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What Is the Alkaline Tide?

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  • Written By: Andy Hill
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2016
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Scientists use the term alkaline tide to refer to the phenomena of increased alkalinity in the urine and blood potenz Hydrogen (pH) level after eating. Physiological effects of the tide are experienced when stomach acid, released to assist in the digestion of foods, enters the stomach. The increase in pH in the blood is a temporary effect as it will only occur until the acid in the foods in the small intestine combine with bicarbonate, which is produced while the food is present in the stomach.

When vomiting, the body produces additional stomach acid to replace that lost during the expulsion. Due to this replacement effect, extended periods of vomiting can lead to a more pronounced alkaline tide effect. Parietal cells present in the stomach and gastrointestinal system actually cause alkaline tide. When these cells become hyperactive due to overstimulation, the increased acid excretion gives rise to the uplift in pH level.

An extensive network, designed specifically for secretion and known as canaliculi, is present in each parietal cell. It is via these canaliculi that the gastric acid is delivered to the stomach. The acid is transported to the stomach via the hydrogen potassium ATPase enzyme. This enzyme is unique and specific to the parietal cells, and it transports the acid in a concentration of approximately one part per three million.

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During the digestive process, hydrochloric acid forms through the combination of hydrogen and chloride ions. Parietal cells in the stomach extract chloride, sodium, water, and carbon dioxide, replacing these with bicarbonate to maintain the electrical balance of the plasma. It is this bicarbonate level that causes the blood leaving the stomach, known as venous, to possess a higher alkalinity than the arterial blood entering the stomach. Alkaline tide occurs when the cells exchange a bicarbonate ion for a chlorine ion, diffusing the bicarbonate into the venous blood.

When alkaline tide occurs after digestion or a bout of vomiting, the body works quickly to counteract the effects. The pancreatic duct acts to neutralize the tide by depositing bicarbonate, while it pumps hydrogen ions back into the bloodstream. This action then neutralizes the bicarbonate produced in the stomach. It is because of this corrective action that is taken by the gastrointestinal system that the effects of alkaline tide are commonly only experienced for a relatively short amount of time.

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