Acid & Alkaline Balance In The Body

Blood pH

There is a very tight window of pH where our blood can operate. Blood pH must be kept between 7.34-7.45. A pH of 1-6.9 is considered acidic and a pH of 7.1 to 14 is considered alkaline. 7.0 is considered neutral. So the operating pH of blood is just slightly alkaline.

The body must keep the pH of the blood in this tight window in order for you to stay alive. Breathing out carbon dioxide and other waste products along with the excreting and filtering done by the kidneys allows our bodies to keep the pH of the blood within that window. There are also buffers stored in the body to help as necessary. The pH fluctuates slightly as it travels from the lungs to the tissues and back.

This change in pH facilitates the release of carbon dioxide from the hemoglobin of the red cells and the uptake of oxygen in the lungs. As the blood reaches the cells, the pH change causes the oxygen to now leave the red cell and carbon dioxide to replace it. The whole reason this exchange of gasses can take place is because of this slight pH change.

At one pH the hemoglobin molecule prefers oxygen to carbon dioxide and with a slight variation of pH the hemoglobin prefers carbon dioxide to oxygen. So the body has systems in place to protect this delicate balance.

Since blood pH absolutely can not vary too much, if the body is struggling to maintain the more alkaline pH it thrives at, this will first show up in the urine and next at the cellular level. For this reason, the pH of saliva and urine are the two solutions most often tested to check on a person’s pH.

You can do a search on “acid alkaline balance” and research this topic for hours. If you have never done this, I would urge you to do so.

Acid forming foods

One important thing to keep in mind is that the acid forming foods are important foods. They provide very important vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and fiber. A diet is not complete without them.

However, if these acid forming foods compose more than 20% of the diet (and in most Americans they compose over 90% of the diet) then as we age, and the body becomes less efficient, the cells of the body become more and more acidic.

Though there are systems in place that maintain the delicate pH balance in the blood stream, at the cellular level a person can become more and more acidic. People who have serious illnesses always have low pH values. Therefore, I believe body pH is an important concept to understand, whether you want to restore you own health, or just remain healthy.

Look at the mineral content of food

The way to discern which foods are alkaline forming and which foods are acid forming is to look at the minerals they contain.

Foods that predominately contain the minerals Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium are alkaline forming food. I remember these minerals are alkaline because they form calcium hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide when added to water.

Hydroxide means it is a base and therefore alkaline.

The acid forming minerals are Sulfur, Phosphorus, and Chlorine.

These would form sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid and hydrochloric acid when added to water.

Which foods are acid and alkaline forming?

So what foods are alkaline forming and what foods are acid forming? Vegetables and fruits are alkaline forming, cultured vegetables and kefir are alkaline forming. And a few grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, and millet are alkaline forming. Wild rice is alkaline forming.

Acid forming foods include the rest of the grains, seeds and nuts, and meats. Some sources say coconut oil and palm oil are the only alkaline forming oils and all say that butter is neutral.

So an alkaline diet that would not allow a person to become acidic as they age, contains the minerals and vitamins we need, and allows us to live long healthy lives would contain 75-80% vegetables and fruits, kefir and cultured vegetables, coconut and palm oil and butter. It could also contain some raw milk (not pasteurized or processed) if there are no allergies because the calcium balances out the phosphorous it contains, making it a neutral food.

The diet would contain also 20-25% of the acid forming foods like rice, grains, nuts, seed, and meat.

Please keep in mind, the more heat and the more processed the fruits and veggies are that you eat the less alkaline they are.

Steamed or lightly sautéed veggies are fine. However, canned fruit, juices, canned veggies etc are no longer alkaline because of the processing. In contrast, fresh fruit and fresh veggie juices are very alkaline and so are green food blends.

Though alkaline forming foods are extremely important, acid forming foods are important, too. Acid forming foods contain essential proteins and some vitamins and minerals that you just can not get from alkaline sources. They also contain good fiber. A diet is not complete without them. The main thing to keep in mind is that they should not be the majority of your diet.

Foods to avoid

Foods you would need to avoid are the refined mineral deficient foods that contain things such as white sugar, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, and all those chemicals that you can’t even pronounce.

Arrowroot is slightly alkaline, so use it for thickening rather than white flour or cornstarch. These are both refined products, acid forming and devoid of nutrients. All herbs are alkaline forming. As a rule of thumb, the more natural and unrefined, the better. Soft drinks are highly acid forming because they contain sugar and corn sweeteners as well as carbolic acid and phosphoric acid.

The effects of too many acid foods

When lots of acid forming foods are eaten the body has to go into survival mode. This means pulling calcium and other minerals out of the bones to neutralize all the acids in the system. Hence, you have crystals dropping out of solution and arthritis, you have osteoporosis and dental cavities because minerals are removed from the bones and teeth, and you have other degenerative diseases and health problems.

Not only are people with an acidic system robbing from these mineral stores to buffer acids in their system, but they are making their bodies less efficient, because the chemical processes that take place in the body work best in a more alkaline pH range. And they actually make the body not as efficient at absorbing minerals and utilizing them. Just like a plant in your garden, minerals and vitamins cannot be assimilated and used unless the soil is within a certain pH window. Once plants or people get out of our pH window, they do not assimilate the vitamins and minerals they need. To help people who have acidic cellular solutions in their bodies, products like coral calcium and green foods have become very popular.  Though, for the long term, a change in diet is essential.

Many people are so messed up that they need more than diet to begin with. Coral calcium contains lots of easy to assimilate calcium along with 72 trace minerals. These minerals help to re-alkalinize the body. They do work. All you need is some pH paper to see for yourself.

