Let’s get a bit scientific for a moment. Let’s say, you maintain a swimming pool. You know that you need to keep the water pH as close as possible to the ideal, which is 7.4. Coincidentally, normal blood pH is also approximately 7.4. The key to maintaining a continuous healthy pH level in a swimming pool is keeping Total Alkalinity of the water within an optimal range. For example, this can be achieved by adding a specific amount of baking soda. What does Total Alkalinity do? It resists rapid and unhealthy changes in pH. Neither high nor low pH is good for the pool itself, nor is it comfortable for the swimmers. How does maintaining an ideal steady pH look in real life? Imagine two pools: one with zero Total Alkalinity and the other one with the optimal Total Alkalinity. If you pour a glass of vinegar (an acidic, low pH liquid) into the first pool, its pH will plummet. On the contrary, if you pour a glass of vinegar into the second pool, then its pH will remain almost unchanged.
Our bodies are infinitely more complex than swimming pools and possess certain pH self-regulation mechanisms that are effective to some extent. So why not help the body to balance itself out by paying attention to our diet? Then we can safely pour a few glasses of wine, coffee or cola in it without throwing pH off balance. That being said, we do not promote drinking baking soda solution every morning. Though, many people find this practice very beneficial and that might be the right option for you. However, a healthy diet is the best choice to maintain an ideal acid-alkaline balance.
Many medical doctors oppose the body acid-alkaline balance theory because they simply misunderstand it. Many of them believe that the purpose of the diet is to keep the blood pH at healthy levels (at 7.4). The usual argument is that we can not survive if our blood pH changes significantly. Another argument is that the body has resources to restore blood acid-alkaline balance on its own. While it is true that blood pH doesn’t really change a lot, keeping it at a steady level can be stressful to the body. Let’s go back to our first swimming pool, the one where pH went down easily. What happens to it next? It will try to balance itself out and in order to achieve this, it will begin taking alkalinity from wherever it can: tiles, masonry, pipework, etc. Chances are that pool water pH will increase again, at least to some extent. This will happen at the cost of the damage to the pool itself or its systems. This is why pool (and water in general) treatment professionals are so serious about the so-called Langelier Saturation Index. They want to keep it as close to zero (perfect balance) as possible to avoid pool damage or, on the contrary, scale formation.
If we care so much about pool’s acid-alkaline balance that promotes its health and longevity, why don’t we care the same way about our body?
Regular Western diet is normally acidic, especially if it includes fast food on a regular basis. Interestingly, you can’t simply measure the pH of the food you consume to balance the diet. One gentleman had frequent heartburn due to high stomach acidity. He was advised to eat steamed beef because of its high pH and seemingly alkaline properties in order to neutralize excessive stomach acids. Why this can hardly help is because even though steamed beef itself is alkaline, the end products of its digestion are highly acidic. And vice versa, some foods like grapefruit, for example, are acidic on their own and alkaline once digested.
Rule of thumb is that most fruits and vegetables (preferably fresh) are alkalizing in nature. Meats, fish, grains, sugars, sodas and dairy are acidifying.
Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning, along with other health benefits, has an alkalizing effect on the body.
It is important to understand that what we want to achieve is not a high-alkaline body but a balanced body. Over-alkalization brings its own challenges and is not healthy either.
If for any reason you feel you can’t eat balanced and tip to the acidic side, consider drinking alkaline water that can be easily made.