We’ve all seen the term “ph-balanced” on skin-care products. Most of us know it has something to do with the natural acid in the skin, and that if the product is pH-balanced, it won’t dry out the skin.
But pH goes a lot further than that. In fact, the entire body is affected by pH, and a body out of balance is more likely to be at risk for disease-including infections, bone and joint deterioration, digestive disturbances, and cancer.
We can think of the body as an environment, or what Steven H. Horne, writing for healityourself.com, calls our “biological terrain.” Just like a stagnant swamp is more likely to breed mosquitoes than a bubbling brook, an out-of-balance body is more likely to serve as a favorable environment for disease. Contributing to the health of this environment is pH, or what is known as the balance between acid and alkaline in our body’s tissues and fluids.
In the body, a mildly alkaline state contributes to fluidity and relaxation-this is the body’s most healthy place to be. Excess alkaline makes tissues too lax, lethargic, and instable. Mildly acidic compounds, on the other hand, keep tissues firm and toned. Too much acid, however, and tissues get rigid and dry. Excess acid can show up as high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, arthritis, muscle stiffness, tension, kidney stones, weight gain, immune deficiency, premature aging, and increased risk of cancer. In today’s world, an excess of acid is the most common pH imbalance. In fact, many doctors think that the high acidity in our bodies today is the cause of many of our current diseases:
“The countless names of illnesses do not really matter. What does matter is that they all come from the same root cause…too much acid waste in the body!” (Theodore A. Baroody, N.D., D.C., Ph.D.)
According to lifeenthusiast.com: “There are two factors that are always present with cancer, no matter what else may be present. Those two factors are acid pH and lack of oxygen. Cancer cells do not survive in an oxygen-rich environment. At a pH slightly above 7.4, cancer cells become dormant and at pH 8.5 cancer cells die, while healthy cells will live.”
How do we get out of balance? In a word, diet. The typical American diet-too high in acidic animal products and too low in alkaline-producing vegetables-creates imbalances in our bodies, to the point where we cannot properly absorb nutrients, even if we’re taking vitamins everyday. Pile on extra acid-producing foods like sugar, white flour and soft drinks, along with artificial sweeteners (extremely acid forming), and you have a body drowning in acid that is no longer able to process it all. Meanwhile, cells are swimming in a dangerous environment where cancer can thrive.
How do you know if you have a pH imbalance? First, you can test your pH levels with pH test strips you can use in your own home. These typically test the pH in your urine and your saliva-optimal levels are 6.0–7.0 and 6.5–7.5, respectively. If you find you’re out of balance (most people are too acidic), you can do several things. First, change your diet to include more alkaline-producing fruits and vegetables. (Check the levels of many of your favorite foods here and here.) Choose honey and maple syrup for sweeteners over sugar and artificial sweeteners, and green tea over black tea. Breathe more deeply on a regular basis-lack of oxygen contributes to more acid waste. Next, consider an enzyme supplement. Since we eat so many processed and cooked foods, we often lack the proper enzymes to break food down and extract nutrients from them, which again, increases acidic waste. An enzyme supplement can help improve digestion.
Heard enough about reducing stress? Here it is again-stress stimulates the nervous system, which drives an acid reaction in the body. Adapt coping techniques like yoga, meditation, exercise, and/or massage. You may also want to try a calcium and magnesium supplement-both alkalizers for the body. Finally, work with your own digestive system-avoid foods that you have a hard time digesting, as these will increase the acid content in the body. Take a regular fiber supplement or eat yogurt to maintain regular bowel movements.
Have you tested your pH? Did you make changes as a result? Please share your story.
Photo courtesy varf via Flickr.com.