Acid-Alkaline Balance and pH Testing

Most of us are not in good acid-alkaline balance. This contributes to disease, fatigue, and most health conditions. This may be the most important overall health test that you can do. It’s inexpensive and you can do it at home. Our body pH is maintained just above 7.0 for optimal health.

When we keep this pH, our metabolism, enzymes, immune system, and repair mechanisms work most effectively. And, when our pH is kept at this level it indicates that we have enough buffering minerals to balance the acids in our body. Our metabolism is kept in balance by a variety of mechanisms that produce acid by-products.

So, it’s essential that our foods contain buffering minerals to offset this natural acid metabolism. Our standard American diet (SAD) contributes to the overall acid load, rather than helping balance it. High protein, fat, sugar, and refined foods increase acid load.

Generally, grains are acid producing. Stress, alcohol, and cigarettes compound the problem. Fruits, vegetables, seaweeds, and some other foods help alkalize our systems. Most of us unknowingly have a slightly acidic body environment. Imagine that our air was filled with sulfuric acid (like in acid rain).

It would be harder for us to function. And, with more sulfuric acid in the air, the environment would become more caustic and detrimental to our health. Our cells react the same way to an acid environment. When we are acidic, our cells become sluggish and cannot function properly.

Wastes build up, toxins are not excreted, and nutrients are not properly used. We begin to feel less well than we’d like. To maintain homeostasis in our blood, which is very sensitive to changes in pH, we pull potassium from our extracellular fluid.

When stores have been used up, we begin to pull calcium, magnesium, and other alkalizing minerals from our bones. This is one of the underlying causes in osteoporosis and arthritic conditions. Foods we eat can dramatically change our pH. For example, one twelve-ounce can of cola contains enough phosphoric acid to significantly change our pH.

The kidneys cannot excrete urine that is more acidic than about 5.0 without damaging them or the bladder. The pH of the cola is between 2.8 to 3.2, about a hundred times more acidic than a pH of 5.0. To dilute this to an appropriate level, you’d need thirty-three liters of urine.

So, the body has another mechanism—use buffering minerals from else-where in the body. If there are enough reserves, the body will pull sodium and potassium to do this. If not, it will pull calcium, magnesium, and other minerals from bone.

The amount of minerals necessary would be equivalent to the buffering capability of four Tums. One can imagine the long-term effects of drinking several cans of cola—or one Big Gulp—daily. On the other hand, if you drink sparkling water with juice, the pH remains stable.

The standard American diet is not sufficient in its buffering capacity. When diets are higher in protein, as many are today, the need for buffering minerals is also higher. When diets are low in fruits and vegetables, the need for buffering minerals is higher still.

When we are under stress, we need more buffering minerals. And when we drink soft drinks, we need more buffering minerals. In total, most of us are continually taking minerals from bone to keep our cells and blood balanced. If we don’t replenish these minerals, the long-term effect is bone loss, joint degeneration, and overall lack of health.

PH testing is a simple home urine test with a dipstick. Purchase a packet of pH test paper. Make sure that it has the ability to test between a pH of 5.5 and 8.0. You simply place a two-to threeinch piece of pH paper into your first morning urine and read it to see what your pH is.

To do this, match the color of the test strip with the color chart on the back of the test tape packet. Optimally, the level will be between 6.5 and 7.5, or fairly neutral. If needed, you can bring this into an optimal range by manipulating your foods, which will give support to your body’s own innate healing and balancing capacities.

Any number lower than 7 indicates that your urine is on the acid side. The lower the number, the more acidic you are. This works logarithmically, so a reading of 6.0 is ten times more acidic than a reading of 7.0, and a reading of 5.0 is acid-or alkaline-forming effects of the specific food on body chemistry.

Meditation, outdoor walks, and baking soda and Epsom salt baths can also help bring pH back to normal. Use ½ cup each of baking soda and Epsom salts, and soak in a warm to hot tub regularly. Your supplements can also help you alkalize. Take a mineral supplement daily, and use a fully buffered vitamin C mineral ascorbate.

Avoid soft drinks. If your readings are always between 7.5 and 8.0, this represents a “false alkalinity” and indicates that you are in a state of tissue breakdown, also called catabolism. If so, see your health-care practitioner. If you see an occasional reading of 7.5 to 8.0, this is acceptable.