pH and Acid-Alkaline Balance
What is pH?
PH is the measurement of the concentration of hydrogen ions in
a solution. PH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14, with 7.0 being
neutral. Anything above 7.0 is alkaline, anything below 7.0 is acidic.
To better understand pH, consider water. Water is neutral (7.0)
on the pH scale. Water has two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom
(H2O). These atoms are easily split up, and they regroup into new
compounds that take on an electro-magnetic charge: an Oxygen-Hydrogen
compound (OH-), and a single Hydrogen atom (H+). These new groups
are called ions, because of their electrical charge.
Pure water has an balanced (i.e., neutral) concentration of positive
and negative ions. Other solutions have different concentrations
of these ionic pairs - some solutions have more positively charged
ions (alkaline), and other solutions have more negatively charged
There is no single correct pH for the entire body; rather, the
body has many pH levels, specific to different organs and tissues.
This is because each part of the body has a function that is enhanced
by a specific pH range.
For example, the pH of blood, saliva and urine in a healthy body
fall in the neutral to slightly alkaline range. Blood ranges from
pH 7.3 - 7.4, and saliva around 6.5 - 7.4.
In saliva, the digestive enzyme amylase is present. It is responsible
for breaking down starch, and requires a fairly neutral to alkaline
environment to work.
The skin has a slightly acidic thin oily outer layer called the
acid mantle, which is a first line of defense against many chemicals
Stomach acid, on the other hand, is highly acidic. This helps break
down food, and also works as another immune system defense strategy
- many pathogenic bacteria and parasites entering the body are destroyed
in this highly acidic environment. The high acidity is also required
to activate pepsinogen, an important digestive enzyme. When food
passes from the stomach to the small intestine, the highly acidic
stomach fluid is counter-balanced by the release of alkaline pancreatic
juice, which also assists with digestion.
Many enzymes present in pancreatic juice require an alkaline environment
at this stage of digestion in the small intestine.
The various beneficial intestinal flora we host can be damaged
by an overly acidic digestive tract. This in turn can affect our
digestive functions, and our immune system.
Acidosis & Disease
Acidosis is a deadly condition in which there is excessive acid
in the body fluids, at which point the blood pH reaches below 7.3.
Becoming deathly acidic is rare, though many of us are
carrying excess acid in our bodies that may be detrimental to our
health and may be implicated in the onset of deadly diseases including
diabetes and obesity.
Symptoms of Excess Acidity
PH imbalance towards acidity may cause many physical ailments,
including the following problems:
- Osteoporosis - weak, brittle bones, hip fractures and bone
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Weight gain
- Immune deficiency - frequent colds, flus, infections, slow
recovery from illness and injury.
- Low energy, chronic fatigue
- Excess mucous production
- Cardiovascular damage, including the constriction of blood
vessels from cholesterol
pH and Diet - Acid / Alkaline and Digestion
The standard western diet is highly acidic.
Refined sugars, meat, eggs, milk, soda, wine, beer, coffee, unhealthy
fats - these are just a few of the many acid-producing foods that
most of us ingest daily, many times in overly indulgent quantities.
Add to this much of our food, water and air are loaded with acid
forming substances like chlorine and an increasing assortment of
chemicals and pesticides.
Our bodies do a great job of maintaining balanced pH, but sometimes
we force our bodies to do so at a great price.
For example, a diet high in acid-forming foods and low in alkaline-forming
foods forces the body to off-set the acidity, sometimes by draining
alkaline mineral reserves (like calcium) from bones.
Electrolytes (a.k.a., alkaline minerals, such as sodium, potassium,
calcium, and magnesium) along with bicarbonate (a chemical secreted
by the stomach during digestion) are alkaline-forming and keep the
pH of blood from becoming too acid.
But, eating protein, particularly from red meat, requires large
amounts of alkaline minerals for digestion. There are large amounts
of minerals stored within our bones.
If those alkaline minerals are not present alongside the meat in
the digestive system, the body will take the required minerals from
In this way, an acidic diet can contribute to osteoporosis. Another
emergency pH regulating technique the body uses is to store acid
waste in fat cells. Acids must be neutralized by alkaline mineral
compounds before they can be eliminated via the liver and kidneys.
If they cannot be neutralized, the body wraps them safely in fat
cells, and stores them.
Acid / Alkaline Forming Foods
The best way to understand the pH effects of food is to understand
how food becomes either acid or alkaline in the body.
It is not whether the food itself is acidic but what residue it
leaves in the body - acid-forming or alkaline-forming elements.
Food rich in acid-forming elements have an acid yield while those
high in alkaline-forming elements have an alkaline yield.
Acid forming elements include Sulfur, Phosphorus, Chlorine, Iodine.
Alkaline forming elements include Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium,
For example, lemons are acidic outside of the body, but after
the body metabolizes them, the net remains are alkaline-forming,
and have an alkaline effect on the body.
Reducing intake of acidic foods and including a variety of alkalizing
foods in a daily diet (particularly mineral-rich greens) can help
the body off-set over-acidity.
It is also important to note that a healthy diet judiciously includes
some acid-producing foods. Usually nutritional experts recommend
that 75% of the diet is alkaline, and 25% is acidic.
Testing your pH
Urinary or salivary pH can be tested over the course of a few days,
several times a day, using litmus strips.
Ideally your pH level will be around 7.34 or 7.45. If you find
your urinary and salivary pH are too acidic, it may be a sign you're
your body is struggling to bring itself into balance, and may benefit
from a cleanse and the introduction of more alkaline-forming foods.