Our body pH is maintained just above 7.0 for optimal health. When we keep this pH, our metabolism, enzymes, immune system, and repair mechanisms work most effectively. And, when our pH is kept at this level it indicates that we have enough buffering minerals to balance the acids in our body.
Our metabolism is kept in balance by a variety of mechanisms that produce acid by-products. So, it’s essential that our foods contain buffering minerals to offset this natural acid metabolism. Our standard American diet (SAD) contributes to the overall acid load, rather than helping balance it. High protein, fat, sugar, and refined foods increase acid load. Stress, alcohol, and cigarettes compound the problem. Fruits, vegetables and seaweeds help alkalize our systems.
Most of us unknowingly have a slightly acidic body environment. When we are acidic, our cells become sluggish and cannot function properly. Wastes build up, toxins are not excreted, and nutrients are not properly used. We begin to feel less well than we’d like and once a nutrient-depleted and oxygen-deficient environment is created, and the body remains overly acidic, the scene is set and the rest happens fairly quickly.
To maintain homeostasis in our blood, which is very sensitive to changes in pH, we pull potassium from our extra cellular fluid. When stores have been used up, we begin to pull calcium, magnesium, and other alkalizing minerals from our bones. This is one of the underlying causes in osteoporosis and arthritic conditions and according to cancer research is the very environment that supports the beginning of cancer.
Foods we eat can dramatically change our pH. For example, one twelve-ounce can of cola contains enough phosphoric acid to significantly change our pH. The kidneys cannot excrete urine that is more acidic than about 5.0 without damaging them or the bladder so the body has another mechanism of buffering by using minerals from elsewhere in the body. If there are enough reserves, the body will pull sodium and potassium to do this. Soon after, it will pull calcium, magnesium, and other minerals from bone. Other specifically acidic foods include artificial sweeteners, white processed sugar and flour, beef, pork, coffee and wheat containing grains.
Foods that are very alkaline are vegetables, especially all the green ones, fruits, seaweeds and non gluten grains such as millet and quinoa.
The standard American diet (SAD) is not sufficient in its buffering capacity. When diets are low in fruits and vegetables, high in soda and when we are under stress, the need for buffering minerals is much higher. Most of us are continually taking minerals from bone to keep our cells and blood balanced. If we don’t replenish these minerals, the long-term effect is bone loss, joint degeneration, and overall lack of good health.
pH testing is a simple home urine test with a dipstick. To do the test you can purchase a packet of pH paper with the ability to test between a pH of 5.5 and 8.0. You simply place a piece of pH paper into your first morning urine and read it to see what your pH is by matching the color of the test strip with the color chart on the back of the test tape packet. Optimally, the level will be between 6.3 and 7.0. Any number lower than 6.3 indicates that your urine is on the acid side. The lower the number, the more acidic you are.
If your reading falls below 6.3, you need to make dietary changes to bring your pH back into an optimal range. Adding alkalizing foods and extra buffering minerals is very helpful. If you have trouble eating enough green vegetables, wheat grass shots and green drinks such as essential greens which contains dried grasses can be a great addition mixed in water or a shake.