What is the pH scale
You may have heard about the pH balance of your body as well as acidic or alkaline food. The keyword is the “balance”! It’s amazing how our body works and uses all nutrients to derive energy, build new cells and defend itself from microbes and viruses. Let’s see what the pH balance is and how we can balance our body so it performs the most effectively.
The pH scale measures acidity in terms of hydrogen ion (H+) activity in a solution. 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 the solution. The midpoint of 7 (pure water) is considered to be neutral and therefore readings from 0–7.0 are considered acidic, whereas numbers from 7.0–14 are considered alkaline.
Body pH balance
Our body doesn’t have one “correct” reading of pH. For example, 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. Your digestive tract’s pH can range from 1.5 to 7.0, depending on what stage of digestion is underway. And when the body is in good working order, human blood reveals a narrow pH window of about 7.35–7.45 (slightly alkaline). Other parts of a healthy, well-functioning body will show still other pH readings.
Why is this? Because different parts of our bodies serve different purposes. Each of these purposes and their related processes requires a particular acid–alkaline environment for optimum function. For instance, skin needs to slightly acidic in order to deal with environmental factors like bacteria and other toxins.
Nowadays our busy lifestyle and convenience of processed foods makes us to make poor food choices 3 or more times per day by having coffee, dairy, sugar, more coffee, more dairy, then factory farmed meat, and then maybe even some frozen yogurt for dessert. As these foods are acidic, our body pH balance shifts towards acidic side and takes toll on our body especially the digestive system, liver, and kidneys. Inflammation, allergies, arthritis, skin problems, mood disorders, depression, constipation, bowel issues, stress (physical & mental) and chronic diseases. So what can we do about it?
How to naturally improve your pH balance
First and most logical thing to do to offset your pH balance is to consume less acidic food. Sometimes this could be tricky as lemon has a very acidic pH, but it is one of the most alkalizing foods for your body. This could be mind-bending!
It’s actually better to look at whether the food is acid–forming or alkaline–forming, not where the food itself falls on the pH scale. So even though we think of citrus as acidic, fruits like lemons and tangerines are alkalizing because when they’re consumed, they break down and donate alkaline mineral salt compounds like citrates and ascorbates.
Similarly, foods we might normally think being mild in nature are acid-forming when consumed. Grains and milk are two examples. What’s important is not so much the pH of the food as it goes into our bodies, but the resultant pH once the food is broken down. One of my blind spots was carbonated mineral water. I used to love it and thought that because it is so high in meneral content it is alkalizing. It turned out that because of carbonation, it is one of the most acidic beverages despite of its mineral content.
Take a look at the chart below to refer where specific food falls in terms of pH balance.
Tips for better pH balance in the body
Here are also some ideas on how to restore pH balance to your diet in order to support healthy digestion, keep blood pH levels on track, and protect your bones and kidneys.
- Take a high-quality daily multivitamin. Our food supply that is produced in depleted soil has up to 80% less minerals comparing to what your grandmother had! Your supplement should contain essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and magnesium in their most bioavailable, alkalizing forms.
- Fill your plate with fresh vegetables, particularly the dark green leafy kind. Add fresh lemon or lime juice to foods and beverages as a highly alkalizing flavor accent. Enjoy plenty of fruit, especially fruit with a low glycemic index. Women in perimenopause and menopause, particularly, benefit more from fruits that are lower in sugars, to avoid concerns about insulin resistance.
- Choose root vegetables, too, as excellent sources of alkalizing mineral compounds. Eating foods such as slow-roasted sweet potatoes, onions, and leeks.
- Consider boosting your diet with “green foods” or “green drinks,” which contain the pigment chlorophyll in abundance. The plant world’s equivalent of the hemoglobin in our blood, we can thank chlorophyll as the original source of all our food (except perhaps fungi!) It works in the body as a strong detoxifier and immunity–building agent. Foods that contain high levels of chlorophyll include the algae spirulina and chlorella and the juice of wheat grass and other sprouted grains.
- Eat plenty of vegetable protein, watch your red meat intake, and keep your servings of the acidifying animal proteins down to four ounces per meal (the size of a deck of cards).
- Avoid refined carbohydrates whenever you can, including sugar, and when you include grains, be sure to emphasize the “whole” in whole grains. Eliminate all processed foods, particularly those that contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats).
- Help your body with a gentle detox program. You may be surprised at how well you feel!
Keep the balance
Keeping the balance is probably even more challanging than shifting your pH to be more alkalized. It is worth the process as it will help you to preserve your long-term health. If it feels like a good place for you to start taking better care of yourself, I encourage you to do so. From there, just listen to your body and help it find balance on all fronts, including your hormones, your emotions, and your lifestyle.