The human body constantly works towards maintaining an optimum pH level for the proper functioning of all the organs. pH levels refer to the level of acids and bases in the different organs of our body. Let’s find out more and why it’s important.
What is the pH scale?
The pH scale is a standard measure for alkalinity (aka basicity) or acidity. The scale ranges from 0 to 14, where 0 is most acidic, 14 is most basic and 7 is neutral. The scale is logarithmic, meaning each level is 10 times bigger than the next i.e. pH level 8 is 10 times more basic than pH level 9.
How does your body maintain pH levels?
Each part of our body has its own normal pH range:
- Bloodstream: 7.4
- Stomach: 1.35 to 3.5
- Skin: 4 to 6.5
- Urine: 4.6 to 8
- Bile in the liver: 7.6 to 8.8
- Vaginal Fluid: <4.7
Of these, the regulation of pH level in the bloodstream and extracellular fluids concerning digestion is of utmost importance in order to maintain a healthy body. There are two systems in our body that helps to regulate pH level:
Respiratory: The respiratory system regulates the pH in our bloodstream. The normal pH for our bloodstream, as mentioned above, is 7.4. Any deviation from this is not ideal. When the body uses Oxygen to convert sugars to energy, CO2 is released. When CO2 dissolves in the bloodstream, it forms carbonic acid. Therefore expelling the CO2 from our system via the lungs (through exhalation) is pivotal in maintaining blood pH levels.
Renal: The renal system regulates the pH of extracellular fluids i.e. urine, the acids in our stomach etc,. pH imbalance in this system indicates that the kidneys may not be functioning up to the mark.
pH level testing at home
Testing for pH is usually conducted by drawing blood and sending it to a lab. Though home pH tests are not very accurate, they can serve as indicators of your general health condition. You can perform the test at home by procuring a pH test kit from a local chemist. Before drinking or eating anything in the morning, place saliva or urine on the pH strip and compare the color to the chart provided.
Causes and treatment of pH imbalance
The pH level of our body is an indicator of our overall health and well-being. If pH balance is off, we are more prone to diseases. Severe deviations from the normal blood pH value lead to alkalosis or acidosis, depending on whether the pH in the bloodstream leans acidic or alkaline.
Alkalosis indicates that blood pH is higher than the normal range. The reasons for alkalosis may be temporary, such as:
- Fluid loss due to excessive sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Consumption of diuretic drugs
- Kidney’s not functioning properly
Alkalosis is generally treated through oxygen therapy and medication.
High Alkaline Food
Here’s a list of high alkaline foods:
- Sweet potato
Acidosis is much more common than alkalosis. This condition occurs when the blood pH is lower than normal. The modern diet has been attributed as the major cause of chronic acidosis. Excess sodium and the presence of bicarbonates in pre-packaged food have been highly detrimental to the maintenance of blood pH. Indications of chronic acidosis include:
- Diabetic ketoacidosis caused by lowered production of insulin
- Decreased bone health and osteoporosis in severe conditions
Increased pH in the body has also been linked to weight gain. This is because our body stores excess acid in fat cells.
High Acidic Food
Here’s a list of highly acidic foods:
- Processed foods
- Bottled fruit juices
- High – protein supplements and foods
- Some dairy products
- Unsprouted beans
Things you can do to prevent acidosis and balance pH levels
- Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Including avocados and forest berries in your weekly meal plan
- Drinking clean water
- Including organic and GMO free foods in your diet
- Using non-dairy almond/soy milk
- Consuming sprouts and sunflower seeds regularly (great for snacking)
- Consuming electrolyte on a regular basis (especially for those who work out intensely)
The key to maintaining pH balance is consuming foods that can better help you combat excess acid in the body i.e. consumption of foods that are rich in potassium.
You are what you eat. So, be mindful of your choices and take little steps towards adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle.