Your body needs the right pH level to maintain your best health. While the body works hard to maintain pH in a narrow range, pH can tend to be low (acidic), high (basic), or neutral. By tracking pH levels we can observe if there is a trend for the body to be more neutral, or on the high or low side. This is important because a healthy pH level can make a difference in the health of your bones, kidneys, and even how you age. The pH level can be determined by what you eat, medications you might take, and even chronic diseases. The good news is by eating more of the right foods we can help our bodies have a healthier pH.
The typical diet in the United States has been found to be high in processed foods, animal protein, and salt. Diets that are high in salt or sodium chloride have been found to result in a more acidic body state. The more salt you consume the higher the acid level. A lower salt diet can help, but it’s not as simple as replacing table or sea salt with a salt substitute. It turns out that the chloride molecule is responsible for the increase in acid pH–not the sodium. So using less salt and more herbs and spices is a better choice. Salt substitutes are most often made of potassium chloride.
While a tendency for a body to be in a more acidic state may not cause any immediate health risk, it may set up the body for health issues as we age. Conditions like osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, and low growth hormone can weaken the body and accelerate the aging process. Studies on aging have found that diets high in processed food and low in fruit and vegetables can affect pH and create a more net-acidic environment. By simply increasing your potassium intake you may be able to increase your pH and age with better health. Researchers found that in a more neutral pH environment there was less bone loss, a decrease in age-related decline of growth hormone, and better nitrogen balance. Other research supports these findings as well. In the Framingham Osteoporosis Study, men with higher intakes of magnesium, potassium, and fruit and vegetables were found to have higher bone mineral density at the beginning of the study period. Over the next four years, these men also experienced less bone loss. By improving the quality of your diet to include more high potassium foods like fruits and vegetables while reducing your intake of processed foods, you can help your body maintain a trend toward a more neutral pH and maintain good bone health.
Your kidneys are affected by pH, too. While it’s not uncommon to have a decline in our kidney function as we age, a more neutral pH may protect healthy kidneys as well as those with kidney disease. In a study of people with chronic kidney disease, those who had the highest dietary acid load were 4.6 times more likely to progress to kidney failure than those with the lowest dietary acid load. Similarly, another study found that healthy individuals with lower serum bicarbonate levels or , trended toward an increased risk of death. In individuals with chronic kidney disease the risk of death was 2.6-fold if they had the lowest serum bicarbonate levels.
This might be especially important for those with diabetes who have an increased risk of kidney disease due to high blood sugar. Choosing to eat more fruits and vegetables and avoiding excessive animal protein is an effective way to support your kidneys.
Another study looked at the serum bicarbonate levels of healthy people and those with chronic kidney disease. Bicarbonate levels are a measure of the pH of the blood and low levels can indicate acidosis. While the results were not statistically significant, they found that healthy individuals with lower serum bicarbonate levels, trended toward an increased risk of death. In individuals with chronic kidney disease the risk of death was 2.6-fold if they had the lowest serum bicarbonate levels.
At Vessel we help you track pH to foster a healthier environment for the organs and bones in your body. Based on your results, you’ll get personalized recommendations on what foods to eat to create a more balanced pH in your body. A healthy diet is one of the best ways to create permanent change in your health.
- Frassetto LA, Morris RC Jr, Sebastian A. Dietary sodium chloride intake independently predicts the degree of hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis in healthy humans consuming a net acid-producing diet. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2007 Aug;293(2):F521-5. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00048.2007. Epub 2007 May 23. PMID: 17522265.
- Frassetto L, Morris RC Jr, Sellmeyer DE, Todd K, Sebastian A. Diet, evolution and aging–the pathophysiologic effects of the post-agricultural inversion of the potassium-to-sodium and base-to-chloride ratios in the human diet. Eur J Nutr. 2001 Oct;40(5):200-13. doi: 10.1007/s394-001-8347-4. PMID: 11842945.
- Tucker KL, Hannan MT, Kiel DP. The acid-base hypothesis: diet and bone in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Eur J Nutr. 2001 Oct;40(5):231-7. doi: 10.1007/s394-001-8350-8. PMID: 11842948.
- American Society of Nephrology (ASN). “High acid diet may have negative effects on kidney health.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2015.
- Raphael KL, Zhang Y, Wei G, Greene T, Cheung AK, Beddhu S. Serum bicarbonate and mortality in adults in NHANES III. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2013;28(5):1207-1213. doi:10.1093/ndt/gfs609
- pH plays a big role in overall health, including bones, kidney and the process of aging.
- A lower pH is associated with acidity, whereas a higher pH is basic. By consuming more potassium, you will be able to boost your pH and improve your health.
- In an effort to lower pH levels, try to reduce your intake of processed foods, animal protein and salt.