The pH Factor – The Real Silent Killer
By I. Gerald Olarsch, N.D.
The body is largely made up of water, a medium which is most biologically useful in allowing nutrients and various chemicals to be transported from place to place. Surprisingly, only half of a woman’s physical weight is made up of body fluids (generally because they naturally have more fat), while it’s close to 60% for males, and 75% for infants. Of that, the sum of the fluids in each cell (intracellular fluids) make up 63% of the total body liquid, the majority of the remaining 37% comes from blood plasma (10%) and interstitial fluids (18% - the fluids between organs, etc.), and the transcellular fluids (5% - between cells) and lymph (4%) make up the rest.
This liquid is quite sophisticated chemically, carrying electrochemical potentials which influence the pH (or acidity versus alkalinity) of the medium, and thus has the potential for becoming too acid or too base (alkaline) in nature, which can greatly impede the efficiency of how biological systems run. Since most of the body is liquid, the pH level (or acid base level) has profound effects of body chemistry, health, and disease. Acid base or pH management regulates breathing, circulation, digestion, elimination, hormonal production, immune defense and inter/intracellular communications. In fact, pH is such an important factor that the body has developed strict accounting procedures to manage pH, removing the normally metabolized developed acids from body systems, without damage to living cells.
The body has 3 major systems which help control pH levels, namely (1) the respiratory system, (2) the chemical and physiological buffering system and (3) the urinary system via the excretion of urine. But it is the urinary system which quantitatively affects the body’s ability to regulate and stabilize pH more than any other. A decrease in blood pH immediately accelerates the kidneys’ removal of free hydrogen (H+), and therefore acidifies urine. And indeed, by regularly measuring the urinary pH, we can get a very good idea as to the safety of blood pH and the rest of our body pH as well. Notwithstanding these numerous chemical and physiological buffering systems which help keep the pH of our body slightly alkaline (pH= 7.35 to 7.5), the acid buffering capacity of our biochemistry is often overtaxed on a regular basis.
As we grow older, and our diet changes, our chemical and physiological pH buffering mechanisms often fail us, and the body begins to develop an overall acid profile. For most of us, a slightly more acidic pH blood plasma, extra cellular liquids and urine of the body, becomes the ‘dangerous norm’ rather than the occasional exception. As it is so critically important for our blood plasma to remain slightly alkali, acid potentials (excess H+) must be neutralized and removed from the blood. However, when the buffering systems become overtaxed, acids and acid forming residuals, instead of being neutralized, are simply relocated within the body and not removed at all, becoming stored within the extra cellular fluids and connective tissue cell, directly compromising cellular integrity.
As we have learned, the kidneys are capable of removing more acid than any other buffering system of the body. But there is a problem. The only way to transport excess acid to the kidneys is through the blood system. However, since the blood is so especially sensitive to pH changes, it is only able to transport a very small amount of acid to the kidneys at any one time. Moreover, a further bottleneck occurs because the kidneys will generally not excrete anything more acid than a pH of 5.4. In order to protect the blood supply, and without other options, the body is then forced to dangerously store any excess toxic corrosive acid wastes with the connective tissue cells of the body. But this is only a short-term solution.
Virtually all cellular functions are sensitive to alterations of the pH balance of their fluids. This is especially true of connective tissue cells. The body’s metabolic processed depend on a precisely balanced pH value of 7.34 to 7.40 with the cellular spaces. If it waivers beyond these limits, either higher or lower, certain enzymatic reactions fail to occur, and cellular metabolism becomes difficult to regulate. If the pH deviates too far to the acidic side, cell metabolism will stop, and as connective tissue cells become poisoned in their own toxic wastes, these cells will die.
When connective tissue cells die, they close the critical bridges and passageways between the cardiovascular system and the rest of the cells and organs of the body.
Such an effect is disastrous! Indeed, when these bridges are closed, nutrients can no longer be supplied, nor can wastes be removed. This causes the ‘plumbing to backup on itself’, dumping acids back into the bloodstream and other critical organs.
