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Our bodies work incredibly hard and do a great job keeping us healthy. Besides removing toxins and protecting us against infections, bacteria, and other disease-causing pathogens, our bodies work hard to maintain the perfect pH balance. Your body’s pH is the Acid-Alkaline balance.
Correct functioning and good health require your body to work continuously to maintain the pH levels of your blood and other fluids at optimal levels.
Understanding the pH Balance
pH is the measure of the acidity or the alkalinity of our body’s fluids and tissue.
The pH value ranges from 0-14 as follows;
- Acidic- 0-6.9
- Neutral- 7
The more acid your body fluids and tissues are, the lower the pH. The more alkaline the fluids are, the higher the pH.
Your blood and other fluids should maintain a pH that ranges from 7.35 and 7.45. However, it’s important to note that your body’s pH varies greatly, with some parts being more acidic and others more alkaline.
For example, your stomach is hugely acidic, with a pH value of 2-3.5. This is due to its high hydrochloric acid levels that are necessary for the digestion of food.
Blood, on the other hand, is slightly alkaline with a pH value of 7.36-7.44 and is a significant indicator of healthy/normal body function.
That said, a pH imbalance in your body, especially if the pH level is low (acidosis), can increase your risk of a wide range of diseases. These include heart complications, osteoarthritis, joint and muscle pain, vitamins and minerals malabsorption, acid reflux, ulcers, extreme fatigue, headaches, shallow breathing, and many others.
A high pH level, which results in a condition known as Alkalosis, may lead to symptoms such as nausea, muscle twitching, confusion, and others.
A balanced acidic-alkaline environment is therefore recommended to ensure healthy body function.
Acidic vs. Alkaline-Forming Foods- Foods That Affect Your pH Balance
The kind of foods and drinks you consume generally affects your body’s acid-alkaline balance. You see, some foods tend to be more acid-forming, while others tend to be alkaline-forming.
In other words, some of the foods or drinks you consume may cause your acid levels to rise while others increase the alkalinity levels of your body.
An excellent example of processed foods includes processed and junk foods like wheat products, store-bought cakes, French Fries, deep-fried chicken, refined carbs, soda, dairy, grains, bread (especially white bread), caffeinated drinks, eggs, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, pasta, walnuts, meat, poultry, fish, fruits like oranges, and more.
Alkaline foods, on the other hand, are less acid-forming. These are foods that contain alkaline minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, sodium bicarbonate, and manganese.
Usually, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and high-water content foods are alkaline-forming, and consuming these in high quantities will help your body achieve the optimal pH balance. In most cases, foods that have little or no processing are alkaline-forming.
Fruits like Lemon may be acidic in their natural form. However, when consumed, lemons tend to have an alkalizing effect on your body. So don’t be afraid of eating lemons due to their acidic nature.
How Does Your Diet Affect Your Acid-Alkaline Balance?
When you consume acid-forming foods or drinks, your body works very hard to restore the pH balance, and it does this by releasing alkaline-loaded minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous back into the blood.
Of course, these essential minerals are pulled from all over your body, including the bones, teeth, vital organs, etc. If you’ve been consuming a non-balanced diet for some time, this may have a major negative impact on your body. You risk developing osteoporosis, kidney stones, acid reflux, and many other issues, as discussed below.
In this case, a more alkaline diet will ensure your body stays healthier and reduce your risk of a wide range of severe health complications.
Side-Effects of Consuming Acidic Foods
It’s plain to see that acidic foods pose more health risks compared to alkaline foods. And because your body will continually work hard to maintain proper pH balance, eating acidic foods only makes the job tougher. Below are some of the major side effects of consuming acid-forming foods.
Reduced Bone Density
As earlier mentioned, when you consume acidic foods, your body draws essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous from your teeth, bones, and organs.
A lot of these minerals are after that excreted through urine, causing low bone density and eventually serious health conditions like osteoporosis and other joint problems.
A study published in the Journal of Osteoporosis International reported that participants who consumed an acidic diet increased the amount of calcium excreted via urine by approximately 74%.
Another study showed that participants who were subjected to a low-calcium diet and acid-forming foods also had reduced bone density.
This clearly shows that an acidic diet is one of the major causes of osteoporosis in both men and women.
Acidic foods are also known to cause acid reflux. Acid reflux is a condition where stomach acid flows back up to the esophagus, leading to issues like heartburn as well as chest pain.
Some of the most common triggers of acid reflux are highly acidic foods and drinks such as high-fat foods, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages such as coffee.
Consuming foods and drinks that are loaded with acid also affects the pH of your urine. Acidic foods and beverages significantly affect your urine’s pH compared to your blood’s.
In this case, increased acidity in your urine increases your risk of developing kidney stones, also commonly known as Uric Acid. Limiting your consumption of acid-forming foods and drinks such as dairy, meat, poultry, caffeinated beverages, and others may reduce your risk of developing kidney stones.
Inflammation and Chronic Pain
A high-acid diet has been linked to inflammation and chronic pain, including back pain, muscle spasms, and headaches. Following a healthy, alkaline diet is key to reducing inflammation and chronic pain in the body.
