There is a lot of buzz these days about alkalinity vs acidity, and how to maintain a balanced pH. It’s not a simple question, and there are many, many layers of answers. It’s not only about what you eat, but as much about how you feel, what you think, how you react to stressors in your environment, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. This series of articles (maybe ten!) will attempt to tease apart some of the facts and fallacies of this very important subject, and give practical suggestions as to how to maintain optimum health. Alkalinity is a life-style, and not one that can be taken lightly if one desires to live a long and healthy life.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there is a theory called “the root vs. the branch.” When we treat the soil and the root it will also affect the leaves and the branch. An avid gardener knows the importance of supporting the roots by maintaining the integrity of the soil, because the soil is the biologic terrain as well as the heart and soul of the garden. Having the proper kinds of microorganisms, the right acidity and alkalinity balance, water, minerals, sunlight, and many other elements are considered equally essential to the overall success of the bounty of the harvest. If the soil environment is not in balance, mold, bugs, and weeds will invade the garden, and eventually the plants will become more susceptible to disease. So it is the soil, the biological terrain of the garden that ultimately determines the health of the plant, not the plant itself.
In the same manner this process mirrors our body. The human body is not just matter, chemicals and electrochemical reactions. It is also a complex, integrated life-energy system. Just like the garden, our cells needs to grow in a biological terrain / pH balance, mineral balance, with proper hydration levels, and other elements of importance to maintain homeostasis. Over acidity can become a dangerous condition that weakens all body systems. It gives rise to an internal environment conducive to disease, as opposed to a pH-balanced environment which allows normal body function necessary for disease prevention.
A healthy body maintains adequate alkaline reserves to meet emergency demands. When excess acids must be neutralized, our alkaline reserves are depleted, leaving the body in a weakened condition.
There is a strong and growing acceptance among doctors and biologists that we are generally over acidic and that excess acidity is the root cause of many diseases. Diseases are not caused only by germs, chemical toxins and physical trauma but also by chronic dysfunctional emotional-energy patterns, poor diet, and over-acidification of the blood, and tissues.
In my practice, when considering a patient’s health, I never look at pH in isolation, as I would fail to take into account the complex role the emotional body has on the balance of pH.
Monitoring pH is relatively new to people, so let’s understand that pH is not a diagnostic test, or about curing diseases. It is simply a useful tool in evaluation overall health as an active participant. The objective is to provide a fairly accurate picture of body chemistry, and to find out if our diet and lifestyle are giving our body a chance to be, and stay healthy.
So let’s take a look at pH imbalance, how it affects us, and what we can do to correct it.
pH is an abbreviation for potential hydrogen. Whether a substance is alkaline or acid the pH scale measures the number of hydroxyl (OH-) ions which are negative and alkaline forming as opposed to the amount of hydrogen (H+) ions that are positive and acid forming. A solution is acidic when it has more free hydrogen activity, and alkaline when there is a lack of free hydrogen activity.
The lower the pH reading, the more acidic and oxygen deprived the fluid is. The higher the pH reading, the more alkaline and oxygen rich the fluid is. Readings from 0–7 are considered acidic, and numbers from 7.0–14 are considered alkaline. A pH od 7 in the middle of the (logarithmic) pH scale is considered neutral.
The pH balance of the human blood stream is recognized by all medical physiology texts as one of the most important biochemical balances in all of human body chemistry. All biochemical reactions and electrical (life) energy are under pH control.
The body has an acid-alkaline (or acid-base) ratio called the pH which is a balance between positively charged ions (acid-forming) and negatively charged ions (alkaline-forming.) The body continually strives to balance pH. When this balance is compromised many problems can occur.
pH of the Body:
The pH of saliva is usually between 6.5 – 7.5. After we chew and swallow food it enters the upper portion of the stomach which has a pH between 4.0 – 6.5. This is where “predigestion” occurs while the lower portion of the stomach is secreting hydrochloric acid (HCI) and pepsin until it reaches a pH between 1.5 – 4.0.
After the food mixes with these juices it then enters the duodenum (small intestine) where the pH changes to 7.0 – 8.5. This is where 90% of the absorption of nutrients occurs while the waste products are passed out through the colon (pH 4.0 – 7.0).
The blood, urine, saliva, digestive juices, mucus, and the fluids inside and outside the body’s cells each have an optimum pH level – each require a different acid–alkaline environment for optimum function.
– Healthy human skin has an approximate pH of 5.5 (slightly acidic)
– Saliva, on the other hand, has a pH of around 6.5–7.4 (Slightly alkaline)
– Urine should be around 6.6 (slightly acidic)
– Healthy blood reveals a narrow pH window of about 7.35–7.45 (slightly alkaline). Our blood pH must stay within a very narrow range or serious illness and even death can result.
– Digestive tracts can range from 1.5 to 7.0, depending on what stage of digestion is underway (See diagram above)
The pH paper provides an instant method of determining acid/ alkaline pH. The pHydrion test paper is designed for immediate reading. If you wait 30 seconds, the value will change due to evaporation. Don’t even wait 5 seconds; read immediately.
Many people become confused regarding alkaline and acid diets because they think that it refers to the pH level of the food itself. This is not the case, as some foods which are highly acidic in their natural form, such as lemons and limes, actually have an alkaline effect on the body. Foods can have a one pH and have a different metabolic action on pH in the body. The alkaline diet is based on how foods express their metabolic action on pH in the body – acid forming foods or alkaline forming foods. For example lemons have a pH of 2.2 while meats are non-acidic, with a pH of about 7.0. Yet lemons metabolic action is alkaline- forming in the body while meats are acidic forming.
The pH level of our tissues and internal fluids affect every cell in our bodies
From the time we are conceived until the time we die, the community of about 50 trillion cells in our bodies is endlessly working to maintain a natural state of homeostasis or balance. Our body is fully equipped to heal everything from a cut to cancer and everything in between. That is, of course, as long as there is no interference.
The body is alkaline by design, and acid by function. Acid production is a standard procedure for our body. A healthy body maintains alkaline reserves to meet emergency demands. This is like our bank account. When our marvelous body encounters an increase of acidity, our bodies’ natural buffers respond immediately to bring the blood to a stable pH. Some of these buffers include plasma bicarbonate, hemoglobin (from red blood cells), calcium (from bones), magnesium (from muscles), and an increased production of cholesterol in the liver.
Unfortunately the body does not have an endless quantity of alkaline reserves to neutralize the overindulgence of acidic food . So we deplete our mineral alkaline reserves: calcium specifically is leached first from blood and tissues, and after then from bones, teeth, cartilage (hypocalcaemia, osteoporosis). As a mechanism of defense to protect our vital organs against damaging acids, our body will start producing fat cells and packing acid wastes in those cells (cellulite/obesity build up).
To replenish and sustain the alkaline reserves it would be wise to adhere to the alkaline life style.
Stay tuned for the next article