Disruptions in the pH balance of the human body can cause a number of detrimental effects. While your body's fluids are generally held in the neutral range, near a pH of 7.0, the foods that you eat may have an impact on your body's pH balance. Although there are only slight differences between the natural pH of men and women, the potential damage caused by a pH imbalance may be more pronounced in women.
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According to a team headed by Joseph Pizzorno of Seattle, Washington's Bastyr University, your blood's pH is tightly controlled, generally ranging between 7.35 and 7.40. In a 2009 study, these researchers note that compounds that lead to osteoporosis are almost completely inactive at a pH of 7.40. With slight decreases in pH greatly increasing your risk of bone damage, maintaining a slightly alkaline pH can help to prevent osteoporosis. Although this is a risk for both men and women, the greater risk of osteoporosis in women increases the importance of their maintaining an alkaline pH.
Although Pizzorno and his colleagues state that diet-induced changes in blood pH are rare, they suggest that urinary pH is primarily determined by your diet. Overconsumption of acidic foods, such as salty foods, meat, dairy and coffee, can lower the pH in your kidneys. This acidic renal pH can lead to chronic kidney stone formation, primarily in men, and increased risk of urinary tract infections, which are more common in women. While maintaining a slightly alkaline diet can help to prevent such conditions, Dr. Norma Metheny of St. Louis University notes, in a 2011 book, that an overly alkaline diet may also lead to kidney failure.
While yeast infections can affect both men and women, the naturally acidic, warm, moist environment of the vagina makes women much more susceptible. As yeasts thrive in an acidic environment, eating too many acidic foods may lead to a greater risk of yeast infections by lowering your body's pH. Although you should not attempt to correct for this by eliminating acidic foods from your diet, increasing your intake of alkaline foods may help to prevent and lower your risk of yeast infections.
In addition to the effects of an alkaline diet on bone, kidney and vaginal health, maintaining a slightly alkaline blood pH may help to prevent your muscles from degrading as you age. According to Joseph Pizzorno and his colleagues, increasing your intake of alkaline foods may also help to improve muscle function and your ability to tolerate intense exercise. While there is only limited evidence for such effects, the effects of an alkaline pH on muscle function and age-related breakdown may be more pronounced in women due to their higher risk of low iron levels.
- "British Journal of Nutrition"; Diet-Induced Acidosis: Is It Real and Clinically Relevant?; Joseph Pizzorno et al.; 2009
- "Fluid and Electrolyte Balance: Nursing Considerations"; Norma M. Metheny; 2011
- Acid-Alkaline Diet: pH Balance For Your Body Can Make You Feel Incredible
- "The Reynolds Office of Health"; pH Balancing; Sue Reynolds; June 2011
- Female Care: Alkalizing the Body to Balance the pH
- Yeast Infection Advisor: Is Body PH The Common Link to Yeast Infections?