One German study supplemented 82 subjects with chronic back pain with alkaline minerals. After a period of 4 weeks, their back pain symptoms were reduced in about 92% of the subjects.
This simply means that adopting an alkaline diet will not only reduce inflammation in your body but also eliminate any chronic pain you may be having.
Even better, reducing inflammation may help prevent a wide range of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and more.
Decreased Levels of Human Growth Hormone
An acidic diet has also been associated with reduced amounts of the Human Growth Hormone. This is the hormone that stimulates cell growth and regeneration. As a result, stunted growth may occur in affected individuals.
In one study, an alkali therapy administered to patients with stunted growth increased the human growth hormone, thus promoting growth and development. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/621287/).
As we discussed earlier, the body draws important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous from your teeth, bones, and organs when your pH is low.
With time, you may experience an extreme mineral deficiency, leading to a wide range of health complications. Adopting an alkaline diet and maintaining a healthy pH balance is one way to prevent mineral deficiency in the body.
Acidic Foods That Are Not Exactly Harmful to Your Body
Although we mentioned that acidic foods are harmful to your health, it might not be possible to survive entirely on an alkaline diet. You need some of these foods as they contain essential nutrients that your body needs to function correctly.
For example, although meat, poultry, and dairy are acidic, they happen to be the richest sources of protein. You need them in order to meet your daily protein and other essential minerals requirements (unless you’re a vegan).
When consumed in small amounts, these foods may not have such a negative impact on your pH balance or your health. Another type of acidic food is walnuts. However, walnuts are known for their ability to reduce inflammation due to their high antioxidant and omega-3 fatty acids content.
Alkaline Diet- Does It Really Work?
Well, without a doubt, acid-forming foods are not the best when it comes to maintaining a healthy pH balance in the body. It seems like adopting a diet consisting of a higher percentage of alkaline and low amounts of acidic foods is the only way to ensure optimal bodily functions.
An alkaline diet has a wide range of health benefits which include;
- Preventing osteoporosis and other joint-related problems
- Promoting healthy cardiovascular functions and preventing heart diseases
- Promoting healthy cell growth and development and preventing cancer
- (cancerous cells thrive in an acidic environment)
- Promote healthy muscles- reduce muscle spasms, muscle weakness, and muscle loss
- Preventing acid reflux, gastritis, and other acid-related issues
- Preventing chronic pain and inflammation including back pain, joint pain, etc
- Promoting weight loss
- Prevents kidney stones
- Slows down the aging process as no minerals and nutrients are drawn from organs, bones, and teeth
- Increases the absorption of important vitamins and minerals
- Boosts body’s immune function
Useful Tips on How to Follow and Maintain an Alkaline Diet
Following and maintaining a healthy alkaline diet isn’t really complicated since all you need to do is eliminate or rather reduce acid-forming foods. Having said that, here are some incredible tips on maintaining an alkaline diet and reducing your risk of developing chronic illnesses.
Increase your intake of raw foods as they are not only nutrient-rich but also contain the highest amount of alkalizing minerals that are often lost during cooking.
Try raw vegetable salads, fruit salads, raw fruit, and vegetable smoothies. Besides keeping your PH levels at optimal levels, raw foods will also protect your body against a wide range of chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many others.
Consume fresh foods instead of processed foods. In their natural, fresh form, most fruits and vegetables contain the most nutrients, especially alkalinizing minerals, compared to canned or processed fruits and veggies.
Some of these processed fruits and veggies may also contain preservatives and other acid-laden chemicals. Be sure to consume foods when fresh to obtain the most benefits.
Increase your intake of chlorophyll-rich drinks like leafy green smoothies and wheatgrass juice. Besides containing a load of beneficial nutrients, green drinks are known for their ability to detoxify and alkalinize the blood.
Instead of quenching your thirst with soda and other soft drinks that are highly acidic, drink Alkaline water instead. Alkaline water has a higher pH compared to regular tap water as it has a PH that ranges from 9-11.
Habits That Cause High Acidity (Avoid Them)
Besides consuming highly acidic foods, there are many habits that you might want to stop to ensure optimal pH balance in the body. They include;
- High consumption of caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, and some soft drinks
- High-fat foods
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Excessive cigarette smoking
- Frequent use of artificial sweeteners
- Excessive consumption of processed and ultra-processed foods
- Consumption of pesticides and herbicide-laden foods like fruits and vegetables (organic foods are healthier and naturally alkaline)
- Excessive use of animal meat
- Excessive intake of hormones from processed foods and a wide variety of manufactured health and beauty products
- Poor eating habits- like not chewing foods properly
Who Should Avoid Acidic Foods Completely (and Adopt an Alkaline Diet)
Anyone with acid reflux, ulcers, gastritis, and kidney stones may want to avoid acidic foods as they tend to worsen the symptoms.
Wrapping It Up
Maintaining optimal pH levels is key to good health, and avoiding excessive consumption of acidic foods is one way to ensure that.
An alkaline diet has way more health benefits compared to acidic foods, and these benefits are life-changing. And the good news is, following an alkaline diet is super easy!