There are contrasting views on the importance of achieving and maintaining the correct pH balance within the body.
While some health experts believe that having a balanced pH level is important, others say it is crucial – often a matter of life and death. The only experts who don’t seem to emphasise the importance of acid/alkalinity balance in the body are those in the medical profession who have vested interests in pharmaceuticals.
In chemistry, pH, which denotes ‘’power of hydrogen’’, a measurement of the hydrogen ion concentration in the body, is a measure of the acidity or basicity of aqueous solutions. The total pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 7 considered neutral. Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic, while solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline. Pure water, for example, has a pH very close to 7.
Our ideal pH is slightly alkaline – 7.30 to 7.45. You can test your pH levels regularly by using a piece of litmus paper in your saliva or urine first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything.
When the body is too acidic, the immune system struggles to fight off germs, infections and disease, which makes us more susceptible to illness. A build up of acid also diminishes the skin’s ability to function as a natural barrier against infection. As a result of excess acidity in the body the skin tends to develop lesions and sores, and eruptions can occur like pimples, rashes or eczema.
Other common ailments caused by acidity include many chronic diseases, from arthritis and osteoporosis, to gout and eczema, constipation, morning sickness and respiratory problems. An acidic environment can also play havoc with your reproductive system, causes inflammation, and weakens your nervous system by depriving it of energy. This is known as devitalising or enervation, which makes the physical, mental, and emotional body weak.
The development of arthritis can be one of the most debilitating effects of an acidic body for active individuals. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, and is associated with pain, stiffness, and swelling in these structures. The two main forms of arthritis are rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, both of which are related to a pH imbalance, and the accumulation of acid deposits in the joints. It is this accumulated acid that damages cartilage, which also makes you more susceptible to connective tissue injuries. When the cells that produce the lubricating synovial fluids and bursa fluids are acidic, this condition causes a dryness that irritates and swells the joints, which can further compromise movement efficiency.
Premature ageing is also linked to an acidic internal environment, as acid accelerates the ageing process within organs, arteries, skin and cells. This can result in a range of symptoms including wrinkles, gray hair, poor memory, and weak bones and muscles. The oxidative stress caused by free radicals is also amplified as an acidic system is ill-equipped to stabilise these free radicals, and prevent them from causing more damage. When a body is alkaline, on the other hand, free radicals are easily converted into harmless water and oxygen.
This build up of acidity in our systems stems from stress, poor diets, a lack of exercise, and the excessive intake of coffee, tea, sugar, alcohol and cigarettes, to name a few. Another important factor that is often overlooked is the over-consumption of protein in our modern diets. Sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid and nitric acid are all formed when protein is metabolised by the body. These acids are excreted by the kidneys, and utilise a number of basic minerals to neutralise them. As more of these basic minerals are depleted through this process the more acidic the body becomes.