and vitamins. Experts believe that consuming more alkaline-forming foods helps the body fight off things like inflammation, which is common in every chronic disease. The increased levels of alkalinity also help to protect the bones and muscles from deteriorating. If you exercise or work a strenuous job, increasing your alkaline levels will be even more important, as both of these create excess acidity. Believe it or not, your body’s pH level can also play a role in your mood. By making your pH level more alkaline, you will actually be able to reduce your stress levels and improve overall wellbeing.

With all this in mind, you should begin taking steps to change your pH levels for the better, specifically by increasing the consumption of those micronutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Once you have, you will notice the benefits almost immediately.

About the Author

Bruce Kuster is the primary contributor on wealthformyhealth.com concerning sports and nutrition. Bruce is also a coach and a CrossFit lover. You can follow his work on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

Editor: Evita Ochel