What Is pH and Why Should You Care?
You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘pH balance’ thrown around sometimes. You may have heard it in reference to swimming pools. Maybe you heard it in chemistry class. But what is pH exactly?
Well, pH stands for “potential of hydrogen,” and it’s simply the concentration of hydrogen in a solution. It’s used to measure how acidic or alkaline a said solution is. It’s on a scale of 0 to 14, 0 being extremely acidic, and 14 extremely alkaline. So when someone is trying to determine the pH balance in a pool, they’re looking for close to a 7, which is neutral.
The consequences of a low pH are pretty obvious: eroded plaster, metal corrosion, itchy skin for the swimmers, etc. But the opposite has negative effects, too!
With your body, things work a little differently. Here are some of the effects that different pH balances can have on your body.
Also known as acidosis, low pH means your body is too acidic. It can lead to a lot of major health problems.
It can be the result of a lot of different factors. One common cause is severe diarrhea. If you suffer from this gastric distress for an extended period, your body can be depleted of bicarbonate. This is the compound your body uses to neutralize acids.
It can also come from exercising too much. When you exert yourself intensely, your body builds up lactic acid. If you don’t give yourself proper time to recover, that can mess up your pH balance.
Those are just two examples. There are many other ways for your body to become too acidic, but they all lead to the same issues. Some of the main symptoms are insomnia, low blood pressure, depression, and sensitivity to acidic fruits.
What Can I Do About Low pH?
We’re no doctors and don’t claim to be able to give medical advice, but unless you have more serious issues causing your low pH, fighting against this doesn’t have to be complicated. It is helpful to simply load up on alkaline foods, like avocadoes, corn, soy, and fresh fruit.
What happens if you go too far the other way? Alkalosis is the term for high pH, and it can be fatal if left unchecked.
One of the main causes of alkalosis is heavy vomiting. However, it can also be attributed to low potassium levels, overuse of antacids, or even simply ingesting too much bicarbonate, which can be found in baking soda.
Alkalosis symptoms are a little easier to spot. The symptoms caused by acidosis are fairly common and can be caused by various things. Alkalosis symptoms include nausea, numbness, muscle spasms at the onset, dizziness, breathing issues, and even a coma once it has progressed. Those symptoms are all much harder to ignore.
What Can I Do About High pH?
Depending on the cause and severity, alkalosis treatment varies. For certain types, it can just be an oxygen mask until your levels return to normal. For others, you might need a potassium or chloride supplement. Often, alkalosis caused by vomiting can be treated with a sports drink.
How to Maintain a Proper Balance
We’ve talked about the extremes, so the obvious question is how to stay at an appropriate level. That really comes down entirely to diet. While obviously the aforementioned causes can throw it off, bringing your body back to neutral is easy with the right foods.
In general, you want your body just barely into the alkaline range. A 7.4 is the perfect level for body function. Unfortunately, normal bodily function produces a lot of acid. So to keep your body in check, your diet should be about 3/4’s alkaline foods.
Alkaline foods include most fruits and vegetables, garlic, and almonds. Acid forming foods include meat, cheese, alcohol, and most grains. It’s important that you don’t avoid all acid forming foods, especially since acid-forming foods include walnuts and most legumes, a lot of which are very healthy.
Finding a balance is the key. You don’t have to cut out your coffee, but consider replacing it with a lightly caffeinated tea a few times a week. Load up on your veggies to make sure alkaline foods make up the bulk of your diet. The type of water you drink will also affect your PH levels. Part of the filtration process that Home Water Solutions provides includes an alkaline filter that will keep your water from being too acidic.
Maintaining a proper pH balance is important for many reasons. Just like a pool, you can’t stray too far either way. Your body is meant to function at a very specific level.