pH (potential of hydrogen ions) is the indicator used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. ( For instance a low pH indicates a high concentration of hydronium ions and a more acidic solution, whilst a high pH indicates a low concentration, hence the solution is more alkaline.) pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. When a solution, such as water, is neither acid nor alkaline it has a pH of 7 or neutral.
The body has an acid-alkaline balance between positively charged ions (acid-forming) and negatively charged ions (alkaline-forming.) It must continually strive for balance as blood has to have an alkaline pH of about 7.4 to sustain life. Over a lifetime ‘wear and tear’ occurs from the effort the body expends to keep the blood at that pH. When this balance is compromised many problems can occur.
Acid-Alkaline Balance and Your Health
Most people who suffer ‘acidity’ have to buffer these acids or borrow minerals including calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium from other parts of the body including the vital organs and the bones. In western countries calcium intake is one of the highest in the world, yet paradoxically we also have one of the highest rates of bone demineralization (osteoporosis). Bone mineral content is dependent not just upon calcium intake but upon net calcium balance (calcium intake minus calcium excretion). The calcium excretion side of the equation is extremely important.
Bone health is substantially dependent on the dietary acid/alkaline balance but other factors such as stress and trauma play their part. After digestion all foods ultimately reach the kidneys as either acid or alkaline and when the diet yields a net acid load such as a high protein diet, the acid must be buffered by the alkaline stores in the body.
In addition to promoting bone demineralization, a net acid-producing diet also contributes to arthritis, gout, calcium kidney stones, age-related muscle wasting, hypertension, stroke and asthma. Calcium salts in the bones represent the largest store of alkaline base in the body and are depleted and eliminated in the urine when the diet produces a net acid load.
Your body is able to assimilate minerals and nutrients properly only when its pH is balanced. It is therefore possible for you to be taking healthy nutrients and yet be unable to absorb or use them. If you are not getting the results you expected from your nutritional or herbal program, look for an acid alkaline imbalance. The Paleo Diet recommends an appropriate balance of acidic and basic (alkaline) foods (i.e., lean meats, fish and seafood, fruits, and vegetables) and will not cause osteoporosis in otherwise healthy individuals but promote bone health.
The highest acid-producing foods are hard cheeses, cereal grains, salted foods, meats and legumes, whereas the only alkaline or base-producing foods are fruits and vegetables. Therefore, because the average diet is overloaded with acid-forming foods at the expense of fruit and vegetables, it produces a net acid load and thus promotes bone demineralization. By replacing processed foods with plenty of green vegetables and fruits the body is able to come back into calcium balance. The goal is to avoid a net acid load on your kidneys
A 1995 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association by Dr. Thomas Remer and Dr. Friedrich Manz helped to determine the amount of acidity or alkalinity in dozens of different foods. They did this by determining a foods’ potential renal acid load, or PRAL, values. A positive PRAL is an acidifying food and a negative PRAL is an alkalinizing food. The further the number is from 0, the stronger its acidifying or alkalinizing effect.