Many of us have heard the term “pH balance” but are not actually sure about what it means and certainly don’t realize how important it is to our health.
You may think back to being in school and using paper strips to test the acidity of different liquids, but it’s the pH levels in our bodies that we should be understanding as well.
Having an off-balance pH level can give unhealthy organisms in our bodies the opportunity to thrive.
A balanced pH is not only essential for a healthy well-being but can relieve common ailments like headaches and joint pain as well as ease the symptoms of diseases like fibromyalgia and arthritis.
With a bit of understanding, achieving a desirable pH balance may be easier than you think.
What is pH and how do I measure it?
To know how to attain an ideal pH level, it is important to understand what it is and what role it has in our bodies.
pH stands for the potential of hydrogen.
It measures acidity, or alkalinity, in our bodies, specifically the tissues and fluids.
It is measured by a scale from 1 to 14.
Lower numbers mean something is more acidic.
This means there is more free hydrogen activity. The more alkaline present, the higher the number, meaning there is an absence of free hydrogen activity.
A pH level of 7 is neutral, with precisely 7.365 being the perfect measurement.
Anything lower than 7 is more acidic, and anything higher is more alkaline, or “basic.”
There is no one pH level that reflects the entire body though.
Your skin should ideally be at 5.5 to be considered healthy.
This is on the slightly acidic side, but that is necessary to protect the body from outside toxins like pollution.
Saliva can be from 6.5 to 7.4.
This number changes throughout the day too with food consumed and outside factors.
Blood gives the best indication of overall health but also has a smaller window with 7.35 to 7.45 being the aim.
How to Test Your Own PH
You can test your pH levels using litmus papers (the same you may have used in school!) using your saliva or urine.
Make sure this is done first thing in the morning before any food or drink has been consumed, but you can also test again about two hours after a meal.
You can purchase these litmus paper / PH testing strips online, or from your local pharmacy and health food store.
To get the best idea of where your body is at though, you should take the litmus paper test at the same time every day.
If you suffer with IBS or heartburn frequently, then it is a good idea to test daily.
How can a low pH level affect the body?
The body depends on several systems to function properly.
These systems need a neutral pH level in order to do their job.
The digestive system, although it needs some acid to be able to break down food, is easily disturbed by too much acidity and lets us know in the form of indigestion, excess gas, nausea, bloating, and more.
That is why heartburn and indigestion medications aim to increase alkalinity in the stomach to reduce this.
The pancreas depends on alkaline to help with digestion, and too much acid will affect its functionality. Leading on from this, it will also influence the immune system.
With an off-balanced pH level, the bad bacteria will flourish, and the immune system can become weak.
Too much acidity can also be detrimental to the respiratory system It can prevent essential oxygen from reaching tissues and organs.
This will allow for a build-up of mucus and infections in the lungs which can lead to respiratory issues like bronchitis and asthma.
It can also cause the circulatory system to react.
If there is too much acid, the blood vessels will be lined with fatty acids to help prevent leaks.
This has an overall negative effect since the vessels become more narrow than in their normal healthy state.
It will cause kidney stones if the kidneys have to work too hard to draw alkaline from other sources such as the bones and put it in the blood.
Arthritis and other skeletal issues are often caused by a combination of a pH imbalance and a build-up of acid deposits in the joints.
This build-up also contributes to gout.
An accumulation of acid can also take its toll on the skin, causing inflammation, rashes, and pimples. It can cause muscles to perform poorly and not be able to breakdown enzymes that it needs properly.
The acidity will affect the nervous system too, when too much makes it weak, leaving you feeling physically and mentally tired.
Infertility & Hormones
Finally, although there are still studies being conducted on any possible link between acidity and infertility or sexual dysfunction, several experts believe that a high acid presence will lead to a decrease in arousal in both men and women, sexual enjoyment specifically in women, and fertility.
It may also be connected to miscarriages.
High PH Levels
These are only a few ailments that are connected to high acidic levels and a pH imbalance. It is also linked to migraines, cancer, constipation, diabetes, allergies, and more.
Overall, high levels of acid mean our body needs to steal minerals from other organs, bones, cells, and tissues to fight it in order to function properly.
This increases the risk of vitamin deficiency and allows toxins to amass, causing us to get ill. As we have seen, this can bring distress to many different parts of our body.
Paying attention to our pH levels can not only help lower the risk of these, but it can also help improve cognitive functions and memory as well!
What influences our pH levels, and what can we do to balance it?
There are several factors that can affect our pH levels, but the biggest one, and one we have the most control over is diet. Some foods will turn acidic when they enter the digestive system, and others will turn more alkaline. There are foods that we would normally think are acidic, but really are beneficial in breaking down and contributing to alkaline mineral salt compounds.
On the other hand, there are foods we would not think of as being acidic at all, such as bread. Many do not even realize the number of acidic foods we are putting into our bodies and how little alkaline foods are consumed for this reason. Th pH level of the actual food does not matter too much. It is the result of it after it has broken down in the digestive system and what our body does to it. To keep your body functioning at its best, try some foods high in alkaline to get your body’s pH balance in a top condition.
First is to try to increase the fruits and vegetables you eat each day. This is something we’re always told anyways for its many health benefits, and maintaining a proper pH balance is one of them. Almost all fresh veggies are alkaline as is, but pickling or freezing will affect that. Green, leafy vegetables are definitely best for this, as well as providing a huge range of essential vitamins and minerals. Canned vegetables and condiments are not ideal when trying to control your pH. This means avoiding condiments like ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise too as they are all quite acidic.
Even peanut butter is considered high in acidity. Fruits except for pineapple, raspberries, and pomegranates are also alkaline. Yes, even fruits and vegetables we think may be acidic, like lemons and onions, are alkaline when digested. Root vegetables are also extremely beneficial. Sweet potatoes are a great choice as well as onions and leeks. They are high in inulin which helps in calcium absorption. Have bread and rice in moderation. Most grains are actually considered acidic. Opt for beans and seeds.
Soy, navy, and lima beans are rich in alkaline. Sesame seeds, fennel, and caraway seeds are also a great option for getting those pH levels up. We still need to keep our fiber levels up for good health, but grains in small amounts in combination with other foods high in fiber should be enough. Cut back on dairy and calcium-rich products. While we need calcium, and you don’t need to get it all from dairy. Green, leafy, alkaline-rich vegetables are also helpful for that calcium. Surprisingly, a few types of meat are also acidic, such as beef, pork, and chicken. The proteins found in these, especially red meat, need a high amount of alkaline minerals to break down properly.
If you like your meats, then be share to pair it up with plenty of vegetables to help with digestion! Although it may be hard for many, that morning coffee also isn’t doing your pH levels any favors. Alcohol is also very acidic. We know it isn’t good for us for many reasons, and the acidity is probably not one of those reasons we would consider right away. If you have a bit of a sweet tooth but are going for artificial sweeteners as a way of getting that sugary taste, know that most artificial sweeteners are acidic, even honey! If you want to use a sugar substitute, opt for stevia. It is an alkaline sweetener! With all of these, go organic and non-GMO as best as you can. Stay away from those foods that have been exposed to pesticides and chemicals.
It is recommended to have a glass of warm water with lemon in the morning. This will flush the system of acidity and put it in an alkaline state. It needs to be warm, so it will not put a lot of stress on the gut. It’s a great way to prepare the body for the day ahead!
If you are aware of what pH level you should aim for and what you can do to keep it that way, you can feel confident in maintaining a healthier lifestyle that keeps your body and mind working in an efficient way. You’ll be overjoyed with the increase in vitality you will have with a balanced pH.