UPDATED: We created a deep dive on pH Levels: The Definitive Guide to Maintaining a Balanced Body.
Your pH level impacts all of your body’s cells, tissues, glands, organs, and organ systems–that’s EVERYTHING in your body. Increasing your alkalinity to 7.36 alleviates stress on your organ systems right down to the cells, helping your body fight off illness and disease.
What is pH balance?
The potential for hydrogen (pH) balance of our body is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, 7 being neutral, less than 7 being acidic, and greater than 7 being alkaline. The higher the hydrogen concentration, the more acidic a substance will become. The human body stays at a stable alkaline of about 7.36 – significant shifts from this number is life threatening; in fact, the body strives very hard to maintain this balance unless there are foreign viruses or cancerous cells attacking it. Modern medicine has suggested that what we ingest can’t significantly alter the acidity or the alkalinity of our bloodstream. The body has a complex system that makes sure the blood stays in its healthy, slightly alkaline range. If blood becomes too acidic or too alkaline, the body automatically corrects this on its own. Your blood may become slightly more acid or alkaline after eating certain foods – but it will stay within the healthy range without a special diet. While the modern diet has become more acidic than ever before, our bodies faithfully maintain their bloodstream’s normal pH range.
So why should you be concerned?
Our bodies may naturally work to maintain a stable pH – and keep us alive doing so – but if we don’t give our bodies what they need to maintain this balance in a healthy fashion, we pay the price in other ways. How? Our blood achieves this balance by robbing our organs, glands, tissues and bones of important minerals. Calcium in the form of phosphates and carbonates represents a large reservoir of base in our body. In response to an acid load such as the modern diet, these salts are released into the systemic circulation to bring the pH into homeostasis. It has been estimated that the quantity of calcium lost in the urine with the modern diet over time could be as high as almost half the skeletal mass of calcium over 20 years. Our kidneys are one of the main cleansing portals that help flush excess acid from our blood stream. The kidneys help regulate the acid/alkaline balance of the bloodstream by eliminating solid acids, also known as fixed acids – especially sulfuric and uric acid – through urination. If acid wastes cannot be eliminated, they get re-absorbed, re-filtered through the liver, and released into circulation, which facilitates free radicals and various bacteria. This acid waste is caused by overly acidic food, like processed snacks, sugar, pasteurized dairy, and meat. One 12 oz can of cola contains enough phosphoric acid to dramatically change our pH. The pH of the cola is between 2.8 and 3.2, but the kidneys cannot excrete urine that is more acidic than about 5.0; in order to dilute this can of cola to an appropriate urinary pH, you’d need to produce 33 liters of urine! So the body turns to its store of alkalizing minerals. If there aren’t enough reserves of potassium and magnesium in the extracellular fluid, the calcium will be taken from the bone. The amount of minerals needed for this particular task is equivalent to the buffering capability of four Tums!
Some of the symptoms of acidosis are:
- impaired cellular function
- weight gain
- diminished immunity
- premature aging
- muscle loss
- anxiety and irritability
So while limiting your intake of processed foods will help, even some nutritionally valid foods like fresh meat and dairy are very acidic. In other words, even nourishing, natural foods can contribute to the bone-sucking acidity of your body’s pH….if you don’t eat a balanced diet.
Then What Should We Eat?
This does not mean you should renounce meat, cheese, eggs, and become a vegetarian. While meat, eggs, and cheese are acidic, they are also nourishing for the body. These foods help build new cells and support your system under stress and chronic illness, growth, pregnancy, intense physical activity, etc. They are not to be confused with depleting acidic foods like sugar, factory farmed meat, or pasteurized dairy. In other words, these foods can be acidic, but you also need them to stay healthy.
The key is to eat enough alkaline foods to keep your pH balanced, while you eat those other nourishing (if acidic) foods. Drinking mineralized, alkaline water with an alkaline water filter system is one of the easiest and best ways to add alkalinity to your diet.
Brown S, and Trivieri L. (2006) The Acid Alkaline Food Guide (1st edition)
Lipski L, (2012) Digestive Wellness ( 4th edition)