Your lifestyle plays a role in your overall health and well-being. Your body’s pH is influenced by your diet, exercise, stress levels and the quality of air you breathe. One of the best ways to improve your health is by eating a healthy diet. The foods that you eat can alter your pH level. This may not seem important; however, if your body is too acidic a variety of health problems can occur. Virtually all types of diseases thrive in an acidic environment. In fact, too much acidity has been linked to inflammation, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, chronic pain and other chronic conditions. Understanding pH levels, the symptoms of high acidity in the body and which foods are acidic or alkaline can help improve your health and extend your longevity.
Understanding pH Levels
Your body’s acidity is measured using pH levels. You can determine your body’s pH using a simple urine test. For best test accuracy, the test should be performed first thing in the morning. Urine tests measure the level of acid in the body. Optimal pH levels are between 6.5 and 7.5. When the pH level is lower than 6.5, the body is considered acidic and when the pH level is higher than 7.5, the body is considered alkaline.
What are the Symptoms of High Acidity in the Body?
When the body is acidic, minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, are taken from your bones and organs to help neutralize the acid and remove it from your body, causing mineral deficiencies. These deficiencies can go undetected for years and may only be found when your symptoms become more severe.
Some of the symptoms of mild acidity include:
- Yeast infections
- Weight gain
- Premature aging
As acidity continues to worsen, the symptoms become more severe and may include:
The Western Diet
The Western diet contributes to high acidity levels. Dairy, sugars, meats and grains can all affect your pH level and cause your body to become more acidic. In addition to the foods you consume, your body can become acidic due to metabolism. As your body burns food for energy, waste products are produced. These waste products are acidic. The body needs to either neutralize the acid produced during metabolism or excrete the waste. Excess waste causes the kidneys to work harder and can result in kidney infections, bladder infections and kidney stones. In fact, one study suggests reducing acidity through dietary methods may help slow down kidney disease.
Although your body can adjust its pH levels on its own, the different systems in your body have different pH levels. This occurs so the different systems can help maintain the proper pH levels in the blood. The blood’s pH level should be between 7.35 and 7.45. If a system in the body becomes too acidic, the blood will pull alkaline elements from another system, such as the small intestine, to correct the pH level. When the alkaline elements are removed from the small intestine, it can affect digestion. The body may also draw calcium from the bones to neutralize acids, which can result in osteoporosis. As you can see, although the body can adjust its pH levels, it affects other systems in your body and can lead to health issues.
Additionally, the body has limitations on how much it can correct pH levels. Therefore, the foods you eat play a role in maintaining a proper pH level. If your diet consists of acid forming foods, your body can become more acidic. Conversely, if you eat too many alkaline producing foods, your body can become too alkaline. So, it is essential that you eat a balanced diet to help ensure that your immune system remains strong to fight off disease.
You cannot know if a food is acidic or not by taste. For example, many people think lemons are acidic. Although lemons are scientifically classified as acidic they are alkaline forming in the body. During digestion, the citric acid in the lemon is oxidized into water and carbon dioxide in the body. Another example of confusion occurs with milk. Outside of the body, milk is alkaline; however, once it is digested, it becomes acidic. The only way to determine whether a food is alkaline or acidic is through science. Scientists determine if a food is acidic or alkaline by incinerating it and analyzing the remaining ash’s mineral content.
What Foods are Acidic?
Acidic foods are those that cause more acidity in the body when they are digested. Foods containing protein, sulfur and phosphate are typically acid forming. The following foods are considered acidic and should be eaten in moderation if your pH levels are lower than the recommend pH level.
- Dairy products
- Processed foods
- Refined sugars
What Foods are Alkaline?
Foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium and iron are typically alkaline forming foods. These foods should be consumed when your body is acidic.
- Sea salt
- Apple cider vinegar
- Pumpkin seeds
To help your body’s pH level become balanced, seventy to eighty percent of your diet should be alkaline foods. This means that your plate should be filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens and salads. The remaining portion of your plate should be filled with lean proteins and grains. This will ensure you create a balanced diet. Additionally, you will need to drink three to four liters to help the kidneys filter waste and restore pH levels.
All life depends on maintaining proper pH levels. Optimal pH levels help regulate metabolism, optimizes enzymes in the digestive system and keeps the immune system functioning properly. When the body becomes too acidic or alkaline, you can be plagued with a variety of chronic diseases and illnesses, inflammation and pain. Learning how to properly maintain a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5 will help keep you healthy and may extend your longevity.