If you’re interested in health and prevention of chronic disease, you probably already know that it is important to watch something called your body’s “pH balance.”
pH? pH is a measure of the activity of Hydrogen ions in a solution, and is a chemical indicator of how acidic or alkaline that solution is. The pH scale runs from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline), and the pH of pure water is neutral (pH = 7.0).
Interestingly, the pH of the fluids of your body can tell a good biological doc a TON about your health. We often measure the pH of a patient’s urine, saliva, and blood and compare them to ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ ranges. When the pH of your fluids fall slightly out of the optimal range, enzymatic reactions are negatively affected leading to toxicity or even death of cells. Fluids that are too acidic or too alkaline are both bad news for your cells. The most supportive and healthy pH is slightly alkaline, or just above 7.0. As most people in North America are really acidic, implementing things that make your body more alkaline will promote healthy functioning of your cells and tissues.
A great way to test and see if your body is acidic or alkaline is to measure the pH of your first morning urine. How, you ask?
1. buy some pH paper from your local health food store or chemist
2. take out a small strip and pee on it first thing in the morning
3. after 20 seconds, compare the colour of the paper to the scale on the pH paper container
4. write this number down and track over a few weeks
Ideally, your first morning urine pH should be between 6.7 – 7.5. The closer you are to the upper part of this range the more alkaline you are, and the better for your health!
If your first morning urine pH is less than 6.7 don’t panic!! You’re in good company with most of the rest of this continent. To make your way into the elite group of alkaline pee-ers (?), read on.
It’s a whole lot easier to be acidic than it is to be alkaline. Acidity is caused by eating unhealthy foods, being stressed out, drinking alcohol, not getting enough sleep, taking drugs (pharmaceutical or others), and not exercising enough. Alkalinity is caused by just the opposite – a plant based diet high in fruits and veggies, moderate exercise and a calm internal environment.
One of the easiest ways to change your pH is through your food. Here’s a simple list of some alkaline foods, and some acidic foods. The optimal balance is 80% alkaline and 20% acidic.
Alkaline foods: green veggies, lemons, limes, grapefruits, root vegetables, avocados, almonds, flaxseeds, quinoa, brown rice, tomatoes, sprouts, seaweed, lentils and other beans, herbal teas
Notice that lemons and limes are on this list – they taste acidic, but they contribute to alkalinity in the body
Acidic foods: animal protein (all meat, eggs, dairy), drugs, alcohol, preservatives, chemicals, all processed foods, salt, soy sauce, processed soy products, yeast, vinegar, sweeteners, coffee and black tea (even if decaf)
My best tip for keeping your body alkaline is to make 50% of every meal strictly vegetables or fruits. Green juices and smoothies are other fantastic ways to get that pH up. If you’re doing all of this and your pH is still below optimal, see your ND for further suggestions.
And the challenge – how high can you get your first morning pH?