Many have heard the terms alkaline and acid in relation to diet, but few understand just how important your pH balance can be to good health and the prevention of disease.
Effects of an Acidic pH
The foods you eat each have an effect on your body and it’s functions based on whether the foods lend to an acid forming or alkalizing forming net result. When a diet is too acidic, the spleen, liver, heart and kidneys get overworked trying to buffer the acidity. This means that the body has to rob minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium from the bones and muscle tissue. This can lead to chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, kidney stones, impaired mental functioning, while also creating an acidic environment in which heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other diseases can thrive.
Why most of us are Acidic
The common American diet is naturally acidic. The most acid producing foods- meats, dairy, processed foods, grains, and sugar make up the majority of our culture’s food consumption. Unfortunately for many, we don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, almost all of which are alkalizing. This doesn’t mean that we need to give up all acid forming foods. The concern is mainly in the ratio or acid/alkaline balance, which can be easily remedied by maintaining a diet in which 35-40% of it is alkalizing (i.e. fruits and vegetables).
The Right Balance
A simple pH test in the morning will reveal how acidic or alkaline you are. Most drugstores carry pH strips, which can be used for either a saliva or urine test. When looking at the numbers, it’s necessary to understand that 7 is considered neutral and anything above that number, alkaline, and below that number acid. Most experts will agree that a blood pH of 7.4 is a good alkaline/acid balance. However, utilizing a urine test, that number will tend to me lower in the morning and higher at night, which means that a good morning pH is about 6.4-6.8, while a number above 7.2 in the AM could be considered too alkaline.
Understanding Which Foods are Alkalizing
Whether a food is considered alkaline or acid is not based on the pH of the food itself, but rather the effect the food has once it’s consumed. For example, a lemon is known to be an acid fruit, however once consumed it has an alkalizing effect on the body and is therefore not considered acidic. As mentioned above, almost all fruits and vegetables have an alkalizing effect. Prunes, plums, corn and cranberries are an exception as they have an acidic effect. Whether a food is organic or not can also make a difference on how alkalizing it is. Organic foods are more mineral rich and therefore test more alkaline. It’s also important that the fruit is ripe. Unripe fruits can be acid forming.
Although most grains test acidic, millet and buckwheat are alkalizing. Aduki, lima and string beans are also an exception to the acidic nature of beans, testing alkaline. Although nuts are mostly acidic, peanuts especially, almonds and brazil nuts are slightly alkaline. Again, the important thing to remember is that it’s about balance, not the elimination of all acidic foods. A body that is too alkaline can also have a negative impact on your health.
Health Changes with an Alkaline Diet
So what can you expect as your body is more alkaline and your pH becomes balanced? For starters, your chances for maintaining good health over time increase. You can expect a stronger immune system, a lower risk of chronic disease, higher energy, a more optimal weight, improved digestion, less aches and pains, better sleep, etc. Overall, more oxygen and nutrients will penetrate the tissue, producing long-term positive effects.
Conscious Eating by Gabriel Cousens
Published On: April 01, 2011