Have you recently heard people talking about being over-acidic, measuring their pH and eating alkalizing foods? Emphasizing the importance of body’s pH might seem like a new fashion, but the science and art of pH balancing has had a long tradition and, unlike some other trendy theories, it has successfully overcome the test of time.
In terms of chemical understanding, pH is a measurement of hydrogen ion (H+) concentration in a solution. Solutions with low hydrogen concentrations have high pH values, and solutions with high hydrogen concentrations have low pH values. As you probably remember from school, the pH scale runs from 1 to 14, with 7 representing the pH of pure water – neutral. Above 7 is alkaline, below is acidic.
In optimal circumstances, your body should have a pH of between 7.0 and 7.4, so slightly alkaline. This refers to the pH of the body’s main fluids: blood, lymph and cerebrospinal fluid. The pH of the digestive system however, is a bit less uniform: the mouth, pharynx and esophagus are all slightly acidic with a pH of 6.8; the pH of the healthy stomach is 1.3 – extremely acidic; the pH of the small intestine resembles that of healthy bodily fluids; and in the colon it ranges between 5.5 and 7.
Why does pH matter?
In 1931, Dr. Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize in physiology. He was the first to describe the correlation between the acidic environment and cancer cell growth. We know now that an acidic body is more susceptible to different diseases, including arthritis, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. What’s more, if your pH is out of balance, digestive problems can occur and your body can’t assimilate the goodness from food, which can make you feel constantly tired. Blood pressure, insulin levels and cholesterol, as well as body weight and immune system function, are all influenced by changes in pH levels.
As every one-point decrease on the pH scale means 10 times increased acidity, going from pH 7 to 5 makes your insides 100 times more acidic! This is not a good sign if you’re planning on living a long and healthy life. The bottom line is that you want to keep your body’s pH as close as possible to what nature intended it to be. Also, if you are aiming to cure a disease, you might want to start by looking at the pH of your body. When doing that, most people discover that they’re too acidic.
What causes pH imbalances?
The main culprits of over-acidity are improper diet (fast food, high consumption of sugars, animal products and processed foods), stress and lifestyle choices, for example sedentary life style. Interestingly, over-exercising, especially too much cardio workout, can lead to a drop in your pH levels as well, as it contributes to stress.
At first, the body tries to compensate and bring the pH back to its optimum levels. For example, minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium are taken from our vital organs and bones to counteract the acid. But this cannot go on indefinitely, and sooner or later the acidic environment starts to attract all sorts of ailments.
Testing your pH level
It might be a good idea to test your pH and find out where you stand. You can do this at home. All you need is litmus paper, which can be bought at a pharmacy or a health food store, and a bit of discipline.
You need to dip the litmus paper in your first morning urine. Collect a sample in a clean container and measure the pH level. Or, you can use saliva, one hour before a meal or two hours after eating. Make sure you obtain a clean sample, so before spitting on the litmus paper, collect saliva in your mouth and swallow it. You might find it useful to keep a diary over a period of time, so you can compare the values and get a medium value. The pH of your saliva should stay between 7 and 7.4 all day. The pH of morning urine is slightly more acidic and fluctuates between 6 and 6.5. If you are also measuring the evening urine, the value should be between 6.5 and 7.
Tips for alkalizing
Some methods for alkalizing your body are straightforward and focus on dietary and lifestyle changes, while others will require specialist support and guidance, such as the use of alkaline minerals. Cesium chloride, germanium, rubidium and other alkalizing minerals can be used to alkalize the body. Particularly cesium chloride and sodium bicarbonate therapies have received a lot of attention and have been reported to yield good results, the latter being somewhat easier to use. The Cancer Alternative Foundation, which has a mission of researching and verifying various alternative approaches to healing cancer, has established that alkalizing therapy is one of the most efficient alternative techniques for treating cancer, even in the later stages of the disease.
As for a diet that will help turn your body alkaline, it’s recommended to embrace a vegetarian, or even better a vegan diet (meat and dairy products have a very acidic effect on the body’s pH levels) and to eliminate refined sugars, alcohol and caffeine from your diet. Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are a preferred choice due to their alkalizing potential. A food’s natural pH level does not necessarily indicate the effect it will have on the body. For example, lemons and limes are known to have an alkaline effect on the body, despite their initial (citric) acidity, so squeeze some lemon in your water and drink before a meal. A very popular dietary supplement that also helps you alkalize your body is spirulina – an algae that can be consumed in powder form or in tablets. Some guidance may be required to establish which food and food combinations are optimal for you.
And of course, don’t forget to assess your stress levels. Sound sleep, exercise and regular relaxation can do wonders for the body and mind.