Life is all about balance. We are constantly juggling things to try to create the ideal balance for an enjoyable, productive life. The same thing is happening with the liquid inside your body.
You probably know that your body is about 60% water. That water is found in your blood, cells, tissues and intercellular fluids. The balance of those fluids between alkalinity and acidity is vital to your health and your ability to lose weight.
What is pH Balance?
pH stands for 'potential for hydrogen' and is a measure of your body’s acidity or alkalinity. The pH scale runs between “0” and “14”.
Water has a pH of “7” making it completely neutral.
Pure Acid has a pH of “0”.
Pure Alkaline has a pH level of ‘14”.
The human body operates optimally at a pH level of 7.4, which is slightly alkaline.
But there’s a problem.
The typical Western diet has made the vast majority of people more acidic than alkaline. In other words, their pH levels are on the wrong side of neutral. They’re not driving forward – they are driving in reverse!
So, what happens when our bodies are acidic?
The main thing is that the body becomes a fat magnet. It gains and holds on to every bit of fat that comes into it and clings on for dear life.
That’s the reason that many people have done all the right things – exercising, avoiding ‘junk food’, drinking their water – and still, they can’t make any traction on their fat loss!
It’s because their pH balance is out of whack!
By shifting your body’s aqueous environment from an acidic to an alkaline one, you will experience the following benefits:
- The effects of old age (wrinkling, greying hair, etc) will be diminished.
- Your cholesterol levels will come down markedly (cholesterol level increases are largely due to damage repairs to arteries caused by too much acid in the blood).
- Lessen the likelihood of getting cancer. Cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment but cannot survive in an acidic one.
- The pain of such painful conditions as arthritis and fibromyalgia will be markedly lessened.
It is not going too far to state that the key to optimum health is to alkalize your body. By eliminating as many acidic foods from your diet you will revolutionize the way that you feel. Balancing your pH levels will mean that the majority of your health problems will improve, if not disappear completely.
To understand how damaging an acidic environment is to your body, consider the effects of acid rain on the physical environment. Acid rain results from toxic emissions in the environment. It causes all sorts of problems to forests, damaging the leaves and needles of trees, reducing the ability of a tree to survive in their natural environs. They become less resistant to cold, drought, disease and pests. It even restricts their ability to reproduce.
To combat the negative effects of acid rain, the tree desperately pulls certain things from the ground – calcium, and magnesium. These nutrients happen to be alkaline and they are needed to try and balance out the terrible effects of all of that acid. Pulling calcium and magnesium from the earth, though, has a negative ramification. It puts the tree in a habitat that gradually becomes less healthy, making the tree even less likely to survive.
That’s a pretty accurate reflection of what happens in the human body when it becomes too acidic. All of the acid that is contained in our foods is contaminating our bodies in just the same way as we are poisoning our forests. The crazy thing about it is that most people don’t even know that they are creating a toxic acidic environment inside their most precious possession –their own body.
Let’s take the acid rain analogy a step further. Acid rain increases the acidity of water to the point where fish and other aquatic life can no longer survive. It also results in adverse soil conditions and ultimately harms the health of plants. The ocean acts as enormous acid sinks trying to neutralize carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion and other industrial processes with calcium carbonate-resulting in demineralization and acidification of the ocean-global warming, shifting weather patterns and a major environmental nightmare.
Like the ocean, our body uses minerals to buffer metabolic acids. Therefore, we are really suffering from demineralization when we are acidic and it is felt in every cell in our body. Unhealthy cells can’t absorb nutrients properly and can’t eliminate them either.
