The Importance of Being Alkaline - Know Your pH !

The Importance of Being Alkaline - Know Your pH !

To get us going on this topic I would like to revisit some high school chemistry. One of the fundamental things we study is pH -- acid and base. pH stands for potential of hydrogen and is the amount of hydrogen ion concentration in a particular solution. The more ions, the more acid the solution. The fewer ions, the more alkaline (base) the solution. pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14 with seven being neutral. A pH below 7.0 is acidic and a pH above 7.0 is alkaline.

So why is pH important to humans?

pH is critical to all life and is the basis of many chemical reactions. It affects enzyme function (protein catalysts) and structure in all living systems. Many enzymes have a range of pH activity in which they can survive and function. For example, pepsin, a stomach enzyme, wants a pH around 2 to function happily, whereas the important enzyme carbonic anhydrase, which helps transport carbon dioxide out of tissues, prefers a pH of 7. Human cell enzymes generally prefer a pH around 7.4, or slightly alkaline.

So what happens if the pH is out of the right range?

The human body is finely tuned machine, designed to maintain a very delicate pH balance in its all its fluids, tissues and systems. Ideal healthy blood pH should be alkaline between 7.2 - 7.5, and in this range our body’s immune system is in optimal condition and able to fight off illness and disease. Anything outside of this range means the body is trying to function in an unconducive environment, and a blood ph below 7 or above 8 WILL lead to disease and even death. So pH is a serious issue and one that you need to understand and pay attention to.

The results of a pH imbalance are:

A decrease in ability to absorb nutrients;
A decrease in ability to repair damaged cells:
A decrease in the energy production in cells;
A decrease in ability to detoxify heavy metals;
An increase in cancer cell propagation.

What we ultimately want to avoid is an acidic environment. This results in poor quality white blood cell production, weakening our entire system, making it easy for infections to occur and leading to fatigue and illness. It essentially creates a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, virii, and other pathogens. Even a small imbalance can be dangerous!

And the problem is that the modern western world is in many ways an acid-producing morass.

So what causes acidic pH levels in humans?

Overly acidic pH occurs from various reasons including diet, stress, environmental toxins, and any process that deprives the cells of oxygen and key nutrients. The body reacts to acidic pH levels by using alkaline minerals which it usually gets by transporting them from bones into the blood stream, which leaves our bones depleted of critical nutrients. (A study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who have chronic acidosis are at greater risk for bone loss than those who have normal pH levels.) If these minerals are still insufficient, acid continues to builds up in the cells and we are on track for serious health issues. 

The body does have a control mechanism called the acid-base buffer system, which operates to stabilize pH in an aqueous solution (alkaline buffers are released into the blood stream if the blood is too acidic, or acidic buffers if the blood pH is too alkaline.) But these buffers can only respond to certain levels of imbalance before they become overwhelmed.

To make things worse, gastric digestion. an acid process, and salivary digestion, an alkaline process, eventually cannot operate at all as the rising acidity of the stomach completely stops proper digestion. Without digestion, everything goes south. Without going into the myriad of resulting problems, the ultimate result is biochemical inefficiency, systemic dysfunction, and inevitably illness.

Acidosis is the name for the state of being highly acid in pH. Acidosis is, in essence, the cause of all sickness. Well known physician William Hay stated in his book "A New Health Era" that all disease is caused by autotoxication due to acid accumulation in the body.

Acidosis can be deadly. 

In this one word we have summed up everything that is critical to your good health.

Acidosis can lead to:

  • Cardiovascular damage.

  • Weight gain, obesity and diabetes.

  • Low energy and chronic fatigue.

  • Bladder and kidney damage.

  • Immune deficiency disorder.

  • Increased free radical damage.

  • Hormone concerns.

  • Accelerated aging.

  • Osteoporosis.

  • Joint and muscle pain.

  • Digestion and elimination problems.

  • Yeast and fungal overgrowth.

Now that we know why it is important, what can we do to keep pH balanced?

