Our Body pH – Its Importance
What is pH?
pH stands for power of hydrogen, which is a measurement of the hydrogen ion concentration in our body. The total pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 7 considered to be neutral. A solution with pH less than 7 is said to be acidic and greater than 7 are basic or alkaline. Our blood ideal pH is slightly alkaline – 7.30 to 7.45.
Our pH is not constant throughout our body. This is because each part of our body does a specific function, which is different from others. Each of these purposes requires a particular acid-alkaline environment for optimum performance.
Following are some of the pH levels for a well functioning body
- Saliva – normal range is pH 6.5 to 7.4. Enzyme amylase which is responsible for breaking down starch, works in a fairly neutral environment. Hence if pH of our saliva falls below 6.5 it is no longer active.
- Stomach – normal range is pH 2 to 1.5 – highly acidic out of biological necessity. The enzyme pepsin which breaks down proteins that we eat gets released into the stomach
- Small intestine – normal range is 2.0 to 6.5. This is where most of our food gets absorbed
- Our blood – normal range is pH 7.35 to 7.45
- Healthy skin – normal pH of 5.5 – slightly acidic in order to deal with environment factors like bacteria and other toxins
- Our Urine: pH of 4 is strongly acidic. pH of 7 is neutral. pH of 9 is strongly alkaline
What is the importance of pH?
If our food is very acidic (meaning if it leaves acidic residue in the body), the digestive process borrows alkalizing materials or electrolytes from other parts of the body to maintain pH value. Hence different parts of our body looses electrolytes and we feel weak, get headaches, have an acidic stomach and in severe cases get ulcers, cancers or other diseases.
Our cells need to be healthy for all our organs to function well. Cells need an alkaline environment to function well.
What happens if our pH is out of balance?
Following are some of the ways we suffer because of excess acidic environment in our body:
Digestive System – If enough alkaline minerals are missing in our intestinal tract, it leads to a situation where the pancreas loses the ability to decode the food and tell the body what to do with it. In simple terms the food we eat will not get digested properly and this leads to problems like indigestion, nausea, bloating gastric reflux etc.
Circulatory System – Acidity is the principal cause of heart disease. Our body responds to an excess acidic environment, by lining the arteries with fatty plaques to prevent life threatening leaks. But because of this the aperture for the blood to flow becomes narrower and hence our heart gets exhausted and leads to heart attack.
Immune System – High levels hydrogen of rich body fluids keep bad bacteria inactive whereas it can thrive in an acidic environment. As a result of this our body immune system weakens.
Respiratory System – When the tissues and organs are overloaded by acidity the transport of oxygen is strangled. This suffocation means the cells cannot breathe properly. Every cell in our body needs to breathe new oxygen and to clear acidic carbon dioxide to function correctly. When the ratio of acidity is too high then wastes in the form of mucus and infections and viruses build up in our lungs, which lead to colds, bronchitis, asthma, etc.
Skeletal System – When excess acid gets deposited in the joints and wrists, it damages the cartilage. When the cells that produce the lubricating synovial fluids and bursa fluids are acidic, this condition causes dryness that irritates and swells the joints. When uric acid builds up it tends to deposit in the form of crystals, like broken glass in the feet, hands, knees and back.
Skin Diseases: When the body’s pH is out of balance then the buildup of acid causes inflammation and the skin is less able to function as a natural barrier against infection. As a result, the skin tends to develop lesions and sores open to the surface of the body, and the formation of skin eruptions occur like pimples or rashes.
Kidney stones: Our kidneys perform the task of filtering fluids and purifying our blood. If the body is overwhelmed by excess acids, compensatory mechanisms spring into action, one of them is the pulling of alkaline minerals from your bones and dumping them in the blood. If this occurs frequently enough, the minerals build up in the kidneys in the form of painful kidney stones.
There are many more diseases and disorders that are associated with an acidic condition – cataracts, osteoporosis, gout, cancer, migraines, constipation, morning sickness, stroke, allergies, diabetes, obesity, etc.
