Table of Contents
How can I raise my pH level?
Our clients often ask; how can I raise my pH level? After all, it is well publicized that “cancer cannot survive in an alkaline body” and as you know, cancer evokes absolute fear in the masses!
However, my answer to this question during a consultation is always the same:
Exactly WHICH pH level do you wish to change?
Yes, your blood pH level is slightly alkaline ranging between 7.35 and 7.45 (7.0 is neutral). However, your blood pH level is no different from any other system that must remain in a dynamic equilibrium (homeostasis) for health. This pH level myth has spawned myriad products and businesses to “alkaline” your body to “prevent” cancer.
Unfortunately, this is extremely misleading.
That said, what you may not realize is that your body MUST maintain a wide variety of pH levels that range from the stomach acid between 1.5 to 3.5, healthy skin, scalp and hair 4.5-5.5 (the acid mantle and you probably use alkaline soap and shampoo), urine’s acceptable range is 4.5 to 8.0, saliva 6.2 to 7.4, to more alkaline environments like pancreatic juice between 8,0 to 8,3.
The body is absolutely designed to function under a plethora of pH levels depending on the cellular environment. As such, it is the plethora of different pH levels throughout your body that is collectively referred to as your acid-base balance.
Did you know, the most important pH level in your body is the most acidic!
With all of the concern about maintaining an “alkaline” body, you may be surprised to know that the most important pH level is actually the most acidic environment in your body – your stomach! In fact, if this environment does not possess a sufficient level of acidity (Achlorhydria and Hypochlorhydria), the potential for a plethora of mental and physical symptoms and manifestations exists.
Unfortunately, the pH of your stomach is one of the most neglected when addressing your pH levels and general health. Keep in mind; numerous factors (medications, endocrine systems, hormones, stress, improper supplements, etc.) may easily interfere with the proper stomach environment.
However, if your stomach lacks the proper pH level (hypochlorhydria) during digestion, numerous ramifications exist that includes:
- Malnutrition (subclinical or clinical)
- An increased potential for nutrient imbalances (excesses and deficiencies of all nutrients)
- An increased potential for food pathogens to pass through
- An imbalance in normally “healthy” microflora in the digestive tract
Each of these ramifications creates a plethora of additional ramifications that may easily contribute toward myriad symptoms or even disease. However, because we are focused on your pH levels, each of the above ramifications can ultimately lead toward myriad pH level disruptions throughout your body – including your blood pH level.
Symptoms of hypochlorhydria
A quick internet search can provide a plethora of common symptoms that include bloating, burping, diarrhea, gas, hair loss, heartburn, intestinal infections, nausea while taking supplements, undigested food in the stool, upset stomach, weak fingernails, nutrient deficiencies including deficiencies of not only iron, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B-12 but can include any nutrient (malnutrition).
The Heidelberg pH Test
Several elements needed to produce the proper pH level, through the parietal cells in the stomach, are revealed in our analysis. However, there is a medical diagnostic test that I normally mention during a consultation known as the Heidelberg pH Test.
The Heidelberg pH test eliminates guesswork pertaining to the parietal cells ability to maintain proper pH levels in the stomach that is absolutely essential for proper digestion as well as every aspect of human nutritional health. This test does not seem to be common knowledge and you may need to travel to different areas for the test. Here is a link for locations: https://www.phcapsule.com/referral/
Note: “Heartburn” or acid reflux does not automatically denote an over-acidic stomach environment. Heartburn can also indicate your stomach pH level is too high (alkaline) as well.
Proper nutrition is imperative for proper pH levels
Once again, as with all things pertaining to the nutrition/disease connection, magic bullets abound. From chlorophyll to coral calcium to alkaline food diets and alkaline water, the “simple” quick-fix memes become current fads. Unfortunately, as with most fads, this fad can be counterproductive as well.
Keep in mind; you are a constellation of complex interconnected systems with dynamic interrelationships. Many of these systems are:
- Acidic in nature
- Many systems (metabolic pathways) naturally create acidic byproducts
- Many systems naturally create alkaline environments (buffering systems)
Regardless which system we address, one common denominator prevails – a dynamic balance of nutrition. As revealed throughout this website (and millions of scientific articles), any time you experience long-term nutrient imbalances (deficiencies or excesses of any nutrient); you increase your potential for myriad symptoms (or even disease) to manifest.
Remember, a dynamic balance of nutrition includes fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients, in a dynamic balance, are required to create and maintain the proper pH level for every environment.
You may want to check out our Healthy Eating page for more information about proper nutrition.
Note: We have included a few scientific articles in the REFERENCES (at the bottom of the page) that reveal the importance of nutrition for your pH levels (acid-base balance).
A commonsense approach for healthy pH levels!
Let’s take a moment to address this through common sense. First, your saliva (during salivation) becomes slightly acid that combined with proper food mastication, initiates the digestive process. Your stomach, being the most acidic environment in your body, must maintain a highly acidic environment (1.5 to 3.5) to break down and complex the nutrients from the foods you consume.
