If you have a health problem—whether it’s high blood pressure, weight loss resistance, recurring yeast infections, inflammation or imbalanced hormones—you are likely a walking acid trip. No matter what type of therapy you choose to treat your condition, resolution will not come until your pH balance is restored. pH is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The pH scale runs from zero to 14. A lower pH number means a higher level of acidity and generally less oxygen is present. A higher pH indicates greater level of alkalinity. A solution is considered neutral, neither acid nor alkaline, when it has a pH of 7. Our body continually strives to maintain its normal pH balance of about 7.0 – 7.4. We experience health problems when the pH of our body fluids, digestive system and tissues is pushed out of its comfortable neutral zone.
You will enjoy the most dramatic results from your diet and exercise habits when your body is slightly alkaline. Acidity decreases your body’s ability to absorb the vitamins and minerals from your foods and supplements. It interferes with your ability to detoxify. It disrupts your metabolism and it makes you more prone to fatigue and mood changes.
How to Test Your PH Levels
You can test your body fluids (saliva or urine) using litmus paper strips purchased from your local health food store. Test your pH first thing in the morning or one hour before a meal or two hours after eating.
Saliva: before brushing your teeth, fill your mouth with saliva and swallow; repeat; spit directly on the pH test strip. This three-step process will ensure a clean saliva sample. Measure your saliva pH in the same manner again later in the day, at least two hours after eating.
Urine: collect a small sample of your first morning urine in a clean glass container; dip the pH strip in the container. Match your strip to the associated color on the package of pH papers to determine your body pH. Ideally your pH strip should turn the same color matched with 7.2 to 7.4 on the package (usually dark green or bluish depending on the brand of pH papers you purchase).
So What’s Normal?
If the pH of your saliva stays between 7.0 and 7.4 all day, your body is functioning within a healthy range. If your urinary pH fluctuates between 6.0 to 6.5 in the morning and 6.5 and 7.0 in the evening, your body is within a healthy pH range. First morning urine should be slightly more acidic as you eliminate waste accumulated throughout the night. Continue to measure your pH daily if your values are abnormal, otherwise testing once a week will suffice.
Quick Tips for Alkalizing Your Diet:
- Increase your intake of dark colored fruits and green vegetables. Most are alkalizing.
- High-protein foods, processed cereals and flours, sugar, coffee, tea and alcohol are acidifying, while vegetables, millet, quinoa, soy, almonds and wild rice are alkalizing.
- Upon rising and prior to meals, drink the juice of half of a lemon or lime in water.
- Eat one cup of alkalizing greens daily (such as spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens, rapini, water cress, bok choy, etc.).
- Learn to make a vegetable or miso broth (1 tsp of miso dissolved in one cup of hot, not boiling, water). Experiment with adding cooked daikon radish rounds and a small amount of cooked wakame seaweed to the miso broth.
- Choose fish and lamb over beef and chicken for less acid-forming animal protein.
- Use olive oil as it is less acid-forming than other vegetable oils.
- Use buffered vitamin C to alkalize the system.
- If you notice no change with the above options, look for an alkalizing supplement such as Pleo Alkala from a company called Sanum. Although it doesn’t taste great, I have found it to be the most effective in my clinical practice.
Photo: Cathy Pyle