Understanding your pH
A food is classified as acid or alkaline depending on its mineral content. Alkaline foods contain more alkaline foods contain more alkaline-forming minerals, like calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and potassium, than acid-forming minerals such as phosphorus, copper, and sulfur. Kale, for example, is alkaline-forming because it’s rich in calcium and magnesium, while sodas are acid-forming because they are high in phosphorus.
The body’s pH is measured on a scale of one (the most acidic) to 14 (the most alkaline); neutral is seven. The optimal pH of blood is 7.2 to 7.4, or slightly alkaline. If that narrow range drops by as little as 0.2, your body responds by trying to neutralize excess acid, and pulls minerals from the blood. If blood doesn’t contain enough calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other acid-buffering minerals, the body then draws on reserves in the bones or other tissues, such as liver and heart, which can lead to serious medical problems.
Resolving the acid issue
You can learn if you have an acid imbalance by using inexpensive pH test strips, available at most pharmacies. Over the course of a day, test the pH of your urine with the strips each time you go to the bathroom; calculate an average at the end of the day. Urine’s optimal pH is around seven. A slightly more acid measure – 6.5 to 6.7 – is normal, too, and common if you have just consumed an acidic food like coffee. But if it is lower than 6.5, day after day you should start to worry.
If you are overly acidic, simple shifts in diet and lifestyle can restore balance. The first step is to reduce stress. During a stress response, the muscles get tense and tight, breathing is shallow, and oxygen flow is reduced. Because oxygen is alkalizing to the body and carbon dioxide is acidic, when we are not inhaling and exhaling fully, we tend to become overly acidic.
Deep breathing reduces stress and increases the rate at which carbon dioxide is released from the body. Exercise also relieves stress and reduces acidity.
Acid-Alkaline Shopping List
Alkaline foods: Almonds, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beets, broccoli, buckwheat, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, flaxseed oil, green beans, leafy greens, lentils, millet, olive oil, onions, potatoes, pumpkin-seeds, quinoa
Slightly-acidic foods: Black beans, Brazil nuts, cantaloupe, chickpeas, dates, hazelnuts, nectarines, plums, sunflower seeds, walnuts
Weak acidic foods: Berries, citrus fruits, honey, tomatoes, vinegar
Acidic foods: Alcohol, chocolate, coffee, dairy, eggs, most fruit, mayonnaise, peanuts, processed foods, refined vegetable oils, saturated fat, soft drinks, soy sauce, sugar, white flour.
Alternative Medicine Nov/Dec 2012
Christopher Vasey, ND, “The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health”
Susan Lark, MD, “Eat Papayas Naked: The pH-Balanced Diet for Super Health and Glowing Beauty”
Michelle Schoffro Cook, ND, “The Ultimate pH Solution: Balance Your Body Chemistry to Prevent Disease and Lose Weight”