Food pH : The Chemistry of the Food We Eat and Why It Matters

We all know that fresh, organic vegetables and fruits are GOOD for us, and sugary, fatty, processed foods are BAD. But why are the GOOD foods good and the BAD foods bad? A lot of it comes down to acids and bases: pH.

In chemistry, pH (short for potentiometric hydrogen ion concentration) is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Pure water has a pH of 7; it’s considered neutral. Substances that have a pH below 7 are considered acidic, and those above pH 7 are alkaline or basic. Our body, when healthy and balanced, has a pH of 7.35-7.45. In this slightly alkaline state, the body is able to heal itself; metabolic, enzymatic, immunologic, and repair mechanisms function optimally. If our body pH drops below 6.8 or rises above 7.8, the cells stop functioning and the body dies.

Foods, when metabolized, break down to form alkaline or acidic elements. Think of pH as a product of ‘canceling out’. If we have an equal amount of acidic and alkaline elements, we come out at neutral, or pH 7. Because our bodies function best at pH 7.35-7.45, we need a proportionately higher intake of alkaline-producing foods.

In general, vegetables, roots, tubers, legumes, and fruits are alkalinizing in the body; meat, dairy, and sugar are acidifying. (Whether a food produces acidic or alkaline elements after being metabolized isn’t always intuitive: acidic limes and lemons (citric acid) are metabolized to alkaline bicarbonate. Animal products, slightly basic when ingested, are metabolized to form acidic elements in the body.) Food charts can help us identify which foods are alkalinizing and which are acidifying, but a general rule of thumb is this: If the food comes from close to the ground, it’s generally alkalinizing. Those that come further away from the ground are acidifying.

If we ingest large quantities of acidic forming foods, like fats, sugars, and processed foods, our bodies will try to restore equilibrium (raise the pH) by borrowing minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium, from the tissues and bones in an attempt to “buffer” or neutralize the blood pH. If this continues over a long period of time, the tissues become mineral deficient. The body no longer has the tools it needs to alkalinize the body and the body enters a state of acidosis. When the body becomes acidic, it can no longer heal itself. Vitamins and minerals cannot be assimilated and energy production becomes inadequate. The body’s ability to repair cellular damage becomes impaired, as does its ability to detoxify itself of heavy metals. Many chronic and degenerative diseases result, including, but not limited to, cardiovascular damage, diabetes, immune deficiency, acceleration of free radical damage, hormonal problems, osteoporosis and joint pain, low energy and chronic fatigue, yeast/fungal overgrowth, depression, and symptoms of malnutrition (to name just a few).

A food chart is a great way to visualize where the foods you eat fall in the pH range. (A good one is: ( ) To maintain health, be sure your diet includes at least 60% alkaline foods (left-most columns) and 40% acidic foods. To restore health, the ratio should be adjusted to 80% alkaline, 20% acidic to allow your body to rebuild your mineral reserves. DON’T cut all acidic foods from your diet; some acidic foods are necessary to maintain health and to get an adequate intake of protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients. DO avoid refined sugars/salts, high saturated fats, caffeine, and highly processed foods. Whenever possible, balance low-acidic foods with high-alkaline foods and avoid the right-most, high-acid foods.

You can test your blood pH indirectly by monitoring your saliva and/or urine pH. The pH of your saliva is a good indicator of the pH of your extracellular fluids (although generally slightly more acidic than blood), but keep in mind that it can be affected by factors such as bacteria in your mouth, or food/toothpaste residue. Measure your saliva one hour pre- or two hours post-meals. Your saliva should generally measure in the 6.4 to 6.8 pH range; after meals, it should rise to the 7.5 range. The pH of your urine is indicative of the processes in your body that are trying to maintain optimum pH. Because these processes can vary greatly throughout the day, you might also notice a wide variance in its pH, but in general, it should measure in the 6.0 to 7.0 range. You can use pH Hydrion test paper to test the pH of both saliva and urine; more yellow indicates lower pH (acidic) while bluer indicates higher (alkaline) pH. You should be able to purchase the paper through a pharmacy, health food store, or online. Take frequent measurements of saliva and/or urine pH and look at your averages rather than any one specific number. Also remember that it might take several months of measurements before you see any dietary changes reflected.

You should also be aware that stress, emotional-upset, and physical activity (too little or too much) can also contribute to acid formation in the body. So be sure to incorporate some relaxation and breathing exercises into your day while you’re planning your veggie-rich food menu.

