Did you know your body has a pH? And yes, like in your high school chemistry class, it’s possible to test it. It is an extremely crucial factor of a healthy body, and a lot will be sacrificed for it. The ideal pH for our blood and tissues is slightly alkaline – 7.30 to 7.45 (most people are actually too acidic).
An acidic state is the pre-requisite for all diseases. Such an environment doesn’t allow us to absorb useful substances, it decreases the ability of cells to repair themselves, and prevents detoxifying.
(A pH which is too alkaline is a very rare occurrence, and isn’t an issue.)
The body can neutralize about 50 mEq (milliequivalents) of fixed metabolic acid per day and drive the pH back up to its perfect state. This includes dealing with naturally occurring by-products of metabolism, such as lactic acid.
But unfortunately, the diet that most people consume (heavy in animal products, grains, refined foods, and sugars) produces as much as 100 mEq of acid per day — almost twice what the body can handle.
Everything we eat directly influences our body’s pH. Fruits and vegetables are the best examples of alkaline forming foods, while fish, meat, and dairy make our pH levels more acidic.
HOW DOES OUR BODY MAINTAIN OUR PH LEVEL?
This is the scary bit. Dealing with an acidic pH is difficult and leads to health problems. These are the mechanisms:
- Lining the vessels with fatty plaques to prevent life-threatening leaks of acidic blood into the body. This is the principal cause of heart disease – the heart is strained because the aperture for blood flow is narrower.
- Accumulating acid deposits in joints and wrists, which leads to Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis.
- Calcium salts in bones are released into the blood stream to neutralize an over-abundance of acids. However, this store is not infinite and bones will eventually become depleted of calcium, which leads to osteoporosis. The higher the ratio of vegetable protein intake to animal protein, the fewer hip fractures. (1)
Let’s consider dairy. Consuming it makes your body more acidic, which in turns weakens your bones. Milk good for healthy bones? Not so sure. This is an interesting article about why milk isn’t good for you, but that’s another story.
The conclusion is that so much is sacrificed to keep our pH in balance, that it makes sense to try and keep it alkaline in the first place.
SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO? EAT RIGHT.
The main acidic bad boys are carbonated drinks, processed foods, animal producs, sugar, and wheat. Wheat is among the most potent sources of sulfuric acid, yielding more sulfuric acid per gram than any meat. (2)
Vegetable and fruit are the dominant alkaline foods in the diet. Along with spices, nuts, and seeds – and of course, water.
Generous consumption of these serve to neutralize the acidic burden from animal products.
Lemons are not acidic.
Note that a food’s acid or alkaline forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, lemons are very acidic, however the end products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline. Likewise, meat will test alkaline before digestion, but it leaves very acidic residue in the body so, like nearly all animal products, meat is very acid forming.
- Test your ph- Mine was 7.20-ish. Try these strips
- Avoid processed foods.
- Stay away from wheat.
- Don’t overcook your veggies: it reduces nutrient content but can also convert them from alkaline into acidifying foods (spinach is a great example of this) Try eating many of your vegetables raw, or lightly steam them instead of cooking the life out of them.
- Relax. When food is eaten under stress, it will generally be digested to be acidic (if she/he digests it at all).
- Don’t go alkaline psycho. The ideal balance that is needed to maintain the body’s normal pH level is to eat 40 percent acidic and 60 percent alkaline food. We stay alkaline to keep disease away, but when disease strikes or finds its way in, we want the body to be able to switch back and forth freely. Watch out for alkalizing substances and programs that are so extreme as to attempt to manipulate the body in an almost drug-like way to be extremely alkaline.
(1) Frassetto LA, Todd KM, Morris RC Jr, Sebastian A. Worldwide incidence of hip fracture in elderly women: relation to consumption of animal and vegetable foods. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2000;55: M585-92.
(2) Massey LK. Dietary animal and plant protein and human bone health: a whole foods approach. J Nutr 133: 862S-5S.
Wheat Belly, by William Davis