The Truth about Body Acidity and Alkalinity
The acidity and alkalinity of the body is mainly controlled by the kidneys and the lungs. The acid/base status of the body based on food intake, exercise, medications and other causes that can perturb the body’s pH, which is very tightly regulated and slightly alkaline at about 7.4.
What is pH?
The pH is the scale that measures acid and alkaline. The scale goes from 1 (most acid) to 14 (most alkaline). As with 7 in the centre being pH neutral, neither acid nor alkaline at all. Every point on the scale represents a power of one hundred, so the difference between acids at 2 and 1 on the scale is 100 times more acid or more alkaline.
What is the ideal pH for the body?
Every single body fluid has a pH measurement that is specific to that fluid only. Blood pH is the most important and the body will go to the greatest lengths to control it. Blood should be slightly alkaline, and the proper pH range of the blood should fall between 7.34 and 7.45.
Stomach acid should be in the range of 1 to 3 on the pH scale. Less acidic fluids like sweat and urine should be on the alkaline end. Pancreatic fluid and the fluid around your brain is also alkaline. It is not necessary to raise the pH of your whole body, because everything is right where it should be. What you need is to keep your body healthy so it keeps all of its fluids at the right pH.
Can certain foods and drinks alkalinize the body?
Yes, and some foods / drinks can acidify the body, but it isn’t as straightforward as you think. Orange juice is acidic but when you drink it, it will not acidify your body; it actually ends up increasing alkalinity. Alkaline water won’t magically raise your pH, and even if it did it might not be good.
Apple cider vinegar or sparkling water can be used as a remedy if a patient is in fact too alkaline. In general, however, you should avoid trying to adjust your body’s pH. If you are suffering from symptoms associated with acidity or alkalinity you should establish the cause of the problem.
Symptoms when the body is too acidic
- A dry cough
- Irregular heartbeat or increased heart rate
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling tired but also “wired” and unable to wind down
- Sighing frequently – just take a few deep breaths
- Inability to hold your breath (blood isn’t holding oxygen effectively)
A high acid state can be caused by some dietary factors. If you are following a very low carbohydrate, very high protein diet, you could put yourself into a state of ketosis. This is not always a bad thing, but just remember it can break down fat and protein in the body to a harmful extent. If you have ketones in your urine, you are on the wrong side of ketosis, and may be too acid.
Low blood sugar can also be an indicator. If you tend to get irritable and grumpy when you are hungry, high acidity may accompany your low blood sugar.
If you eat too much junk food and refined carbohydrates it can cause you to be too acid, on top of a whole host of other problems.
Symptoms when the body is too alkaline
- Craving sweets- this means you are low on potassium and not storing sugar effectively
- Cramps, especially in the calves
- Heart arrhythmia
- Calcium deposits in the soft tissue (which may cause twitching of the left eyelid)
- Bone spurs
- Tendonitis or bursitis
- Kidney or gall stones
- Low immune and/or thyroid function
Stress causes the body to be too alkaline. This is a surprise a lot of people, because the alkaline myth goes that stress causes acidity. Stress does provoke an acid response and you end up losing your healthy acids- in addition to potassium and electrolytes- through urine when you are stressed.
The elimination of acids causes your body to become too alkaline. For example: drinking to much water and flushing out electrolytes, taking diuretic medication, or even vomiting, which can cause you to lose some of the acid-producing bacteria in your gut. Your stomach acid also weakens and reduce as you age, which can cause you to be prone to an alkaline state.
The vagina maintains an acidic pH of around 4.5 due to the large numbers of lactic acid-secreting bacteria. It is important to maintain an acidic pH in these compartments of the body because: Candida albicans, the fungus that causes thrush, switches to a more virulent and dangerous form in a neutral-to-alkaline environment. So, if you alkalinise your body’ is not necessarily a good idea because it will fuel candida.
To help maintain optimal pH in the vagina (and therefore stave off thrush) you can avoid using oral contraceptive pills and certain types of IUDs.
The notion that cancer cannot survive in an alkaline environment is not true. Leukaemia’s and lymphomas thrive in the alkaline environment of blood and lymph, which have a pH of around 7.4 Maintaining the right pH level is important to our survival because if it drops below 7.35 or rises above 7.45, the body deploys numerous buffering mechanisms—involving blood proteins, phosphate, bicarbonate, and the lungs and kidneys—in order restore the balance.
Cancer creates its own acidic environment, independent of the body’s pH and the diet, through ramping up glycolysis and reducing circulation. The acidity of your diet will not affect the development of cancer.
If you want to assist the body to maintain its different optimal pH ranges, do make healthy food and lifestyle choices. Eating a whole food, plant-based diet rich in fiber and resistant starch from vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, you’ll provide your gut bacteria with the carbohydrates needed to produce short chain fatty acids that help maintain optimal pH in the colon.
To assist optimal blood pH, you can choose a diet rich in alkaline-forming foods such as vegetables and fruits, and limit or eliminate highly acid-forming foods such as cheese, meat, chicken, and fish.
If you have a pH problem, trying to alkalinise your whole body isn’t going to fix it – rather solve the causing factor.