If you're looking to restore the pH balance in your body, you need to first understand your body's pH homeostasis. Not everyone needs their pH levels restored; in fact, people who are in good health don't need to worry about their pH levels.
If your pH levels are too low or too high, it's time to talk to your doctor about what underlying medical issues could be at fault. You can test your pH levels at home, but those tests aren't always very accurate. Instead of trusting questionable tests, talk to your doctor for definitive results.
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Unless you have a medical condition, your lungs and kidneys will maintain the proper pH balance in your body. So if you need rebalancing, you'll need to talk to your doctor about the best method for restoring pH balance in the body based on your particular medical condition.
Do You Need pH Balancing?
The pH scale measures the potency of acids and bases, where higher scores are more basic and lower scores are more acidic. Correct pH levels are essential for delivering oxygen to your tissues. Your pH level affects several biochemical reactions and helps to ensure the proper structures of proteins the body produces. The pH balance in the female body even affects vaginal hygiene and may cause vaginal dryness.
So what are the safe ranges for pH levels? You need to stay between 7.35 and 7.45, according to a study from the April 2018 issue of Nutrients. That means that it's not something you should try to alter without talking with your doctor first. Your body has mechanisms in place to help keep the right balance. As long as you're healthy, your lungs and your kidneys will maintain your pH balance correctly without outside intervention.
This means that if your body pH goes under 7.35 and enters a state of acidemia, it will try to induce alkalosis. Alkalosis means that your body pH goes above 7.45. That's why you don't want to try balancing your pH levels without seeking medical advice from a physician first. You could end up increasing a problem when you aren't fully aware of the details. It's similar to taking vitamins to supplement a nutritional deficiency that you haven't actually confirmed.
Home pH Testing
There are many different at-home urine pH test kits for you to choose from. If you have concerns about the pH balance in your body, you may be considering checking your pH levels at home. That's where the kits come in. You'll want to spend some time looking for the best ones before making your decision.
Whichever kit you pick, the process is the same. You'll use a sanitized receptacle to collect your urine, and then dip a strip into the sample. Any excess urine can be shaken off the strip, which should be placed in a sanitized location as you wait for the results. Or you can just hold it in your hands for the 15 seconds that it usually takes.
Your body's pH level should stay between 7.35 and 7.45, but your urine's pH level should be between 4.6 and 8.0. Your urine pH levels may not reflect your blood pH levels — the kidney filtration process determines the pH of your urine. If your kidneys are filtering out a lot of acids when you're taking the test, you may think your pH levels are too low, when in fact, your kidneys are doing their job. That's why you have to see a doctor to truly know your internal pH levels.
What Is Acidosis?
Sometimes it seems that everyone is worried about raising their pH levels. As you are now aware, that may not be what you need. But if you are in a state of acidosis, your body's pH levels are below 7.35, which indicates that you have too much acid in your system.
There are two different types of acidosis that you can experience. They are respiratory acidosis and metabolic acidosis. When you have respiratory acidosis, it's due to a build-up of carbon dioxide in your respiratory system. If it goes untreated, it can cause more severe ailments, such as weak chest muscles, lung disease and neuromuscular disorders.
Metabolic acidosis is caused by too much acid in your body. While this form of acidosis is related to the metabolic system, the diet will only influence the pH homeostasis of those in poor health. The causes of metabolic acidosis vary but may be related to the kidneys not flushing out enough of the acid from your system. This may cause a variety of different metabolic ailments such as:
- Ketoacidosis, which occurs when there is an excessive build-up of ketones in patients with diabetes.
- Hyperchloremic acidosis, which occurs when your body runs too low on sodium bicarbonate; one of its causes is extreme diarrhea.
- Kidney disease.
- Severe dehydration.
How to Raise pH Levels
If you're in good health, there's not much you can do to raise your pH levels. Only those with certain underlying medical conditions can raise their pH levels through dietary changes.
A May 2017 study from the Journal of Renal Nutrition found that those with chronic kidney disease can raise pH levels by eating alkaline foods. The study specifically found that fruits and vegetables can increase your pH levels, and the researchers linked the results to the alkalinity of those foods.
If you're going to use foods to lower your pH levels, the researchers suggest foods rich in citric acid and potassium. This may sound counter-intuitive, as citric acid has the word acid in it. But, according to UC San Diego Health, potential renal acid loads of food have greater influences on your body's pH than the pH levels of the whole foods you ingest.
Of course, that's only true for those with specific medical issues, and dietary changes can only improve the medical intervention recommended by your physician.
Read more: Alkaline Diet Plan
What About Antacids?
If you're looking to lower acidity levels, then antacids may sound like the right choice; the name practically says that it's the antidote to acid. They do neutralize the acidity of your stomach. You'll find that all of the antacids on the market work the same, but the liquid medications work faster, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
A study from the May 2016 issue of RSC Advances found that antacids are the fastest way to neutralize stomach acidity. Since antacids neutralize the acidity in your stomach, they can help with conditions like heartburn, acid reflux disease and GERD. Of course, antacids don't come without their own downsides. Beware of the adverse side effects of this medicine.
Negative side effects of antacids can include:
- Diarrhea caused by magnesium used in some formulations
- Constipation caused by calcium and aluminum in some formulations
- Kidney stones or other renal problems occasionally caused by calcium
- Calcium loss brought on by too much exposure to aluminum
While antacids can reduce acidity in your stomach, they won't have much of an effect on your body pH. Again, your body controls its pH through respiration and urination. It can't be influenced by anything you eat, or any over-the-counter medications unless you have an underlying health condition.
Read more: Supplements That Fight Lactic Acid
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Taking Antacids”
- RSC Advances: “Nano-Antacids Enhance PH Neutralization Beyond Their Bulk Counterparts: Synthesis and Characterization”
- Journal of Renal Nutrition: “Reducing the Dietary Acid Load: How a More Alkaline Diet Benefits Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease”
- Nutrients: “Acid Balance, Dietary Acid Load, and Bone Effects—A Controversial Subject”
- University of San Francisco Health Center: “Urine pH test”