PH or the “potential of hydrogen” is a figure, which measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a scale of 1 to 14. Generally, the middle number, i.e., 7 is considered neutral, numbers less than 7 are considered acidic, while those greater than 7 are considered alkaline. However, our body needs to maintain a slightly alkaline pH between 7.35 to 7.45 in order to function in the best possible way. Values less than or greater than this range are considered abnormal for health.
Role of pH in the Human Body
Our body functions at an optimal pH, which is found midway between the acidic and alkaline values. pH balance plays a crucial role in all the bodily functions ranging from complex processes occurring at the cellular level to those occurring at organ level. These processes include biochemical reactions, which support oxygenation, metabolism, hormone production, digestion and various other body functions. Therefore, a balanced pH maintains homeostasis in the body, also known as a state of equilibrium. It is important for all living organisms to maintain a state of homeostasis for healthy functioning body that is highly dependent on the body’s pH. pH balance is known to play the role of the first line of defence against infections and diseases, thereby helping to increase the vitality of life.
Mechanisms for the Regulation of pH
Various organs are involved in maintaining our body’s pH at optimal values. The two most important organs in this regard are kidneys and lungs. These organs are involved in compensatory mechanisms and whenever the pH deviates from normal values, they make adjustments to bring it back to normal. Blood is filtered through kidneys which help to remove or retain acids and alkalis according to the body’s requirements. Lungs allow the inhalation of oxygen and exhalation of carbon dioxide and thus help in maintaining the levels of carbon dioxide in normal amounts. Oxygen and other electrolytes in the body such as sodium, potassium and magnesium are basic and create an alkaline state. It is essential to have the basic knowledge regarding four important terms that are associated with excess of acids or bases in our body. Different pH states have different effects on the body. Too much acid in the body fluids can lead to a state known as acidosis, a pH imbalance which occurs when the kidneys have been unable to remove enough acid from the blood. Too much base or alkali can lead to alkalosis, a condition that occurs due to a build-up of excess base or alkali (bicarbonate) in the blood. It also points towards an underlying kidney disease. Both of these life threatening conditions occur due to pH imbalance and can cause serious damage in an extremely short time, if not managed urgently. Respiratory acidosis is the type of acidosis that occurs due to failure to expel enough carbon dioxide from body through breathing in order to maintain homeostasis. Some of the causes include chest injuries or use of various drugs that interfere with the normal breathing process. Respiratory alkalosis is a pH imbalance, which involves not having enough carbon dioxide (an acid) in the blood. It can be due to hyperventilation or some underlying lung disease.
Impact of Dietary Choices on the Body’s pH
The food we eat plays a vital role in maintaining the pH of our body. The secret to achieving the right pH balance lies in choosing the right kinds of foods and beverages when it comes to diet. Unfortunately, most of the food items that cause excessive acid production in the body are a huge part of our diet, nowadays. For example, excessive sugar intake not only disturbs pH balance, but also provides the ideal environment for overgrowth of fungi, yeast and harmful bacteria which can cause infections and compromise health. Refined flours such as white flour and baked goods, which are made from them such as white rice, multigrain and wheat breads cause acid formation in the body. Artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, and preservatives lead to increased acid formation and are known to be toxic to nerves as well. The normal or average table salt is known to be acid-forming. Various alternatives can be used in this regard. For instance, sea salt, Himalayan or Celtic salts, have alkaline effects on the body. This is because they contain sodium in alkaline form in addition to other minerals such as potassium and calcium, which prevent the formation of acidity in the body. Unhealthy fats such as trans fats from fried food items lead to acid formation in the body. Most of the packaged and processed foods contains high amounts of sugar, refined flour, salt, preservatives and trans fats, which trigger excessive production of acid in the body. Animal products such as beef, eggs, milk, cheese, organ meats, poultry, fish and shellfish, lead to the production of acids. Although, these food items are beneficial to health, it is essential to allow the consumption of these food items in moderation. In addition to this, it is always best to prefer organic dietary options that are healthy and make it easier to balance pH.
How Can You Manage Your pH with Diet?
Balancing your diet to ensure that you are eating from both sides of pH spectrum will be beneficial for the body. Limit your caffeine intake. Beverages or other food items that contain caffeine cause acidity. Some fruits, vegetables and nuts also create a favourable environment for abnormal acid production in the body. These include canned fruit, fruit juices and syrups, jams, jellies, mushrooms, and salted nuts. Although, it is important to avoid food items that increase acidity, however, having a hundred percent alkaline diet is not healthy either and a balance should always be maintained. There are some health friendly options for acidic foods, which are beneficial to health if consumed in moderate amounts. Some examples include fibre-rich fresh fruits full of antioxidants, fresh vegetables, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, oats, brown rice, millet, unsalted nuts, virgin oils and honey. Additionally, include healthy alkaline food options in the diet as well. These include organic, raw and fresh vegetables like sweet potato, turnips, yams, onion, and beets, organic soybeans, lima beans and lentils, fruits like avocado, cherries, grapefruit, tomatoes, and lime, dried fruits like almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and oils like coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil and avocado oil. Peppermint tea and lemon water also help balance pH.
Healthy Activities for pH Balance
Various physical activities help in reducing stress, decreasing toxins in the body, improvement of respiration process and these activities will also be helpful in the pH balance of the body. Exercise is most important and should definitely be part of our routine. Exercise removes acidic waste from body and improves breathing. Yoga and meditation helps to improve respiration and manage stress effectively. Deep breathing exercises have a profound effect on the body’s pH by reducing acidity. Massage therapies are also quite beneficial in lymphatic drainage of the body and to relieve stress. Dry brushing is one of the techniques employed to stimulate lymphatic system by increasing blood circulation and flow of lymphatic fluid. This helps to remove toxins from the body.
The most important thing is to keep yourself well hydrated in addition to maintenance of a balanced diet for a healthy life. Inculcating physical activities in your lifestyle will certainly improve overall health. All of this would also decrease the chances of developing pH imbalance. However, it is essential to understand that if you are experiencing any signs and symptoms of pH imbalance, e.g., recurrent infections, weakness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, irregular heartbeat, hypo- or hyper-ventilation, altered mental state, etc., it is best to always first consult a healthcare practitioner and get yourself checked in order to rule out any underlying organ pathology. HH
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