There’s one topic that keeps coming up: are alkaline foods and waters important to balance your pH levels?
The short answer is no, they aren’t. Your body goes acid during a food allergy reaction. It’s a result, not a cause of anything.
We used to give alkaline salts, just to clear the symptoms quickly (one single dose). A mixture of sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate (2:1) could work magic when someone had a migraine, say, after doing a food challenge test. The details of how, when, and why to do this are given in my best-selling book, Diet Wise.
What appears to keep the alkaline hoax afloat is that certain of the so-called “acid” foods are really just common allergy and intolerance foods. For example, milk is listed as an “acid” food. It’s not at all but it is a food very likely to make you ill.
So avoiding “acid” foods seems to benefit the individual and the pro-alkaline people that proves their case. Food allergies (and their repercussions) are the only thing being proven.
The Science of Body pH
All food passes through an incredibly acid stomach (pH 1.5 to 3.5). That’s enough hydrochloric acid to burn holes in the carpet! Your body makes this intense acid because it needs it to mix with the food you eat for proper healthy digestion!
[By the way, indigestion is caused by not enough acid rather than too much, as the pharmaceutical ads imply. The propaganda has sold billions of bottles of Alka-Seltzer and TUMS but it’s just another example of medical ignorance accepted as scientific truth.]
- First, food is chewed and swallowed. If you test saliva using a litmus strip technique, the body first goes alkaline. The digestive enzyme in the mouth needs an alkaline environment.
- Second, food passes into the stomach and the body immediately turns acid. This is due to stomach secretions, as explained above.
- Third, food reaches the small intestine and the body returns alkaline.
When you drink alkaline water, it stresses your kidneys. They must remove the extra alkalinity as quickly as possible because the human body can only exist with a blood pH around 7.3 (this is mild alkalinity – extremely mild).
So swigging “pH water” at around 9.0 or 10.0 is not simply a bad (and needlessly costly) idea. It’s actually dangerous. Over time, this habit will harm your kidneys.
Moreover, you risk letting pathogens get out of control. The skin and vagina, for example, must be acidic or they can become a breeding ground for bad bugs. The unsubstantiated claim that alkalinity kills pathogens is the exact opposite of the truth.
Alkalinity promotes pathogens.
Acidic conditions, which nature herself wisely creates in various parts of our bodies, are what restrains the growth of pathogens.
Another crucial need of acid in the body is the vital signaler molecule nitric oxide. This compound opens our blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, increases cerebral blood flow, and makes erections possible (Viagra builds up extra nitric oxide). Too much alkalinity decreases nitric oxide in the blood and can result in all sorts of problems.
Let Your Body Work
When you try to force pH changes on your body, it will fight you because it’s the opposite of what is required for your system to function properly and efficiently.
In other words, anyone who claims that certain alkaline foods or supplements can make your stomach or blood alkaline does not understand the body or nutrition. Taking an entire bottle of antacids, consuming alkaline foods, or drinking a whole case of alkaline water could not change the body’s pH for more than a few minutes.
Alkalinity and High pH Are Not The Same!
Let me be clear: HIGH pH AND ALKALINITY ARE NOT THE SAME. Everyone needs to get on the same page in this regard. The pH of beverages and food has nothing whatsoever to do with alkalizing the human body!
The basis of this continuous misconception is the myth that alkaline pH can neutralize metabolic acid and build alkaline reserves, therefore restoring balance to the pH of our body fluids and tissues.
That is incorrect.
What neutralizes acid is alkalinity (bicarbonate, carbonate, hydroxide), not pH! This capability is the very definition of alkalinity. Alkalinity provides the buffering capacity that neutralizes acid whether it is in a test tube or in the body.
Alkalinity is actual substance (“stuff”) while pH is just a measurement of the degree of the dissociation of hydrogen and hydroxyl ions. It takes substance or “stuff” to neutralize acid.
So when you add a few drops of sodium and potassium hydroxide to pure water, its pH will jump to 10, 11, or more. You might think this is going to neutralize the acids in your body – but it won’t because it lacks sufficient buffering capacity that we call alkalinity. The drops might add only 20 mg of alkalinity, which is meaningless in supporting physiological pH balance.
You would be much better off delivering real alkalinity in the form of baking soda that surprisingly has a much lower pH of 8.4 in solution. Just a half teaspoon of baking soda will deliver about 1500 mg of acid neutralizing alkalinity or “alkaline-ness”.
Are you starting to get this new look at things?
If you really want alkalinity, you would be better advised to drink a half liter of fresh green juice with spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, parsley, etc. This would deliver about 2000 mg of alkalinity in the form of a variety of alkalizing mineral compounds.
Here’s the shocker! All these fresh green juices (which deliver the most beneficial alkalinity) are acidic in the range of 5.8 to 6.8!
In other words, pH and the acid-buffering capacity we call alkalinity are completely dissociated! An acid beverage with the right minerals (good, nutritious food) can be very alkalizing!
Remember, lemons, apple cider vinegar, and European carbonated water (all high acid pH foods) are great for alkalizing the body.
My advice is this: forget about the pH of anything you drink or eat. It’s irrelevant to human physiology. It’s a fad based on a HUGE misconception. The testimonials for pro-alkaline foods are junk science. They don’t mean anything.
Eat well, find (and eliminate) your bandit foods that lead to allergies and intolerance, and join my One Diet For Life. You’ll learn exactly what to eat for vibrant health (without the silly fads)!