Life itself depends on organisms, like your body, achieving and maintaining a pH balance that allows for regular functioning. In all living organisms, deviations from a healthy pH due to diet and disease increase mobility and mortality. In other words, if your body’s pH is off balance, you will incur health issues as a result.
pH stands for the power of hydrogen, and is a scale that measures levels of the hydrogen ion in the body. The total pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 7 being considered as neutral. A pH level that is lower than 7 is said to be acidic, and higher than 7 is said to be alkaline. In the human body, the ideal pH balance is slightly alkaline, or between 7.30 and 7.45. We can balance our pH levels through the foods that we eat; however, the problem is that many foods that we eat are very acidic. Eating an alkaline diet over time can help you to maintain a healthy balance in your body.
What is the Alkaline Diet?
Over the past several years, authors and researchers have promoted what is known as the alkaline diet. The alkaline diet is based on the idea that alkaline foods help to create an environment in the body that is not conducive to disease.
Some health specialists questioned the validity of these claims, but increasing literature does, indeed, demonstrate some connections between the consumption of alkaline foods and a lower risk of disease. This is not necessarily because of the food’s inherent alkaline nature, but rather because of the particular nutrients and components these foods contain that promote overall health.
Is Our Diet Really Acidic?
Over human history, the pH of our environment and our diet has changed considerably. Increasing CO2 deposition in the ocean has resulted in a negative impact on ocean life, especially for coral reefs. Acidic soil pH also has an impact on nutrient content of the foods we eat. Additionally, with the change in human dietary patterns over the last 10,000 years, and more recently over the last 200 years with increased industrialization, there is an increased net acid load in the diet.
Not only that, as a result of the changing pH of our diet, the mineral micronutrient content of our bodies has also changed. Two key salts, calcium phosphates and carbonates, make up a “reservoir” of base in our bodies, meaning they are naturally a slightly higher pH (less acidic). Because the modern diet is more acidic, due in part to so much sodium in the diet, these salts are released into the system to keep our bodily pH balanced, and then lost in the urine. In other words, the higher concentration of sodium in our diets has caused our bodies to release these salts within our bodies in order to maintain a proper pH.
Additionally, as we age our kidneys aren’t as efficient in regulating bodily pH, and we are more vulnerable to metabolic acidosis caused by diet.