Alkalinizing the Body Not That Simple

There is plenty of research in recent years dedicated to the pH (acid-alkaline) balance.  Studies show having an alkaline body means it is more resistant to infections or disease.  Moreover, diseases cannot thrive in an alkaline environment.  By this theory, it is important to eat foods that raise the pH level of the body rather than the opposite.  Ailments like cancers are believed to flourish in acidic bodies. Health nuts everywhere are recommending we eat certain foods to change our pH balance.  (I’m still uncertain on how pH is measured in all fluids, organs and tissues).  At first it seems easy.  Consume greens, teas, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, root crops, and so on.   Stay away from highly processed foods and junk/fast foods.  No problem.  Most of us concerned with our health eat like this anyhow, right?  Here is where it gets confusing.  Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are extremely acidic.  One might think these non-alkaline fruits would move us in the wrong direction.  As it turns out, certain types of acids produce different affects on the stomach acid (HCl).  Citric acid from fruit can actually lower acidity, while the phosphoric acid found in soda pop (pH of 2) could potentially raise acidity.  According to a chemist friend of mine, mixing an acid with a low pH (ie. an orange with pH of 3.3) with the highly acidic stomach acid (pH of 2) could still have alkalinizing ability.   This explains why lemon water is healthy for you, even with a pH of 2 or a 3.  What does it all mean?  It’s just one more reason to eat healthy.  Don’t be surprised if the vast majority of the foods you should eat are alkalinizing. Now onto the latest craze: “alkaline water.” Tap water in Vancouver, BC has a pH level of 6.5 to 7.3 depending on the region.  Even with new regulations to move the averages to 7-7.5, some consumers are investing in fancy devices to raise the pH even higher (9-10).  These “water ionizers” can cost thousands of dollars, and are often available through multi-level marketing companies.  They claim that drinking their “ionized water” that is slightly basic can alkalinize the body.  The science I’ll admit is a bit shaky, but moving in the right direction.  The problem is that as soon as the the alkaline water reaches the stomach it is combined with the highly acidic gastric fluid, and the alkalinity is quickly removed.  The water then moves into the intestine where it is then neutralized by pancreatic secretions before absorbed.  So essentially all fluids taken in will eventually end up alkaline anyway.   I would still recommend a diet comprised of mostly alkaline forming foods.  They are usually less refined, lower in sugar, lower in calorie, and often way more nutrient rich.    However, I have serious doubts that simply consuming alkaline water will do anything to protect the body from disease.  Save your money, and invest in minerals like coral calcium to protect your bones and body from any ups and downs in your body’s pH.

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