Monday, September 23, 2013

                                       Blog # 19: pH Balance, Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

     An aspect of nutrition and health which is often misunderstood is the body’s pH balance.  pH refers to potential hydrogen atoms available to make a solution more basic or acidic.  A pH of 0 to 6.9 is acidic, 7.0 is neutral, and 7.1 to 14 is alkaline.  Human venous blood serum is slightly alkaline and most research indicates that it stays within a small pH range from 7.35 to 7.45.  Blood pH outside that range indicates illness, such as kidney failure, uncontrolled diabetes, or prolonged, excessive exercise (acidic, or below 7.35) or prolonged vomiting or the use of certain diuretic medications (alkaline, or above 7.45). 
     If you examine most sources of information about this topic, you will discover companies that are trying to sell you pH testing devices, pH changing substances which you are supposed to use long term, and even expensive alkalizing water purifiers.  These companies suggest that you can determine the pH of blood by monitoring the pH of urine and saliva.  From the small amount of research that has been done on this topic, it appears that pH values of saliva and urine are not good indicators of blood pH. 
      Several factors affect the body’s pH.  Perhaps the main factor is personality, general attitude toward life and how a person deals with stress.  The more tense and hyperactive a person is, more acidic their blood tends to be.  People who are tired and hypoactive tend to have more alkaline blood.  This variation occurs within the normal range already noted above.  Other factors that can affect the body’s pH include malfunctioning internal organs, extreme environmental toxicity, dysfunctional breathing, and continued extreme over-exertion.    
     Certain areas of the body, such as the stomach, tend to be very acidic.  When the gastric environment becomes less acidic than normal, digestive problems will result.  When urine becomes too acidic or alkaline, different types of kidney stones can develop.  When the body starts to become too acidic, it will draw on highly alkalizing elements to counteract this trend.  Unfortunately, calcium is one of the most alkaline elements in the body, and osteopenia or osteoporosis can result from its use as a buffer.  A woman told me that ever since she was a small child, her body had been overly acidic.  She found that living a low stress lifestyle, following a generally healthy diet, and avoiding medications helped her somewhat.  Unfortunately, to maintain a relatively normal pH, her body had to mobilize calcium from her bones, especially from her hip joints.  As a result, she had already received three bilateral hip replacements by the time she was 52. 
     Since the alkaline diet is generally beneficial, it is worth sharing here.  Fruits and vegetables tend to be alkalizing with a few exceptions, some of which include cranberries, blackberries, blueberries, green beans, potatoes without skins, cooked spinach, rhubarb, plums, and pasteurized fruit juices.  Other alkalizing substances include mineral water, seaweed, raw almonds, green coconut, and millet.  Meat, fish, eggs, and most dairy tend to be acidifying.  Exceptions are grass-fed raw goat milk products, and butter.  Also acidifying are corn and most nuts, grains, beans, and legumes, distilled water, coffee, medications, soda, and alcoholic beverages.  These lists could go on, but this gives you an idea.

     This month’s offer:  feel free to call or email me with questions about the body’s pH and about this diet.