Thursday, May 14, 2009

Measuring pH: Acid-Alkaline Balance, Part 4

I measure my pH every morning. Taking the measurements is easy; interpreting them can be tricky.

In this post I'll tell you what I do, but I encourage you to check out other sources -- including the books I've mentioned in this series -- to get further information.

My routine is to measure both my saliva and urine pH first thing when I get up. I keep sample collection jars, pH tape, 3x5 cards, and a pen or pencil ready to use on my bathroom shelf.

The pH tape I use comes from Body Rescue, and is available from several Internet sources. I use a small glass jar for urine collection and a small shot glass for saliva; I prefer glass because it's inert, but of course glass can break so others might prefer using plastic for greater safety. I collect my samples (for saliva, you only need a little in the bottom of the glass – maybe a teaspoon), then tear off about a one-to-two inch piece of pH tape for each sample.

For urine, I dip the tape, remove it right away, and read it by comparing the color to the chart that comes with the pH tape. For saliva, Body Rescue's instructions suggest leaving the tape in the sample for three seconds, then removing it and comparing it to the color chart. In both cases, I've noticed that exposure to air can slightly change the color of the tape, so it's most accurate right after being dipped. I record the pH numbers I get on my 3x5 card next to the date, so I can see trends in my acid-alkaline balance over time.

Now the tricky part. How do you interpret these numbers? Sometimes the results seem more clear. For instance, I've noticed that I tend to get more acid pH results if I've had more grains and fewer fresh vegetables the day before. I've also noticed that a good dose of aerobic exercise really helps shift my pH toward alkaline. At other times, though, my results don't seem straightforward. For instance, sometimes I get very alkaline urine pH readings but more acid saliva readings. In this case, I might be experiencing an imbalance that is causing my body to pull minerals from my bones to balance too much acidity in my blood. Or my body might be having trouble excreting acidic metabolic wastes.

Different authors have slightly different takes on where your numbers should be. I like Michelle Schoffro Cook's advice. "Ideally," she writes in The Ultimate pH Solution, "your saliva pH should be between 7.0 and 7.4, while your urine pH should be around 6.8." It makes sense to me that urine should be more acidic, since this is a key pathway for the body to rid itself of metabolic acids.

I have discussed pH levels with naturopaths I've consulted, but have not done so with my general practitioner. It's my understanding that mainstream MDs don't get training in this. However, I've read that some recent research on acid-alkaline balance is being pursued at University of California, San Francisco's respected medical school, so maybe that's in the process of changing.

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