The Alkaline Myth: Understanding Acids, Alkalines, and pH for Health Part I
Posted by Nathan Jackson on
These days it’s nearly impossible to do any independent research regarding health without coming across articles saying that the key to health and avoiding disease is to make your body alkaline. To sum things up, an acidic body grows disease and cancer, and an alkaline body heals from disease and can’t get sick. But is this really true? What does it mean to be acidic or alkaline?
Forgive my bluntness, but that message is just plain wrong and is often a result of a gross misunderstanding of science and human physiology. Now don’t get me wrong, understanding pH and the acid/alkaline balance in the body IS key to health, but not in the way these articles or “experts” say and today we’re going to start clear this myth up!
Let’s start with the basics. The pH scale is a scale that measures the acidity or alkalinity of something. The range goes from 1 up to +14. The lower the pH the more acidic something is and the higher the pH the more alkaline something is with 7 being neutral. Distilled water is more or less at 7. With each number change on the scale there is a change by the power of 100! That’s pretty big. So something with a pH of 4 is 100 times more acidic than something with a pH of 5.
With this background information let’s now talk about pH and the human body. When someone says you need your body to be alkaline to be healthy what are they talking about? The body has a different pH for different parts and they are all important in order to be healthy. In fact, the body has several “homeostatic control mechanisms” designed to control and maintain the specific pHs of the different parts of the body.
Some examples of pHs throughout the body would be:
- Pancreatic Fluid: 8.5 (alkaline)
- Bile: 8.1 (alkaline)
- Cranial fluid: 7.5 (slightly alkaline)
- Tears: 7.5 (slightly alkaline)
- Blood: 7.4 (slightly alkaline)
- Intra and Extracellular fluid (7.0-7.4)
- Saliva: 7.4 (slightly alkaline)
- Urine: 6 (acid)
- Skin: 5 (acid)
- Large Intestine/Bowel: 5.5 (acid)
- Sweat: 4-5.5 (acid)
- Stomach: 1-3 (similar to battery acid)
As you can see, the pH of the body is not really an accurate term and if we’re going to talk pH we really have to know what part of the body we’re talking about. The pH varies throughout the body and this range of differences helps maintain balance and health. If you’ll notice, the parts of the body that come in contact with the “outside world” via touching and our food via digestion are acidic. This is because that is where we come in contact with pathogens (bacteria, viruses, molds, etc) and an acidic environment is perfect for killing off pathogens. Where does 80% of our immune system exist? In our guts! Are our guts acidic? You bet and for good reason! We must be able to kill off the pathogens in our foods and anything that might get in our bodies from touching our eyes, mouths, nose, or ears.
This is the most important reason why avoiding “acidic” foods and focusing on only “alkaline” foods and alkaline water long term can be harmful to your health. An alkaline gut means a weaker immune system and an inability to effectively fight off pathogens. An example would be Candida. In an acidic environment Candida is in its harmless dormant form, but in an alkaline environment it transforms into its harmful fungal form!
Stay tuned for Part II…