My whole health world came stumbling out of a dense fog and broke into a new and amazing and revealing light about a year and a half ago when I discovered and started to drink 9.5 alkaline water.
It began with a severe case of gout in my foot and ankle. Man, I literally thought I had broken my ankle. I could barely walk. It was incredibly painful! So much so, I sought after medical help in a walk-in clinic or should I say “limp-in” clinic.
The doctor on duty soon assessed that while not broken, my ankle was swollen and he thought I had some arthritis. I actually told him I thought it was gout, but he ignored my diagnosis. Instead, he sent me to the pharmacy to acquire a prescribed pain killer which did…absolutely…nothing. Not a thing!
In hurt and despair for pain relieving answers, I soon called a retired nurse friend of mine who suggested a few remedies. They seemed to be good advice, but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about them. Interestingly though, after I hung up with her, she called me back in 5 minutes with more vibrant voice and asked me to come over to her house and pick up a gallon of water to soak my foot in. While mystified with her suggestion and looking for any solutions by this time, I agreed, went over, and grabbed the water.
Ok, this sounds crazy, but I’m hurtin’ somethin’ fierce here, so here goes…
I brought the water home, soaked my foot in it for over an hour and didn’t really feel any improvement. The next day I did it again and the third day I actually began to feel some relief. Checking back with the retired nurse, she then asked me to then start drinking 9.5 pH water she had on hand and so, I did. Since that day, I haven’t had any problems with gout. None. Zip. Nada! Yippee!
What I realized and discovered later is that gout is a result of a buildup of uric acid in the blood which gather in places like the foot and forms crystals that can cause severe discomfort and pain. The water I soaked my foot in was actually non-palatable 11.5 pH alkaline water. I’m no physician, but I deduced that the foot (amazingly porous) can readily absorb a lot of water. The gout is very acidic. The water was very alkaline. Bingo! The highly alkaline water soaked into my foot and broke up the uric acid crystals and the gout simply went away. Awesome!
From that point, I began to wonder why this happened and began to discover the amazing properties of water and specifically, alkaline water. And, even more important, pH balance in the body.
Though my own research I learned the imbalance of acidity and alkalinity in the body allows unhealthy organisms to flourish, damages tissues and organs and compromises the immune system. Having our bodies at the proper pH is crucial to good health. It’s that simple.
Wow! Where has this amazing knowledge been all my life?
So what is proper pH?
According to Dr. Josh Axe** of the Exodus Health Center in Nashville, Tennessee, pH is short for the potential of hydrogen. It is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of our body’s fluids and tissues. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. The more acidic a solution is, the lower its pH. The more alkaline, the higher the number is.
A pH of 7 is perfectly neutral. The healthiest pH is one that is slightly alkaline. Optimally, we want a pH of 7.365. This number will fluctuate throughout the day, but the normal range is between 6 and 7.5.
What affects pH?
Normally, the kidneys maintain your electrolyte levels, those of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. When we are exposed to acidic substances, these electrolytes are used to combat acidity. High degrees of acidity force our bodies to rob minerals from the bones, cells, organs and tissues. Cells end up lacking enough minerals to properly dispose of waste or oxygenate completely. Vitamin absorption is compromised by mineral loss. Toxins and pathogens accumulate in the body and the immune system becomes suppressed.
What can cause acidity in your body?
- Alcohol and drug use
- Antibiotic overuse
- Artificial sweeteners
- Chronic stress
- Declining nutrient levels in foods due to industrial farming
- Low levels of fiber in the diet
- Lack of exercise
- Excess animal meats in the diet (from non-grass fed sources)
- Excess hormones from foods, health and beauty products and plastics
- Exposure to chemicals and radiation from household cleansers, building materials, computers, cell phones and microwaves
- Food coloring and preservatives
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Poor chewing and eating habits
- Processed and refined foods
- Shallow breathing
What are the effects of acidity on health?
- Allergies, asthma and congestion
- Frequent colds
- Joint and muscle pain
- Skin problems
- Weight gain
Over the long term, acidosis can lead to:
- Heart disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
How Can You Achieve a Proper pH?
Even though there are many sources of acidity and toxicity in our environments, the biggest contributor to unbalanced pH is our diet.
Fruits and vegetables contain potassium, a natural buffer to acidity. The western diet contains little in the way of fresh and raw fruits and vegetables.
Processed foods contain tons of sodium chloride–table salt–which constricts blood vessels and creates acidity.
Eating too much animal protein causes sulfuric acid to build up in the blood as amino acids are broken down.
Believe it or not, all grains, whole or not, create acidity in the body. Americans ingest most of their plant food quota in the form of processed corn or wheat. Not necessarily a good thing.
Our problem is more a matter of not taking in enough alkaline-promoting foods rather than taking in too much acid.
Calcium-rich dairy products cause some of the highest rates of osteoporosis. That’s because they create acidity in the body! When your blood stream becomes too acidic, it will steal calcium (a more alkaline substance) from the bones to try to balance out the pH level. So the best way to prevent osteoporosis is to eat lots of alkaline green leafy veggies!
- Cold cuts
- Corn flakes
- Conventional Meats: beef, chicken and pork
- Peanuts and walnuts
- White bread
- Whole wheat
Certain foods on this list, like eggs and walnuts, might be acidic in your body, but don’t let that scare you away from eating them. They contain a host of health benefits like antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. A healthy balance is what we are shooting for where pH is concerned–it is possible to become too alkaline.
Fruits, mushrooms and vegetables (especially citrus, dates, raisins and spinach) promote an alkaline pH.
Strangely enough, acidic fruits such as grapefruit and tomatoes don’t create acidity in the body. They do just the opposite and contribute to an alkaline environment.
Uncooked fruits and vegetables are said to be biogenic or “life-giving.” Cooking foods depletes alkalinizing minerals. Increase your intake of raw foods, and try juicing or lightly steaming fruits and vegetables.
Alkaline water has a pH of 9 to 11. Distilled water is just fine to drink. Water filtered with a Reverse Osmosis filter is slightly acidic, but it’s still a far better option than tap water or purified bottled water. Believe it or not, often bottled water is actually somewhat acidic. Adding pH drops, lemon or lime, or baking soda to your water boosts alkalinity. There are also household machines that not only electrically ionize water and add more hydrogen, but can also create various pH levels of alkaline water.
Drinks made from green vegetables and grasses in powder form are loaded with alkaline-forming foods and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is structurally similar to our own blood and alkalizes the blood.
How to test your own pH
You can test your pH by purchasing strips at your local health foods store or pharmacy. You can measure your pH with saliva or urine. Your second urination of the morning will give you the best results. You compare the colors on your test strip to a chart that comes with your test strip kit.
During the day, the best time to test your pH is one hour before a meal and two hours after a meal.
If you test with your saliva, you want to try to stay between 6.8 and 7.2.
pH Balance – a good thing
So, my dear friends, the journey and discovery into the way your body reacts to pH imbalance and proper balance is crucial to your health. Please, please, please, pay attention to it! Your body does, that’s for sure. You’ll be amazed as you learn more about this and LiveHealthy!
**Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS is a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people get healthy by using food as medicine. In 2008 he started Exodus Health Center in Nashville, Tennessee which has grown to become one of the largest functional medicine clinics in the world.