With all of the diet trends out there, understanding what a balanced diet actually means can be difficult. One tool we can use to make healthy choices is the pH scale.
Understanding the Base(ics) of the pH Scale
pH stands for “potential of hydrogen” which refers to hydrogen ion activity. The activity level indicates how acidic or alkaline (basic) a substance is. The spectrum of activity is called the pH Scale and it ranges from 0-14.
Acidic substances have low pH levels and are closer to zero. Battery acid has the lowest pH level. Alkaline substances (bases) have high pH levels closer to 14. Drain cleaner has the highest pH level. Pure water has a neutral pH of seven.
pH levels affect many aspects of life. Swimming pool staff measure pH levels to keep the water clean. Doctors measure pH levels to help diagnose medical conditions such as kidney problems. Farmers and gardeners measure soil pH levels to determine which plants will grow best in certain areas. While the human body is mostly composed of water, human blood is slightly alkaline with a pH of 7.3–7.4.
How pH Levels Affect Overall Health
Human blood pH can not fluctuate. Survival depends on 7.3 – 7.4 stasis. The lungs and kidneys play major roles in balancing blood pH. However, different organs in the body have different pH levels. For instance stomach acid is highly acidic. The pH of urine can vary depending on what waste substances the kidneys eliminate.
Organs work in harmony with each other to maintain homeostasis aka balance. When we expose ourselves to high levels of acids or bases for extended periods of time, the body can be negatively affected. Bone health is particularly affected by pH levels.
As stated in the 2008 Journal of Nutrition, “Acid-base status is becoming increasingly important in nutritional medicine. The regulation of the pH inside and outside of the cells is essential for enzyme-controlled metabolic processes of the human body… During human evolution, the usual diets, even those including abundant animal protein, mostly contained a surplus of base equivalents.
However, after the invention of agriculture and animal husbandry, particularly alkali-rich fruits and vegetables were more and more replaced by net acid-producing animal foods and cereal grains. Therefore, daily net-acid loads of current western diets average 50–100 mEq/d. As a consequence, conditions of chronic, low-grade metabolic acidosis can develop, which, in the long term, could considerably contribute to impairments of numerous body functions, the best studied of which is the maintenance of bone function.”
A Balance of Acids and Bases Is Key
The 2012 Journal of Environmental and Public Health reported, “ When it comes to the pH and net acid load in the human diet, there has been considerable change from the hunter-gather civilization to the present . .. Excess dietary protein with high acid renal load may decrease bone density if not buffered by ingestion of supplements or foods that are alkali rich . However, adequate protein is necessary for prevention of osteoporosis and sarcopenia; therefore, increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables may be necessary rather than reducing protein .”
Melanie Peters at UC San Diego Health reported in a pHear pHactor article that, “If someone were to adopt a strict alkaline diet with 80 percent alkaline foods and 20 percent acidic foods as some websites recommend, there can be an increased risk of certain vitamin or protein deficiencies. Again, the best diet assumes that one is consuming a variety of foods, based on a foundation of fruits and vegetables and followed by whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.”
How to Eat a More pH-Balanced Diet
Most foods have a pH level between 3 and 10. Keeping track of ph levels may take some extra effort, but the long-term benefits are worth it. Here are a few simple ways you can consider pH when creating a meal plan.
Highlight Your Grocery List
After you create your grocery list, take a moment to highlight highly alkaline and acidic foods. Highlight the acidic foods in yellow and the alkaline foods in blue. If your grocery list tends to have more blue or yellow, then consult a Food pH Chart. Choose substitutions from the opposite side of the chart to balance out your ingredients.
Taste the Rainbow
Maximize the fun of colors by creating colorful meals. According to the Rainbow Diet, the more balanced the color scheme, the more likely the pH levels are balanced. If your plate is mostly red and yellow, then it might not be properly pH balanced. A good rule of thumb is to pair different colored foods together. Try to incorporate a balance of naturally red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple foods into your diet. Keep in mind that your rainbow-decorated cookie doesn’t count! Artificial coloring from food dyes is not applicable!
Track Your Meals
If you don’t plan ahead, try simply recording what you eat for a couple of weeks. (You now have a healthy reason to post your Instagram Foodie Pics!) The See How You Eat app allows you to take a photo of each meal and can track your choices. You don’t have to log every ingredient or count calories and macros. Simply observe the types of foods you tend to eat frequently and then compare them to a Food pH Chart. If you notice the majority of what you’ve been eating is too acidic or alkaline, then try substituting an option from the opposite side of the pH scale.
The key to a balanced diet is to avoid extremes. If you notice that you’ve been drinking more soda than water, try to drink more water. If you notice you’ve been eating only red meat, try to balance it out with leaner, white meat or seafood. You don’t necessarily have to cut out certain foods, simply try to create more balance.
Contact Natural Bio Health Today
If you’re concerned about your diet, we offer a variety of supplements to increase gut health. You may also consider reaching out to an expert. Our team is dedicated to helping you understand the numerous factors that may be keeping you from reaching your optimal health.
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