What is the pH Balance of the Body?
The pH level is one of the most important balance systems of the body. The term pH stands for “potential” of “Hydrogen”. It is the amount of hydrogen ions in a particular solution. The more ions, the more acidic the solution. The fewer ions the more alkaline (base) the solution. The pH level is a measure of acidity or alkalinity, on a scale of zero to fourteen, with zero being most acid, fourteen being most alkaline and seven being mid-range. The most critical pH balance is in the blood.
Normal blood pH has a very small window of acid/alkaline pH balance. Blood pH must range between 7.35 and 7.45. This means that there is an adequate amount of oxygen in the blood. Any slight decrease in pH will result in lower oxygen levels in the blood and, therefore, in the cells. Any drop in pH, no matter how slight, is the beginning of a disease state and affects when and how we age. All other organs and fluids will fluctuate in their range in order to keep the blood at a strict pH between 7.35 and 7.45 (slightly alkaline). This process is called homeostasis. The body makes constant adjustments in tissue and fluid pH to maintain this very narrow pH range in the blood. A normal pH of all tissues and fluids of the body (except the stomach) is slightly alkaline. The stomach pH is much more acid than the intestinal pH because the stomach needs an acid environment (hydrochloric acid) to break down food for digestion. Whereas, the flora (good bacteria) of the intestine need a more alkaline environment to assimilate and process the nutrients from the foods digested by the stomach.
How Does Eating Affect Our pH Level?
Diet is probably the most important change we can make to balance our natural pH. We need to eat at least 75% alkaline-forming foods. The average all-American diet consists of about 80% acid-forming foods! Because processed and refined foods are extremely acidic to our systems, the body creates a buffering system (a chemical process to protect the body from being harmed by the acids). This buffering process requires the use of many nutrients from the body, including electrolyte minerals (organic potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, to name a few). Electrolyte minerals are not minerals from the ground. They’re minerals from plant sources that have gone through the process of photosynthesis.
Why are Electrolyte Minerals Important for our Bodies?
Electrolyte minerals are vital to the metabolic functions of our body systems. When we have a sufficient reserve of electrolyte minerals, the buffering process (the cushioning and removing of unwanted acids from our systems), is not a problem. When we are young, we usually have sufficient reserves. Over time, the electrolyte mineral reserves can become depleted by ingesting too many processed and refined acid-forming foods, or from excessive mental or emotional stress. When we run short of electrolyte minerals, our body is no longer able to maintain an efficient homeostasis (a state of equilibrium).
The body has a hierarchy of priorities for survival. Second only to breathing and sustaining our heartbeat, the most important metabolic function that our bodies perform is maintaining a specific pH. The most important pH level that the body must regulate is the blood’s pH level. The body’s blood pH level must be maintained at 7.4 (slightly alkaline). If it varies more than a point, death can result from a coma or a seizure. In order to maintain the blood’s critical pH balance, the body will compromise less important functions. Once the electrolyte reserves become depleted, the body begins to rob these electrolytes from the various organs and systems of the body to maintain the blood’s pH level. This is where the imbalance begins.
The following are examples of altered pH levels and the resulting imbalanced internal body system:
- If the bowels and intestines are robbed of electrolyte minerals, the pH level becomes altered. This creates an imbalance in the bacterial environment, which can leave the bowels and intestines open to pathogens (including candida and parasites), irritations and disturbances. Have you ever heard of irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut syndrome?
- Also, when the body becomes depleted of organic sodium (an essential electrolyte mineral, not table salt), the body may not be able to manufacture enough hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This can create an imbalanced digestive system, where foods are not being digested properly.
These imbalances can be aggravated further because our body systems will generally deplete electrolytes from the weakest areas first. So if someone already has a weakened body system, the further depletion of electrolyte minerals will cause a greater imbalance and more dysfunction. When our bodies become too depleted, overall functioning becomes weakened, affecting the immune system and the body’s ability to fight off bacterial and viral infections.
Testing pH – What is the normal pH of blood, urine, and saliva?
Pure water, which has pH of 7, is neutral. Substances with a pH less than 7 are considered acidic and substances with a pH of greater than 7 are considered basic (alkaline).
The normal pH of blood running through arteries (large elastic-walled blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body) is 7.4; the pH of blood in the veins (vessels that transports blood to the heart) is about 7.35. Normal urine pH averages about 6.0. Saliva has a pH between 6.0 and 7.4.
You can easily monitor your pH with simple testing strips which can be purchased at your local pharmacy. Testing saliva is the easiest way to gauge the body’s pH. To test saliva: Wait 2 hours after eating. Spit into a spoon. Dip the strip. Read immediately. Use the color chart from the correct indication. An optimal reading is 7.5. This indicates a very slightly alkaline body.
Urine is more acidic than saliva. To test urine: Test a urine sample first thing in the morning. Fill a small cup with urine, and dip a strip into the cup. Read immediately. An optimal reading is about 6.5
Source: Guyton, Arthur C. Textbook of Medical Physiology, 8th ed., pp. 331, 340, 711.
About Balancing the pH
There are many good products out there for raising pH levels. Your diet and water are most important, however. Below are a few of our favorite ways for quickly raising pH levels and oxygenating tissue.