The body needs specific nutrients for energy. It then takes those nutrients and through chemical reactions, manufactures substances the body uses for growth and to maintain life. These chemical reactions are called metabolism. Each nutrient plays a unique role in metabolism and if one nutrient is missing, there could be mild to severe consequences in health and energy. Metabolism requires a very specific level of acidity, or pH, to function properly. Scientifically speaking, the body pH measures the number of hydrogen ions in solution within the body. An acidic pH has a low ability to attract hydrogen ions, while an alkaline solution has a high ability to attract hydrogen ions. (Grosvenor, 2006).
What does this mean for you and me? When the body pH is in balance, the body can extract and assimilate minerals and vital nutrients from the blood. This means digestion is good, proper elimination is taking place, and the immune system is functioning properly. (Cowden, 2000). But when the body pH is not in balance, the opposite occurs. Having a too acidic body pH, an imbalance that is below the perfect pH, can cause severe acid reflux, heartburn, acid indigestion, low energy and mild joint dysfunction. It can effect other body systems such as the circulatory system, the digestive system, the nervous system and the structural system. Conversely, having a too alkaline body pH, an imbalance that is above the perfect pH can indicate extreme fatigue and deficiencies in blood and liver conditions. (Cowden, 2000). According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than seven million people suffer from severe acid reflux, heartburn, and acid indigestion. (Nemours 2010). Over-the-counter and prescription antacids are commonly prescribed for acid indigestion, but knowing what foods lower the pH is a crucial tool in preventing pH imbalance. If you have been diagnosed with a digestive disorder, discuss food options with your doctor before self-prescribing.
A Perfect pH
Inside the body, pH must be maintained in a relatively neutral level in order to allow metabolic reactions to proceed normally. If the pH changes, these reactions slow or stop. The pH scale ranges from 0-14 with <6.4 acidic and >6.4 alkaline for body fluids, specifically – saliva and urine. A perfect pH is 6.4, and monitoring your pH is as simple as getting pH strips at your pharmacy or health food store. The best times to monitor the pH levels are first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything, 2 hours after a meal, and prior to bed.
Acid Forming Foods
An acid pH of <6.4, indicates excess conditions and that is when diet should consist of only 20% acid forming foods. The following foods are acid forming and will lower pH levels: All grains except oats, white sugar, all meats, animal fats, butter, cream, eggs, cheese, sea foods, most nuts, soft drinks, milk, beans, most oils, lentils, coffee, tea, cocoa, flour products, and pasta.(Nature’s Treasure Chest, 1991).
Alkaline Forming Foods
As noted above, when acid pH is <6.4, the diet should consist of 20% acid forming foods. The following list of foods is alkaline forming and 80% of the diet should consist of these: Almonds, figs, bananas, prunes, raisins, dates, avocados, grapes, pears, red potatoes, molasses, coconut, all melons, maple syrup, soured dairy products, spinach, beets, okra, parsley, green peppers, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, string beans, green peas, sweet corn, carrots, and squash. (Nature’s Treasure Chest, 1991).
Knowing what to eat, or not to eat can greatly determine how you feel in the short run. In the long run, eating correctly will determine your level of health or illness, so it is very important to pay attention to your diet. Even if you have already been diagnosed with a condition or illness, you can still improve the quality of your life just by the foods that you eat. It is worth the time and effort. Happy eating!
Cowden, Dr. William, (2000). Convention in Minneapolis
Grosvenor, M., (2006). Nutrition Everyday Choices, Volume 1. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Nature’s Treasure Chest. (1991). Health MinistriesNemours Kids’ Health. (2009-2012). Have you heard of Gerd? Retrieved 2010 from http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/stomach/gerd.html