Alkaline Vs. Acidic – Why it Matters to Your Health
What is pH and how does it affect my health?
Maintaining a balanced pH is essential to good health, yet few people know what that means or how to balance their body’s pH. So what is pH? It is a chemistry term that refers to the level of acidity or alkalinity in an environment. The pH scale ranges from 0-14 with 0 being the most acidic, 7 being neutral (distilled water), and 14 being the most alkaline.
Every living thing requires a specific pH range to live. For example, plants must have the correct pH in their soil in order to live and obtain nutrients. Fish also need a specific pH range in order to survive (this is why salt water fish cannot live in fresh water.) Having a balanced pH is essential to nutrient absorption, avoiding disease, and good health. Your body must maintain a blood pH of 7.4, but your other bodily fluids can vary depending on your diet and lifestyle.
Why is it important to alkalize my body?
In 1931, Dr. Otto Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery that cancer cells thrive in an acidic solution and die in an alkaline one, while healthy cells do the exact opposite: thrive in an alkaline environment and die in an acidic one. This is why it is so important to maintain an alkaline pH in your body.
Everything you eat or drink has one of two effects: it either creates an acidic environment or an alkaline one. The problem is that most Americans eat a diet high in acid forming foods and drinks, while very low in alkalizing ones. Over time this creates a condition known as acidosis. When you consume acid forming foods, your body responds by neutralizing that acid with its alkaline reserve: minerals (mainly calcium) that are stored in your bones and tissues.
A healthy body has an adequate reserve for neutralizing normal acid forming body functions such as the lactic acid built up during exercise and for metabolizing food. If you are not eating foods that replenish your alkaline reserves, it is like constantly withdrawing from a dwindling savings account without ever making deposits. Over time, this imbalance creates a calcium depletion that contributes to poor bone health and eventually osteoporosis. This can also contribute to many other degenerative conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, high cholesterol, acid reflux, high blood pressure, and obesity.
How do I alkalize my body?
The typical American diet is full of acid forming foods and drinks. Some of the major contributors to an acidic body environment are sodas (with a pH of 2.5 in most cases), processed food containing refined sugar and flour, coffee, processed oils such as canola oil, soybean oil, and hydrogenated oils (trans fat.) Artificial sweeteners and most food additives are extremely acid-forming. Other factors that contribute to an acidic environment are alcohol, tobacco, pesticides, stress, lack of sleep, and lack of exercise. To a lesser extent, most grains and animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) are acid forming, and while this does not mean you should not eat them, it is important to make sure they are a smaller portion of your meals than your fresh fruits and vegetables, which will replenish your alkaline reserves.
Foods that are wonderful in helping you alkalize include most fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, asparagus, dates, watermelon, parsley, avocados, apples, lemons, and broccoli. Most grains are acid forming but some grains including quinoa, brown rice, and sprouted grains are alkalizing. Almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, garlic, ginger, unsweetened cacao, kombucha tea, extra virgin coconut oil, pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplements, fresh coconut or almond milk, raw honey, and cayenne are also great alkalizers.
Some foods are acidic before your body metabolizes them but actually create an alkaline environment once metabolized. Lemons are an example of this. It seems counter intuitive, but they actually are very alkalizing. Another example is raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
Many prescription and over the counter drugs are also acid forming. If you are taking any prescriptions, it is very important to include lots of vegetables and other alkalizing foods in your diet to replenish your body’s alkaline reserves, as well as getting enough sleep, exercise, clean water and managing your stress.
How do I determine and monitor my pH?
If you are experiencing symptoms of acidosis such as headaches, acne, joint pain, difficulty losing weight, lack of concentration, sleep problems, or digestive issues, your pH may be unbalanced. The easiest way to determine your pH is to test your saliva or urine with pH test strips (similar to those used to test the pH of swimming pools.) They are available online and in most health food stores. Your pH should be as close to 7.0 as possible for optimum health.
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