Friday, March 27, 2009

Primer on pH: Acid-Alkaline Balance, Part 1

Every day, I track my body's acid-alkaline balance, or pH. A lot of people ask me why. What makes pH important?

I like the explanation given in a handy little book called The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide, by Dr. Susan E. Brown and Larry Trivieri, Jr. The body likes to maintain certain balances – including an acid-alkaline balance, or pH, just slightly more alkaline than water. This, says the book, "allows for an easy flow of oxygen and nutrients into the cell walls and an equally easy disposal of cellular waste." In other words, peak performance and good clean health at the cellular level, which can translate into good health overall.

Diet has a big effect on the body's pH, with some foods tending to acidify our tissues and others acting to alkalize us. In general, most fresh vegetables, fruits and minerals tend to alkalize us, while the "Standard American Diet" or SAD – heavy on meat, grains, dairy, and sugar – tends to acidify us.

This average Western diet, say Brown and Trivieri, "produces a low-grade systemic acidosis in otherwise healthy people .... While not life-threatening, this low-level acid condition compromises our health." According to various sources, even low-grade acidosis can contribute to osteoporosis, kidney stones, gout, joint disease, age-related muscle loss, tooth decay, chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalances, weight problems, and other disorders.

Many guides suggest a diet of 80% alkalizing foods to 20% acidifying. A good approach to this is eating plenty of fresh vegetables. You can get charts listing which foods acidify and which alkalize, and it's helpful to look at these, but a word of warning: sometimes different acid-alkaline food charts disagree.

I'll write more about acid-alkaline balance in future posts. In the meantime, here are two sources for more information.

The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide: A Quick Reference to Foods and Their Effect on pH Levels, by Dr. Susan E. Brown and Larry Trivieri, Jr. (Click on the title to get the publisher's page about this book)

The Ultimate pH Solution: Balance Your Body Chemistry to Prevent Disease and Lose Weight, by Michelle Schoffro Cook, DNM, DAc. (click on the title to get the publisher's page about this book, and on the author's name to get her website which is also worth a look)

1 comment:

The Veggie Queen said...

This is a very good overview. I happen to really like your suggestion to eat lots of fresh vegetables. I think that people think that they need to go all raw but if they balance out the raw and the cooked (and the half-baked, as I like to point out), then it all works out.
A (green) salad a day keeps the doctor away.