The consequences of excess lactic acid
Most of us at some point in our lives have done some intense anaerobic exercise like running very fast, or an exercise class and felt a burn in one or more muscles to the point where it was uncomfortable and had to stop while we gasped for air. While the common reference to this is “excess lactic acid”, what really is occurring is a buildup of L-lactate because of the inability of our body to provide enough oxygen to convert energy inside our cells to continue exercising. If exercise is done excessively this way, our blood pH can become acidotic where under normal circumstances it is alkaline. Luckily, when we rest our bodies we remove L-lactate efficiently and the benefits of exercise outlast the short-term muscle soreness from the workout and there isn’t any long-term effect to our blood pH.
However, there are two forms of lactate. Another one is called D-lactate and it is becoming increasingly apparent that the accumulation of D-lactate is not easily removed from our body even under ideal conditions and causes development of acidosis in the blood.
What causes excess D-lactate?
- Lack of oxygen
- Bacterial fermentation of simple sugars such as glucose, lactose and fructose
- Antibiotic use. It leaves the gut susceptible to opportunistic strains. Streptococcus and Enterococcus are two strains that increase D-Lactate.
- Diabetic ketoacidosis from low insulin levels, (not dietary ketosis)
- Gastric bypass surgery or short bowel syndrome, where part of the small intestine has been removed.
- Kidney or liver impairment.
- Certain medications such as metformin, antiretroviral drugs, acetaminophen, aspirin, simvastin, and propylene glycol (anti-freeze) which is commonly added to foods, drugs in small amounts.