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Cold and Flu : pH Balance and Health

By Julie Helm, Courtesy of Garden of Life

Life is often a balancing act, and it's no different for your body's pH, which stands for "potential of hydrogen." pH levels are designated on a scale of zero to 14, with the lower the pH meaning more acidic and the higher the pH meaning more alkaline. Neutral pH is 7.0 -- which is also the pH of water -- and a healthy range to shoot for pH-wise is between 6.0 and 7.5.

The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library says that blood that is slightly alkaline -- 7.35 to 7.45 -- is optimal for healthy body functioning. In fact, the body has to keep certain fluids such as the blood consistently at a slightly alkaline state in order to maintain health. The blood's not the only area that prefers a slightly alkaline state, though. The immune, metabolic, enzymatic and restorative processes function better with it as well.

The pH varies in different areas of the body, however. For instance, the stomach must be acidic so that digestive proteins function properly. Interestingly, the pH environment of the body affects how certain cells and proteins in the body work.

In fact, if the pH balance is off in an area -- too acidic or even too alkaline at times for its needs -- then proteins in the body can change their shape, causing them to not function, according to the Food Science department at Ohio State University. That's definitely not a good thing, since proteins are the worker molecules for nearly every bodily activity, including the hemoglobin protein carrying oxygen in your blood to your entire body, ion channel proteins controlling brain signaling, and receptor proteins in our cells -- and the list goes on and on.

When the body is overall too acidic, then it can lead to various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes complications and fragile or brittle bones. Here's how the body responds to an acidic state. Additionally, it works continually to keep balanced pH levels -- especially in the blood -- and it will buffer itself by getting rid of excess acid (or base) byproducts through the skin, lungs, saliva and urine. One of the most challenging problems with balancing pH comes from trying to keep ahead of excess bodily metabolic acids which are produced from lack of oxygen, poor diet, environmental toxins, cellular inflammation and metabolic waste products.

When there is chronic acidity -- which is the case for many people due to diet and lifestyle choices and other factors -- these "buffering" systems can't keep up and then the body takes alkalizing minerals from tissues and bones to tone down the acidity. When this happens, the minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium are taken from our muscles and nerves, our bones and teeth, our arteries and from our joints to help keep the body's pH balanced.

In short, the body robs itself of these alkalizing minerals to create pH balance, but leaves behind unhealthy outcomes for those areas and more.

Your diet, lifestyle and overall health state all factor into whether your body is too acidic or not, but you can help to balance your pH by choosing a healthy diet and habits. For example, foods with high alkalinity include watermelon, cucumbers, strawberries, lemons, apples, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, celery, cabbage, spinach, wheatgrass, chia seeds, cold-pressed coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil.

Overall, a diet high in veggies and fruits packed with calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and other alkalizing minerals can go a long way in helping to reach pH balance in the body. Avoiding chemical-laden foods, sugars and refined carbs is important, too.

So, be sure to keep your body's pH in balance. It will thank you for it.

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