This month we are discussing what ph balance is in our bodies. Let’s begin at the beginning by explaining what Ph is as it relates to our bodies. In our bodies we are filled with solutions which are either acids or bases. Acids are…. acidic, bases are more alkaline (the opposite of acidic). To ensure proper functioning of all body systems our fluids must contain almost balanced quantities of acids and bases. For aspiring science nerds: The more hydrogen ions (H+) dissolved in a solution the more acidic the solution, conversely the more hydroxide ions (OH-) the more basic (alkaline) the solution. In other words we need an acid/ alkaline ph balance to ensure that our bodies can keep us in homeostasis. This happens by the regulation of the sensitive chemical reactions which are constantly occurring in the body which require acidity or alkalinity in the fluids which they occur.
The reason we hear so much about ph balance and “alkalizing our systems” is that most of us are constantly bombarding our systems with too many acid causing situations and need to be proactive toward building a more alkaline environment. But back to the chemistry of ph: So now we know what the spectrum of ph is and next we need to know how it’s measured. When we see or read anything about ph there is usually a # next to it. Ph is measured on a scale of 0-14. For some this next part might seem counter intuitive but a lower number closer to the “0” end of the scale is more acid. A number closer to 14 is more alkaline. 7 on the scale is neutral (neither acid nor alkaline). So to give you an example of what this looks like in our day to day world take a look at some of these examples of substances and their corresponding ph values:
Gastric Juice 1.2-3.0
Grape fruit juice, vinegar, wine 3.0
Vaginal Fluid 3.5-4.5
Distilled (pure) water 7.0
Bile (liver secretion that aids fat digestion) 7.6-8.6
Milk of Magnesia 10.5
Another thing to consider when looking at the ph scale is that a change of one whole number is a 10 fold change in acidity or alkalizing. So a substance with a ph of 5 is 10 times more acidic than something with a ph of 6.
So what does all this mean to me and why do I care about my body’s ph? Our bodies are working very hard to maintain a ph balance in our blood between 7.35 and 7.45 so that it is slightly more alkaline than water. That is a narrow margin!! The miracle of our bodies is that they can accomplish this day in day out 24/7, and unless we have a life threatening illness our systems will keep us in balance. So as the wise and venerable Douglas Adams says “Don’t Panic!”. However we should be kind to our bodies and give them all the help they need to function properly instead of working against them and following short lived happiness by loading up on acid forming foods. And acid forming diet would require our bodies to process and expel all the extra acid (mostly through our sweat and urine) to bring us back into balance. This is very taxing on our systems and there have been studies showing that cancer cells thrive in and acid environment and cannot survive in a more alkaline environment… Hmmm.
A more acidic system is also a breeding ground for yeast infections, rashes, dandruff, mouth ulcers, herpes outbreaks, lethargy and general malaise (feeling crappy). You can test your ph level by purchasing some ph test strips from your local health food store (new seasons and whole foods has them) and test 3x’s a day morning noon and evening:
saliva –(which will test in a smaller range than urine) salivary pH mirrors the blood (if not around meals) and is also a fairly good indicator of health. It helps to tell us what the body retains.
Or test your urine- The pH of the urine indicates how the body is working to maintain the proper pH of the blood. The pH of urine indicates the efforts of the body via the kidneys, adrenals, lungs and gonads to regulate body pH balance through the buffer salts and hormones.
Urine can provide a fairly accurate picture of body chemistry, because the kidneys filter out the byproducts of pH regulation and provide ph values based on what the body is eliminating. Urine pH can vary from around 4.5 to 9.0 for its extremes, but the ideal range is 6.5 to 7.0+. Urinary pH tends to be lower in the morning and higher in the evening.
So our ph will vary depending on time of day or when you ate. It’s constantly changing. Generally you’ll be more acid first thing in the morning then you’ll become more alkaline as you drink water and eat fruits and veggies ect.
Doing this testing for about a week you’ll see a trend emerge and see how much you need to shift your lifestyle. We can bring our bodies back to a more alkaline environment first and foremost by the foods we eat.
For the most part eating more fruits and veggies will have an alkaline-forming effect on your body.
Most grains, animal foods, and highly processed foods have an acid-forming effect on your body fluids, especially refined wheat flour and Sugar.
You can purchase a chart showing foods with actual ph values from many sources online but here’s a list I found and “borrowed” from another website without ph#’s (url below)
Parsnips (high glycemic)
ALKALIZING ORIENTAL VEGETABLES
Banana (high glycemic)
Whey Protein Powder
ALKALIZING SPICES & SEASONINGS
Alkaline Antioxidant Water
Apple Cider Vinegar
Fresh Fruit Juice
Soured Dairy Products
Calcium: pH 12
Cesium: pH 14
Magnesium: pH 9
Potassium: pH 14
Sodium: pH 14
Canned or Glazed Fruits
ACIDIFYING GRAINS, GRAIN PRODUCTS
Hemp Seed Flour
ACIDIFYING BEANS & LEGUMES
ACIDIFYING NUTS & BUTTERS
ACIDIFYING ANIMAL PROTEIN
ACIDIFYING FATS & OILS
Hemp Seed Oil
ACIDIFYING OTHER FOODS
ACIDIFYING DRUGS & CHEMICALS
ACIDIFYING JUNK FOOD
Beer: pH 2.5
Coca-Cola: pH 2
Coffee: pH 4
List taken from www.rense.com
One thing to keep in mind is that our emotions and stress levels affect our acid/ alkaline balance GREATLY! You can eat as healthfully as you like but if your adhering to rigid thought patterns (like adhering to a strict diet for years), working too many hours and not getting enough rest, have irregular sleep patterns, in a state of constant worry you’ll never correct your acid balance by food alone. So again “don’t panic”. If you would like to learn more about this subject or are interested in supplements or nutritional counseling to balance your ph levels contact us to learn about products we use and believe in, or schedule a nutrition session and learn how to bring yourself to an optimal level of health. Stay well.
Shawn Kinsella LMT, CA, PYT
Sources for this article include:
Introduction to the human body by Gerard J. Tortora and Bryan Derrickson