Finn's Q&A - how does alkaline/acid pH affect us?

Finn Health
  • Finn's Q&A - how does alkaline/acid pH affect us?

So what is this acid/alkaline see-saw that is frequently spoken about? Well if you are willing to take the words of Robert Young, author of the authoritative Alkalise or Die, then this balance can mean the difference between a happy and healthy body and one that is on a fast track to ill health.

Kidney problems, poor memory, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, skin conditions such as eczema and many other serious ailments are, according to Young, attributable to acidosis an over-acid condition in the cells of our bodies. The foundation for his hypothesis lies in the origins of our species.

Prior to about 10,000 years ago mans diet consisted largely of fruit (berries, etc.) and meat, the food of the hunter/gatherers lifestyle. Though the meat portion of this diet would have had a negative effect on the acidity/alkalinity of early stone-age man, the minor role (roughly 20%) that it played in his diet meant that on balance his intake of alkaline forming foods was roughly 80 percent. With the advent of agriculture, mans dietary habits switched to a predominantly grain based diet, which has remained largely unchanged to the present day.

Grains, as you will see, are predominantly acid-forming in nature. Our cells our bathed in fluids which contain, among many other constituents a balance of minerals, some acidic in nature (phosphorus, chlorine, iodine, nitrogen and sulphur) and some alkaline (calcium, magnesium, silicon, iron, sodium and potassium). This latter group are also known as electrolytes, meaning that they aid our bodies electrical conductivity, facilitating and enhancing mental performance, muscle and nerve function, among other things. Our body constantly works to maintain a healthy pH balance, with our kidneys and lungs playing the primary role in this battle: the kidneys constantly measure levels of the minerals mentioned above and excrete excesses, while the lungs continually exchange carbon dioxide (an acidic waste product of cellular metabolism) for oxygen, facilitating cellular metabolism. This whole process is maintained on a knife-edge, and wild fluctuations in blood pH can call for drastic action, with your body engaging in such actions as dumping acids in certain body tissues (most often in body fat) or drawing on stores of alkaline minerals (such as calcium from your bones) in order to re-balance the pH levels in your bloodstream.

How do you know if your body is suffering from an acid imbalance? Well the complete range of acidity/alkalinity (which you may hazily recall from Junior/Inter-Cert days) runs from 0 (extreme acid) to 14 (extreme alkaline) with 7 being the neutral marker. This scale is logarithmic, so whilst the difference between pH 7 and 8 may sound small, pH 7 is 10 times more acidic than pH 8, and 100 times more acidic than pH 9! Whilst in our stomachs a pH level of 1-2 is usual (and provides a great barrier to any harmful pathogens, think boiling oil over the heads of the intruders!), and on our skin we maintain a pH of 5.5 (known as the acid mantle), pH levels in our body tissues should ideally remain around 7.4. The most simple way of testing this is to regularly check the pH of both our saliva and urine, though if one is suffering from health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure it is most likely that blood pH has fallen too low and one could benefit from taking steps to adjust it. Healthy saliva should maintain a pH level of 7.4, whilst urine (which can vary wildly throughout the day based on our dietary intake) should remain between 6.4 and 7. Testing first thing in the morning will provide the most accurate indicator of the body cells pH. pH test strips can be obtained at most pharmacies.

Affecting your bodys pH balance is all about adjusting the intake of those foods that contain a higher proportion of the alkaline minerals  these foods are referred to as akaline-forming foods (see the list below). A good rough guide is to adhere to a 60/40 alkaline/acid ratio to maintain health and an 80/20 ratio in order to alter situations of ill health. Certain supplements and preparations can also help to adjust cellular pH in a shorter time period. These include both honegarâ, a mixture of cider vinegar, honey (in a 1:1 ratio, with about a teaspoon of each per glass of water) and warm water, which is pretty easy to take. Also a preparation known as a sole (so-lay) which is a saturated suspension of a mineral crystal salt (Himalayan salt is a readily available example containing 84 bio-available minerals for the human body) in a glass of water. Simply dissolve a dessertspoon of salt in a glass of water, leave covered, adding a spoon of salt each day until no more will dissolve. Take a teaspoon of this preparation each day in a glass of water a fantastic solution for alkalising, rebalancing the concentration of minerals in the body and supporting heavy metal detoxification. Also green food supplements such as barley grass and spirulina, which are rich in oxygenating chlorophyll, will help in redressing your cellular pH balance.

Below is a shortlist of acid and alkaline-forming foods, designed not as a comprehensive dietary breakdown, rather a good indicator of what foods to focus on cutting down/increasing in your diet. You will find many more comprehensive (and in some cases contradictory) lists elsewhere on the web, the list below deals only with the more acutely acid or alkaline-forming foodstuffs. Some of the foods you see in the alkaline list below are well known for their acid content, and it is important to remember that the acids found in foods have little bearing on whether they leave an acid or alkaline residue in our bodies once broken down, rather it is the mineral content (as outlined above) that decides which bracket they come under. ACID-FORMING FOODS

  • coffee
  • alcohol
  • sugar (thus all foods with sugar added)
  • grains (most, including all flour-based products such as pasta, bread, etc.)
  • meat (esp. red meat)
  • eggs
  • dairy products (esp. hard cheeses)
  • cranberries (this is part of the reason that they are so useful in treating urinary tract infections)
  • tobacco
  • legumes (un-sprouted)
  • nuts and seeds (most, though not extremely acid-forming in nature)


  • fresh fruits (most, esp. lemon, watermelon, grapefruit, dates)
  • fresh vegetables (most, esp. leafy greens (mustard, kale, spinach, etc.), onions, celery, potatoes
  • avocadoes
  • sea vegetables
  • cider vinegar
  • umeboshi plums
  • molasses
  • honey
  • herbs and spices (esp. cayenne, parsley)
  • sprouts (alfalfa, watercress, etc.)
  • millet
  • mushrooms (esp. shitake, maitake)

Another core factor for maintaining the acid/alkaline balance is the management of emotions. Stress and negativity are major acid-forming emotions, whilst, guess what  meditation and peacefulness work towards alkalinity, so whilst it sounds obvious it is important to culture a positive outlook in order to maintain health and this is a vital part of redressing any ailment. So there you go it's as clear as mud (which is alkaline-forming in case you were wondering!), but if you follow the general principles of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduce the amounts of coffee, alcohol, meat, dairy and grain-based foods you should be on the right track! If you want further information on this, or any other subject in the realm of health foods or alternative medicines, please either call into the shop, give us a call or e-mail us.

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