Are you Acidic? An Alkaline Lifestyle Can Restore Hormonal Health

Welcome to the world of women's health, where we're on a mission to unlock the secrets of well-being. Today, we're diving into the world of pH balance, and I'll be your guide – a gynaecologist and also your girlfriend.

Dr Disha Sridhar

I am a Gynaecologist Obstetrician ( MD, DNB OBGYN) with an emphasis on INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE.

An Alkaline Lifestyle Can Restore Hormonal Health

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Do you remember your high school chemistry class? The one where the periodic table and pH levels might have seemed like a foreign language? Don't worry; we're here to make this journey fun and easy to understand. So, hop aboard as we explore the pH scale, reveal its mysteries, and learn why it's the key to your body's balance and overall health.

pH Demystified

The pH scale, which ranges from 1 to 14, serves as a measure of acidity and alkalinity. A pH of 7 is considered neutral, while values lower than 7 indicate acidity and values higher than 7 reflect alkalinity. This scale provides valuable insight into the chemical nature of substances, especially those containing water.

Human Blood: A Tale of Stability

The pH of human blood is remarkably stable, typically hovering around 7.4, which places it on the alkaline side of the spectrum. This steadfast pH is essential for various bodily functions and is rigorously maintained by the body, primarily through the actions of the lungs and kidneys. These vital organs ensure that your blood remains within the healthy pH range. They do so by employing "buffering" mechanisms, releasing minerals like calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate as needed to maintain the pH at 7.4.

Not All pHs Are Created Equal

It's important to note that while blood pH remains steady, other parts of the body have different pH levels. For example, the stomach maintains a highly acidic pH, usually below 3.0, to aid in the digestion of food and neutralize harmful pathogens. Similarly, the pH of the vagina falls within the range of 3.8 to 4.4, while the skin's pH is below 5. Each of these pH levels is fine-tuned to the specific functions of these body parts.

The Alkaline Imperative

Maintaining an alkaline pH balance in most body tissues and cells is a priority for your overall health. Research increasingly suggests that an alkaline state is conducive to well-being. Just as observed with the ocean ( 8.1), our eyes (7.4), and the ideal pH of a pool ( 7.4), the body strives to sustain an alkaline pH in many of its systems.

The Impact of Diet

In the 1960s, scientists began to classify foods as either acidic or alkaline based on their chemical composition. Recent research has shown that consistently consuming a high-acid diet can result in an increased overall acid load on the body, even though it doesn't alter blood pH.

The Consequences of Acidosis

Acidosis is a condition that occurs when your body's pH balance becomes excessively acidic due to the consumption of acidic foods. This chronic low-grade acidosis can lead to mineral deficiencies, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and bicarbonate. These deficiencies can have a profound impact on your health.

Comparing Diets

When researchers compare the acid load of modern diets to hypothetical pre-agricultural diets, they find significant differences. Our ancestors primarily consumed plant-based foods, resulting in a low-acid diet. In contrast, the average Modern diet is associated with a net acid load. This discrepancy in dietary patterns has prompted extensive research into the consequences of chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis and the potential benefits of reducing the diet's acid load. 

The Benefits of an Alkaline Diet

Studies have shown that adopting an alkaline diet can lead to several health advantages. These include:

  • Support for Bone Health: Maintaining lean muscle mass is crucial for preventing falls and fractures, especially in older women. Alkaline diets have been linked to improvements in lean muscle mass. Acidic diets, on the other hand, are often deficient in magnesium, which is associated with conditions like osteoporosis, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Preventing Magnesium Deficiency and Enhancing Immunity: Magnesium deficiency can lead to various health issues, such as anxiety, sleep problems, headaches, and reduced immunity. Alkaline diets can increase intracellular magnesium levels, which is crucial given that a significant portion of the population is deficient in this essential mineral.
  • Lowering Pain, Inflammation, and Disease Risk: Many individuals have experienced reduced joint pain, menstrual discomfort, and inflammation as their bodies become more alkaline. Research supports this phenomenon, with chronic acidosis being linked to chronic pain and inflammation. Additionally, alkaline diets have been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.
  • Decreased Risk of Diabetes and Hypertension: High dietary acid loads have been linked to an increased risk of diabetes and systemic hypertension, as well as cardiovascular problems. Animal and cell studies also suggest that an acidic environment may support cancer growth.

The Acidic vs. Alkaline Foods Debate

You can find numerous charts online detailing the pH levels of different foods. These pH values provide insights into whether a food is acidic or alkaline and its effect on the body. However, there are exceptions, such as lemons, which are acidic outside the body but have an alkalizing effect when consumed. In general, fruits and vegetables tend to be alkaline due to their mineral content, while meat, poultry, dairy, sugar, processed foods, and caffeine are among the most acidic options. Grains typically fall on the acidic side.

It's essential to remember that when assessing your diet's pH impact, you're considering the net effect of your food choices. This is where the 80/20 rule can be beneficial. Strive to consume a diet that is 80% alkaline (rich in vegetables) and 20% acidic (which includes essential protein and healthy fats). Reducing acidic foods while aiming for meals with a positive base load is key.

Choosing foods that are mineral-rich, anti-inflammatory and toxin-free is also crucial for maintaining an alkaline state. Organic options are often preferable, as non-organic produce may be grown in mineral-depleted soils exposed to toxins.

Lifestyle Factors Matter

pH balance isn't solely about diet. Your lifestyle choices play a substantial role in determining your alkaline state. Hydration, quality of sleep, physical activity, stress levels, and emotional well-being all contribute to your pH balance.

Hydration, in particular, has a significant impact on your alkaline state. Adequate sleep is crucial not only for overall health but also for maintaining an alkaline pH. Exercise, or lack thereof, affects your pH balance as well. Stress, both mental and physical, can tip the scales toward acidity.

Additionally, positive relationships and emotional connections can promote alkalinity by increasing oxytocin levels, which counteracts the stress hormone cortisol. Conversely, negative experiences, including intimate issues related to vaginal health, can impact your alkaline state and overall quality of life.

The Role of Vices

Vices, whether physical or mental, tend to increase the body's acid load. This includes habits like smoking, insufficient sleep, and other detrimental behaviours.

In future articles, I will delve deeper into the lifestyle factors that influence pH balance and offer guidance on how to make healthier choices.

In Conclusion

Maintaining a healthy pH balance is a multifaceted endeavour. While diet is a crucial component, it's essential to consider lifestyle factors that influence your alkaline state. By making informed choices regarding your diet, hydration, sleep, physical activity, stress management, and emotional well-being, you can work towards achieving and maintaining an alkaline environment in the body. Your hormones will thank you for that!

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