This is so essential to being human that our bodies have a wonderful maintenance mechanism to keep our blood in balance. This mechanism protects our blood at all costs, sometimes at the expense of our tissues. When our tissues become acidic, that in turn can result in impaired function of some major systems, including organ, digestion, skin integrity, and repair from injury.
pH is so important, and there's an easy way to check your pH, and if needed, an easy way to correct it.
Our body's internal system needs a pH just above 7.0. We call this range alkaline. (As an example, dogs maintain an acid pH range, which is much lower on the scale.) Since we are human, our enzymatic, immunologic, and repair mechanisms all function their best in this alkaline range. However, our metabolic processes, the processes of living, tissue repair, and the metabolism of food produce a great deal of acid. In order to maintain our internal alkaline state, we need a few tools. These tools are all around us: oxygen, water, and acid buffering minerals.
Exercise - When we exercise or move around, we produce lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Lactic acid is by its nature acid and the carbon dioxide becomes acidic, turning into carbonic acid and water.
Digestion - Digestion of foods generates acids. For example, phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid are produced from the metabolism of the phosphorus and sulfur contained in many foods, such as, meats, grains, and beans.
Immune Responses - Immune system responses, such as allergies and hypersensitivities, directly and indirectly generate substantial amounts of acidic products.
Many lifestyle and environment factors also influence acid-alkaline balance. Let's look at stress as an example.
When we are under tremendous stress, our acidity will likely increase because of the demands on our cells to become more active. Chronically hectic schedules (sound familiar?), inadequate sleep, and rushed, imbalanced meals can all contribute to this unhealthful condition.
And here's the kicker… An underlying metabolic acidity (low pH) is a common denominator and likely contributing factor to all degenerative and autoimmune diseases.
Why? Because an acid environment, for us humans, has several adverse effects on cell metabolism including…
- impaired energy production
- fluid accumulation and edema
- increase in free radical production
Since the correct pH is so essential to our daily lives (and to all the countless chemical reactions necessary for life), the body has many checks and balances to maintain the correct pH, within a perfect but narrow range.
When the pH of the blood remains consistently below 7.365, the bloodstream becomes a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms, much like a stagnant swamp. This happens because acidosis reduces the available oxygen supply in the bloodstream, and microorganisms thrive in the absence of optimum oxygen levels.
Dr. Otto Warburg - Nobel Prize winner
This treatment approach is called alkaline therapy or pH therapy, and is based in part on observations of cultures without significant incidence of cancer and in part on scientific observations of and experimentation with cellular metabolism. The principles of pH therapy are very simple. The metabolism of cancer cells has a very narrow pH tolerance for cellular proliferation (mitosis), which is between 6.5 and 7.5. As such, if you can interfere with cancer cell metabolism by either lowering or raising the internal cancer cell pH, you can theoretically stop cancer progression.
Brewer, A. Keith PhD, Cancer, Its Nature and a Proposed Treatment, 1997; Brewer Science Library;
This year alone, nearly 600,000 Americans will lose their lives to cancer. Recent estimates tell us that 41 percent of all Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetimes and 21 percent of the population will lose their lives to this devastating disease. A new report released by the World Health Organization's (WHO) forecasts that by 2035, an incredible 24 million people will be diagnosed with cancer globally. These numbers reflect the need for a complete overhaul of our approach to cancer. Despite being overlooked for decades, volumes of scientific evidence prove that diet and nutrition play a leading role in cancer development. Only in recent years have mainstream physicians and health groups begun to recognize the importance of our lifestyle choices when it comes to preventing and reversing cancer. Even the WHO report recommends a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and sprouted grains as a powerful way to help stave off this disease. Here is my list of anticancer superfoods that you can begin incorporating into your diet today for greater health and vitality. I've included dozens of scientific citations demonstrating the benefits of each of these nutrient-rich foods.
The vast majority of Americans consume an excess of acid forming foods. Research has shown that tumor growth increases in an acid environment. The blood is maintained in the body at a slightly alkaline level of between 7.2 and 7.4. Eating alkaline foods keeps the blood pH in its ideal range, which is important for the prevention and treatment of cancer. Ideally, the diet should consist of 80 percent alkaline forming foods, such as those available from many raw fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, and legumes. What follows is a list of recommended alkaline forming foods: Fruits: Berries, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, currants, dates, figs, grapefruit, grapes, kiwis, lemons, limes, mangos, melons, nectarines, olives, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapple, quince, raisins, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, and watermelon. (The most alkaline forming foods are lemons and melons.)
Vegetables: Artichoke, asparagus, sprouts, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, ginger, horseradish, kale, kelp, seaweeds, mustard greens, okra, onions, parsley, potatoes, radishes, spinach, squash, tomatoes, watercress, and yams.
Beans/Legumes: Almonds, chestnuts, chickpeas, green beans, lima beans, peas.
Seeds: Alfalfa, coconut, radish, and sesame.
