Acid v. Alkaline

Our pH and What it Means

We’ve probably heard of pH (potential of hydrogen) in our grade school science class where we tested various solutions to  measure their acidity or alkalinity, or perhaps even in deodorant commercials. Does “pH balanced for a man” ring any bells? pH levels are measured on a scale of 0-14, 0 being the most acidic and 14 the most alkaline. What we didn’t learn is that our body, too, has a pH level (that hovers around 7), and imbalance in either direction can be harmful to our health. Our body strives to find a balanced pH throughout all of its fluids and tissues, not just, as one may think, the stomach. It is however, through our diets, that we can help regain balance and create an optimal environment for health.

Acidosis, having a more acidic pH level, is prevalent in our society, primarily due to the Western diet. When our body is in a state of acidosis it must find a way to neutralize the acid, and does so by borrowing minerals from our tissues and bones. This depletes the body of its alkaline reserves, leaving it weakened and susceptible to damage. In fact, having a low pH can even prevent your body from absorbing any supplements you might be taking to optimize your health.

A few of the problems that may occur as a result of acidosis are weight gain, chronic fatigue, cardiovascular problems and cancer. It is actually very simple to test our pH and is recommended we do so twice a week. pH test strips can be found at a pharmacy or drug store and are primarily used in one of two ways:

Urine Testing
Either one hour before a meal or two hours after a meal, pee on a piece of the pH strip. It will immediately change color to indicate your pH level. Compare it to the color chart on the packaging to help you identify where you stand. A result of 6.0 – 6.5 in the morning and 6.5 – 7.0 in the evening, means you are functioning at a proper pH balance. The results of the urine test shows how your body is absorbing minerals like calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. These are referred to as ‘acid buffers’ since they are used to balance out the acid.

Saliva Testing
It is suggested that we use both methods of testing to get the most accurate number. The saliva test yields results that are reflective of your liver and stomach activity, and in particular, the digestive enzymes. Your saliva pH should be within the range of 6.5 – 7.5 all day long for a normal reading.

The food we eat can greatly affect our pH levels. Below is a chart of alkaline and acid forming foods. Note the word “forming”, as these foods are defined by the environment they create in the body, as opposed to what they test prior to consumption. Take a lemon for instance. Lemons as a food will test acidic, yet when they are ingested and processed in the body they are highly alkaline forming! You may be surprised to see where certain foods fall so take a look. Try printing out the list and highlight the foods you typically eat. Then compare it to your pH levels. As you start incorporating more alkaline forming foods, see how your levels and any health issues begin to change.

Click to see a more detailed breakdown of alkaline and acid forming foods.