For more than 30 years I have had the opportunity to evaluate patients and hear their stories. After observing patients, listening to their symptoms and reading their case histories, I have seen some common themes and patterns emerge. What stands out in my experience is that the major cause of poor health is genetics and environment coming together in an inharmonious way.
Our genetic makeup is for the most part set in stone. We are all the same in some ways and different in other ways. How our bodies deal with life circumstances can vary. Some people can eat anything they want with no gastric distress while for others just a little spice causes a huge upset stomach. We can’t do much about the genetic cards we are dealt, but we do have control over our environment. The choices we make in what we eat, how we sleep, where we live, and our work and hobbies have a momentous effect on the length and quality of our life. As a practitioner I have found that these choices make all of the difference.
In evaluating health I have found that rather than identifying a disease, it is better to simply measure and balance function. Logic dictates that if all of your functions are at 100% you are healthy. Public health studies show that diagnosis is more often wrong than it is right. Once a disease is named it tends to be treated in a prescribed manner. Get the diagnosis wrong and you get the wrong treatment. Since every person’s functions are a little bit different, each patient should be approached and treated according to their functional profile.
Many functions can be measured quite easily. You can simply count your heart rate and respirations. You can purchase a blood pressure cuff and monitor yourself at home. One of the best and simplest at home testing techniques that you can do is to measure your body’s acid/alkaline balance. With pH test strips you can monitor your body’s level of hydrogen ions (the ‘H’ in ‘pH’).
What’s the big deal about pH? pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance, in our case, in our bodies. It is actually a measure of the hydrogen ions dissolved in a solution and is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 the most alkaline; the middle number, 7, is neutral, in other words not alkaline nor acidic. Different areas of your body should have different pH levels and can even ideally be different values at different times of the day. Urine pH should be 6.0 to 6.5 in the morning and 6.5 to 7.0 in the evening. Saliva should be 6.5 to 7.5 all day. Your stomach should have a low pH because the stomach acid is necessary to digest proteins and act as a barrier to invaders such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungal infections. Your small intestine, at the end of the line of the digestive process, should be slightly alkaline at about just below 7 .
If you have ever owned an aquarium or fish pond you know the importance of pH. Even mild changes in the fish’s ideal environment can quickly kill all of your fish. People, too are sensitive to changes in pH, although thankfully not as dramatically as the fish tank example. Our bodies are composed of atoms and molecules that undergo chemical reactions to operate properly. Even slight fluctuations in your internal environment can affect how fast or slow these reactions occur or even if they can occur at all. High pH levels will cause a buildup of minerals similar to “scale” although generally speaking is less problematic and less common in our Western society than low pH levels.
Low or acidic pH (high concentration of hydrogen ions) causes cellular and intercellular damage that is corrosive. Low pH is associated with cardiovascular damage, weight gain, obesity, diabetes, urinary problems including kidney stones, immune deficiency, free radical damage, premature aging, calcium loss from bones, joint and muscle pain, low energy and chronic fatigue, slow digestion and elimination and yeast and fungal overgrowth. Low pH can arise from a sedentary lifestyle. When we are motionless, CO2 or carbon dioxide accumulates in our blood forming carbonic acid. Eating the wrong foods will also produce acidic conditions. Eating a diet of meats and grains tends to lower pH. You would think that drinking water would be a good thing but when I have tested the Charlotte tap water it comes out at a pH of between 5.8 and 6.2. Water is great, but we need to be consuming water that is more pH neutral. Some brands of bottled water such as [ADD]; frequently the average pH for a brand is listed on the label. Soft drinks can have a pH as low as 2. Coke is so acidic it is promoted as a great agent for cleaning the terminals of your car’s battery! Coffee and black teas are also very acidic.
Signs of low pH
Symptoms of low or acidic pH include but are not limited to heart burn, acid reflux, indigestion, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, poor metabolism, mineral deficiencies, constipation, fatigue, brain fog, frequent urination, hypoglycemia, hormonal imbalances, sore muscles and the list goes on and on.
Signs of high pH
Typical symptoms of alkalosis, or high pH, include nausea, vomiting, numbness, confusion, tingling sensation, muscle twitching and light-headedness and muscle spasms. Again, this is relatively rare condition in our society. Alkaline foods are those that result in an alkaline based residue. Cooked foods are alkaline in nature. Vegetables and fresh fruits are also a part of an alkaline diet.
pH and Cancer
Back in 1924, Otto Warburg hypothesized that cancer, malignant growth, and growth of tumors are caused by the fact that tumor cells make energy by breaking down glucose through a process called glycolysis. Healthy cells typically generate energy from oxidative breakdown of pyruvate. Pyruvate is an end-product of glycolysis, and is burned inside of the mitochondria of the cell. Warburg’s theory was that cancer should be interpreted as a malfunctioning of the cell’s mitochondria.
“Cancer, above all other diseases, has countless secondary causes. But, even for cancer, there is only one prime cause. Summarized in a few words, The Prime Cause of Cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.” — Dr. Otto H. Warburg in Lecture
The concept that cancer cells switch to glycolysis has become widely accepted, even if it is not seen as the cause of cancer.
Warburg also wrote about oxygen’s relationship to the pH of cancer cells internal environment. Since fermentation was a major metabolic pathway of cancer cells, Warburg reported that cancer cells maintain a lower pH, as low as 6.0, due to lactic acid production and elevated CO2. He stated that there was a direct relationship between pH and oxygen: a higher pH means a higher concentration of oxygen molecules while a lower pH means a lower concentration of oxygen.
pH and the Joints
All substances left by the metabolic process are acidic and toxic; therefore these have to be neutralized by alkalizing elements such as calcium ions, sodium ions, and lithium ions, among which calcium is the most important. Calcium ions are positively charged calcium ions which are constantly looking for acid in our bodies to bind to and form calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is harmless and is naturally eliminated from our body, providing our body fluid pH is alkaline. Otherwise, it is deposited around body joints. If the calcium ion level is low in the blood and body, excess acid will remain in our body and will lead to numerous health problems, like joint pain or arthritis.
Many people think they can eliminate osteoporosis by increasing their consumption of milk and dairy products. But in fact the instances of osteoporosis are rare in countries where the consumption of dairy products is very low. Osteoporosis is an acidosis problem. As the body becomes more acidic, our body tries to remain healthy to protect us against heart attacks, illness, strokes or even cancer. In doing so, it takes calcium from the teeth, bones and tissues, making them weak and brittle.
Since hydrogen ions are negative (-), adding positive minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium can be very helpful. A word of caution here is that too much of some minerals can cause serious problems. If your body is high in calcium and low in magnesium, supplementing with more calcium can have undesirable effects. I strongly suggest a lab test before treating with minerals.
There are some very practical and natural ways to raise your pH including:
- Exercise daily. Blowing out CO2 will help alkalize your system.
- Eat lots of greens. Vegetables especially organic veggies are high in alkalizing nutrients.
- Avoid meat, nuts, eggs, vinegar, sauerkraut, excessive ascorbic acid, pasteurized milk, coffee, black tea and soft drinks.
- Drink only pH neutral water (7.0) or green tea.
- Have lab tests performed to determine mineral levels in your body. If testing shows an imbalance, restoring proper mineral levels through correct rather than haphazard supplementation will help to balance your internal pH.