Introduction - pH
In the series we
introduce the concept of pH and its relationship to one's health. In
this series we will show you how measuring the pH of body fluids like
urine and saliva can help you assess the body's balance.
To recap, pH is the acronym for potential hydrogen. It is a measure of
the degree of saturation of the hydrogen ion in a substance or solution.
From a mildly technical perspective, let's look at the molecule of
water, H2O. H=Hydrogen and O=Oxygen.
If water and water is combined we get H2O + H2O
=> H3O + OH-
H3O (the hydronium ion+) is the acid element
and OH- (the hydroxyl ion-) is the base or
alkaline element. (You may also note that the +ion is a cation and the
-ion is an anion as discussed in the section on Zeta Potential.) In pure
water these are balanced and upon measuring with a pH meter the reading
would be 7.
7 is neutral on a pH scale which goes from 0 to 14. This scale
corresponds to the hydrogen ion concentration from 100 to 10-14
moles per liter. This is a huge range, which sensitive instruments can
When the H3O and OH- are out of balance a pH
will detect this and the reading will move above or below 7. Like a
teeter-totter, if one goes up the other goes down and vice versa.
In the human body a pH-balancing act is continuously going on to
maintain homeostasis. When defining measurement values of certain pH
levels of human fluids, there are no absolutes that can be written in
stone because the value that "should be here" has to be balanced against
other values "that should be there". In essence, in the human body
things never happen in a vacuum and you need to be ever mindful of these
things as you make your measurements.
What is pH?
On the pH
scale, which ranges from 0 on the acidic end to 14 on the alkaline end,
a solution is neutral if its pH is 7. At pH 7, water contains equal
concentrations of H+ and OH- ions. Substances with a pH less than 7 are
acidic because they contain a higher concentration of H+ ions.
Substances with a pH higher than 7 are alkaline because they contain a
higher concentration of OH- than H+.
The pH scale is
a log scale so a change of one pH unit means a tenfold change in the
concentration of hydrogen ions. In this light, you can see how a slight
change in your pH value can have a great impact on your internal
environment and, ultimately, your health.
of Balancing pH
are extremely sensitive to pH and function best (with certain
exceptions, such as certain portions of the digestive tract) when
solutions are nearly neutral. Most interior living matter (excluding the
cell nucleus) has a pH of about 6.8.
healthy body is slightly alkaline measuring approximately 7.4. This
ideal blood 7.4 pH measurement means it is just slightly more alkaline
In the absence
of oxygen, glucose undergoes fermentation to lactic acid. This causes
the pH of the cell to drop from between 7.3 to 7.2 down to 7 and later
to 6.5 in more advanced stages of cancer and in metastases the pH drops
to 6.0 and even 5.7 or lower.
simply cannot fight disease if our body pH is not properly balanced. It
has been determined that an alkaline body is more conducive to health
and well-being than an acidic one. An undesirable pH can lead to a
variety of negative health effects.
A body that
tends toward acidity heightens the risk for infections from bacteria,
yeast, parasites, and viruses. All of these "critters" seek out and
thrive in an acid environment. Not only are you more susceptible to
infections such as colds and the flu, degenerative diseases like cancer,
arthritis, heart disease and osteoporosis are promoted if your pH is
consistently acid. If disease is to be prevented or successfully
managed, an acid pH must be overcome.
To perform this
simple test, all you need is a roll of pH testing paper (preferably pHydrion test paper), a plastic spoon, and some fresh saliva! The test
uses a pH-sensitive, color-coded test strip to reveal your personal pH
For the saliva
test: Be sure not to eat, drink, or brush your teeth for 30 minutes
prior to the test. Swallow a couple of times to clear the mouth and
stimulate new saliva. Then discharge some saliva into a PLASTIC spoon
(it is recommended NOT to touch the pH paper to your tongue due to the
chemicals in the paper.
Tear off a
one-inch strip of pH paper, place into saliva and let sit. After
approximately 30 seconds, compare the color of your immersed pH paper
with the color chart provided on the pH testing roll. The lower your pH
value below 7.0, the greater your degree of acid stress.
testing and recording your pH for a few weeks - first thing in the
morning and at bedtime (This will show your personal pH trend).
The pH of your blood must remain
between 7.35 and
If your blood's pH rises or falls one tenth of a pH unit, it's cause for
a visit to a hospital's intensive care unit.
If blood pH moves two tenths either way, it's lethal.
Source pH Science
Salivary pH Test:
more acidic than blood, salivary pH mirrors the blood ( if not around
meals ) and is also a fairly good indicator of health. It tells us what
the body retains.
a fair indicator of the health of the extra cellular fluids and their
alkaline mineral reserves. Optimal pH for saliva is 6.4 to 6.8. A
reading lower than 6.4 is indicative of insufficient alkaline reserves.
the saliva pH should rise to 7.8 or higher. Unless this occurs, the body
has alkaline mineral deficiencies ( mainly Calcium and Magnesium ) and
will not assimilate food very well. To deviate from ideal salivary pH
for an extended time invites illness. If your saliva stays between 6.4
and 6.8 all day, your body is functioning within a healthy range.
