Too Acidic? Too Alkaline? How to Tell, and Some Tips to Restore Balance

Monday Jan 20 | BY |
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Acidic Diet

Kale is a nutrient-rich vegetable that’s a great option for those who may be too acidic.

Last week, we talked about pH balance in the body, and how the modern Western diet is heavily loaded on the acidic side. Eating too many acidic foods and not enough alkaline ones for years at a time may increase risks of kidney stones, and potentially affect bone disease and even back pain.

A more alkaline diet, on the other hand, may help the body to more easily manage its energy production and detoxing tasks, which may lead to an increased protection against chronic disease, though this idea is still theoretical. It may also make key minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium more available for body function and repair.

Potential Symptoms of an Acidic System

First, it’s important to understand your body doesn’t have just one pH level. The stomach typically is more acidic than the blood, to better manage digestion, for instance. The urine is also slightly different, and diet is most likely to affect the pH level of the urine. This may be important for avoiding problems like kidney stones.

What we do know is that an acidic diet can make it harder for the body to regulate its own pH balance, as it requires more adaptation and sometimes the “stealing of nutrients” from bones, as in a high meat diet that may increase calcium loss, though the whole process can be more complex than this.

The body is surprisingly efficient at balancing its own pH, but the bottom line is that years of eating the standard Western diet can make it much more difficult for it to do so, may offset the availability of key minerals, and may eventually wear down key systems and lead to a weakening of body defenses.

Signs That You May be Too Acidic

Though we have no reliable scientific studies that can clearly name symptoms of an acidic diet, a number of naturopaths and other alternative health experts believe that the following signs may point to a diet that is out of balance. A more acidic diet may result in:

  • Bladder and kidney conditions, including kidney stones
  • Joint pain and aching muscles
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened immune system (frequent infections)
  • Osteoporosis, bone fractures
  • Slow digestion and elimination

Keep in mind, too, that it may also be possible to be “too alkaline.” Surprising perhaps, but possible. Michael McEvoy of “Metabolic Healing” notes that in his practice, he sees people that are too alkaline as well as too acidic, with symptoms like the following:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Allergies
  • Wheezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Elevated serum bicarbonate (bicarbonate in the blood)

It can be difficult to tell what side of the spectrum you may be on by symptoms alone. You can test your urine pH, but keep in mind that will tell you only the pH balance of the urine—not the blood. You can also have your saliva tested, but again, that will tell you the pH only of your saliva. The results of these tests are not always clear-cut, either, for other complex reasons. A blood test will likely come back with the pH balanced because of the body’s ability to adapt.

Some Better Signs

Perhaps some better ways to determine if you may be too acidic or alkaline include the following. These symptoms tap into the respiratory system and the lungs, which is also one of the key systems the body uses to balance pH—through the exhalation of carbon dioxide.

Acidic:

  • Feel anxious, nervous, or agitated
  • Physically tired but mentally wired
  • Feel you need to take deeper breaths
  • Can hold your breath for less than 45 seconds

Alkaline:

  • Feel sluggish and have to drag yourself out of bed
  • Often feel burned out and tired
  • Can hold the breath for 60 seconds or more

Perhaps by looking at both these symptoms and the ones mentioned before, you can get a better picture of where you may be on the pH scale. It’s likely that your body is doing a fine job of keeping your pH balanced, but noticing these types of symptoms may help you determine some diet and lifestyle changes you can adopt to improve your overall health and well being.

Five Tips to Help

If you believe you’re more on the acidic side, try these five tips to restore balance:

  1. Eat more dark, green vegetables. Get used to making them the main course of most meals. Add them to smoothies and make your own vegetable juices.
  2. Consider a magnesium supplement, and try to get more calcium in your diet from spinach, kale, soybeans, sardines, salmon, collard greens, yogurt, and nuts.
  3. Reduce your intake of acidic foods like coffee, alcohol, sugar, white flour and rice, and red meat. Choose stevia for an alkalizing sweetener.
  4. Consider adding digestive enzymes to your daily diet. Try bromelain and papain before every meal.
  5. Choose fish and lamb over beef and chicken for less acid-forming animal protein.

If you believe you’re more on the alkaline side (considered by most to be rare), try these four tips to restore balance:

  1. Consume more proteins, like lean meats, nuts, yogurt, and soy.
  2. Add more beans to your diet, including pinto, navy, lima, and kidney beans.
  3. If you are an athlete or regularly work out, drink water or electrolyte-replacement drinks at regular intervals to keep your electrolytes balanced.
  4. Your strict vegetarian or raw food diet may be tipping you a bit too far to the alkaline side. Try adding in a few healthy foods that are more on the acidic side to see if you feel better. Some options—more acidic fruits like blueberries, cranberries, and prunes; some pork or shellfish; or nuts like peanuts, walnuts, pecans, and cashews.

Your best guide is your own body, so tune in to how you feel, and consider getting the assistance of a reputable naturopath or holistic doctor if you need it.

Do you have other tips for balancing pH levels in the body? Please share your thoughts.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

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