The Impact on Your Body of Acid Overload
- Loss of calcium in the urine, the dissolution of bone and development of osteoporosis
- Reduced bone formation
- Increased levels of a parathyroid hormone that can cause bones to become brittle and prone to fracture
- Chronic inflammation and pain
- The loss of potassium and magnesium stores from the body, with a resulting tendency towards high blood pressure and inflammation as well as the pain associated with inflammation
- Protein breakdown resulting in muscle wasting
- Depressed protein Metabolism - so the body cannot repair cells, tissues, and organs
- Irritation of the urinary tract-kidney stone formation/fluid retention
- Hormone dysfunction
- Accelerated aging from accumulated waste
- Digestive problems due to disruption of gut flora - the reality is that the good bugs can’t survive in an acidic environment
- Yeast, viruses, and fungi love acid so they grow more and there are not enough antioxidants to fight them off. This can result in tooth decay
- Reduced energy affecting the brain function, exercise capacity, low appetite, anemia, underactive thyroid
- Insulin resistance
- Impaired immunity
- Cell membrane hardens/tissues harden
- Infections thrive as they love anaerobic environments-leading to inflammation.
The ideal pH level is neither too acidic nor too alkaline. If it is too alkaline you will incur health problems just as surely as if it is too acidic. However, the Western diet has made us so overly acidic that we need to take in a large number of alkaline foods in order to achieve balance.
So, what are the foods that have made us acidic?
Convenience foods, refined products, and man-made food products are generally devoid of minerals and, therefore, highly acidic. Such things as fast food burgers, fries, steak milk, cake, candy, soft drink are all highly acidic. What does your body do to try and cope with all of this excess acid?
Just like the tree, it draws magnesium and calcium from other parts of your body to try and cope. And from where does it draw these substances?
From your bones, organs, and tissues. This is clearly not a good thing. It can result in conditions such as osteoporosis. But your body will do it anyway because it knows that acidity is dangerous. In fact, too much of it will kill you.
Other Factors Affecting pH
It’s not just food that produces an acidic environment inside your body. The following factors also contribute:
- Lack of sleep
- Emotional problems
Your Body’s Response
The body does have a built-in acid-alkaline balancing mechanism, which works to restore our body’s natural balance. It has intrinsic ways of restoring pH balance. The following are some of the ways the body works to maintain it’s ideal pH environment:
Via buffer systems-called bicarbonate, protein and phosphate buffers-they work by either soaking or donating hydrogen ions in a solution - thereby alkalizing that solution. Buffer systems in the body act like a sponge, wiping up the acid.
Via Organs –Kidneys, Lungs, and Skin
Before elimination, the kidneys neutralize fluid excretions by calling on minerals from bone, tissue, and muscle to buffer acids. If this process did not occur, the kidneys would be damaged. If there are not enough buffer acids, a condition called acidosis results.
The lungs eliminate volatile gases formed by acids, such as carbonic acid. The increased respiratory rate is a sign that the body is overly acidic and trying to eliminate increased levels of carbonic acid.
Acid is released through sweat glands. Perspiration helps to flush acids. Body odor can be an indication of over acidity.
A Losing Battle
One of the body’s means of maintaining equilibrium is to excrete toxic acids from the body via the kidneys and, as we’ve seen, to pull alkaline from other parts of the body in order to create an equilibrium. The problem is that our internal pH balancing system was designed to counter minor changes in balance.
The effects of our modern unhealthy diet are too severe for this system to cope with. This means that the body’s cells are taking a real battering in their attempts to reach pH balance. This, in itself, makes us more susceptible to health problems. So, the disease can result in the direct result of acidity or as the result of the weakening of the cells in the body due to their efforts to right the pH balance.
The warning signs of acidic overload are often mistaken for other root causes. Consider these common early signs:
- Skin problems
- Susceptibility to cold and flu
- Sinus problems
- Breathing disorders
- Muscle Cramping.
If you rock up to your doctor and present with any of these symptoms it is highly unlikely that he or she will mention your pH levels. Yet, the acidic level of your body is, indeed, the root cause of each of these problems.
But there’s more. Acidity in the body can reduce the enzymes in your body. Enzymes, of course, are critical to your health. Every cell process requires enzymes and, without them, over 4,000 vital biochemical reactions inside your body wouldn’t be possible. Proper digestion is just one thing that is totally reliant on enzymes to work properly.
