This article attempts to summarize the importance of the acid-alkaline balance in the human body as a measure of overall physical health, and to indicate several steps that can be taken if you need to improve that balance.
We live and die on a cellular level. If our cells are healthy then we are healthy and if our cells are not healthy, if they live in a toxic environment, then we are not healthy. The human body contains about ten gallons of fluid so its cells are swimming in an ocean that is either acid, neutral or alkaline. The body’s systems work best in an environment that is neutral to slightly alkaline although some vital organs, like the stomach, either produce or house very acidic substances.
The pH, or “potential of Hydrogen” is a logarithmic scale that measures the relative acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Solutions are measured from 0 (totally acid) to 14 (totally alkaline) and 7 is neutral. The intracellular fluid should have a pH of about 6.8. If the pH is too low (more acidic) then enzymes can’t work and other cellular-level process that are life and health sustaining can’t take place.
Although the cells live in an almost pH neutral environment, they produce acid as they convert food into energy and then perform work. The weak acid that they produce is easily eliminated by the respiratory system. This is the first, and natural source of acid in our bodies. Although we don’t eat a lot of acid food most of the food in the “typical” American diet produces acid ash. Ash is the residue that is left after the body has used what it can of the food that we ingest. Acid ash in solution is a much stronger acid than that produced by the cells and it must be eliminate by the kidneys.
The strong acid produced by the “typical” American diet is so strong that it would burn the urinary tract upon elimination. Consequently the body buffers the acid. Alkaline minerals (calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium) are added to the strong (pH 5.5) acid when a person’s alkaline mineral reserve is full. This converts the strong acid into a very weak acid that is excreted as urine. On the other hand, if a person’s alkaline mineral reserves are depleted then the body is forced to buffer the strong acid with ammonia (a strong alkaline, pH 9.25). This results in the secretion of alkaline urine (pH of about 8.0).
Urine pH is a measure of the environmental conditions in which the cells live. It also shows how the body responded to the food that was ingested within the last 24 hours. This in turn is a good measure of how well the body is functioning. As a general rule, if urine has a pH of about 5.5 in the morning after eating meats, eggs, bread, milk, cheese and cereal the day before then alkaline mineral reserves are adequate and body acid-alkaline balance is healthy.
High Body Acidity
High acidity is the most common acid-alkaline balance problem. When the body’s mineral reserves are depleted the body “borrows” minerals from what ever source it can. This usually means that minerals are borrowed from bones and vital organs. Over time this weakens the organs and muscles. Some of the common health problems that result from high acidity include:
· Acceleration of free radical damage,
· Bladder and kidney problems,
· Cardiovascular weakness,
· Immune system weakness,
· Lactic acid buildup in joints resulting in joint pain,
· Low energy,
· Osteoporosis, eventually resulting in brittle bones and hip fractures, and
· Weight gain.
Diet is the primary cause of acid-alkaline imbalance in the body. The tables below classify common foods as either alkaline ash producing (Table A) or acid ash producing (Table B). Foods identified with an asterisks are either very alkaline ash producing or very acid ash producing. Very acid-ash producing foods should be avoided. On the other hand, very alkaline-ash producing foods can be used to help counteract an acid imbalance. In addition, it is important to note that a food may be acidic, like a lemon, but be alkaline ash producing so don‘t always go by taste.
