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The Importance of Buffers in the Body

            Our bodies are very adaptable under a wide array of conditions, and buffers help us stay within an acceptable range for optimal operation. Blood sustains the body, but it can only work at a certain pH. If blood strays too far away from the desired pH, there are dire consequences. Because of these consequences, such as death, the body uses buffers to control the pH of blood even when faced with high levels of acids or bases.
             The body has three kinds of buffers. Carbonic acid-bicarbonate buffers, protein buffers, and phosphate buffers. These buffers do everything from neutralize alkaline forming foods such as watermelon, broccoli, peaches, and avocados, to neutralizing lactic acid formed when exercising. Carbonic acid-bicarbonate buffers help neutralize CO2 and excess H+ formed from exercising. That decrease in blood pH is called acidosis, and the pH only has to be a few tenths out of balance for it to cause serious health problems. Without that buffer, the blood would become too acidic and could cause death or permanent cell damage. Phosphate buffers use phosphate ions to neutralize strong acids and bases. These buffers will use calcium phosphate salts from bones and teeth to protect the body from strong acids, so too much ingestion of acids will wear down teeth and bones as a tradeoff. Compared to death, losing some structural integrity of teeth and bones is nothing. .
             Buffers may be most active in blood, but blood travels everywhere in the body and keeps all organs and muscles healthy and functioning. Without buffers, organs could start breaking down, and death will occur. Even with all these consequences of damage and death, people do not realize how much buffers do to protect us. Most fruits and vegetables are alkaline forming, and grains are acid forming. Pretty much anything people eat threatens to kill us by changing the pH of our blood, a very sensitive system. I cannot stress the importance of buffers enough.

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