The pH of the
urine indicates how the body is working to maintain the proper pH of the
blood. The urine reveals the alkaline building (anabolic) and acid
tearing down (catabolic) cycles. The pH of urine indicates the efforts
of the body via the kidneys, adrenals, lungs and gonads to regulate pH
through the buffer salts and hormones.
provide a fairly accurate picture of body chemistry, because the kidneys
filter out the buffer salts of pH regulation and provide values based on
what the body is eliminating. Urine pH can vary from around 4.5 to 9.0
for its extremes, but the ideal range is 5.8 to 6.8. If your urinary pH
fluctuates between 6.0 - 6.4 in the morning and 6.4 - 7.0 in the
evening, your body is functioning within a healthy range.
an extended time in the acid pH state, can result in rheumatoid
arthritis, diabetes, lupus, tuberculosis, osteoporosis, high blood
pressure, most cancers and many other diseases.
High blood pressure
Ways to increase your
1). Eat raw
fruits and vegetables in the most alkaline range.
strong acidifiers from the diet such as sodas, whole wheat, caffeine,
tobacco, black tea, alcohol and red meat.
Ionized water or mineral water.
Peer Review Articles - Abstracts
The Common Thread Among Disparate Diseases? Sara Lovelady
Scientists say oceans becoming more acidic, endangering sea life
Tom Paulson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter
Acid Out One
of the main problems we face as we age is the inevitable build-up of
acid waste products in our bodies. Dr. Stephan Kuprowsky, ND,
Acidity and Osteoporosis Darrell L. Wolfe, PhD, Well Being
Metabolic Acidosis Candace McNaughton, ND
Acid / Alkaline Balance - PreventDisease.com
pH Regulation during Exercise - Washington University
A high ratio of dietary animal to vegetable protein increases the
rate of bone loss and the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Excessive Acidity May Aggravate Urinary Disorders A Case Study -
A Novel therapy for Interstitial Cystitis Dr. Susan E. Brown, Ph.D.,
pH Control: Its Effect on Urine Acidity and Implications For Blood
Robert W. Burns, PhD., and Craig Lund
There is a large and growing body of
scientific evidence as to the importance of body pH to good health and
wellbeing, and the challenges our bodies face in keeping it in balance.
Here is a selected list of some of the peer-reviewed articles.
1. Adrogue, H. and Madias, N.
Management of life-threatening acid-base disorders, New England Journal
of Medicine 338: 26-34, 1998.
Acid-base homeostasis exerts a major influence on protein function,
thereby critically affecting tissue and organ performance. Deviations in
body acidity can have adverse consequences and when severe, can be
2. Alpern, R. Trade-offs in the adaptation to acidosis, Kidney
International 47: 1205-1215, 1995.
Excessive dietary intake of protein with consequent increase in
metabolic acid production result in compensatory mechanisms that lead to
progression of kidney stones, bone disease, renal disease and a
3. Alpern, R. and Sakhaee, K. The clinical spectrum of chronic metabolic
acidosis: homeostatic mechanisms produce significant morbidity, American
Journal of Kidney Disease 29: 291-302, 1997.
Chronic metabolic acidosis is a process whereby an excess acid load is
placed on the body due to excess acid generation or diminished acid
removal by normal homeostatic mechanisms. Excessive meat ingestion and
aging are two clinical conditions often associated with chronic
metabolic acidosis. The body's homeostatic response to this pathology is
very efficient. Therefore, the blood pH is frequently maintained within
the "normal" range. However, these homeostatic responses engender
pathologic consequences such as nephrolithiasis, bone demineralization,
muscle protein breakdown and renal growth.
4. Bushinsky, D. Acid-base imbalance and the skeleton, European Journal
of Nutrition 40: 238-244, 2001.
Humans generally consume a diet that generates metabolic acids leading
to a reduction in the systemic bicarbonate and a fall of pH. Chronic
metabolic acidosis alters bone cell function; there is an increase in
osteoclastic bone resorption and a decrease in osteoblastic bone
formation. As we age, we are less able to excrete metabolic acids due to
the normal decline in renal function.
5. Frassetto, L.; Morris, R.; Sellmeyer, D.; Todd, K. and Sebastian, A.
Diet, evolution and aging: the pathophysiologic effects of the
post-agricultural inversion of the potassium-to-sodium and
base-to-chloride ratios in the human diet, European Journal of Nutrition
40:5 200-213, 2001.
Dietary changes over the last two centuries have resulted in a mismatch
between genetically-determined nutritional requirements in humans.
Excess sodium chloride, a deficiency of potassium and excess dietary
acids that are not mediated by dietary bicarbonates lead to chronic
low-grade metabolic acidosis that amplifies the age-related
pathophysiological consequences in humans (such as loss of bone
substance, increase in urinary calcium, disturbance in nitrogen
metabolism, and low levels of growth hormone).