Any Alkaline Diet will point to the essential pH balance between the acidic and alkaline. Human blood is slightly more alkaline while the acids in the stomach are, well, you guess. Both the alkaline and acidic are necessary and the human body is constantly regulating this pH balance through the minerals and substances we gain through foods that when eaten are more alkaline, or acidic.
The body is thought to be at optimal performance when it is just slightly alkaline but due to a commonly accepted diets heavy in acid forming foods such as heavy meats, and processed foods, this pH needs to be brought back to balance. Many of the alkaline minerals the body needs such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, can help neutralize acidic toxins and bring balance to an acidic pH balance now linked to a number of health problems.
It would be prudent to consider an alkaline diet to reduce morbidity and mortality of chronic disease that are plaguing our aging population. One of the first considerations in an alkaline diet, which includes more fruits and vegetables, is to know what type of soil they were grown in since this may significantly influence the mineral content. At this time, there are limited scientific studies in this area, and many more studies are indicated in regards to muscle effects, growth hormone, and interaction with vitamin D.
Schwalfenberg GK. The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2012;2012:727630. doi:10.1155/2012/727630.
The vast majority of Americans consume an excess of acid forming foods. Research has shown that tumor growth increases in an acid environment. The blood is maintained in the body at a slightly alkaline level of between 7.2 and 7.4.
Smallbone, Kieran, David J. Gavaghan, Robert A. Gatenby, and Philip K. Maini. "The Role Of Acidity In Solid Tumour Growth And Invasion." Journal of Theoretical Biology 235, no. 4 (2005): 476-484.
Robey, IF, et. al. "Bicarbonate Increases Tumor PH and Inhibits Spontaneous Metastases." Cancer Res 69, no. 6 (2009): 2260-8.
Rofstad, Einar K., et al. "Acidic Extracellular pH Promotes Experimental Metastasis of Human Melanoma Cells in Athymic Nude Mice." Cancer Research 66 (2006).
Are you pursuing a more balanced lifestyle in 2015? Don't forget to include one of the body's most important balancing acts, taming your skin. Achieving the perfect pH balance will ease dry winter skin, enhance the effectiveness of anti-aging products, and, according to a recent report, keep wrinkles at bay.
You body operates at a neutral pH balance of 7. But skin is a little different, its protective barrier, composed of dead skin cells, fatty acids, and lipids, works in a more acidic environment, at a pH of 5.0. When the balance is too neutral (at, say, a 6 or 7) that barrier breaks down, allowing allergens, pollutants, and bacteria to enter skin, while letting precious moisture escape. But when skin is at an ideal pH, it's optimized to retain moisture and protect against environmental threats that can age you prematurely. In fact, a recent study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that, over eight years, women with more alkaline skin experienced a greater number of fine lines and crow's feet than those with a more acidic balance.
How can you tell if your skin's pH is out of whack? There's no surefire test, but if you've got flaky, scaly, or even itchy skin, there might be something amiss. "When your skin is out of balance, it can't perform normal functions like healthy self-exfoliation," says Dr. Sherry Ingraham, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Houston, TX. "Instead of shedding dead skin cells, it goes into protective mode and holds onto them—and that's the dry skin process."
If that isn't reason enough to get your skin in shape, Ingraham says your skin's pH also affects anti-aging products. "You want to apply your moisturizers to a surface of the right pH so they can actually work," she says. "Those powerful ingredients won't have the opportunity to really penetrate the outer layer and can become irritating due to a broken down skin barrier." Here are Ingraham's tips to keep your skin's pH balance in check:
Don't wash your face with soap. Washing with soap raises our skin's pH "by at least one point, and can take hours to get back down to 5.0," Ingraham says. Swap out your basic bar for a pH balancing cleanser, or any cleanser without surfactants.
Turn down the temperature. Use warm water instead of hot and focus on getting a good rinse.
Put away the washcloth. "Washcloths are too abrasive for your face, especially the gentle skin on your cheeks," Ingraham says. Your hands or a gentle cleansing brush work just fine.
Use products with active ingredients. Ingraham suggests looking for clinically proven products that contain vitamins and bioactive antioxidants to promote cell turnover and simply savage free radicals," she says.
The skin's barrier, which is known as the acid mantle, is responsible for keeping in lipids and moisture while blocking germs, pollution, toxins, and bacteria. To work its best, the acid mantle should be slightly acidic, at a 5.5 pH balance. When it's too alkaline, skin becomes dry and sensitive; you may even get eczema. You may also experience inflammation, which inhibits the skin's ability to ward off matrix metalloproteinases [MMPs], the enzymes that destroy collagen and cause wrinkles and sagging. In fact, according to a 2010 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology that tracked women's skin over an eight-year period, women with an alkaline stratum corneum (the skin's outermost layer) developed more fine lines and crow's-feet—and were more prone to sun damage than those with more acidic skin.
Patricia Wexler, M.D., British Journal of Dermatology - 2010