Alkaline vs Acidic. Alkaline foods. Acidic foods. What is all the fuss about? Alkaline diets have become quite popular and you may have walked past health shops and seen signs up saying: “Feeling acidic? Come get tested inside”. But what exactly does all this mean?
In this article I will be explaining the pH of the body and why it’s better to be more alkaline and how to make your body more alkaline.
What Is Body pH And It’s Importance
Different parts of our bodies have different pH levels. Your overall pH level indicates whether your body’s tissues and fluids are more acidic, alkaline or neutral. Our stomachs are more acidic because they need to break down food using hydrochloric acid (stomach acid). Our blood pH level should ideally be at 7.4. This would put it on the alkaline side of the pH scale.
A pH of 6.5 up to 7.5 is okay. 7.4 is the best pH level to be at for health. The pH scale goes from 0-14, 0-6.9 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and 7.1-14 is alkaline. The problem with our blood being acidic is that it’s used to transport various nutrients, hormones, oxygen and carbon dioxide, etc, all around our bodies. It has access to every cell. So if our blood is acidic, then our bodies are more acidic.
Right Ph is so important to transport minerals, allowing enzymes to work and even for the thyroid health.
The body is pretty good at making sure that it’s pH levels are at the optimal level. Your body will always try to keep itself in the state it functions best in (homeostasis), that includes things like your pH, your body temperature, and trying to remain hydrated. But sometimes things go wrong and our pH can rise for various reasons.
Acidosis is the medical and scientific term used for when your body is acidic, especially to the point of being unhealthy and causing problems. Usually, it’s illnesses that cause this, such as diabetics who may struggle to maintain their blood sugar levels, or someone with respiratory problems where the lungs aren’t able to keep the right balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide.
It’s not always existing illnesses that can cause a problem, however. Our lifestyle choices and environments can also be to blame too.
Reasons for Acidic Environments in the Body:
- Poor dietary choices
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Being overweight or obese
- Exposure to chemicals and pollution
Side effects of Acidic Body
Your body is not able to regulate it’s pH overnight, but it’s best to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Acidity causes inflammation which is one of the biggest causes of various chronic illnesses. When the body is overly acidic, it creates an unwanted environment in which illness, bacteria, and yeast thrive.Learn to recognize the symptoms so that you can make the necessary changes. Prevention is always better than the cure.
Symptoms Of Acidity Include:
- Constant fatigue
- Problem skin
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Getting sick frequently
- Feeling out of breath
- Weight gain
If you do struggle with any serious illness such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, or heart disease, a healthy alkaline diet can stop the progression of these illnesses. Medical studies are starting to show that a healthy diet along with other healthy lifestyle practices such as exercise and supplementation, these illnesses can be even be reversed in some cases. Read here to find out more about reversing diabetes.
This study published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine states:
It would be prudent to consider an alkaline diet to reduce morbidity and mortality of chronic disease that are plaguing our aging population.
Benefits of an alkaline body
When your body is at the ideal pH level, there is less chance of inflammation which reduces your risk of illnesses and you’ll notice a few other benefits along the way. Your body is able to function better since this is what the body needs.
- Healthier skin
- Easier to maintain and reach a healthy weight
- Prevents cancer, diabetes and heart disease
- You’ll get sick a lot less often
- Healthier bones and joints
- More energy
- Increased ability to cope with stress in a healthy way
- Better digestion
How To Make Your Body Alkaline
An alkaline diet, or eating mostly alkaline foods can help our bodies to become more alkaline and less acidic. These foods are often very nutrient dense and help to support your health in many ways other than just making sure that your body is more alkaline. Your body will function better overall.
Limiting or avoiding acidic foods is also very helpful. Often unhealthy habits like drinking excess alcohol, eating too much meat and eating sugary junk foods can make our bodies acidic too, so breaking these habits is a must for good health. Even something good for you, like exercise, when done in excess can cause, among other things, for your body to become acidic.
Top 5 Acidic Foods To Avoid Or Limit
Some foods that promote acidity can be healthy, particularly if you choose the better quality options. For example, grass-fed meat is full of vitamins and minerals that your body needs. You don’t have to cut them out completely, but for example, eating meat three times a week will give you the nutrients you need from it without causing too much acidity to form.
