The pH balance of the human bloodstream is one of the most important biochemical balances in the human body. In order to maintain a proper pH balance, the body will deposit and withdraw minerals from bones, fluids or soft tissues. The pH balance is affected by consumption of food, medication and lifestyle.
pH levels control the speed of the biochemical reactions in the body. The term "pH" stands for "potential hydrogen," which is the degree of concentration of hydrogen ions in the bloodstream. The more unbalanced pH levels are, the more likely an individual is susceptible to illness. Feeling tired, lethargic or generally unwell are common symptoms of unbalanced pH levels.
The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Values 0 to 6.9 represent acidic foods where values 7.1 to 14 representing alkalizing foods. The body tries to maintain an alkalizing pH balance of 7.4. A diet rich in alkalizing foods will help the body maintain a 7.4 pH. Additionally, eating too many acidic foods can lead to acidosis, increased acid in the bloodstream.
The Role of Food
All foods affect pH balance in the body. Acidic foods such as meats cause pH levels to be more acidic. Conversely, alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables make pH levels more alkaline. All foods are classified as either alkaline or acidic depending on how they affect pH levels. Within those classifications, foods are then reclassified as mild, moderate and high to designate how acidic or alkaline they are.
Probiotics, microorganisms found in yogurt, create an acidic environment in the digestive tract. Additionally, antibiotics, water, mineral supplements, vitamins and antacids can also affect the pH of urine. Lifestyle may also affect pH balance. For instance, stress causes the endocrine system to release excess adrenaline and other hormones, which may contribute to acidosis.
Most fruits and vegetables are alkaline foods. For example, citrus fruits (except oranges), watermelons, mangoes, papayas, melons, grapes, apples, pears, kiwi, bananas, cherries, pineapples and peaches help increase alkalinity of the blood. Most vegetables are also alkaline. Try eating asparagus, onions, spinach, broccoli, garlic, okra, squash, green beans, beets, celery, lettuce, zucchini, sweet potatoes, corn, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, peas, cauliflower, turnips or olives. Additionally, such grains such as barley, millet and quinoa are alkaline.
Meats, eggs, dairy products, beans and some fruits and vegetables are acidic. For example, organ meats, cold-water fish, eggs, dairy products (except goat cheese), poultry, lamb, raw dairy products and margarine are acidic foods. Most seeds and nuts, such as sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans and cashews also increase acidity of the blood. Additionally, alcoholic and caffeinated beverages are also acidic.