As more and more acid is accumulated, and storage capacity is exhausted, the body slowly begins to ‘stew’ in it’s own poisonous wastes. Without warning, acid wastes begin to silently corrode the veins and arteries, destroying cell walls, and then entire organs. The damage caused is compounded daily, becoming more aggressive and deadly over time. Indeed, an acid pH is so corrosivley and indisiously destructive that it’s considered the seed bed of most, if not all, degenerative diseases, including: stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity, cancer, immune deficiencies and neurological dysfunctions such as MS and MD.. Thus the imbalance of the body pH causing toxic waste, or acidosis, is the real killer, the silent killer, because it’s the progenitor, the beginning, of so many deadly diseases!
How To Understand pH:
The key to understanding pH is simple: pH, or the degree of acidity and alkalinity of a solution, is measured on a (logarithmic) scale of 1 to 14. Anything with a pH value of less than 7.0 is considered acid or acidic. The lower the number of pH, the greater the acidity. The higher the number of pH, the greater the degree of alkalinity or baseness. Therefore, vinegar with a pH of 3.0 is more acidic than seawater with a pH of 8.0. Oven cleaner with a pH of 13.0 is more alkaline or base than the water in the Great Salt Lake which has a pH of 10.0. Neutral solutions have a pH of 7.0 (-log 10 minus 7). The body prefers the slightly alkaline solution of 7.4 and if it drops below this for any length of time, it will suffer from a score of degenerative diseases. The lower limit of blood pH at which a person can live more than a few hours is about 6.8, and the upper limit is about 8.0 .
What actually is being measured here is the amount of free hydrogen ions (H+) in solution; free H+ combines with certain heavy metals to form acids. Therefore, acidic solutions have greater free H+ concentration potentials than those that are base or alkaline. Alkaline solutions have less free H+ concentrations potential but greater OH- concentration potentials which combine with metals to form bases or alkalines.
There are a number of body systems which all have their own specifically preferred pH. Over all, the body internal chemical environment changes from a weak acid to a weak base within a 24 hour period, usually being more acid at dawn and most base at sunset. These physiological changes occur on a sine curve during this period. The slightly acid time period (early morning): pH< 7.0) is optimal for the activity of the sympathetic nerves, hormones, and neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, thyroxine, histamine, aceteylcholine, and other biogenic amines. In this pH, the acid mesenchymal connective tissue substance (stored acidic wastes) is dissolved by the hyaluronidase into liquid form and thereinafter excreted from the body as wastes.
The bloodstream is the most critically buffered system of the entire body, far more sensitive than any other. Arterial and venous blood must maintain a slightly alkaline pH; arterial blood: pH=7.41 and venous blood pH=7.36. Because the normal pH of arterial blood is 7.41, a person is considered to have acidosis when the pH of the blood falls below this value and to have alkalosis when the pH rises above 7.41. The lower limit of blood pH at which a person can live more than a few hours is about 6.8 and the upper limit is about 8.0 .
Interstitial Fluids And Connective Tissue pH:
A normal pH in these areas is 7.34 and 7.40, a slightly more acid profile, because the body cells dump as much free hydrogen (H+) as possible, buffering the blood as much as possible. However, pH in these areas can dangerously drop to concentrations of pH = 5.0 .
