More Info on Acid-Base Balance

I’m indebted to Dr. Jeffrey Moss for providing these interesting excerpts from the research literature on diet, the use of potassium bicarbonate supplementation and their relationship to metabolic acidosis and chronic illness.

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The following is an abstract of an article by Drs. RC Morris Jr, O Schmidlin, M Tanaka, A Forman, L Frassetto and A Sebastian that appeared in Seminars in Nephrology.

Compared to the prehistoric diet, the modern human diet contains not only excessive NaCl and deficient K+, but also deficient precursors of HCO3– and sometimes excessive precursors of nonvolatile acid. The mismatch between the modern diet and the still ancient biological machinery of humans subtly but chronically disorders their internal milieu, giving rise to a prolonged state of low-grade potassium deficiency and low-grade metabolic acidosis whose severity increases with age. Supplemental KCI cannot redress this mismatch and correct this state.

However, the mismatch is redressed and the state corrected by restoring intakes of K+ and HCO3– to levels approaching those in the diet of our prehistoric forebearers, with either fruits and vegetables or with supplemental KHCO3. So restored, KHCO3 can: 1) attenuate hypertension and possibly prevent its occurrence by suppressing the phenomenon of normotensive NaCl-sensitivity, in part by its natriuretic effect; (2) prevent kidney stones by reducing urinary excretion of calcium and increasing urinary excretion of citrate; (3) ameliorate and protect against the occurrence of osteoporosis by increasing the renal retention of calcium and phosphorus, and by suppressing bone resorption and enhancing bone formation; and (4) likely prevent stroke.

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Another important article by Drs. L Frassetto, RC Morris Jr, DE Sellmeyer, K Todd, and A Sebastian appeared in the European Journal of Nutrition. Key statements from the abstract include:

Our group has shown that contemporary net acid-producing diets do indeed characteristically produce a low-grade systemic metabolic acidosis in otherwise healthy adult subjects, and that the degree of acidosis increases with age, in relation to the normally occurring age-related decline in renal functional capacity. We also found that neutralization of the diet net acid load with dietary supplements of potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3) improved calcium and phosphorus balances, reduced bone resorption rates, improved nitrogen balance, and mitigated the normally occurring age-related decline in growth hormone secretion–all without restricting dietary NaCl. . . . We argue that any level of acidosis may be unacceptable from an evolutionarily perspective, and indeed, that a low-grade metabolic alkalosis may be the optimal acid-base state for humans.

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In addition, articles in the Journal of Nutrition have stated that modern (“Westernized”) diets can lead to a substantial decline of potassium intake compared with traditional food habits, and a large fraction of the population might now have sub-optimal potassium intake. A high potassium intake was demonstrated to have protective effects against several pathologic states affecting the cardiovascular system, kidneys, and bones.

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