Views: 582

Comment by Pat Robinson on March 28, 2010 at 12:59pm
Thanks for posting! I just featured it on Facebook. :-)
Comment by Missy Willis on March 28, 2010 at 2:30pm
Great post, Shelia! Thanks for laying it all out in such an easy to read (and digest) format :) Is there a way for us to test our ph levels?
Comment by Sheila Rumble on March 28, 2010 at 5:28pm
You can test saliva and/or urine using pH Hydrion test paper. Saliva should be pH ~6.4-6.8 and urine pH ~6.0-7.0. I updated the post w/ addt information. :)
Comment by Pat Robinson on March 28, 2010 at 5:43pm
I think the little ph test strips are probably at the local pharmacy, CVS, Walgreens. If not, they are only about 8 online.



You need to be a member of Heal Thyself! to add comments!

Join Heal Thyself!


Adrenal Fatigue?

New eCourse: You can feel better. You will feel better!

12-month membership - $99.

I trust you will love it here, or I'll return your membership fee!



Or Monthly Membership, $10/month, cancel anytime.

JOIN US! (member benefits)



Start Here...

                Master Tonic 101

          14 Steps for Healthy Guts

   The Beet Test (stomach acid)

                Healthy Poop 101

Overwhelmed? Where To Start?

                      Candida 101

Signs and Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency

        Nettle Leaf Infusion 101

            10pm Bedtime Club 14-Day Green Smoothie Challenge

        Sharing Starter Cultures

               Probiotic Selection

       Water Kefir vs. Kombucha         Natural Remedies for Flu

Latest Activity

Chandy Rav updated their profile
Mar 21
Susan V. Westen updated their profile
Dec 14, 2015
nancy peden and BHM are now friends
Dec 8, 2015
nancy peden replied to Shannon's discussion The beet test
Dec 8, 2015
BHM updated their profile
Dec 8, 2015
Profile IconBarbara King, nancy peden, mary forche and 7 more joined Heal Thyself!
Dec 5, 2015
Linda Tyler is now a member of Heal Thyself!
Nov 10, 2015
Profile Iconnorma coffey, Kate O'Brien, Bobby Hammarlund and 22 more joined Heal Thyself!
Oct 12, 2015
Moira shared Pat Robinson's blog post on Facebook
Oct 5, 2015
Moira shared Pat Robinson's blog post on Facebook
Oct 5, 2015
Virginia Craig is now a member of Heal Thyself!
Aug 2, 2015
Profile IconSheilagh Mercer, EDWARD YOUNG and Drew Cordell joined Heal Thyself!
Jul 19, 2015
Profile Iconalfred neagu, Michelle Veneziano, DO and Universalist joined Heal Thyself!
Jul 10, 2015
Donna Wallace is now a member of Heal Thyself!
Jul 2, 2015
Linda long is now a member of Heal Thyself!
Jun 28, 2015
Judy Owen updated their profile
Jun 20, 2015
Profile IconMary Muhammad, Brian Q Coopewr, Cindy Rovera and 15 more joined Heal Thyself!
Jun 20, 2015
Mirjam Henzen updated their profile
Jun 6, 2015
Rose Green Ferguson is now a member of Heal Thyself!
May 16, 2015
Ken Banwart joined Pat Robinson's group
May 15, 2015


  • Add Videos
  • View All


Wellness is an active process of personal accountability.

This list shares personal experience and information only and should not be taken as medical advice. All opinions and information shared are the views of the individual member.

Everyone must use her own discretion and judgment to determine whether you are comfortable or need to seek professional assistance. We are not your doctor.

The information contained in these pages is not intended to take the place of your health professional's advice. It is derived from our personal experience and research, and may shed light on your health complaints. In case of serious ailments which may not respond favorably, please seek the counsel of a qualified health professional.

"What do you expect the doctor to do? He can only prescribe something that will mask the symptoms until you heal yourself. He can not heal you."~ Gitti

Heal Thyself!

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” --Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.)

Blog Posts

Cancer Vaccines Are Profitable Business

Posted by Pat Robinson on May 5, 2015 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

Vaccine Safety and the CDC

Posted by Pat Robinson on March 29, 2015 at 7:30pm

I certainly don't fear the measles.

Posted by Pat Robinson on January 23, 2015 at 10:59am — 3 Comments

Gluten-Free Snacks

Posted by Pat Robinson on May 26, 2014 at 8:30pm

Cholesterol 101

Posted by Pat Robinson on May 20, 2014 at 8:00pm

Safe Detox Protocol

Posted by Pat Robinson on May 4, 2014 at 9:00pm

Ella’s Story

Posted by Pat Robinson on April 19, 2014 at 12:00pm

Naturally Sweetened Treats

Posted by Pat Robinson on February 25, 2014 at 7:30pm

Recipe Resources

Posted by Pat Robinson on February 18, 2014 at 9:00pm

© 2016   Created by Pat Robinson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service