Your body's pH and health are closely intertwined. pH is just another word for acid-base balance. The acid-base (“base” meaning alkaline) balance in your body is crucial to your health. This is because disease states flourish in an acidic environment, and your body will never function optimally if your acid-base balance is off. If your body is alkaline, disease, illness, and conditions such as being overweight almost never exist.
The primary determinant of whether your body is acidic or alkaline is what your body takes in, which includes foods, drugs, and even what you absorb through your skin. When these substances are absorbed or taken in, the components reach the kidneys as either an acid-forming compound or a base-forming one. The body can accumulate too much acid if you are taking in too many acid-producing compounds. Stress can also cause an acidic environment.
These tips will help you understand how to improve your health via working on your body's pH.
Sources of stress that can affect body pH include:
- Negative mindset
- Illness or disease in the body
- Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor
- Toxic substances taken into the body
The reason that an acidic body is so harmful is that every cell of the body is designed to function best within a specific pH. The body must operate at a stable pH no matter what, so the dietary acid load that most people carry from their diet has to be neutralized by a homeostatic base-producing mechanism. This will succeed in keeping your pH in the correct balance - but at a price.
Here are three of the many potential consequences of your body's attempt to maintain a constant pH in spite of an acidic environment:
- High concentrations of calcium in the urine. Since calcium is a strong base and bone contains the body's largest calcium store, metabolic acidosis robs bone of calcium.
- High concentrations of nitrogen in urine. Glutamine acts much like calcium to neutralize the body's acidosis. Metabolic acidosis causes muscle breakdown in order to liberate glutamine from the muscle, where it is primarily stored. This decreases strength and lowers the metabolism, making it harder to lose weight.
- Increased blood cortisol levels. This leads to an increase in abdominal fat storage and is correlated with heart disease. It is also correlated with an increase in appetite, in particular cravings for simple sugars.
Our ancestors evolved eating a diet that was very basic. However, in modern time people are tending to consume a more processed, refined diet that is high in acid, which is very different from what we evolved to eat! The shift from net base producing foods to net acid producing foods comes mostly as a result of replacing a diet that used to be almost all plant-based with the occasional meats, to a diet that is much higher proportionally in grains and processed foods. Furthermore, the produce we do eat is less rich in nutrients, mainly due to the overuse of the soil which becomes depleted of nutrients over time. Also, the animal protein we consume typically is not free-range, meaning the animals are not eating a nutrient-dense diet as nature intended. They are instead raised to fatten up quickly eating a diet that is largely grain-based.
Action steps to improve your pH and your health
To improve your acid-base balance, be sure to consume at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Organic and/or local produce is best.
Dairy products and eggs are basic, and animal protein, although acidic, is less acidic than grains, which are the worst offenders. Beans are preferable to grains for carbohydrate sources. Fats are basic, and water, natural fruit and vegetable juices, and teas are basic (whereas coffee and soda are acidic). Drinking plenty of water is also helpful to reduce net acid balance--in particular, bottled mineral water, or spring water with lemon.