by Associate Clinician Victoria Fisher
Some basic facts
pH is a measure of hydrogen ion concentration. An acid is a substance that can donate hydrogen ions, while a base is a substance that accepts hydrogen ions. pH scales range from 0 (pure acid) to 14 (pure base). A pH under 7 is acidic, over 7 is basic/alkaline, and 7 is neutral.
Our body is designed to operate optimally at a slightly alkaline blood pH of 7.35-7.45. Anything outside of that range disrupts homeodynamics, and our bodies must adapt. The fastest way to change pH is to use calcium as a buffer. When blood pH is too low (acidic), calcium is pulled from the tissues and bones. If blood pH is too high (alkaline), calcium is separated out of solution and deposited into tissues and bones. Though the body is able to compensate, it’s not ideal to depend on calcium to regulate pH.
The most accurate way to measure blood pH is through arterial blood gas, but this can only be done in a hospital setting. At home, measuring saliva and urine pH is the easiest, most non-invasive way to determine the body’s pH status. The optimal range for both urine and saliva pH is 6.4 to 6.8. Most people are extremely acidic, with a pH as low as 5.5. It is possible, though much less common, to be too alkaline.
What causes pH to be imbalanced?
pH has an impact on and is affected by mitochondrial ATP production. When oxygen passes into the cell, the mitochondria make ATP, which causes pH to be balanced. When pH is out of balance (either too high or low), mitochondrial ATP production decreases, which causes a decrease in cellular energy and function. This break down in cell function can cause chronic acidosis or alkalosis.
Other causes of acidosis include the Standard American Diet (which is loaded with processed grains, sugars, fats, artificial sweeteners, food chemicals, dyes, preservatives), pesticides, medications (especially antibiotics), stress, chronic breathing issues, obesity, alcohol abuse, and diabetes. Alkalosis can be caused by anxiety and panic attacks (rapid, shallow breathing), high fever, lack of oxygen, lung and liver dis-ease, prolonged vomiting and diarrhea (as with bulimia), long-term antacid and/or laxative use, and alcohol abuse.
Symptoms and effects of acidosis
- Immune deficiency
- Sciatica, lumbago, stiff neck
- Respiratory problems, shortness of breath, coughing
- Yeast fungal overgrowth
- Low energy and chronic fatigue
- Cardiovascular damage, including the constriction of blood vessels and reduction in oxygen
- Heart problems, arrhythmias, increased heart rate
- Weight gain, obesity
- Bladder and kidney infections
- Accelerated free radical damage
- Premature aging
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation
- Osteoporosis, weak brittle bones, hip fractures, bone spurs
- Sleepiness, fatigue
- Joint pain, aching muscles, and lactic acid buildup
- Allergies, asthma, acne
- Chemical sensitivity
- Low libido
- Panic attacks
- Chronic inflammation – sinusitis, cystitis, gingivitis
- Cold sores
- Eczema, psoriasis
- Brain fog, memory loss, confusion
- Autoimmune dis-ease
Symptoms and effects of alkalosis
- Light-headedness, dizziness
How to balance your pH
Having a balanced diet consisting of nutrient-dense, traditional whole foods can do wonders for your pH. Remove all processed sugars, grains, fats/oils and dairy, and load up on seasonal, local fruits and vegetables. Make wise choices when eating proteins and fat – look for terms such as grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised, cold-pressed, virgin or extra virgin. Your diet should ideally consist of 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods. But remember, just because a food is acidic outside the body does not mean it causes acidity inside the body!
Drink half your body weight in ounces of purified water. Try incorporating alkalinizing beverages such as apple cider vinegar tea, mineral or coconut water, and green tea. Avoid acidifying drinks such as alcohol, soda (especially cola), coffee, and black tea.
While these are some helpful tips for balancing pH, it is always best to find and address the underlying causes of acidosis and alkalosis. At the Well of Life, this is exactly what we do! One of our clinicians can work with you to test your pH, find ways to balance it that work best with your specific body, and then continue to maintain it through a healthy diet and lifestyle. If you’d like more information about pH, or would like support and guidance on how to balance pH naturally, contact the Well of Life Center today!