pH, the measure of acidity or alkalinity of a solution, is measured on a scale of 0 to 14—the lower the pH, the more acidic the solution, the higher the pH, the more alkaline (or base) the solution. When a solution is neither acid nor alkaline, it has a pH of 7, which is neutral.
Why is pH important?
Your body is able to assimilate minerals and nutrients properly only when its pH is balanced. The human body has a specific pH value, and our bodies continually strive to maintain that specific pH. In fact, each of the body fluids has a specific pH value. The blood, for example, has a more alkaline pH balance of 7.4. The saliva and urine are more acidic, averaging between 6.5 and 7.0. Optimal balance of the body’s pH is necessary to maintain overall health and prevent chronic disease. When this balance is compromised, many problems can occur and your health is compromised.
It is important to understand that we are not talking about stomach acid or the pH of the stomach. The stomach needs to be acidic to aid in the digestion of food. We are talking about the pH of the body’s fluids and tissues, which is an entirely different matter. Water comprises 80% of the body. Blood is mostly water (82%), as are your muscles (70%) and brain (85%). Your body needs water to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to all your organs. Water also transports oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs. Water is charged with negative ions (called electrons) which function as a potent antioxidant to attract free radicals and to neutralize positively-charged toxins (protons) in the blood.
The human body is composed of many different types of cells, which are composed of many different types of molecules, which consist of one or more atoms of one or more elements joined by chemical bonds. And atoms consist of a nucleus, neutrons, protons, and electrons. Electrons are involved in chemical reactions and are the substance that bonds atoms together to form molecules. The most important structural feature of an atom for determining its chemical behavior is the number of electrons in its outer shell. A substance that has a full outer shell tends not to enter in chemical reactions. By nature, atoms seek stability, so they will try to fill their outer shell by gaining or losing electrons, or sharing electrons by bonding together with other atoms.
When weak bonds split, free radicals are formed. Free radicals are highly-charged, unstable molecular fragments that may puncture cell membranes, destroy enzymes, and even break down DNA just to steal an electron from another molecule. Some free radicals occur naturally, as your cells burn food for energy (a process called oxidative metabolism). Other free radicals come from exposure to ultraviolet radiation (sunlight), radon, x-rays, pollutants, pesticides, food additives, alcohol, and other toxins. Sometimes the body’s immune system’s cells purposely create them to neutralize viruses and bacteria.
Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, stealing an electron. When the attacked molecule losses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction that is disruptive to living cells. To give you an idea of how much damage free radicals can do, consider that these renegade molecules strike and fracture every single one of your DNA molecules 10,000 times a day. About 9,900 of these breaks in the DNA strand are restored to normal by DNA repair enzymes. About 100, or 1 percent, escape the enzymes’ notice. This damage accumulates over time, setting the stage for atherosclerosis, cancer, and other degenerative diseases1.
Certain foods can accelerate the disease process, while other foods can significantly improve health because food affects the body’s pH levels. Some foods create an acidic effect within the body, while others act as alkalizing agents that can neutralize harmful acids. To be healthy, it is necessary to be in a state of acid-alkaline balance2. Over acidity of fluids due to diet3 in the body reduces the potent antioxidant function of water, thereby weakening all body systems. A healthy body maintains adequate alkaline reserves to meet emergency demands to neutralize excess acids. When excess acids must be neutralized, our alkaline reserves are depleted leaving the body in a weakened condition. To counteract the cellular problems caused by mild acidity, the body’s innate mechanism of self-regulation draws upon its alkalizing mineral stores of calcium, magnesium and potassium, within the musculoskeletal system. Consistent withdrawal of these alkalizing minerals due to excess acidity can lead to osteoporosis (a common bone disease that occurs from the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time), spinal degeneration, tooth decay, dry skin and nails, and rheumatism4. A pH-neutral diet is vital to the strength and maintenance of the musculoskeletal system.
Cellular problems also lead to premature aging of cells because the body’s organs become weakened from mineral withdrawal. In the brain, impaired mental acuity and memory problems can result, contributing to dementia and early Alzheimer’s disease.
Even mild acidity in your body can over time cause such problems as
- Weakened immune system, increased stress, and higher blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating and gas
- Cardiovascular damage, including the constriction of blood vessels, clogged arteries, weakened veins, and the reduction of oxygen
- All forms of cancer
- Unwanted weight/fat gain and obesity
- Insulin disorders and diabetes
- Liver, bladder, and kidney conditions, including kidney- and gallstones
- Neurological diseases: MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s
- Premature aging, frequent headaches, sinusitis, constipation, and hemorrhoids
- Osteoporosis, weak and brittle bones, hip fractures, bone spurs, and calcium deposits
- Osteoarthritis, joint pain, aching muscles, and lactic acid buildup
- Hormonal imbalances, prostate problems, and adult acne
- Low energy, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia
Is your body neutralized?