Foods That Promote Acidity:
- Meat, processed and fresh
- Sugar, both added and foods containing a lot of sugar
These foods are easy to add to meals and the vegetables can be used to make delicious smoothies and juices that will benefit your health. Green juices are particularly good for promoting an alkaline pH in the body. Read more here about juicing for health.
Alkaline Promoting Foods:
- Bell peppers
- Brazil nuts
- Spirulina and other sea plants
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Distilled and alkaline water
Often keeping vegetables raw maintains the nutrients. Just be sure to always cook cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts since they can interfere with your thyroid function when eaten raw. And to reap the maximum benefit, cook your spinach, kale, chard, tomatoes, and carrots. You can lightly steam them or quickly boil them.
When you eat nuts, choose to eat them raw, but soak them beforehand to make sure that the nutrients are made available for your body to absorb and don’t interfere with the absorption from the other foods that you are eating.
You may have been surprised to see some of the more acidic foods on the list. Not everything that is acidic, like the tomatoes, lemons, limes and apple cider vinegar, cause your body to become acidic. It has to do with the way that they are digested. The body digests these foods and gets rid the acid and causing them to actually become alkaline and in doing that, to promote alkalinity in your body.
Always choose organic foods where possible. The quality of the soil and the food being free of pesticides is important too.
Can Your Body Be Too Alkaline?
Though it’s very rare, just like a person can develop acidosis, a person can develop alkalosis (where the body is too alkaline).
This is generally caused by illnesses too where either the lungs are properly keeping the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide, the kidneys not regulating the bicarbonate or potassium level in the body properly or when there has been a loss of certain electrolytes in the body.
All these are usually the result of someone being sick, like when they have been vomiting for a long time, sweat too much from fever and not drinking enough fluids or adding electrolytes to replace what’s lost, or have taken too much aspirin when attempting to heal themselves. Other issues can be when people urinate too much, for example, the incorrect use or overuse of diuretics.
It’s incredibly rare for alkalosis not be reversed and a balance brought back to the body easily enough. Eating more acidic foods, or being medically treated where the missing electrolytes can lower the pH level and get your body back to around 7.4.
Being too alkaline causes problems just as being too acidic does. It just isn’t an environment that ensures the body works as well as it should.
Symptoms Of Being Too Alkaline Include:
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Tingling or numbness in the face, arms, or legs
Testing Your pH Levels
Tests are usually done on the urine, saliva or blood. Testing the urine can be unreliable since the pH of urine constantly changes with what we eat and drink. Even your saliva can have a constantly changing pH depending on what you’ve consumed. If you are using one of these two methods, you need to do it the right way. You can buy tests online or at the pharmacy.
When testing your urine, it’s best to test your second urination of the morning. This will give you the most accurate result. The pH should be between 7.2 and 7.4 ideally. If you are testing your saliva, do it an hour before a meal or wait at least two hours after a meal. Rinsing your mouth out with water first can help. Your pH level should be around 6.8 to 7.4. Between 7.2 and 7.4 is most ideal.
The urine and saliva tests can be a great way to catch acidity early and to make sure that you are making the right choices in your diet and lifestyle to be able to maintain a healthy pH level. Taking these tests often and keeping a record of the results can make you aware of any patterns in your diet and lifestyle that you need to be aware of as well.
One of the most reliable ways to test your pH is to get a blood test done. Your blood pH level is also very important to keep within the correct pH range. This is usually only done when the symptoms are more severe and either acidosis or alkalosis is suspected.
- It’s important to have a body pH level of between 6.5 and 7.5 with 7.4 being the most ideal
- Acidosis (overly acidic pH) can be due to certain illnesses, poor diet, stress, too many acidic foods and too much exercise
- Symptoms of acidosis are joint and muscle pain, feeling out of breath, getting sick often and ulcers
- Acid promoting foods include meat, alcohol, grains, sugar, and caffeine
- Alkaline foods include most vegetables, mushrooms, sea plants and apple cider vinegar
- To maintain the correct pH levels, ensure that your diet is mainly alkaline and that you don’t over exercise, drink excessively and maintaining a healthy weight
- Alkalosis (overly alkaline pH) is also not good for your body
- Alkalosis is usually caused from being sick (excessive vomiting, respiratory illnesses, kidney problems) and is rarer
- The most common and easiest ways to test your pH levels is the urine test and the saliva test
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