Before I get into this, it bears stating that every body has a unique bio-chemistry. While we can generalize about what are the best choices, what works for everyone else, may not work for you. So get together with your doctor to plan out your approach.

When it comes to monitoring your pH, get a series of tests from your doctor to set the baseline, and also get yourself a urine pH test kit so you can see certain results on a daily basis. When we become too acidic, our kidneys will eliminate acid through the urine, so this is as effective a home test as we can get. Just don't test after eating. The optimal urine pH is between 6 and 7 on the pH scale.

Ok, the absolute first thing is to get your diet right. This is the biggest factor in most imbalances, but let me just say that this is just one part of maintaining a proper balance in your system. (There is only so much effect we can have on what is primarily an autonomic process.) 

Learning what foods help balance the acid / alkaline state may help pH but will definitely benefit overall health. Foods high in acids are processed foods, meat, shellfish, alcohol, soft drinks, coffee, flour, saturated fats, dairy like eggs, pasteurized milk and cheese, white sugar, simple carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, and medical drugs, to name just a few. While we do need some animal proteins, most of these should be avoided.

It is worth adding that a food's actual pH has nothing to do with its acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body.

Add more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to help alkalize your pH like:

  • Asparagus

  • Artichokes

  • Cabbage

  • Lettuce

  • Onion

  • Cauliflower

  • Radish

  • Peas

  • Red Cabbage

  • Leeks

  • Watercress

  • Spinach

  • Turnip

  • Chives

  • Carrot

  • Green Beans

  • Beetroot

  • Garlic

  • Celery

  • Lettuce

  • Cucumber

  • Broccoli

  • Kale

  • Brussels Sprouts

  • Lemon

  • Lime

  • Peaches

  • Pears

  • Apples

  • Avocado

  • Tomato

  • and Grapefruit, to name just a few.

Fiber is a key here.

Making sure you digest well and eliminate well are crucial to good pH balance.

Make sure you are getting plenty of calcium, magnesium, C and D3. In addition to the foods you eat, it is important to do everything to ensure the proper digestion and assimilation of foods. Bear in mind that the more you cook foods, the more acidic they become.

Make sure to chew your food very well.

Drink copious amounts of water. Forget alkaline water, it really does not make a difference. I still advise against tap water simply because of the chemicals used to make it safe to drink make it not so safe to drink (in my opinion at least.) If you are concerned with the pH level of your drinking water and want it to be naturally as alkaline as possible, then use iodine and your trusty pH color chart to test it first. I have tested a few myself and so far Evian and Fiji are the two most alkaline commercial brands.

Also, try to consume plant-based enzymes with every meal. These enzymes assist the body in breaking down and assimilating the nutrients in the foods you eat regardless of pH. It can be very difficult to get a lot of the right foods into your daily diet, so a highly bio-available vegetable, fruits, grains supplement can be an excellent addition to your regimen. Our GREEN 33 vegetable complex is rich in plant enzymes and prepared for maximum bio-availability so is an example of an ideal adjunct to a healthy diet.

It also helps to reduce anxiety when possible and to include moderate exercise in your daily regimen. Strenuous exercise can actually contribute to an acid environment in the body because of the increased production of lactic acid and cortisol. Anything that lowers your stress and blood pressure is a good thing, so meditation, yoga, visualization, music, love, and so on. Even though you may not think it, these activities can help bring pH balance too.

Finally, consider the drugs or medications you are taking. Some pharmaceuticals can cause acidic pH levels, so check with your doctor to see if any drug-related problems can be avoided.

Just understanding the basic processes involved in our body's pH is fundamental to making better choices for our health. Good pH balance is fundamental to good health, so think about how you can make changes to ensure the optimal working environment for your system. While there is a limit to how much we can actually modify our internal pH (especially as it varies throughout the body), making smart choices can help set the right conditions for your body to find its ideal pH balance.

Related Posts: 
Immune Function and Aging: Extending Health
For the Love of Food, What We Eat Can Heal

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The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.

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