Acid-base regulation:

How the body
creates a balance

Daily nutrition can regulate the acid-base balance

Regulation of the acid-base balance is necessary to stabilise the pH of the blood. Many factors play a role here. The main factor regulating the acid-base balance is nutrients from our diet, and whether they are metabolised as acidic or alkaline. But also when we breathe or are physically active, acid is produced as a waste product of energy release in the cells and impacts the pH value of the blood. To avoid excess acidity overall, various regulation processes occur automatically in the body.

The body’s regulation options

Acid-base regulation through the body's buffer systems

Our body is provided with an efficient buffer system and can thus regulate the acid-base balance. Buffers are protective systems to avoid the pH values in body fluids and cells getting out of balance, primarily by stabilising the pH of the blood. Important components of this buffer system to regulate the acid-base balance is alkaline bicarbonate dissolved in the blood and the red blood pigment haemoglobin. Bicarbonate can bind to acid and produce carbonic acid, which is metabolised to water and carbon dioxide. The latter is breathed out via the lungs. Zinc is a cofactor of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase, which is partially responsible for the formation of bicarbonate and is therefore important in regulating acid-base balance. The buffer systems and the stabilisation of blood pH mean that excess acid does not cause any damage initially.

Kidneys and lungs: Excretion and breathing out of acid

The most important organs that regulate the acid-base balance are the kidneys and lungs. The kidneys are the only organ that can directly excrete acid from the body. The lungs ensure stable pH values in the blood via respiration. The body can therefore regulate the acid-base balance by breathing out more carbon dioxide.

Connective tissue as an acid store

If the buffer system and if the kidneys’ ability to excrete acid are at its limits , the body has to bring acid “out of circulation” to maintain optimal metabolic conditions. By storing acid in connective tissue – whose physical properties make it particularly well suited for this – the body can stabilise acid-base balance. and thus the blood’s pH again. But the connective tissue’s ability to bind to water decreases. The supply of the trace element copper can contribute to maintaining normal connective tissue.

Acid regulation through alkali in the bones

To regulate acid-base balance, the body taps into its own alkaline deposits, the bonesTo counteract the acid load and to restabilise the blood ph again, alkaline minerals are released from the bones. If this condition lasts for a long time period, the physiological unbalance between bone formation and resorption results in the increased bone resorption. Intake of the minerals calcium and magnesium contributes to bone health.

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