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pH balance is a very important aspect of one’s health and well-being. Important systems in the body depend on the presence of an optimum pH in the body so that the body can function properly. The circulatory, digestive and excretory systems are some of the most body systems that depend on the correct pH to carry out their activities and ensure that the body systems function properly. When acidic or basic levels are out of balance in the body, various systems in the body bring them back to normal (Nesbit, 2012, p 1). Such systems include the respiratory system, the excretory system, and the buffer system.
Basic body system as it pertains to pH balance
pH refers to the number of Hydrogen ions (H +) in the blood. The normal pH in the blood is usually 7.4. Appropriate pH levels are necessary for the body to ensure that the body systems function properly. Deviation of the pH from the recommended level might result in poor functioning of the body systems which can result in disease and shutdown of organ systems. All organ systems in the body are needed for the body to function properly failure to which an individual might even die.
Various organ systems in the body are interconnected and they all carry out important functions in the body. It is precise because of their critical functions in the body that pH levels have to be maintained at a balanced state. All of these body systems are interconnected, and they all depend on the pH system in the blood so that they can function properly. For example, the urinary system is responsible for the removal of waste products of some liquid substances from the body.
The urinary system however cannot carry out this function on its own and it requires oxygenated blood to be transported to it by the cardiovascular system. The respiratory system is in turn responsible for supplying oxygen to the blood while removing carbon dioxide from it. The digestive system metabolizes food that is ingested and transports the necessary energy to all parts of the body. Buffer systems exist in the body to control the level of pH in the body. When the pH levels in the body rise too high, the buffer systems lower them back to 7.4 and when they go too low, the body buffer systems raise the levels back to 7.4. The pH of the blood is influenced by various factors in the body (Cutler, 2010, p 1). Consumption of different substances in the body influences the pH which in turn affects different body systems and the functioning of the body systems.
Imbalances and the body’s reaction to change
There are two types of ph imbalances in the body; alkalosis and acidosis. Alkalosis results when the blood pH is too high which could be as a result of an insufficient amount of acidic elements in the body. Acidosis results when the acidic blood level is too high or when the basic elements in the body are too low. Both extremes of pH in the body might result from conditions that originate from the metabolic systems, buffer systems, or respiratory systems.
The respiratory system involves the use of the lungs that take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide from various metabolic systems in the body. All the cells need oxygen so that they can perform respiration and give out carbon dioxide as a byproduct. The carbon dioxide that is given out has to be removed from the body so that it does not cause toxicity in the body cells. The brain senses the level of carbon dioxide in the blood and regulates it by controlling the rate of breathing. More breathing increases the amount of oxygen that is inhaled and also increases the amount of carbon dioxide that is exhaled. Kidneys are involved in the pH balance in the body because they excrete waste products from the body (Smith, 2011, p 1).
If excess acids or bases are present in the body, the kidneys initiate processes to remove the compounds that might be causing an imbalance in the body. The reaction time that is taken by the kidneys is longer than that which is taken by the lungs which pose a health risk since excess acidic or alkaline compounds might accumulate in the body. Buffer systems into the blood are also important means used by the body to control blood pH. When the blood pH is too high, carbonic acid H2C03 is released into the body to increase the level of acidity in the blood. When the blood acid level is too low, the pH is regulated through the release of bicarbonate ions HCO 3 – into the blood.
Maintenance of the right pH levels
Neutral fluids such as water are used in the dissolving of acidic compounds that might find their way into the body through an imbalance that might be created through the consumption of various food substances. This is one of the reasons why individuals are encouraged to take a lot of water because of the solvent properties that it confers to the body. The body has various mechanisms for generating an optimum pH for the various body processes. Glutathione, methionine, cysteine, and taurine are some of the protein buffers that are produced by the body when the acid levels in the body are too high and they need to be lowered.
Excess acidic elements in the body are bound by electrolytic buffers such as potassium, calcium, and sodium in the circulatory and lymphatic systems to re-establish a pH balance in the body. The body usually stores excess magnesium and calcium ions so that they can be used in the neutralization of acidic elements in the body. The body uses organs like the skin and joints as storage units for excess acidic units. These units are used so that very important organs in the body such as the heart, brain, and lungs do not have to deal with excess acidity (McDonald, 2008, p 1). The body uses excretory organs such as the urinary system, the respiratory and the skin system for the elimination of excess acidic elements.
Effects of pH imbalances
Imbalances in the body’s pH have been associated with health problems such as headaches, insomnia, and poor appetite. Serious health problems that have been associated with excess acid in the blood include rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms that have been associated with acidosis include constant fatigue, bloating, belching, and heartburn. Individuals that have active lifestyles have been encouraged to consume ratio 4 of alkaline foods to ration one of acidic goods.
Individuals that have less active lifestyles are encouraged to consume two parts of alkaline foods to two parts of acidic foods. Individuals are advised to be more conscious of the components of their diets. Acidic foods include cranberries, fish, plums, coffee, meat, beans, and most grains. Basic foods include bananas, spinach, watermelon, potatoes, and figs (Murray, 1996, p 1). Antibiotic drugs kill both good and bad bacteria in the body and this is thought to be the reason why most women get urinary tract infections after taking antibiotics. Neutral foods that are readily available to people include tea, coffee, honey, arrowroots, sugar, and syrup.
The respiratory system involves the exchange of the right amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide, in and out of the body respectively. The excretory system involves the removal of excess acidic or basic compounds in the body while the buffer system involves the release of carbonic acid or bicarbonate ions into the body depending on whether the pH blood level is too high or too low. Imbalances in pH levels have been associated with problems in health such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms associated with pH imbalances include headaches, fatigue, bloated stomach, water retention, and insomnia. Individuals should know what they consume so that they avoid health problems that are related to imbalances in pH levels (Gary, n.d, p 1). Highly acidic foods include fish, beans, plums, and most grains. Alkaline foods include potatoes, watermelons, spinach, and figs. Neutral foods include arrowroots, honey, and sugar. Armed with such knowledge, people can be able to help their body systems maintain a healthy pH balance and promote good health.
Cutler, M. (2010). Natural ways to balance your body chemistry. Healthiertalk. Web.
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Gary, T. (n.d.). pH of the human body is critical for health. Health, wealth and happiness. Web.
McDonald, M. (2008). pH balance in the body. Everyday health: Feel good, feel better. Web.
Murray, F. (1996). Unless you Balance Acidity, your muscles may become tense. Better Nutrition. Web.
Nesbit, M. (2012). How to adjust pH in the body. eHow: Health. Web.
Smith, S. (2011). How to change your body pH level. Livestrong.com: The limitless potential of you. Web.