pH Balance Explained (And Why It Matters)

Plant foods help keep your blood healthy

I have mentioned pH balance and acidic foods in past posts, but never taken the time to explain them.  Various parts of the human body have different pH balances, but it’s the blood’s pH that this write-up addresses.  

First off, the abbreviation pH indicates the potential of hydrogen.  Hydrogen is an important element in our bodies, playing roles in functions such as immunity, hydration, energy production, toxin elimination, joint lubrication, and transportation of nutrients, to name a few.  The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being most acidic and 14 being most alkaline.  The pH balance of healthy blood serum is around 7.4.  

Normally, the lungs and kidneys are able to maintain this homeostasis.  However, when those processes become overwhelmed, balance is lost, and the blood can leach minerals from the bones to restore it.

There are several reasons why imbalance occurs in the blood’s pH.  Various diseases, medications, stress, and diet (now widely known to be one of the most important factors) can cause the body to work harder to sustain balance, often with poor outcomes. The constant pressure on the body’s physiology to compensate for acid-inducing challenges is known to contribute to a wide range of diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, cancer, osteoporosis, kidney stones, and increased susceptibility to environmental toxins—and new research is adding to the list, according to this article from PubMed.  

This scientific review explains that the diet of most people in the US is acid-promoting due to heavy consumption of meats, eggs, dairy, and the processed stuff.  This chart (near the end of the article) from Doctor’s Health Press gives the pH levels of various foods and drinks.  You’ll see that sodas and energy drinks are in the most acidic category, followed closely by  processed and animal foods.  At the most alkaline end of the range, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, olive oil, and other plant foods can be found.

Chances are, your PCP will never mention your blood’s pH.  You can, however, request a lab test.  (Be aware that insurance probably will not pay for it.)  Chronic pain, difficulty breathing, or ongoing fatigue could be signs that your body is no longer doing a good job of ridding itself of excess acid, and you need to make some changes.

The National Kidney Foundation advocates for a diet that includes more plant-based proteins than animal-based proteins, along with a high intake of fruits and vegetables, (to) help keep acid levels from rising in the blood.  A recommendation from this source carries a lot of weight, wouldn’t you agree?

The importance of maintaining a normal blood pH cannot be overstated.  Regardless of your age, making changes to the way you eat may help you achieve that balance so that you feel better, avoid disease, and live longer.  And who doesn’t want those things?!

Blessings for Balance,


Comments are turned off for this post, but I look forward to seeing you next week!

The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

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