Good nutrition is the key to good health. In “Nutrition for Optimal Health – Part One” we looked at the first of three ways a person can significantly change their health by making very simple choices (with significant results). In part two, we will focus our attention on the role of nutrition and blood pH balance and how it affects overall health.
Maintain a Slight Alkaline Blood pH
The pH scale represents the “power of hydrogen”, which is a measurement of the hydrogen ion concentration in the body. The total pH scale ranges from 1.0 to 14.0, with 7.0 being the neutral value. A pH value that is less than 7.0 is acidic and solutions with a pH value greater than 7.0 is considered alkaline (or basic). The ideal blood pH for humans is slightly alkaline, between 7.30 and 7.45. A pH test is easy to do, is non-invasive and can be done every day. All you need is a piece of litmus paper and saliva or urine. For consistent results it is best to test first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
The body is constantly working to maintain pH balance for optimum health. Being too acidic (aka. acidosis) or too alkaline (aka. alkalosis) can increase the risk for disease. An acidic pH is a breeding ground for pathogens in the body, increasing the risk for the following conditions:
- Heart disease
An alkaline pH (above 7.45) can also cause negative health outcomes by increasing the risk for the following conditions:
- Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid, HCL)
Persistent symptoms are often times the result of a blood pH imbalance. Below is a list of symptoms for both acidosis and alkalosis.
Symptoms of Acidosis
When a person is in a state of metabolic acidosis, the enzyme systems of the body are running at a high speed. In this state a person will:
- Feel agitated.
- Feel nervous and unsettled.
- Have anxiety.
- Feel physically tired but mentally wired.
- Compensate by tending to take deeper inhalations.
- Have a low tolerance for carbon dioxide (can only hold their breath for less than 45 seconds).
Symptoms of Alkalosis
On the opposite side of the spectrum, a person who is in a state of metabolic alkalosis will have enzyme systems of the body running at a sub-standard pace. As a result, pulse and blood pressure decrease, inhibiting sympathetic activity. This can have a significant effect by decreasing thyroid activity (ie. metabolism and the body’s use of stored energy). In this state a person will:
- Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.
- Feel sluggish.
- Feel burned out and tired.
- Have a much higher tolerance for carbon dioxide (can hold their breath for 60 seconds or more).
In both cases, the body is deprived of oxygen, an essential component for good health and optimum function.
pH Balance and Body Fat
pH level plays a significant role in how our bodies store fat. The human body is genetically wired to protect itself from harm. An acid solution (ie. a car battery) can instantly burn you if it touches your skin. The same holds true when your blood becomes acidic. The body immediately responds by protecting itself. The body’s primary form of protection in an acidic environment is body fat. As the blood becomes more acidic, the body protects itself by insulating each exposed cell. Getting the body back to a slightly alkaline pH will provide an environment to maintain a healthy body weight.
Maintaining pH Balance
pH balance is something that can be achieved primarily through proper nutrition and the right food choices. If your blood pH level tends to be more acidic, choose alkaline-forming foods including:
- Most vegetables and fruits
- Gluten-free grains (ie. flax, millet, quinoa and amaranth)
- Certain nuts (ie. almonds, pine nuts and coconut)
- Yogurt (plain)
- Cold pressed oils
- Most spices
If your blood pH level tends to be excessively alkaline, choose foods that decrease blood pH including:
- Most meats and poultry (ie. beef, chicken, pork and fish)
- Most dairy products (ie. milk, cheese and yogurt)
- Certain nuts (ie. pecans, cashews and pistachios)
- Pickled vegetables
Food for Thought …
The standard North American diet promotes a more acidic blood pH due to the higher content of acid-forming foods. The easiest way to jumpstart the process of maintaining a slightly alkaline blood pH (7.35 to 7.45) is by drinking a glass or two of fresh vegetable juice on a daily basis.
Stay tuned for “Nutrition for Optimal Health – Part Three” where we focus on increasing your intake of “super foods”.