Back in chemistry or biology class you probably had to check your saliva with litmus paper for a hands-on experiment about pH levels. Now you probably notice phrases like “neutral pH” on health and beauty products everywhere, proof that people are “buzzing” about the importance of pH balance. Scientists and healthcare providers, as well as health-conscious consumers, continue to learn more about pH levels and their role in overall health and wellness.
The term pH, meaning potential of hydrogen, refers to the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a scale of 0 to 14. Pure water has a neutral pH level or 7.0 on the pH scale. Readings above 7.0 are alkaline (less hydrogen activity) and readings below 7.0 are acidic (more hydrogen activity). Various foods fall somewhere on the pH scale. The US Food and Drug Administration supplies a substantial list of “Approximate pH of Foods and Food Products” for regulatory purposes and in order to establish processing requirements. The list focuses on how acidic or alkaline each food is in its natural state and is available at fda.gov.
The terms acid-forming or alkaline-forming foods refers to the conditions foods cause in the body after being digested. Based on the FDA report, a lime has an approximate pH level of 2, but as a citrus fruit, it is an alkaline-forming food. Citrus fruits are acidic, but the citric acid they contain actually has an alkalizing effect in the body. Below is a simple list of acid/alkaline forming foods, according to The Prescription for Nutritional Healing.
|Flour; flour-based products||Soft drinks|
|Legumes||Sugar; all foods with sugar added|
|Fresh fruit (most)||Soy products|
|Fresh Vegetables (most)|
Our bodies consist of many systems working together to maintain optimal health–all at varying pH levels. Healthy human blood tests at approximately 7.3–.4 on the pH scale, but the stomach requires an extremely acidic pH level (as low as 1.5) for digestive enzymes like pepsin to go to work in the digestive system. These are just a few examples of how one size does not fit all with a healthy pH level. The key is maintaining an overall balance in our bodies. Here are a few suggestions to help you on your journey to better health:
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens
- Monitor your animal protein intake, especially red meats
- Avoid processed foods, particularly trans fats
- Cleanse the digestive and GI system
- Check your pH levels regularly
Aihara, Herman. Acid & Alkaline © 1986
Balch, James B. and Phyllis A. The Prescription for Nutritional Healing © 1997