Most of us never consider the acid/alkaline balance of our blood, but a proper pH is a crucial aspect to health. Many doctors stress the importance of pH because a balanced pH protects us from the inside out. Disease and disorder, they say, cannot take root in a body whose pH is in balance.
Why pH is Crucial to Health?
It is an imbalance of acidity and alkalinity that allows unhealthy organisms to flourish, damages tissues and organs and compromises the immune system.
So what is proper pH?
What we call pH is short for the potential of hydrogen. It is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of our body’s fluids and tissues. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. The more acidic a solution is, the lower its pH. The more alkaline, the higher the number is.
A pH of 7 is perfectly neutral. The healthiest pH is one that is slightly alkaline. Optimally, we want a pH of 7.365. This number will fluctuate throughout the day, but the normal range is between 6 and 7.5.
What affects pH?
Normally, the kidneys maintain our electrolyte levels, those of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. When we are exposed to acidic substances, these electrolytes are used to combat acidity. High degrees of acidity force our bodies to rob minerals from the bones, cells, organs and tissues. Cells end up lacking enough minerals to properly dispose of waste or oxygenate completely. Vitamin absorption is compromised by mineral loss. Toxins and pathogens accumulate in the body and the immune system becomes suppressed.
What causes acidity in your body?
- Alcohol and drug use
- Antibiotic overuse
- Artificial sweeteners
- Chronic stress
- Declining nutrient levels in foods due to industrial farming
- Low levels of fiber in the diet
- Lack of exercise
- Excess animal meats in the diet (from non-grass fed sources)
- Excess hormones from foods, health and beauty products and plastics
- Exposure to chemicals and radiation from household cleansers, building materials, computers, cell phones and microwaves
- Food coloring and preservatives
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Poor chewing and eating habits
- Processed and refined foods
- Shallow breathing
What are the effects of acidity on health?
- Allergies, asthma and congestion
- Frequent colds
- Joint and muscle pain
- Skin problems
- Weight gain
Over the long term, acidosis can lead to:
How Can You Achieve a Proper pH?
Even though there are many sources of acidity and toxicity in our environments, the biggest contributor to unbalanced pH is our diet.
Fruits and vegetables contain potassium, a natural buffer to acidity. The western diet contains little in the way of fresh and raw fruits and vegetables.
Processed foods contain tons of sodium chloride–table salt–which constricts blood vessels and creates acidity.
Eating too much animal protein causes sulfuric acid to build up in the blood as amino acids are broken down.
All grains, whole or not, create acidity in the body. Americans ingest most of their plant food quota in the form of processed corn or wheat.
Our problem is more a matter of not taking in enough alkaline-promoting foods rather than taking in too much acid.
Calcium-rich dairy products cause some of the highest rates of osteoporosis. That’s because they create acidity in the body! When your blood stream becomes too acidic, it will steal calcium (a more alkaline substance) from the bones to try to balance out the pH level. So the best way to prevent osteoporosis is to eat lots of alkaline green leafy veggies!
- Cold cuts
- Corn flakes
- Conventional Meats: beef, chicken and pork
- Peanuts and walnuts
- White bread
- Whole wheat
Certain foods on this list, like eggs and walnuts, might be acidic in your body, but don’t let that scare you away from eating them. They contain a host of health benefits like antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. A healthy balance is what we are shooting for where pH is concerned–it is possible to become too alkaline.
Fruits, mushrooms and vegetables (especially citrus, dates, raisins and spinach) promote an alkaline pH.
Strangely enough, acidic fruits such as grapefruit and tomatoes don’t create acidity in the body. They do just the opposite and contribute to an alkaline environment.
Uncooked fruits and vegetables are said to be biogenic or “life-giving.” Cooking foods depletes alkalinizing minerals. Increase your intake of raw foods, and try juicing or lightly steaming fruits and vegetables.
Alkaline water has a pH of 9 to 11. Distilled water is just fine to drink. Water filtered with a Reverse Osmosis filter is slightly acidic, but it’s still a far better option than tap water or purified bottled water. Adding pH drops, lemon or lime, or baking soda to your water boosts alkalinity.
Drinks made from green vegetables and grasses in powder form are loaded with alkaline-forming foods and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is structurally similar to our own blood and alkalizes the blood.
How to test your own pH
You can test your pH by purchasing strips at your local health foods store or pharmacy. You can measure your pH with saliva or urine. Your second urination of the morning will give you the best results. You compare the colors on your test strip to a chart that comes with your test strip kit.
During the day, the best time to test your pH is one hour before a meal and two hours after a meal.
If you test with your saliva, you want to try to stay between 6.8 and 7.2.