Ask Doctor Marty: pH

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I have read a little bit about pH. Would it really make a difference in how I feel to reduce acid levels in my diet? p.s. PLEASE DON’T TELL ME TO GIVE UP COFFEE.

I promise to not tell you to give up coffee. But I promise to give you enough information to help you make wise decisions regarding your health. Deal?

The first thing to consider is the basic idea that: Acid is the environment in which inflammation occurs. Inflammation is the environment in which illness occurs.

Let that sink in. So, if you can create an ideal pH in your body, you are setting yourself up for health rather than disease. Going to the root of a problem keeps you from chasing symptoms in a game of Whack a Mole. My apologies to anyone not old enough to be able to get a visual on that one.

Do you have:
• Acid Reflux?
• Irritable Bowels?
• Insomnia?
• Headache?
• Constipation?
• Lack of Energy?
• Osteoporosis?
• Dry Skin?
• Cardiovascular Illness?
• Diabetes?
• Thyroid imbalance?
• Weight Gain?

Below is a basic list of acidic foods and beverages:
• Coffee
• Non-Herbal Tea
• Too much Alcohol
• Caffeine
• Soft Drinks
• Processed Foods
• Fried Foods
• High Fructose Corn Syrup
• White Sugar
• Artificial Sweeteners
• Too Much Animal Protein
• Stress
• Lack of Exercise
• Lack of Quality Sleep
• Dehydration

Don’t panic. If you mentally checked off most of the items on the list, you’re not alone.
Your body will compensate when it is too acid by using up alkaline minerals (like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iodine) to put out the fire, so to speak. That explains why so many Americans develop osteoporosis. In an emergency measure, the body’s innate wisdom will draw calcium from the bones to alkalize the higher priority heart and blood.
The body must also be within a specific pH range to absorb different minerals. On a scale of 0 to 14, blood pH should be 7.35 to 7.45. It is best to test urine and saliva in the morning (before you contaminate your saliva with toothpaste, food or liquid) or three hours after a meal. Urinary pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0. Saliva should be between 6.4 and 6.8, with an average of 6.5 during the day. The higher the number, the more alkaline you are. To test your own pH, you can buy test strips at your local pharmacy.

But be kind to your body. Don’t set yourself up for failure by making too many changes at one time. A walking program is great for most people. But to go from inactivity to walking 10 miles the first day will make you wish you hadn’t. I try to always use the principle of “better than.” If today I do “better than” yesterday by substituting a healthier version of what I did yesterday, I don’t beat myself up.

P.S. Please don’t shoot the messenger about the coffee thing.

Hot Tip: For a comprehensive list of pH in foods and beverages, Google Acid/Alkaline Food List.

Stay well.

Marty Kernion, Ph.D. is not a medical doctor. She has a doctorate in naturopathy. Naturopathy uses natural, gentle ways to bring our bodies back into balance, so that they have the God-given ability to heal themselves. She is a retired professor of herbal medicine and nutrition and has written 39 college level courses in natural approaches to health. She has published two books on natural health. She can be reached on for scheduling a class or consultation, or for sending in your questions for this column.


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