What is the meaning of “pH balance”? And how do you know if your pH levels are off? Well, pH balance refers to a proper balance in the body between acidity and alkalinity. Keeping your body at a healthy pH level may help prevent unhealthy microbes and organisms from flourishing, tissues and organs from becoming damaged, minerals from being depleted, and your immune system from being compromised.
A 2012 review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health states:
It is generally accepted that agricultural humans today have a diet poor in magnesium and potassium as well as fiber, and rich in saturated fat, simple sugars, sodium, and chloride as compared to the preagricultural period. This results in a diet that may induce metabolic acidosis which is mismatched to our genetically determined nutritional requirements. (1)
The most effective way to balance your pH is to eat lot of nutrient-dense, alkalizing plant foods and to limit your intake of processed foods. Because so many different factors — gut health, stress, sleep, medications and medical history — also affect your internal pH level, other lifestyle habits can also be helpful for restoring balance.
What we call “pH” is short for the “potential of hydrogen,” or the measure of the hydrogen ion concentration of a solution. (2) pH is also a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of our body’s fluids and tissues. It is measured on a pH scale that ranges from 0 to 14. The more acidic a solution is, the lower its pH value. The more alkaline it is, the higher the pH number is. The acidity or alkalinity of different solutions, including human blood but also many others found outside the body (such as the ocean), are indicated on the pH scale.
What should the body’s pH level be ideally? Here is a basic pH balance chart that shows you the ideal pH level of the human body:
Alkaline diets (sometimes also called alkaline ash diets) that help restore proper pH levels have been associated with health improvements including:
The Merck Manual’s definition of acidosis is “An overproduction of acid in the blood or an excessive loss of bicarbonate from the blood (metabolic acidosis), or a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood that results from poor lung function or depressed breathing (respiratory acidosis).” (4)
What can cause your pH level to shift towards a more acidic state, thereby causing imbalance?
An increase in acid overwhelms the body’s acid-base control systems, causing the blood to become overly acidic. Normally, the kidneys maintain proper balance of pH and electrolyte levels, including calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. But when we are exposed to acidic substances, these electrolytes are used to combat acidity.
The kidneys start to excrete more minerals out of the body via the urine. High degrees of acidity force our bodies to rob minerals from our bones, cells, organs and tissues. Cells end up lacking enough minerals to properly dispose of waste or oxygenate the body completely. Vitamin absorption is then compromised by mineral loss. Toxins and pathogens can start to accumulate in the body, and this can suppress the immune system.
These are some of ill effects that too much acidity can contribute to:
When it becomes more severe, or over the long term, acidosis can lead to more serious health problems, including:
First and foremost, you can reduce your risk for falling out of pH balance by taking a look at how your overall lifestyle and habits might be affecting your nutrient levels, gut and immune system.
Below are the primary factors that contribute to acidity (acidosis) and pH imbalance in your body:
How do you raise your body’s pH level, in order to make it more slightly more alkaline rather than acidic?
Below are steps you can take to to help restore pH balance:
If you currently eat a “Standard American Diet,” you’ll likely need to give certain things up in order to eat a diet that’s lower in acidic foods. Acidic foods to limit or eliminate from your diet include:
There are also some otherwise healthy foods that contribute to acidity, but still don’t need to be completed avoided. These foods can still contribute many nutrients to your diet, so continue to eat them in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet.
If there’s such thing as a pH balance diet, it’s one that includes lots of green plants and other alkalizing foods. It’s also smart to purchase as much organic food as possible, since crops that are grown in organic, mineral-dense soil tend to be more alkalizing and have higher vitamin and mineral content. Here are foods that are included in a well-rounded alkaline diet:
Depending on your current state of health and your goals, you might have even better success with reversing acidity by adhering to an alkalizing, very low-carb ketogenic diet. The Keto diet and its foods are also supportive of pH balance include: healthy fats and oils, all types of leafy greens, powdered greens and drink mixes, and superfoods.
Most high protein foods are acid forming, so if you’re eating lots of meat and animal foods, it’s important to balance these with alkalizing plant foods. (7) If you’re following a low carb diet and taking steps to reduce acidity, then you can eat the foods mentioned above and also incorporate some legumes, beans, nuts and lower amounts of starchy plants (since these contain more sugar and carbs).
According to the Water Research Center’s website, “The normal range for pH in surface water systems is 6.5 to 8.5 and for groundwater systems is 6 to 8.5.” (8) This means that there is a lot of variation when it comes to pH levels between different sources of water. When water has a pH level less than 6.5, it is considered “acidic, soft, and corrosive,” which means it may potentially leach metal ions such as iron, manganese, copper, lead, and zinc from aquifers, plumbing fixtures, and piping, plus contain certain toxic metals and have a sour taste. The best way to treat the problem of acidic (low pH) water is to use a neutralizer that raises the pH.
Evidence suggests that the ideal pH level of alkaline ionized water for long-term human consumption is between 8.5 and 9.5. (9) Alkaline water is just what it sounds like: water that is highly acidic, with a pH of between 9 to 11. Adding pH drops, lemon or lime, or baking soda to your water also boosts alkalinity. Distilled water is neutral, with a pH of 7. (10)
Water filtered using a reverse osmosis filter is slightly acidic, with a pH level slightly lower than 7. Distilled water and filtered water may not be too alkaline, but as far as pH balance is concerned they are still a better option than tap water or purified bottled water that are more acidic.
Many different drugs, chemicals, pollutants and toxins can disturb pH balance and contribute to acidity — such as alcohol, products containing caffeine, acetazolamide, opioids, sedatives, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin. (11) Other types of poisoning and chemical exposure can also cause acidosis, which can be very dangerous when it becomes severe. (12)
It’s important to address any underlying health conditions that might be causing you to rely on these drugs regularly. For example, might a lack of sleep, stress, sedentary lifestyle or even allergies be contributing to your health problems? try to determine what types of steps s you can take to naturally reduce your need for medications and drugs. If you live or work in an environment with lots of air pollution take steps to protect yourself as much as possible.
Here is how to test your own pH level:
As mentioned above, certain foods on the acidic list — like eggs, meat and walnuts — might not be alkalizing, 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 also possible to become too alkaline, so extremes in either direction are not ideal. Eating a variety of foods, focusing on quality, and addressing other lifestyle concerns are all important for maintaining homeostasis (balance).
Source: dr. axe