Q&A: What does pH have to do with my health?

pH

pH testing paper is one way to gauge your pH. Alkaline water can help neutralize an acidic diet and lifestyle. Be sure to eat plant-based foods for an optimal diet. And utilize the resources at pH Labs to achieve your optimal health, including the book The Acid Alkaline Food Guide .

By pH health care professionals

Here at pH Labs, we’ve focused our health care practice and recommendations around the maintenance of healthy pH levels in the body. Because of this approach to health and wellness, we sometimes get a lot of questions. Here are few of the comments/questions we have received.

 “My shampoo and soap say they are pH balanced, so I’m good.”

Actually, the pH in your body matters a lot more than the pH in beauty products! You have to live with your body 100% of the time, as opposed to the few minutes each day that you spend using your beauty products.    

“OK, so what does pH mean?”

Just a touch of chemistry here.  The technical definition of pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration of a solution. Hydrogen is a gas. It’s the “H” in H2O. As an “ion,” the hydrogen has an electrical charge on it. For the purposes of pH, hydrogen ions are positively charged ions.  

An acid has a low pH, with lots of hydrogen ions!  Examples: Orange juice, vinegar and stomach acid.

A base has a high pH and few hydrogen ions.  Bases are also called alkaline. Examples: Bleach, baking soda, blood and alkaline water (water with certain minerals added).

Pure water has a neutral pH of 7. It is neither acid nor alkaline.

“Why should I care about hydrogen ions or pH for that matter? I am not a chemist.”

Because you have both acid and alkaline activity in your body, and their balance translates directly to how you feel!

Inside your body, hydrogen ions (we’ll call them H+) are getting swapped around constantly. The body is kind of whiny in this regard, like that person on a trip who throws a tantrum because the hotel doesn’t have 1,000-thread count sheets.  It doesn’t tolerate a lot of fluctuation. If the insides of the cells are too acidic, they dump H+ ions into the blood. If the blood is too acidic, it dumps H+ back into the cells. A happy pH for the blood is around 7.4. It’s alkaline, because it’s over 7.

When you push the body to its limits (marathon running, marathon tequila shots, having bad diabetes), the happy balance described above gets thrown way out of whack.

For example,the increased metabolism of a marathon causes a whole lot more H+ ions to be around.  Then, the kidneys and lungs work day and night to make sure the blood is happy and in balance. We won’t get into that chemistry, but rest assured that healthy kidneys and lungs are important.

“What’s wrong with being a little acidic or alkaline? This all seems like a lot of drama.”

pH in the blood below 6.8 or above 7.8 can kill you.  

“So I shouldn’t drink orange juice?”

Only extreme situations (like kidney failure) would cause you to have such massive shifts in pH. However, the small shifts in pH really tax the body, causing it to work overtime to pump hydrogen ions out of the blood. There’s only so much energy in the body, so a low pH (acidic) can cause you to feel tired, get sick easily, heal wounds poorly and even be forgetful.

“What can I do to balance my pH?”

You can control what you put in your body! That’s why we advocate for alkaline water and an alkaline diet. If you’re putting alkaline things in your body, it doesn’t have to work so hard to get back in balance. The modern American diet is typically too acidic. Alkaline water and alkaline-forming foods can restore balance in the body.

“What’s this about alkaline water? Isn’t water neutral?”

Yes, pure water is neutral – neither acid nor alkaline.  Unfortunately, water treatment plants, with their chlorine and other chemicals, render our water acidic. That’s why it’s a good idea to drink and cook with alkaline water. Think of it as giving your body a nice rest for a change!  

“What are acidic foods?”

We have a great book on this topic called The Acid Alkaline Food Guide. But very generally speaking, meat, dairy, sugar and carbs cause excess acid formation in the body. Now you know why Uncle Gene has heartburn—too many steaks can cause too much stomach acid!

“What are alkaline foods?”

Healthy plant foods, such as lettuces, carrots, kiwi and celery, to name a few.

“What type of foods do you suggest that I eat, and in what proportion, to maintain a good balance of acidic foods to alkaline foods?” 

Try to eat as many plant foods as possible. At least 75% of your diet should be from alkaline foods. When you eat protein, go for low-acid protein like fish.  

“What kinds of diseases would I be likely to have if my blood is too acidic?”

To give you an idea: acid reflux disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diarrhea.

“What kind of diseases would I be likely to have if I am too alkaline?”

You might see shaking and muscle twitching. Most of the time, alkalosis is the result of another disease process in the body (like vomiting), which may well have been caused in part by being too acidic in the first place.

“You focus on blood pH being around 7.4, but I have heard that other areas of the body have different pH levels, like the stomach and the pancreas.” 

We need extremely high acidic and alkaline conditions in a few select places in the body. So for example, the stomach is very acidic so it can pulverize food so that your body can absorb it. All of this acid gets neutralized efficiently when you eat a good diet and keep yourself healthy.

What questions have you wondered about pH? Let us know in the comments.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.

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