There's pH and there's pH
There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding acidic and alkaline foods. What's alkaline and what's acidic? During the mid 90's a couple of German scientists conducted research that would help clarify this debate.pH testing is used to measure your overall acid/alkaline balance and means "potential of hydrogen". Ranging from 0 to 14 with 7 being considered neutral. There's pH and there's pH. Firstly the body's blood pH is a tightly regulated buffering processes controlled by the lungs and kidneys (pH7.37 -pH7.43). Even the slightest variations can result in catastrophic results, so the body will work hard to buffer the blood at all costs.
Secondly there is urinary pH. Final urinary pH is a reflection of bone and muscle metabolism, detoxification and elimination ability, therefore overall health and wellbeing. In a healthy state our bodies are slightly alkaline. Lifestyle variances such as exercise, stress, ageing, intake, uptake and distribution of nutrients and minerals and excretion ability impact acid neutralisation in the body. All of which normally would be taken care of but not if one is on a highly acid-forming diet.
Urine should sit somewhere between pH6.7 and 7.2
So instead of randomly estimating the final acidic or alkaline properties of a food, Remer and Manz (1995) proved that by using an equation controlling for biochemical reactions and metabolic processes one could determine the potential kidney acid load and resulting urinary pH of any given food. This method takes into account the mineral and protein composition of foods, average absorption rates of minerals, sulphur metabolism and urinary excretion of organic acids.
This was revolutionary because it proved that one could modify or adjust urine pH by simple diet intervention.
So urinary pH can be seen as a resulting sum of the total acid or alkaline loading we submit ourselves too on a daily basis, taking into account metabolic processes. Consumption of a diet high in "acid forming" animal protein, high phosphorus drinks, hard cheeses and some grains instead of vegetables and fruit may force the kidneys to work harder to maintain equilibrium leaving the body vulnerable and at the mercy of common problems such as digestive disturbances, aches and pains, headaches, fatigue and sleeplessness. The kidneys do this by stealing alkaline minerals from the bones, ineffectively clearing lactic acid and slowing down the blood cleansing process.
Foods such as coffee, tea, chocolate and some berries are acidic but not because they are actually acidic, but because they contain a chemical oxalic acid which increases alkaline mineral (calcium) losses in the urine. Foods high in salt, excess protein, smoking and caffeine can also do the same. Alcohol interferes with alkaline minerals by inactivating the enzyme converting inactive Vit D to active Vit D therefore affecting calcium balance.
Alkaline forming values were found almost exclusively in the vegetable and fruit groups as opposed to the highest acid loads in the cheese, meat, fish and grain categories. Only a few foods, protein-rich or alkali-poor vs alkali-rich can markedly alter the daily intake of acid equivalents. Conditions this has particular relevance to is urinary stones, urinary tract infections, osteoporosis, and metabolic disorders.Chronic acidity or latent acidosis affects cell nourishment at the extra cellular matrix, enzyme function, stress adaptation, bone mineral density and detoxification. The only to find out if you are acidic is by testing urinary pH. To find out more ways to balance your pH see the team at Traditional Medicinals.
Written by Crystal Whitney B. Nat. (SCU) who practices as a naturopath at