Monday, January 30, 2012

Are you tired? It might not be over training. Ever hear of pH?

Ok so what am I getting at? Have you ever been into a training cycle and just been whipped? Tired when you get up, go to bed, or just BREATHE? I have. I want to share a few things if you don't mind.

There are very delicate processes that go on in the body. The body is an incredible machine and is built to adapt and overcome. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't listen to it and give it some help. So the first thing I am going to try to do is take a very convoluted and intertwined subject, pH balance and alkaline reserve, and iron them out. I have had one of the best teachers for this subject, my mentor and friend Dr. Ryan Bentley. He has held my hand through this for years trying to make it simple enough for even me to understand.

First off let me say that EVERY process in your body is regulated by pH. Yes I said EVERY. pH controls the rate at which enzymes work, pH controls the rate at which hormones work. pH controls the stress on kidneys (in acupuncture, your kidneys are your batteries so as an athlete you do not want to stress the kidneys. Western medicine monitors kidney function and can predict end stages of life based on kidney function. Hum...sounds like they are batteries to me). Anyway as pH goes crazy in the body due to poor diet (sugar, soda, simple carbs, red meat, and EXERCISE all tend to acidify the blood) your body has to accommodate those changes and then adapt physiology in the body to bring it back to normal. If you are not eating alkaline foods, such as lemons, onions, and watermelon just to name a few, where do you think that the body gets the calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium it needs to turn these acids into bases? It gets it from the bones. *One a side note, soda's are a HUGE culprit when it comes to stripping out the minerals in bone. You body has enough buffering capacity to buffer out 50 meq (mille equivalents) of acid. The typical American diet produces 100 meq of acid, and 1 can of soda produces 60 meq of acid. By drinking soda (carbonated beverages) you are giving yourself osteoporosus* Now back to your regularly scheduled program. As you rob the blood and bones of these minerals you are loosing your electrolytes (ever hear that word before athletes?). Now this is bad because electrolytes not only help control cramping, but also help the nervous system run smoothly and efficiently. When the electrolytes are low you get confused, lethargic and if they get low enough processes will stop causing you to pass out or even die. I know that sounds extreme, but when you race and all you drink is water, hyponutremia happens and has killed people. This is just one aspect or avenue that should get your attention as to why pH in athletes is soooo important and why food type and quality is important.

Now let's talk just pure energy, no not auras and qi. I am talking about adenosine triphosphate (ATP). If you did not know what this is, it's your gas pure and simple. Your body has a processes in it called:
  • Glycolysis
  • The Krebs Cycle
  • Electron Transport Phosphorylation
 You put food in, it's broken down into sugars and then it goes through the cycle and comes out ATP. In ideal conditions, 1 molecule of glucose can produce 36-38 ATP. 1 gal of crude oil to produce 36-38 gal of gas. But you throw off pH with poor diet, lactic acid, or poor lifestyle choices, the processes break down a bit. With pH off, you put in 1 molecule of glucose it goes through the magic and you get.... drum roll please... 2 ATP. No that is not a typo, 2 ATP is all you get. So you go from producing 36-38 ATP in ideal situations, to 2 ATP. It becomes very inefficient. Athletes are supposed to be all about efficiency, so take heed to what your body is telling you. 

Mine is telling me that I need to take my pH and see if it is off because I am feeling fatigued. It could be from lactic acid from the training. You still have to take time off and let the body recover, but by knowing what your pH is you can possibly target your problems more accurately and cut recovery times down and get back into the game quicker.

Below is a graph for you egg-heads that shows the stages of Alkaline Reserve dysfunction. As you can see pH is listed on the side. Once you reach stage 2 of the depletion process you can see the kidneys are starting to stressed. Then at phase 3 we have a reversal of the trend, but by know the electrolytes are used up and the bones are getting hit hard to try to protect the body. At stage 4 everything is going acidic and the body has used its reserves and you are in trouble.

I was allowed to reproduce it with permission from Dr. Ryan Bentley. The graph was taken from the The Wellness Prescription website

So you can add monitoring of pH to your training to help prevent injuries, and augment performance. You can monitor it in a variety of ways. Generally your local drug store has pH strips, or you can get a functional medicine test. The pH strip, while cheap and not as accurate as I would like. The functional medicine test will not only give you pH but other markers of health. Now notice I say health, and not fitness. There is a difference, but that is a blog post for later.

Remember this is your life, what you make of it is up to you. Dream big and reach for the stars!


  1. It is a fascinating post as it tells about the benefits of PH in our body because it regulates all the chemical process in our body and controls enzymatic process of the body. If the PH of the body dysfunctions so it results in pains and inflammation in the body which can be settled with the help of a physiotherapist.