To be neutralized means your personal chemistry is in balance so that you are strong and healthy. You can check your personal chemistry by measuring the pH of your urine or saliva. pH strips are used to measure pH. By using pH test strips, you can determine your pH factor quickly and easily in the privacy of your own home. If your urinary pH is between 6.5 and 7.2 your body is functioning within a healthy range (it will be lower in the morning). If your saliva stays between 6.5 and 7.5 all day, your body is functioning within a healthy range. The best time to test your pH is about one hour before a meal (first thing in the morning) and two hours after a meal (before going to bed).
Urine pH: Urine testing indicates how well your body is excreting acids and assimilating minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. These minerals function as “buffers.” Buffers are substances that help maintain and balance the body against the introduction of too much acidity or too much alkalinity. Even with the proper amounts of buffers, acid or alkaline levels can become extreme. When the body ingests or produces too many of these acids or alkalis, it must excrete the excess. The urine is the perfect way for the body to remove any excess acids or alkaline substances that cannot be buffered. If your average urine pH is below 6.5, you are too acidic, and the body’s buffering system is overwhelmed. You need to neutralize and eat more alkalizing foods, such as leafy green vegetables, almonds, and lentils and by drinking lemon water and green tea.
Saliva pH: The results of saliva testing indicate the activity of digestive enzymes in the body. These enzymes are primarily manufactured by the stomach, liver, and pancreas. If your saliva pH is too high (> 7.5), you may experience excess gas, constipation, and the production of yeast, mold, and fungus. If the saliva pH is too low (below 6.5), the body may be producing too many acids or may be overwhelmed by acids because it has lost the ability to adequately remove them through the urine. While the saliva also utilizes buffers just like the urine, it relies on this process to a much lesser degree. Occasionally, some people will have acidic pH readings from both urine and saliva, a result known as “double acid.”
Where can you buy pH strips?
What to do if your pH is below 6.5?
Diet dramatically affects the acid-alkaline balance in your body. If your body is acidic, drink (preferably in the morning) a glass of room temperature lemon water. Squeeze the juice of half a fresh lemon (at room temperature) into 8 ounces of room temperature, filtered neutral water (pH=7). Only use fresh lemons, not reconstituted. Reconstituted lemon juice is made by adding water back into concentrated lemon juice. Because it’s a processed food, reconstituted lemon juice requires the flavor to be adjusted in order to main a uniform flavor, and preservatives to be added to maintain color and freshness. Fresh lemon water is extremely alkalizing. Eliminate all soda (diet or regular) and wheat (refined or whole) from your diet and reduce your daily consumption of refined sugars to 180 calories (12 teaspoons including baked goods, ketchup, and candy). Eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Eat less saturated fats (meat), processed foods, and refined grains.
Once you have balanced your pH, continue to test your pH once or twice per week, preferably Monday and Friday, for maintenance. Once you have neutralized, you will feel more energetic, healthier, and stronger. We call this marriage between good nutrition and a neutralized pH nutralization™. The outcome of being “nutralized” is a strong immune system and balanced health. We use pH as a scientific tool to measure the success of this marriage, not as a basis for every recipe. We want you to eat real fresh whole foods, like leafy greens, avocados, oranges, almonds, and wild salmon; not dehydrated green food shakes and expensive vitamin and mineral supplements.
How does fresh lemon juice neutralize acidity in the body?
Fresh lemon juice contains highly stable, water soluble, and negatively-charged ions. Negative charges (electrons) attract positive charges (protons). Therefore, lemon juice provides the electrons to neutralize free radicals in our blood helping to prevent cell and tissue damage that could lead to cellular damage and disease. After it loses an electron, lemon juice doesn’t become a free radical because it is a highly stable antioxidant, with or without the electron. Lemon juice increases the potent antioxidant function of water in our body.
For more information see The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook:
- 1. Brown, S., & Trivieri, L. 2006. The Acid Alkaline Food Guide. Garden City Park, N.Y.: Square One Publishers.
- Ozawa, T. 1999. Understanding the Process of Aging. Marcel Dekker: New York, NY, pp. 265-292.
- Frassetto L., Morris, R., Sellmeyer, D., & Sebastian, A. 2008. Adverse Effects of Sodium Chloride on Bone in the Aging Human Population Resulting from Habitual Consumption of Typical American Diets. Journal of Nutrition, 138, 419-422.
- Bobkov, V.A., et al., 1999. Changes in the acid-base status of the synovial fluid in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Ter Arkh.