6. Frassetto, L.; Morris, R. and Sebastian, A. Effect of age on blood
acid-base composition in adult humans: role of age-related renal
functional decline, American Journal of Physiology, 271: 1114-22, 1996.
Otherwise healthy adults manifest a low-grade, diet-dependent metabolic
acidosis, the severity of which increases with age at constant rate
described by an index of endogenous acid production, apparently due in
part, to the normal age-related decline of renal function. 7. Frassetto,
L. and Sebastian, A. Age and systemic acid-base equilibrium: analysis of
published data, Journal of Gerontology, Advanced Biological Science and
Medical Science, 51: B91-99, 1996.
Authors examined peer-reviewed literature to determine whether systemic
acid-base equilibrium changes with aging in normal adults humans. Using
linear regression analysis, they found that with increasing age, there
is a significant increase in the steady-state blood H+ indicating a
progressively worsening low-level metabolic acidosis in what may
reflect, in part, the normal decline of renal function with increasing
8. Krapt, R. and Jehle, A. Renal function and renal disease in the
elderly, Schweizerische Medizinische Wochenschrift, 130:11 398-408 2000.
Age-induced decline in renal functions explains, at least in part,
clinically important age-related conditions including metabolic
9. Lonergan, E. Aging and the kidney: adjusting treatment to physiologic
change, Geriatrics 43: 27-30, 32-33, 1988.
Changes in renal physiology and function with aging put the elderly
patient at risk for adverse effect of drug therapies due to the
incidence of common problems like metabolic acidosis.
10. Maurer, M.; Riesen, W.; Muser, J.; Hulter, H. and Krapf, R.
Neutralization of Western diet inhibits bone resportion independently of
K intake and reduces cortisol secretion in humans, American Journal of
Physiology and Renal Physiology 284: F32-40, 2003.
The acid load inherent in the Western diet results in mild chronic
metabolic acidosis in association with a state of cortisol excess. An
alkali balanced diet modulates bone resorption and the associated
alterations in calcium and phosphate homeostasis.
11. May, R.; Kelly, R. and Mitch, W. Metabolic acidosis stimulates
protein degradation in rat muscle by glucocorticoid-dependent mechanism,
Journal of Clinical Investigations 77:614-621, 1986.
Chronic metabolic acidosis increases net muscle protein degradation in
rat muscle tissue.
12. Meghji, S.; Morrison, M.; Henderson, B. and Arnett, T. pH dependence
of bone resoption: mouse calvarial osteoclasts are activated by
acidosis, American Journal of Physiological and Endocrinological
Metabolism 280: E112-E119, 2001.
Osteoclast activity is modulated by small pH changes and is a key
determinant of bone resorption in mouse calvarial cultures.
13. Nabata, T.; Morimoto, S. and Ogihara, T. Abnormalities in acid-base
balance in the elderly, Nippon Rinsho 50: 2249-53, 1992.
Decline in the ability to adjust acid-base balance is a feature of
aging. Regulation of pH ultimately depends on the kidneys and lungs,
however, the ability of these organs is decreased with physiological
aging. Renal insufficiency and/or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
and various drugs, such as diuretics, often affect the acid-base balance
in the elderly.
14. Robergs, R. Exercise-induced metabolic acidosis: where do the
protons come from?, Sport Science 5(2) sportsci.org/jour/0102/rar.thm,
The physiology of intense exercise that produces acidosis is far more
complex than originally thought. In the transition to higher exercise
intensity, proton release is even greater than lactate production which
indicates acidosis is only partially related to production of "lactic
15. Sebastian, A.; Harris, S.; Ottaway, J.; Todd, K. and Morris, R.
Improved mineral balance and skeletal metabolism in postmenopausal women
treated with potassium bicarbonate, New England Journal of Medicine
330:25 1776-81 1994.
Endogenous acid produced by the metabolism of foods in ordinary diets
abundant in proteins may contribute to the decrease in bone mass that
occurs normally with aging. The oral administration of potassium
bicarbonate at a dose sufficient to neutralize endogenous acid improves
calcium and phosphorus balance, reduces bone resorption and creases the
rate of bone formation.
16. Sebastian, A.; Frassetto, L.; Sellmeyer, D.; Merriam, R. and Morris,
R. Estimation of the net acid load of the diet of ancestral
preagricultural Homo sapiens and their hominid ancestors, American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition 76:6 1308-1316, 2002.
Estimates of the net systemic load of acid in ancestral pre-agricultural
diets as compared to contemporary diets reflect a mismatch between the
nutrient compositions of the diet and genetically determined nutritional
requirements. The result is that contemporary diets generate
diet-induced metabolic acidosis in contemporary Homo sapiens.
17. Wiederkebr, M. and Krapf, R. Metabolic and endocrine effects of
metabolic acidosis in humans, Swiss Medical Weekly 2001:131, 127-132,
Introduction - pH
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