Common Alkaline Ash Producing Foods
Almonds Amarantha Apples
Apricots Asparagus* Avocados
Bananas Beans (Dried) Beet greens
Beets Blackberries Broccoli*
Brussels sprouts Cabbage Canola Oil
Carrots Cauliflower Celery
Chard leaves Cherries (Sour) Chestnuts
Cucumbers Parsnips Dates (Dried)
Figs (Dried) Flax oil Garlic*
Grapefruit* Grapes Green beans
Green peas Green tea Herb teas *
Honey (Raw) Kiwi Lemons*
Lettuce Lima beans Limes* Mangoes*
Maple syrup Milk (Goat’s)
Millet Molasses Mushrooms
Musk melon Olive oil* Onions*
Oranges Papaya* Parsley*
Peaches Pears Pineapple
Potatoes (Sweet) Potatoes (White) Quinoa
Radishes Raisins Raspberries
Rice syrup Rice (Wild) Rutabagas (Green)
Sauerkraut Soy beans (Green) Spinach (Raw)*
Strawberries Sugar (Raw) Tangerines
Tomatoes Watercress Watermelon*
Common Acid Ash Producing Foods
sweeteners* Bacon Barley
Beans(Dried) Beer* Beef*
Blueberries * Bran (Wheat) Bran (Oat)
Bread (White) Bread (Whole wheat)Butter
Carob* Cashews Cheese*Chicken Codfish
Corn oil Corned beef Crackers (Soda)
Cranberries* Plums Currants
Eggs Flour(White)* Flour (Whole wheat)
Haddock Honey(Processed) Lentils (Dried)Lobster
Milk (Cow’s) Milk(Homogenized)*
Molasses Macaroni OatmealOysters Pasta*
Pastries* Peanut butter
Peanuts* Peas (Dried) Pecans
Pike Pinto beans Pork*
Prunes* Pumpkin seeds Rice (Brown)
Rice (White) Salmon Sardines
Sausage Scallops Shellfish*
Shrimp Soft Drinks* Soybean*
Spaghetti Spelt Spinach (Cooked)
Squash (Winter) Sugar (Refined) Sunflower seeds
Tea Turkey Veal
Venison Walnuts* Wheat germ
Eighty percent of a persons diet should be alkaline foods and the balance (20%) acid ash producing for a perfect pH balance.
There are a few other things, in addition to diet, that can be done to help correct an over acidic balance. These include taking enzyme supplements, organic calcium and magnesium supplements, colloidal minerals, vitamin A and D, and drinking alkaline vegetable juices (carrot, celery and beet) and lemon/maple syrup drink.
Most adults don’t produce enough digestive enzymes and so partially digested food enters the intestines or sits in the stomach and becomes more acidic. Enzyme supplementation helps treat this problem. Mineral supplements are important to build up the potentially depleted mineral reserve of the body. In addition, most vitamins can’t be used effectively if the necessary minerals are not present. Vitamins A and D help hold calcium in the body and reduce the risk of calcium depletion. Alkaline drinks help change the pH balance of body fluids. Finally, if you are taking ascorbic acid to get your vitamin C allowance then switch to either Rose Hips or Citrus Bioflavonoids, neither of which is acidic.
Our bodies are constantly rebuilding themselves. You really are not the same person that you were last year. The body replaces the lining of the stomach about every five days, the skin in about a month, the skeleton about every three months, the liver about every six weeks and the red blood cells circulate for about 120 days before being replaced by new cells. What you do today affects the body that you will have tomorrow. That can be good or bad . . . it all depends on what you do. The new body that you are building today is affected by the food that you eat, the waste that you eliminate (and as important, by the waste that you don't eliminate), by the air that you breath, the liquids that you drink, and by the stress that you feel and how you respond to it. Everything that you do affects the new body that you are building for yourself. A long-term acid ash producing diet creates a toxic environment at the cellular level. If the cells can’t function, the body ceases to function. On the other hand, a healthy diet creates an environment that is conducive to cellular and total health.
Dr. Murphy is the director of the International Wellnes Institute. The International Wellness Institute offers outstanding, low cost, distance-education programs in fitness and wellness. You can study for a professional certificates as a Personal Trainer, Health and Fitness Specialist and/or Sports Nutrition Specialist. Or study for a B.S. in Fitness and Wellness, Masters degrees in Nutrition Counseling or Fitness Management, or Doctoral degrees in Naturopathic Medicine or Hypnotherapy. Please visit our website at www.iwinst.org.