At present we have coral calcium from Okinawa, Japan in bulk (selling it by the pound). You can check your pH, begin using green foods, kefir, or coral calcium and watch the changes take place in your body for yourself.  As you see the pH of your body change you should also notice a change in your health and energy level.

Alkalinizing In Perspective

What is believed to be the best pH for a person and what foods should we eat?  How can this relate to all the various diet philosophies?  What about the Dr. Atkins low carbohydrate diet?  What about the findings of Dr. Weston A. Price?  What about a raw food diet or a vegetarian diet?  I would like to make a few comments here, if I can, hopefully without stepping on too many toes.

A Vegetarian Diet

First of all, I can say a vegetarian diet and a raw food diet, if followed properly would consist mostly of alkaline forming foods. This is probably one of the main reasons that people who are sick see health benefits when they go to these diets. There are, however, vegetarians who eat French fries and potato chips with soft drinks everyday, and do not see the benefits of the alkaline diet most vegetarians see.

A vegetarian couple called here some time ago that ate Hostess Ho-Ho’s everyday in their lunch, and onion rings etc.  They had very high cholesterols and the husband had high blood pressure and clogged arteries.  They could not understand why they were having health problems and were on the internet looking for answers.  Sadly, they missed a lot in their understanding of what it is to have a healthy diet.  They thought their vegetarian diet was healthy.

Another mistake some vegetarians make is almost totally eliminating high quality fats and proteins.  In addition some vegetarian diets are very heavy on the carbohydrates.  Because of this many vegetarians have found themselves full of candida and other pathogens.

A Raw Food Diet

In comparison, a raw food diet would not allow the refined, acid forming products like potato chips and soft drinks, and if grains are allowed they are soaked and eaten raw, so the main part of the diet tends to be alkaline forming foods. If either of these diets lack high quality proteins, fats, and fat soluble vitamins, over the course of many years other health problems may come into play. Raw-foodists that eat raw meat, raw milk, etc. would not have this problem as much as a vegetarian unless they refused to eat raw animal products.  Vegan vegetarians would have to be the most careful.

Dr. Atkins’ Diet

The Dr. Atkins type of low carb diet has a different twist. Salads and veggies are alkaline forming, but the meats are acid forming. It is easy to get the low carb diet out of balance if the focus becomes protein and fats. Most people on the Atkins diet do this and the veggies are more of an after thought. One of the main long term problems with the low carb diet is arthritis and I believe it is the acidic nature of the diet that is the cause.

People who chose to eat this way do not have yeast problems any more because there are no carbohydrates for the yeast or other pathogens to live on.  So, at least at first, many people enjoy better health, slim down, and feel they are much healthier.  However, I have three major concerns with this diet.  First of all, because there are no fruits allowed, there is little natural vitamin C and other vitamins in the diet.  Some vitamins and minerals are found in the largest abundance in fruits and having them out of the diet means you must use supplementation.  The diet is just not complete enough.

Twice in the past 10 years I have tried a low carb diet. Both times I had a reoccurrence of blood vessels breaking in my eyes.  The only thing I can relate as a cause is low vitamin C levels.

In talking with others, I have come to believe that this is at least something to take into consideration when eating this way.  In addition, because there are no grains allowed in this diet, there is less fiber than the body needs which results in poor or sluggish elimination.

Vegetables do have some fiber, but since the diet is usually heavy in meats, there just is not enough fiber. And lastly, the body will become more and more acidic if the person has meats, cheese and other acidic foods as the main part of their diet.  Here again, people initially see weight loss, and improved health as the sugars have been eliminated from their diet.  Unfortunately, long term, they may see other health problems, because of important foods that are not allowed.

Weston A. Price

What about Weston A. Price? Well, there is a good page put up on the Price-Pottenger website.  Dr. Weston A. Price found many of the healthy traditional diets actually favored slightly acid forming foods.  But the diets he studied did have many alkaline forming foods as well.

The difference here, I believe, is that there are so many vitamins and nutrients available in an unrefined, natural, native, traditional diet, that the body, as a healthy organism, can handle the pH of a slightly acid forming diet and still remain alkaline.

It appears that as people begin to degenerate (because they eat food that is void of nutrients) their body begins to have difficulties.  For example, children can eat a more acidic diet and will remain alkaline.  Most adults cannot do that.  So it seems a truly healthy body has no problem maintaining the proper pH in the cells.

Therefore, the extremely high nutrient diets that Dr. Price studied, though they had a slightly acidic diet, allowed the people to remain alkaline. This was all possible because of the high amount of nutrients, vitamins, high quality proteins, etc. they consumed.  It is possible that the real cause of an acid system is a nutrient poor (refined/convenience food) die.Price Pottenger in Diet

One Last Comment About Your pH

If you test out alkaline, it is possible the reading could be misleading.  People who have absolutely no good normal flora, and consequently very low digestive enzyme levels will be alkaline, and even too alkaline, yet they are not healthy.  A healthy person should have several pounds of normal flora in their gut.  If they do not have the normal flora, and therefore low digestive enzymes, they will not digest their food properly, will have an unbalanced system, yet they will show up as alkaline.

Once they reintroduce normal flora their pH will drop very low.  Often they plummet down to 5.5 or so for their pH.  The goal is to both have an alkaline body and have healthy normal flora.  If you have ever struggled with being too alkaline you need gut flora, if you are alkaline and are struggling with not feeling well, or being sick, or have arthritis, etc., you probably have a misleading reading, because you lack normal flora.