This blog focuses on the acid/alkaline balance within the body, known as PH levels. Sports conditioners and personal trainers may have noticed that some athletes are becoming more aware of the relevance of PH levels in their bodies, because it affects the amount of oxygen carried by the blood, which can affect performance.
What is a healthy PH?
PH is an abbreviation for potential hydrogen. Neutral PH is counted as 7.0; below 7.0 counts as acidic and above 7.0 counts as alkaline.
Within the human body, a healthy PH range for blood is between 7.35 and 7.45 – in other words, very slightly alkaline. Anything above or below this level suggests the person has an imbalance due to a particular condition or a disease.
The body’s PH levels affect everything, from the effective absorption of vitamins and minerals to overall health and weight problems.
What causes acidic PH levels?
There are several reasons for an acidic PH level in the body, including:
- Immune system problems
- Overload of toxins
What happens if a person’s PH levels are too acidic?
If a personal trainer is working with a client whose blood PH levels have become too acidic, they are likely to be feeling run down and fatigued, which will affect their ability to train.
They may also suffer more colds and their body will struggle to heal itself as efficiently, as acidic PH lowers the body’s ability to repair cells and to absorb vitamins and minerals. If the body does not have enough alkaline minerals to compensate for acidic PH, acid will build up in the cells. Even a blood PH of 6.9 can be dangerous and even fatal.
Fitness instructors may suggest that alkalising the body can help with weight loss, fight disease, promote digestion and healthy cells and increase energy levels.
How diet affects our PH levels
Ideally, our diets should comprise 60% alkaline forming foods and 40% acid forming foods. However, the typical western diet is generally too high in acid-producing foods and is lacking in alkaline-producing foods.
Acid forming foods include:
- Meat, especially beef
- Eggs and dairy products
- Cod, salmon, haddock, mussels, tuna
- White flour, wheat, barley, bran, rice, spaghetti
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Cashews, peanuts, pecans, walnuts
- Coffee, carbonated soft drinks, alcohol
Alkaline forming foods include:
- Most fresh vegetables, especially onions, sweet potato and seaweed
- Most fruits, especially lemon, lime, pineapple and watermelon
- Herbs and most spices
- Almonds, chestnuts, tofu
- Pumpkin seeds
- Fresh fruit juice (sugar free)
- Sea salt
Although citrus fruit such as lemon are in themselves acidic, when digested in the body they produce highly alkaline end products – the opposite is the case for meat.
Some athletes and sports professionals may follow an alkaline diet to increase oxygen-rich blood cells, which can benefit performance. Equally, those who have too high a level of acid in their blood PH can compensate by following a diet of alkalising food to compensate. As laboratory tests have seen tumour cells thrive in acidic conditions, some people believe an alkaline diet can help fight cancer.
A personal trainer working with a client with acidic PH levels could therefore recommend a few basic beneficial changes to their diet eg, cutting down on meat and coffee, eating more vegetables and fruit, and drinking mineral water with freshly squeezed lemon added.