Healthy Eating

pH Power

Maintain a proper acid-alkaline balance to curtail colds and keep inflammation in check.

pH Power
Pin it Brian Leatart

If you answer yes to five or more questions, you are quite likely to be overly acid. Even one yes could be an indicator, e.g., if you frequently catch a cold or the flu. (On the other hand, a true alkaline type could eat refined foods without suffering an acid backlash.)

Quick-Fix Home Remedy
If you develop a sore throat or come down with a cold--two conditions that are exacerbated by acidity--try this alkalizing at-home treatment from Susan M. Lark, M.D.: Create a mixture of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and potassium bicarbonate in a ratio from 4:1 to 8:1, depending on your tolerance for potassium. (Use baking soda alone if the sodium-potassium mixture causes intestinal discomfort.) In the acute phase of your illness, take 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture every one to two hours, and then decrease to three to four times per day for at least two days or until your condition is resolved. If you are also taking ascorbic acid (vitamin C), make sure it's in a buffered formulation.
A note of caution: In the unlikely event that you over-alkalize, you may experience tingling in the extremities, insomnia, and muscle spasms. Discontinue the bicarbonate and take the juice of half a lemon in water or 1 or 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar to neutralize the alkalinity. Most likely you can restart the alkalizing treatment the next day at a lower dosage and less frequently; check with your doctor.

10 Ways to Alkalize
If you need to, minimize acid-promoting foods by revamping menus and tweaking dishes.

  1. For breakfast, instead of orange juice, coffee, and a bagel for breakfast, have a slice of melon, herbal tea or a grain-based coffee substitute, and whole-grain toast.
  2. At lunch, opt for bean or vegetable soup rather than tomato soup.
  3. Add crunch and color to your salads with celery and sweet red peppers rather than tart cucumber and tomatoes. And instead of an acidic vinaigrette, prepare a dressing using tahini and soy sauce: In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste), 1/4 cup water, and 2 tablespoons soy sauce, beating together with a fork. Stir in 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
  4. If you feel like a burger, stick to soy meats.
  5. Choose fish--it's more alkalizing than red meat.
  6. Iced ginger tea has the pleasing bite of a cola drink without the high acidity.
  7. For a calcium fix, choose a small wedge of cheese (typically 5. to 6.1 pH) over yogurt (3.8 to 4.2). Yogurt with sugar-sweetened fruit may be even more acidic; once sugar is metabolized, it ends up as acid in your system.
  8. To make a less acidic fruit salad, use guava, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, pear, banana, figs, and dates.
  9. Raise a glass filled with a favorite beer instead of a tart wine to make a toast.
  10. Avoid acidity triggers. Food sensitivities can bring about symptoms of over-acidity. Some common culprits include wheat, dairy, nuts, and seafood.

What the Studies Say
Increasing pH lowers the risk of urinary tract infections and reduces symptoms of cystitis, according to a study published in The Journal of International Medical Research. In bladder infections, burning sensations occur when bacteria-laden acid comes in contact with the sensitive tissue. Highly acidic cranberry juice is commonly used as a remedy because it helps prevent the bacteria from clinging to the bladder walls. But study participants found symptom relief and some clearing of infection by taking 4 grams of sodium citrate, an alkalizing agent, in a glass of water three times a day for two days. To fight UTIs at home, Lark recommends taking 5 to 10 grams of buffered vitamin C per day in divided doses--and avoiding acidic foods--until the condition resolves.