In a pH balances body, urine is slightly acid in the morning, (pH = 6.5 to 7.0), generally becoming more alkaline (pH = 7.5 to 8.0) by evening in healthy people. This corresponds to a balanced pH value of blood (pH=7.4) and shows that the kidneys need not eliminate an excess of acid or base in it’s fluids, and can handle normal imbalances or excesses quite easily and safely. Outside this range implies that cells are being burdened with caustic (corrosive and burning; destructive to tissue) pH fluids within and without their surroundings. Long term experience outside this range is dangerous and will begin to corrode the body, and most importantly the tissues of the cardiovascular system. However, the pH of the urine can range from and extremely unhealthy low of 4.5 to a high of 8.5, which it tolerates a little easier, depending on the acid base status of the extracellular fluids. Generally, when the urine pH is 6.0 and below for extended periods of time, it is an indication that the body’s fluids elsewhere are too acid, and it is working overtime to rid itself of an acid medium. Thus, when the urine pH is normal, then the blood pH is normal, but when the urine pH is overly acid, blood pH is likely below 7.35 which is dangerously acidic for the blood.
pH A Real Silent Killer… What is Your Number?
Chiropractic Wellness & Fitness Magazine
Dr. Desiree Edlund
Our Bodies are living laboratories. We are alive and breathing right now because of our complex nervous system in addition to the foods we eat and drink. This fuel we take in along with the oxygen from our lungs is “burned” in our cells, causing numerous chemical reactions to occur…until the products that are left are carbon dioxide (C02), water (H20) and an ash residue. This is similar to how our automobiles and fireplaces work, except their food is gasoline and firewood respectively. The question is…how does our ash residue measure up, and how does it affect our heath? The answer depends on whether this ash residue is acid or alkaline.
First of all let’s explore what it means to be acid or alkaline. What is ‘H?? No, we are not talking about how well your swimming pool is doing on a hot summer day. In the scientific world, pH stands for “potential of Hydrogen”. Instead, we’ll just say that, in your body, pH stands for your potential for Health.
pH is the value given to indicate the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. pH values are to acid and alkaline what temperature degrees are to heat and cold. It is merely a way of measuring the state of our ash. As we measure heat with degrees, ash residues that are acid, neutral or alkaline are measured by a “thermometer” called pH. The human body is composed of 78% water. Therefore, our bodies are made mostly of water, a vital medium which allows nutrients, oxygen and bio-chemicals to be transported throughout. This water based medium can be either acid or alkaline and is measured by the graduated pH scale. The ash residue produced by our human laboratory influences the pH of our body fluids and tissues.
The pH scale of values runs from 0 to 14. At the low end, 0 indicates really strong, complete acidity. At the high end, 14 indicates really strong, complete alkalinity. In the middle, pH 7.0 indicates that the substance is neither acid nor alkaline – it’s neutral. Very few substances are completely neutral. Most substances test out on either side of neutral. For example, vinegar at pH 2.5, is a strong acid, and baking soda at pH 8.0, is slightly alkaline. When we talk about the pH of your body, we mean the pH of the fluids inside and outside your cells, your “internal environment”. pH is the potential for health of the fluids in and around your cells. The ideal pH for your internal environment is just above pH 7.0.
Why should I be concerned about my pH levels?
pH has a profound effect on health and disease. Imbalances in pH mean that the body has become too acidic or too alkaline for long periods of time which is not very well tolerated by the body. In fact, the body has regulatory mechanisms (breathing, circulation, digestion, hormonal production, etc.) that serve the purpose of managing and balancing pH levels. If the pH deviates too far to the acid side or too far to the alkaline side, cells become poisoned by their own toxins and die.
Life is all about balance. This is especially profound when speaking of body pH levels, which is the human body’s need to stay at a slightly alkaline pH. Levels of pH are measured on a scale from zero to 14, in which zero is very acidic, 7 is neutral, and 14 is very alkaline. Your body is over 70 percent water: For you to be healthy, your water content needs to have a healthy pH balance. Your body’s fluids are maintained at different pH levels to keep you healthy. To sustain these pH levels throughout your body, your cells and organs are constantly filtering what you eat. Everything works together to maintain your delicate pH balance.
Research states that the ideal level for drinking alkaline water is between pH8.5 – pH9.5 with an ORP of -250mv.