Now think for a moment. If you consume all sorts of neutralizing or buffering agents (including antacids, PPI’s, alkaline water, baking soda, etc.), you are alkalizing and interfering with the most important component of the digestive process – the acidic environment of your stomach!
As you can see, by “buffering” your stomach acid you create the potential for myriad problems mentioned above.
The bottom line is:
A dynamic balance of nutrition is fundamental for maintaining all of your pH levels regardless the environment.
So, stop being fooled about your pH level!
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“Acid-base equilibrium is closely tied to fluid and electrolyte balance, and disturbances in one of these systems often affect another.”
Acid-Base Regulation By James L. Lewis, III, MD, Professional Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders Acid-Base Regulation and Disorders
“pH is the measurement of electrical resistance between negative and positive ions, or electrolytes in the body. Like electrolyte regulation, it is essential that the pH of the body be tightly controlled in order for cellular functions to occur. Acid base reactions are reversible which means that body has the ability to correct imbalances, given the correct nutrient or metabolic support.”
“Variations in dietary sodium, potassium, and chloride concentrations affect acid-base balance and also influence the severity of the lysine-arginine antagonism.”
Nutritional interrelationships of electrolytes and amino acids. Austic RE, Calvert CC. Fed Proc. 1981 Jan; 40(1):63-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6778715
“Acid-base balance and amino acid metabolism are intimately related.”
A review of the role of acid-base balance in amino acid nutrition. Patience JF. J Anim Sci. 1990 Feb;68(2):398-408. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2179190
“An adequate concept to estimate renal NAE and potential renal acid loads from dietary intakes must consider the specific bioavailability of the individual nutrients. Furthermore, an increased protein intake does not necessarily result in an accordingly increased use of endogenous acid excretion capacity…”
Influence of nutrition on acid-base balance–metabolic aspects. Remer T. Eur J Nutr. 2001 Oct;40(5):214-20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11842946
“The rapid onset and relatively short duration of gastric pH reduction gives betaine HCl the potential to aid the absorption of orally administered weakly basic drugs that exhibit pH-dependent solubility when administered under hypochlorhydric conditions.”
Yago MR, Frymoyer AR, Smelick GS, Frassetto LA, Budha NR, Dresser MJ, Ware JA, Benet LZ. Gastric reacidification with betaine HCl in healthy volunteers with rabeprazole-induced hypochlorhydria. Mol Pharm. 2013 Nov 4;10(11):4032-7. doi: 10.1021/mp4003738. Epub 2013 Sep 10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23980906
“In this article evidence is presented for the clinical relevance of reduced stomach acid secretion. Reduced mineral absorption is fairly well documented and has sound theoretical support from basic chemistry. Impaired digestion of protein has been suggested by a few studies.”
Cater RE 2nd. The clinical importance of hypochlorhydria (a consequence of chronic Helicobacter infection): its possible etiological role in mineral and amino acid malabsorption, depression, and other syndromes. Med Hypotheses. 1992 Dec;39(4):375-83. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1494327
“Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine commonly occurs in association with hypochlorhydria caused by atrophic gastritis or during treatment with omeprazole.”
Saltzman JR, Kowdley KV, Pedrosa MC, Sepe T, Golner B, Perrone G, Russell RM. Bacterial overgrowth without clinical malabsorption in elderly hypochlorhydric subjects. Gastroenterology. 1994 Mar;106(3):615-23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8119531
“Efficient calcium absorption is essential for skeletal health. Patients with impaired gastric acidification display low bone mass and increased fracture risk, because calcium absorption is dependent on gastric pH.”
Haffner-Luntzer M, Heilmann A, Heidler V, Liedert A, Schinke T, Amling M, Yorgan TA2 Vom Scheidt A, Ignatius A. Hypochlorhydria-induced calcium malabsorption does not affect fracture healing but increases post-traumatic bone loss in the intact skeleton. J Orthop Res. 2016 Mar 4. doi: 10.1002/jor.23221. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26945509
This indicates that our experimental setup was suitable to detect a Na(+)-HCO3- cotransporter if present. Our data suggest that the parietal cell BLM contains Na(+)-H+ exchangers and Cl(-)-HCO3- exchangers but no Na(+)-HCO3- cotransporter.
Lamprecht G, Seidler U, Classen M. Intracellular pH-regulating ion transport mechanisms in parietal cell basolateral membrane vesicles. Am J Physiol. 1993 Nov;265(5 Pt 1):G903-10. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.1993.265.5.G903. PMID: 8238520. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8238520/
Gastric hydrochloric acid (HCl) secretion is stimulated in vivo by histamine, acetylcholine, and gastrin. In vitro studies have shown that histamine acts mainly via a cAMP-dependent pathway, and acetylcholine acts via a calcium-dependent pathway. Histamine also elevates intracellular calcium ([Ca2+]i) in parietal cells.
