What Is a pH Balance and How Can It Affect Your Health?

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pH Balance and Kidney HealthMaybe you’ve heard this from a fellow enthusiast or even in the health media: your body needs to maintain a healthy pH balance. But what does that mean…and what happens if it doesn’t? How does it affect your overall health? And what about your kidneys?

What Is a Healthy pH Balance and What Does It Mean for Your Health

A pH balance is the ratio of acidity to basicity. In humans, a few factors play a role in determining pH levels, but one of the most important is diet. Eating too many acidic foods can lead to conditions like diabetes and chronic kidney disease, among others.

The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, and a healthy level is right in the middle, between seven and eight. If you’re pH level is eight or more, you are alkaline; if it’s below seven, you are acidic. Ideally, you want to include 60% alkaline-forming foods into your diet and 40% acid-forming foods.

Because of the standard American diet, it is very easy to have an acidic pH. Processed foods containing added sugar and salt are typically always high-acidity options, as are most meats and poultry. On the other hand, most fruits and vegetables are alkaline. Striking a healthy balance between the two is essential for your health, relieving stress from your organs and the various systems working inside you that are essential to life.

Examples of Alkaline Foods

  • Almost all fruits, including citrus fruits (even though they appear acidic, they have an alkaline effect inside your body)
  • Green vegetables
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Whey protein
  • Eggplant
  • Almonds
  • Cinnamon
  • Curry

Examples of High-Acid Foods

  • Anything processed or high in corn syrup or sugar
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Coffee
  • Oatmeal
  • Most oils, including olive and sunflower
  • Butter
  • Quinoa
  • Canned and glazed fruits
  • Oat and wheat bran

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and a Healthy pH Balance

For patients with chronic kidney disease, or CKD, high-acid diets might increase the risk of kidney failure. Results of a new study indicate that patients with CKD can greatly benefit by improving their diet to include more fruits and vegetables, and eating less meat and processed foods. The research team found that high levels of acid in the diet of patients with CKD was closely linked to kidney failure, with patients who had a lot of acid in their diet developing kidney failure at a rate three times faster than those consuming a low-acid diet.

When you eat a highly acidic diet (meat and processed foods heavily outweigh fruits and vegetables), it becomes harder for your body to repair damaged cells and absorb nutrients, and you become more susceptible to disease and illness. These problems are exacerbated in people with chronic kidney disease because they lead to a buildup of waste in your blood.

Chronic kidney disease affects 26 million Americans and, because of the Standard American Diet, millions more are at risk. To determine whether or not you have it, and to learn your pH level, you must get a blood test, but some common symptoms of CKD are low energy and fatigue, difficulty concentrating, poor appetite, trouble sleeping, muscle cramping, swollen feet and ankles, puffy eyes, and dry, itchy skin.

CKD is highly associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, and nerve damage.

Also Read :

Sources for Today’s Article:
American Society of Nephrology (ASN), “High acid diet may have negative effects on kidney health,” Science Daily web site, February 12, 2015; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150212183253.htm, last accessed February 24, 2015.
“About Chronic Kidney Disease,” National Kidney Foundation; https://www.kidney.org/kidneydisease/aboutckd, last accessed February 24, 2015.

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