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Myth or Fact? Balancing Acidic and Alkaline Foods for Your Stomach

The idea that we need to balance our inner pH with a special diet is a trendy one, but is there any evidence behind it?

The pH level (the balance of acid and alkaline) in your body is important, and can affect multiple body functions, but balancing pH is more complicated than simply changing your diet. It is true that a majority of the average American’s diet is loaded with acidic foods, but food isn’t the only factor that affects your inner pH.

“It is an interesting concept [balancing pH by adjusting the amount of acidic food you eat], but there is little basis or medically proven benefit of doing so,” says Cooper Clinic Director of Gastroenterology Abram Eisenstein, MD.

The human body is very sensitive to changes in pH and balance between acid and alkaline materials in our blood is very important part of our blood, but the body was developed with a number of mechanisms to guard against over acidity or over alkalinity in the blood. “Without these fundamental and life-protecting mechanisms, you can become very ill with chronic acidosis, but in the big scheme of things, what you put in your mouth has very little to do with the acid/alkaline balance in your body,” explains Dr. Eisenstein.

Serious diseases, such as uncontrolled diabetes and chronic kidney disease can have a far greater effect on your body’s pH levels than the food you eat. “While the recommendations that you can control pH by balancing acidic and alkaline foods in your diet come from well-meaning people, this idea is misguided,” says Dr. Eisenstein. “One of the beauties of our bodies is that our pH is regulated minute-by-minute. There is no long term effect on your blood from eating acidic foods.”

As far as the store bought urine tests claiming to check for a pH imbalance, Dr. Eisenstein doesn’t recommend giving them much thought either. “Measuring pH in the urine is not the way to find out if your pH is balanced or not because your kidneys are designed to balance the pH,” he says. “If you have too much acid in your blood, you’ll put out acid urine, if you have too much alkaline in your blood, you’ll put out alkaline urine.”

The bottom line: acidosis and alkalosis are serious medical problems, but unless you have other signs of serious poor health, worrying about your inner pH levels is unnecessary.

If you are concerned about your pH balance, schedule an appointment with your physician for an examination. If it is deemed necessary, your physician will order a blood pH test, which is the only correct way to check for a pH imbalance.

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