Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Alkalinity versus Acidity: The Importance of pH Balance


Maria Teresa De Donato, PhD, RND, CNC, CMH, CHom

pH (power of hydrogen) is the standard measure through which we may determine the level of acidity and alkalinity of an aqueous solution.  It is generally applied to analyze soil and water conditions, though it is also fundamental as for establishing the state of our health.  pH levels run from 0 to 14, with a pH of 7 considered neutral, less than 7 acidic, and greater than 7 as basic or alkaline.  We can summarize this by stating that the closer pH gets to 1, the more acidic the state; the closer to 14, the more basic/alkaline.  Furthermore, since acid and basic/alkaline are two extremes just like hot and cold water, by mixing them we can equate their extreme effects just like by mixing hot and cold water we would balance its temperature.

Aquatic organisms have proven to need a pH between 6.5 and 8 in order to stay in balance.  When this range is not met "organisms become physically stressed" to the point that they may even die, this showing that pH balance is not only a matter of health but of survival as well.  All this information apply also to the human body and, consequently, to our health. (1)

According to Dr. Ted Morter Jr. in order to stay healthy, the human body needs to reach and maintain a "slightly alkaline" level, that is around pH 7.4.  When the pH alkaline level is not respected and acidity takes over, the body -- which always work towards homeostasis, a state of internal equilibrium -- will do its best to counteract and neutralize its level of acidity.  Both urine pH and blood pH levels are a good means to check our state of health although "blood pH must always be between 7.35 and 7.45 or life ends abruptly within a matter of hours." (2)

The level or acidity and alkalinity in our body is strictly related to the kind of foods we eat and which impact our body at a cellular level.  As Dr. Hazel Parcells, naturopathic physician, stated before dying at the age of 106, acidity is the very root of "all decays and diseases". That said, being "chronically tired and sleepy" is a clear indication of an acidic state which leads also to premature aging.  To the contrary, a more alkaline state slows down the aging process and gives a person "more energy and drive". (3)  

Generally speaking our food can be classified as

1)         a) high acid and b)medium acid
2)         neutral
3)         a) medium alkaline and b) high alkaline.

To the first group belong: Edam, eggs, mayonnaise, fish, shellfish, bacon, beef, chicken, liver, lamb and veil, which are all high acid, and Brazil nuts, walnuts, Cheddar cheese, Stilton cheese, herrings, mackerel, rye, oats, wheat, rice, plums, cranberries and olives, which are all medium acid; to the second butter, margarine, coffee, tea, sugar and syrup are all neutral; and to the third almonds, coconut, milk, beans, cabbage, celery, lentils, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, root vegetables, tomatoes, apricots, apples, bananas, berries, cherries, figs, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, melons. oranges, peaches, raspberries, tangerines and prunes are all medium alkaline while avocado, beets, carrots, potatoes, spinach, died fruit, rhubarb are all high alkaline (4)

The secret to keeping our body in a slightly alkaline state consists in balancing the food we eat and in taking into account the residual, also called "ashes", that is left after our foods are metabolized, and which can negatively affect our optimum state by altering the body's acidity and alkalinity. (NOTE: Please be aware that the body acidity has nothing to do with the acidity of the foods, that is, with those ingredients which have a sour taste)

A good way not to incur in an acidic state is to avoid excessive consumption of proteins for once our digestive system is overwhelmed by an excess of acid derived from proteins, our health becomes seriously compromised to the point of jeopardizing our own survival.  A strong smell of ammonia in the urine could be an indication that the body has been losing alkalizing minerals in order to counterbalance its excess of acidity.  In the latter case, in fact, the kidneys start producing ammonia which by having a pH around 9.25 is considered a very powerful alkali able to help the organism to restore its pH balance. (2)

In conclusion, no matter what your circumstances are, what your constitutional type is, and what your personal and family medical history is, you can at any given time start to make a u-turn by changing your lifestyle and eating habits and begin to walk the path to optimum health.

Disclaimer: The above material is for educational purpose only and it is not intended as medical advice.  For more information about how I can assist you through a traditional naturopathic approach and coaching, please contact me at

Thank you.


1)  University of Rhode Island - URI Watershed Watch, Cooperative Extension;
-  College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS); - Department of Natural Resources Service (NRS); - Coastal Institute in Kingston, RI. Kelly Addy, Linda Green, and Elizabeth Herron. URIWW-3, July 2004. pH and Alkalinity. Retrieved July 1st, 2014 from

2) Day, P. (2007). Health Wars. Acid and Alkali Ashes (pp. 204-206). Kent, UK: Credence Publications.

3) Trivieri, L., Anderson, J. W. (2002). Alternative Medicine - The Definitive Guide. Holistic Self-Care. Diet and Nutrition. (p. 35). Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.

4) Holford, P. (2004). The New Optimum Nutrition Bible. Part 9. Food Fact File. Balancing acid and alkaline foods. (pp. 521, 522). New York, NY: Crossing Press.

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