The Importance of Acid and Alkaline Balance for Health
Nothing does well in an overly acidic or alkaline pH medium. Similar to how acid rain can destroy a forest or how alkaline wastes can pollute a lake; an imbalanced pH can continuously corrode all body tissues, slowly eating into the 60,000 miles of our veins and arteries like rust eating into metal. This continued imbalance in pH will interrupt all cellular activities and functions, from the brain cell firing vital information through our nerves to our circulatory system pumping oxygen fuel throughout our body. Imbalanced pH interferes with our potential for true health and wellness!
Studies have shown that healthy people’s body fluids are slightly alkaline while the same fluids of those who are sick are acidic, ranging from slightly acidic to extremely acidic. In Dr. Mark Cochran’s book “The Secrets of pH Concerning Health and Disease” he states the body should remain in a slightly alkaline condition in order to avoid disease and premature aging.
Virtually all degenerative diseases including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, kidney and gall stones, and tooth decay are associated with excess acidity in the body. While the body has a homeostatic mechanism that maintains a constant pH 7.4 in the blood, this mechanism works by depositing and withdrawing acid and alkaline minerals from other locations including the bones, soft tissues, body fluids and saliva. Therefore, the pH of these other tissues can fluctuate greatly. The pH of saliva offers a general window through which you can see the overall pH balance in your body.
Cancer cannot exist in an alkaline environment. All forms of arthritis are associated with excess acidity. Acid in the body dissolves both teeth and bones. It leaches calcium from bone resulting in osteopenia or osteoporosis. Whatever health situation you are faced with, you can monitor your progress toward a proper acid/alkaline balance by testing your saliva pH.
Monitoring your pH gives you a general indication of how well or how hard your body is working to survive your lifestyle. The results of your pH tests are indicators of how your body is responding to the foods you eat and to other stresses. The actual acid or alkaline level of your internal environment affects how your body functions.
The pH values you get when you test your urine or saliva are indications of how your body is functioning. When your body is at its pH best, it hums along smoothly and easily as a brand new Ferrari would hum riding along eh Pacific Coast Highway at sunset on a warm summer night. And when your body hums along smoothly and easily, your health and resultant quality of life has a good chance of doing the same. When your body is at less than its pH best, its hum may turn into an exhausted moan as it works overtime t survive. And when your body is exhausted, you are exhausted and you’re potential for a lower quality of life results.
The pH of your internal environment is a good indicator of how hard your body is working just to survive in today’s environment. When your pH values are too far below or too high above pH 7.0, your potential for health plummets.
Our efforts to establish and maintain good pH levels are often thwarted by 2 main things:
- What we put into our bodies (eating, drinking, breathing, absorbing, etc.)
- What we are not taking into our bodies that we should (nutrients, vitamins, minerals, water, etc.)
. How Do I Test My pH?
Since the pH of saliva offers a general window through which you can see the overall pH balance in your body. I am going to recommend you use pH test strips (litmus paper). This is the easiest and quickest way you can test your pH. You can test either in the privacy of your own home or on the run. These test strips are inexpensive and are available at most reputable nutrition companies. This paper can be used to test saliva or urine, and the color of the paper will change to reflect your pH level.
You simply compare the color of the paper to the color scale on the side of the package to reveal your pH. You may test your pH everyday!
Your salivary pH should stay in a range of 7.0– 7.5 for healthy body function. The best time to test your salivary pH is approximately 1 hour before a meal and 2 hours after a meal. If your urinary pH fluctuates between 6.0- 6.5 in the morning and between 6.5 – 7.0 in the evening, your body is functioning within a healthy range.
When saliva pH falls below 7.0 or urine pH falls below 6.0, your nutrients are not being absorbed, your body becomes toxic and your body’s cells are bathing in acid. Generally going unnoticed for years, this acid waste begins to silently corrode and eat away at your blood vessels, destroying cells and ultimately, entire organ function in your body. Without correcting your body pH, the damage becomes progressively worse,, and deadly over time. Fatigue is probably the major symptom or complaint of an overly acidic body.