Monday, March 8, 2010

pH Balance in the Body

One of my goals is to eat better to help balance the pH of my body. The body works hard to keep a pH of about 7.4 (mildly alkaline) in critical body fluids. When the pH is in the proper range, we use oxygen more efficiently to burn sugar and make energy. When the pH isn't in the right range we get free radicals, and put more stress on the body and the ability to utilize the all-important building blocks of minerals and proteins.

Much like our garden soils, our bodies may have enough mineral intake but are unable to use them in the form they are in. Among other things, a deficiency in bioavailable minerals gives us leg/muscle cramps, eye twitches, and fragile bones/teeth. I have read that yeast infections and poor digestion are also indications of the body being too acidic.

When we crave sugars it's often because the body is acidic, rather than alkaline... in other words, a slightly alkaline body doesn't crave sugar. Sugars and refined fatty acids induce an acidic pH and the body has to work hard to regain balance.

From what I have read so far, merely eating a diet high in alkaline foods won't do the trick. We need to consume the right fatty acids (like Omega-3) and minerals, which work together to help create and maintain health, which includes pH balance. I suspect there was a time (before factory farms and all the pesticides and herbicides developed to adapt chemical munitions plants to still making profits after the 2 world wars) when our foods supplied all the ingredients we needed to balance pH. Well, maybe not the cowboy fare of beans, beans and beans...

Somewhere I read that the best diet for pH balance should be 75% alkalizing foods and 25% acidifying foods. If that's true, my diet is out of whack with too many acidifying foods like meat (including chicken), grain products and flours, beans and legumes, and dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. Until summer garden time, I'd say my diet is probably 10% alkalizing foods like fresh veggies and fruits.

There are some things I can do before garden season. One is to grow and eat sprouts, and eat more winter squash and sweet potatoes rather than white potatoes and pasta. Another thing I can do is pre-soak grains and flour in buttermilk or raw apple cider vinegar, giving them a mild fermentation overnight.

Fermented foods are good for us. "Hundreds of medical and scientific studies confirm what folklore has always known: Fermented foods help people stay healthy. Many of your favorite foods and drinks are probably fermented. For instance: bread, cheese, wine, beer, mead, fresh cider, chocolate, coffee, tea, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, real soy sauce, vinegar, yogurt, kefir, kombucha." ~
Sandor Ellix Katz

Real fermented vegetables are alkalizing, but you seldom find them in most stores. What is sold is usually heat-processed which nullifies most of the positive effects.
Look at orange juice. If it's reconstituted, or frozen, or even just pasteurized, it's acidic; but if you squeeze it yourself, it's alkaline.

I fully intend to ferment more vegetables this summer. I only have 2 actual fermenting crocks, but quart or half-gallon canning jars will work just fine with some tweaking to keep out unwanted bacteria. I knew a young couple in Europe who made their living making and selling fermented vegetables at several farmer's markets every week. I remember the husband said they made over 100 different kinds, which I assume is 100 different vegetable medleys. I've made sauerkraut and pickles, but it's just as easy to ferment cauliflower or carrots, or whatever. Plus, I have an ideal place to store them on shelves in my root cellar where they will remain cool.

None of this is intended as medical or health advice of any kind. It's merely the story of what I am currently doing for my own health. Even with what I can grow, and afford to purchase that's organic, my nutrition will still not be optimum... meaning I will still need to add supplements such as calcium, Vitamin D3 and Omega-3.


  1. Hi Darius
    I love your blog. I just read the last 5 month's of posts. I'm a university adviser, PhD student, & late-night gardener (althought I'd really like to reverse the order). Thank you for your wisdom and clear writing. I live in the West Indies and we are losing our agricultural heritage to refridgerated shipments of over-fertilized produce from the US, our best quality fish is shipped out to markets in NY and Japan, and our kids eat sugary calories in abundance. Health & dietary education is a challenge here. We need local role models who have the knack for effectively explaining the same simple yet valuable life lessons found peppered throughout your pages. Keep up the inspiration. PJ

  2. PJ, Thanks for the kind words! You have a heavy load to carry so I'm doubly pleased you stopped by and spent some time here.

    Unfortunately, the food culture around me is just as it is around you... in pitiful shape, and an uphill battle to encourage change. But change we must; the alternative is neither acceptable nor sustainable.


I'd love to hear what you think about my posts! We all learn together.