Chew CS, Nakamura K, Ljungström M. Calcium signaling mechanisms in the gastric parietal cell. Yale J Biol Med. 1992 Nov-Dec;65(6):561-76; discussion 621-3. PMID: 1341064; PMCID: PMC2589772. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1341064/
Gastric proton pump (H⁺, K⁺-ATPase) secretes H⁺ of acid (HCl) via the luminal membrane of parietal cells. For the HCl secretion, Cl⁻- and K⁺-transporting proteins are required. Recent our studies have demonstrated that K⁺-Cl⁻ cotransporters (KCC3a and KCC4) are expressed in gastric parietal cells. KCC3a is associated with Na⁺, K⁺-ATPase in the basolateral membrane, and KCC4 is associated with H⁺, K⁺-ATPase in the apical canalicular membrane. This paper summarizes the functional association between KCCs and P-type ATPases and the contribution of these complexes to acid secretion in gastric parietal cells.
Fujii T, Fujita K, Takeguchi N, Sakai H. Function of K⁺-Cl⁻ cotransporters in the acid secretory mechanism of gastric parietal cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 2011;34(6):810-2. doi: 10.1248/bpb.34.810. PMID: 21628876. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21628876/
To determine the role of Na+/H+ and Cl-/HCO3- exchange in acid secretion, Cl(-)-depleted cells were suspended in medium containing 40 mM Cl-. DMA and DIDS each blocked acid secretion by about 40%, but in combination, acid secretion was blocked by more than 90%. Thus, basal-lateral Na+/H+ and Cl-/HCO3- exchange activities are necessary for acid secretion across the apical membrane of the parietal cell.
Muallem S, Blissard D, Cragoe EJ Jr, Sachs G. Activation of the Na+/H+ and Cl-/HCO3- exchange by stimulation of acid secretion in the parietal cell. J Biol Chem. 1988 Oct 15;263(29):14703-11. PMID: 3170561. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3170561/
To date three potential candidates for parietal cell basolateral Cl(-) entry have been described: the highly 4,4′-diisothiocyanatostilbene-2,2′-disulfonic acid (DIDS)-sensitive Cl(-)/HCO(3)(-) exchanger AE2, the HCO(3)(-) and lowly DIDS-sensitive SLC26A7 protein, and the Na(+)-2Cl(-)K(+) cotransporter (NKCC1).
Kosiek O, Busque SM, Föller M, Shcheynikov N, Kirchhoff P, Bleich M, Muallem S, Geibel JP. SLC26A7 can function as a chloride-loading mechanism in parietal cells. Pflugers Arch. 2007 Sep;454(6):989-98. doi: 10.1007/s00424-007-0254-y. Epub 2007 Apr 3. PMID: 17404755. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17404755/
Though surgical removal of the stomach has long been linked to low bone mass, the molecular mechanism has been elusive. Amling and coworkers now demonstrate that gastric cell acid production is necessary for calcium absorption. Mice lacking this acidification develop hypocalcemia, with increased parathyroid hormone and osteoclast differentiation, and decreased bone mass.
Ferron M, Karsenty G. The gutsy side of bone. Cell Metab. 2009 Jul;10(1):7-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2009.06.004. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19583948
“For adults, the following factors are involved: 1) the chemical composition of foods (i.e., their content of protein, chloride, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium), 2) the different intestinal absorption rates of the relevant nutrients, 3) the metabolic generation of sulfate from sulfur-containing amino acids, 4) the grade of dissociation of phosphorus at the physiologic pH of 7.4, and 5) the ionic valence of calcium and magnesium.”
Influence of diet on acid-base balance. Remer T. Semin Dial. 2000 Jul-Aug;13(4):221-6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10923348
“Net base production occurs mainly as a result of absorption of organic anions from the diet. To maintain acid-base balance, ingested and endogenously produced acids are neutralized within the body by buffer systems or eliminated from the body through the respiratory (excretion of volatile acid in the form of CO₂) and urinary (excretion of fixed acids and remaining H⁺) pathways.”
Impact of the diet on net endogenous acid production and acid-base balance. Poupin N, Calvez J, Lassale C, Chesneau C, Tomé D. Clin Nutr. 2012 Jun;31(3):313-21. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2012.01.006. Epub 2012 Feb 18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22342140
“The task imposed on the mechanisms that maintain acid-base homeostasis is large, since metabolic pathways are continuously consuming or producing H+, and the daily load of waste products for excretion in the form of volatile and fixed acids is substantial.”
Acid-base physiology. Adrogué HE, Adrogué HJ. Respir Care. 2001 Apr;46(4):328-41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11345941
“Saliva has a pH normal range of 6.2-7.6 with 6.7 being the average pH. Resting pH of mouth does not fall below 6.3. In the oral cavity, the pH is maintained near neutrality (6.7-7.3) by saliva.”
Salivary pH: A diagnostic biomarker. Sharmila Baliga, Sangeeta Muglikar, Rahul Kale. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2013 Jul-Aug; 17(4): 461–465. PMCID: PMC3800408 doi: 10.4103/0972-124X.118317 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3800408/
Acid–base reaction, Chemistry, Ronald Percy Bell https://www.britannica.com/science/acid-base-reaction
Hypochlorhydria: a factor in nutrition. Kassarjian Z, Russell RM. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2669874