I recalled reading from somewhere that arthritis can be caused by high acidity in the body. I knew that acidity has something to do with our pH level but I never really paid much attention to it. In fact, I am not even aware of the implication of the pH level indicated in my medical test reports. So I embarked on a research to gain more understanding and I found that an imbalanced pH can actually affect our health. I got even more interested when I read that an imbalanced pH not only can cause arthritis but osteoporosis, kidney ailments and a host of other diseases. According to Wellness Watchers MD, pH imbalances can cause accelerated aging, demineralization, fatigue, impaired enzyme activity, inflammation which leads to inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and organ damage. It can also cause proliferation of harmful microorganisms which can lead to cancer.
I find it interesting that pH imbalances can cause inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Could this mean the same as what was suggested by Stanford University School of Medicine's study that "osteoarthritis is in great part driven by low-grade inflammatory processes"? (see post on OA still exist after TKR?). If this is the case, I wonder why there is a lack of awareness on the importance of pH balance.
So what is a pH balance? pH stands for potential of hydrogen and it is a balance between acidity and alkalinity in our body which is referred as Acid-Base Balance. It is not easy to create a normal pH balance in our body due to all the acid-forming foods in our diet, exposure to toxins and high stress levels. As a result, many people suffer from over-acidification. A high alkaline level means that there is excessively low acidity in the body. However, most people with imbalance are usually too acidic and this has been claimed to cause many degenerative diseases. But too much of alkalinity is also not a good thing as it can lead to other serious health problems. Therefore, we need to have a healthy pH balance to ensure proper function of organs.
The level of pH is measured on a scale of zero to 14. The lower the pH, the more acidic. The higher the pH, the more alkaline. The neutral pH is 7 and 7.4 is considered to be a healthy pH level which is slightly alkaline. The pH in our blood is the most important in order to ensure proper body functions. However, to measure the pH of blood is not so convenient as we need to visit our doctor to get our blood drawn to do a venous plasma pH test. So an alternative is to test our saliva and urine pH as it is very convenient. It may not be as accurate as the blood pH test but it is a good indication. This can be done with pH test strips or digital pH meters which can be purchased from pharmacies. It is best to do the test upon waking up in the morning and before taking our breakfast. Do this for several days to get an average result. If the test is done at other time of the day, it should be at least two to three hours after eating a meal.
Ideally, we should try to achieve a more balanced pH in our body by consuming more Alkaline Food which includes most fresh fruits and green vegetables. Dairy foods, meat, bread, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated drinks, certain teas and coffee are very acidic. As an alternative, drinking alkaline water will help to increase our pH level. Water accounts for up to 75% of our body thus, the fluid intake greatly affects the pH of our body. Unfortunately, most of the water we consume are acidic. Therefore, drinking alkaline water will help to balance the pH level. Alkaline water has a pH value between 9 and 11 on the pH scale so it is very effective for developing an ideal pH of 7.4.
Now how do we get alkaline water? Well, there are so many alkaline water dispenser machines in the market being sold at thousands of dollars. Not many of us can afford this. So the most inexpensive way is to drink lemon water. Lemon has a pH level of 9 and it contain many substances - notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin and limonene that promote immunity and fight infection. Lemons have been shown to be helpful for reducing some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. They are acidic in its basic state but because of its very low sugar content and high alkaline mineral content, lemons actually have an alkalising effect on the body. Therefore, it helps to raise the alkalinity level in our body. We can squeeze half a lemon into one cup of water or squeeze one whole lemon into a bottle of water. Now because lemon is still acidic before it enters into our body, we should rinse our mouth after drinking lemon water so that it does not corrode our teeth.
Another inexpensive alkaline water which I read about is baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). Yes, we all know that baking soda is used in baking cakes and a lot of other purposes. It has been a home remedy for a long time. Baking soda is actually Sodium Bicarbonate which can be used as an antacid. That's why it can be dissolved in water to relief heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion. When dissolved in water, baking soda has almost the same pH as alkaline water. Its true because I have tested it. The common recommendation to increase alkalinity is 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water to be taken on an empty stomach preferably once in the morning and once before bedtime. Baking soda should not be taken immediately after eating as it may interfere with digestion. When baking soda is mixed with water, there is carbonation so make sure that the solution settles down and is completely dissolved before drinking. It is advisable not to overuse baking soda.
Lemon juice and baking soda can be combined to create a pH of 7 which can help to reduce acidity and neutralize the sodium in baking soda. The common recommended amount is 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. It has a neutral flavor so its easy to drink.
In summary, I feel that besides drinking lots of water and regular exercise (see Water & Arthritis post), a healthy pH balance is another important factor to maintain good health. Deep breathing exercise is another good thing to do in order to increase oxygen in our body. Basically, these are simple things that we can do to improve our health without burning holes in our pockets.
Note: Since baking soda contain sodium and is considered as medicine, you need to consult a doctor before using it especially if you take medicines and have certain health conditions.
|pH Test Strips|
During my research, I came across interesting claims that baking soda can cure cancer and improve kidney function. Here are some links for you to check out.