Symptoms of Over-Acidity
- Constant fatigue
- Easily running out of breath
- Frequent sighing
- Muscle pain or cramping after walking short distances
- Often feeling like you can’t get enough air
- Difficulty holding breath for more than 20 seconds
How can I know my body pH?
You can either go to a doctor and get your blood tested for pH level OR there is also a simple method that can be used to test yourself.
The pH of our saliva and urine can be tested by using pH testing strips i.e. simple litmus strips. You can buy them online at eBay.
Tracking your urine or salivary pH over the course of a week or so will provide a window into what is going on in your internal world. A diet that lacks essential vitamins and nutrients and is high in acid–forming foods will show up in acidic urine. This is a good indicator that your body is struggling to maintain an optimal digestive environment. This could be the cause for many chronic health concerns.
What do I do to balance pH?
The first and the main step to balance pH is to look at what we are eating. Eating food that contains 75-80 percent alkaline forming foods is the best way to maintain pH balance in our body.
When considering whether a food is acidifying or alkalizing in the diet, it is better to look at whether the food is acid forming or alkaline forming after it is digested. Some of the surprises are lemon and other citrus fruits. Even though we think citrus as acidic, once they are consumed, they break down into alkaline mineral salt compounds.
On the other hand foods that we think are mild like grains and milk are acid forming after digested. So what is important is not so much the pH of the food itself, but the resultant pH once the food is broken down.
The table below classifies major foods that we eat into Alkaline and Acidic. This is compiled from the work of Dr. Regnar Burg, a noted scientist who specialized in the area of measuring pH values and metabolic residue in the body.
|Spinach, Figs, Raisins, Coconut water||Very High||Rice (manually de-husked)||Low|
|Tomatoes, Sugarcane (fresh)||Very High||Whole wheat, Millets||Low|
|Apples, Watermelon, Pears||High||Almonds||Low|
|Oranges, Papaya, Lemon||High||Polished Rice||High|
|Dates, Bananas, Coconut||High||Polished wheat, Maida||High|
|Gourds, Leafy salads||High||Meat, Chicken and Eggs||High|
|Beetroots, Turnips, Yams||High||Dairy products||High|
|Sweet potato, Cucumber||High||Most dals and Beans||High|
|Beans, Carrots, Potatoes||Low||Peanuts||High|
|Milk, Human Milk||Low||Breads, Cakes etc.||High|
Fill your plate with fresh vegetables, particularly the dark green leafy kind. Add fresh lemon or lime juice to foods and beverages as a highly alkalizing flavor accent. Enjoy plenty of fruit, especially fruit with a low glycemic index.
Root vegetables are excellent sources of alkalizing mineral compounds. Wheat grass juice, sprouted grains, spirulina builds immunity and acts as a strong detoxifier.
Take a high-quality daily multivitamin. This will offset any nutritional gaps and ensure that your body has the reserves it needs. Your supplement should contain essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and magnesium in their most bio available, alkalizing forms.
Watch your red meat intake, and keep your servings of the acidifying animal proteins down to four ounces per meal.
Avoid refined carbohydrates whenever you can, including sugar, and when you include grains, be sure to emphasize the “whole” in whole grains. Eliminate all processed foods, particularly those that contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats)
Word of Caution
If you suffer from IBS, acid reflux, or regular heartburn, consider testing your pH from a lab. Don’t just assume that an acid stomach means you’re too acidic.
Although switching to a more alkaline diet will benefit most everyone, there is a small percentage of the population whose bodies are actually too alkaline. The few individuals who have this condition usually suffer from calcium deposits. Calcium forms when the surrounding environment is alkaline. This results in symptoms of migrating nerve and joint pain. Insomnia can also be a problem, and it is often associated with early morning stiffness.
In addition to taking care of once food, deep breathing, sunshine and mental well being are also essential for maintaining alkalinity and hence health.
- Bhoomi Magazine
- mindbodygreen dot com
- womentowomen dot com