Many of the enzymes we need come from the foods we eat. But not if we cook them. When heated above 118 degrees F, the life-giving enzymes in your fruits and vegetables are killed. But acid also kills enzymes. This is bad news for our digestive system. We won’t be able to digest our foods properly and will not, therefore, be able to absorb the few life-giving, healthy nutrients that we do put into our system.
pH Imbalance Can Make You Fat
On top of all the other harmful effects of having too much acid in your system, pH levels are also believed to affect your body’s ability to burn body fat or store it. Every cell in your body is bathed in blood plasma. If that liquid environment is too acidic, the cells will hold on to fat in order to prevent acid burn. Reducing the acidic environment by making wiser food choices will do wonders in supporting your weight loss goals.
As we’ve mentioned, one of the ways that the body works to correct the body’s pH balance is by flushing acid into the kidneys, where it is excreted through urine. It also collects other toxins that enter the body from the air we breathe, as a result of a stressful lifestyle and as the by-products of viruses, bacteria, fungi or other pathogens that find their way into the body.
Nearly all of these toxins are acidic and need to be eliminated through the kidneys. A high protein diet can also lead to excessive urea build-up, as urea is a by-product of protein metabolism. However excess urea can prevent the kidneys from functioning properly. They become less efficient at removing toxins and acids from the blood. The toxins and acids that should be expelled from the body can, as a result, end up in our body tissues. The end result of this – inflammation and weight gain.
Yet, there are things that you can do to help your embattled kidneys to more efficiently excrete urea from your system. Here are 3 things that you can do immediately to help get that unhealthy acid out of your system:
- Eat less acid forming food
- Eat more alkaline forming food
- Drink more pure water. This will help the kidneys to flush the toxins from your system.
It is a smart idea to find out what your current pH level is right now. You can pick up a simple pH level kit from your local health food store to enable you to do just that. However, the most accurate method of getting your pH tested is by having a urine analysis. Yet, you don’t need to get a super accurate reading.
It’s ok to get an approximate idea of where your pH level is and to regularly monitor that level over time. If your result comes out at 6.5 or less, you probably have an acid problem. Between 6.5 and 7.5 means that you are maintaining a healthy pH balance. Anything over 7.6, and you are stepping into Alkalosis territory.
Make Smart Food Choices
To help you to begin correcting your pH imbalance listed below are the 15 most acidic foods found in the Western Diet, followed by the 12 most alkaline. Start making the change today, to change your life forever.
It isn’t necessary to get rid of all acidic foods from your diet in order to get a healthy pH level. But, if your testing results indicate that you are in an acidic state, you should be consuming 80% of your foods from the alkaline list and 20% from the acidic side. If your test indicates that you currently have a good balance, you can maintain it by eating a 65/35 % ratio in favor of alkaline foods.
The Most Acidic Foods: Eat Less
- Cheese (milk, goat, soy)
- Ice Cream
- Potatoes (white or red)
- Dried, pickled or canned fruit
- Oat Bran
The Most Alkaline Foods: Eat More
- Sprouted Beans
- Salad Greens
- Spelt Grains
- Fresh and dried herbs
Too Much Alkaline
Although it is far less frequent than over acidity, an excess of alkaline in the system can also occur – but rarely as a direct result of the foods we eat. The condition known as Alkalosis results. Things that can cause an overly alkaline liquid environment in the body are drugs (both prescribed – especially those given to treat gastric ulcers - and illegal), diuretics and antacids. The symptoms of Alkalosis are
- Tetany – a condition characterized by tingling in the fingers and toes
Extra Tips to Get Your pH Balance Right
- Before breakfast combine half a lemon or lime with water or take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- Eat at least one cup of green vegetables each day
- Drink miso soup or add miso to dishes
- Add ginger to dishes to help to alkalize a meal
- Choose grains that are more alkalizing like wild rice, oats or quinoa
- Eat sweet potatoes and turnips
- Eat several servings of raw fruit and vegetable
- Drink spring water high in minerals
- Consume green vegetable juices
- Include 3 cups of herbal tea daily
- Drink herbal tonics
- Use supplements that encourage an alkaline environment in the body, such as-
- Liquid Chlorophyll
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Barley Grass