World Water Day – March 22, 2017

March 14th, 2017

World Water Day takes place on March 22. Each year this global event focuses on a specific aspect of our relationship with water. The theme for 2017 is WASTEWATER.                    ‘There ... More »

pH of the Body, Water & the Food We Eat (Part 1)

Hardly a day goes by at watermatters™ without someone asking for a device to make ‘alkaline’ water. Usually, when asked why they want to make their water ‘alkaline’, the response is something like ‘because I want to drink healthy water’ or ‘because diseases like cancer can’t survive in an alkaline environment’. These responses represent commonly held but inaccurate assumptions.
This four-part article series is my attempt to clarify this misunderstood subject of ‘pH balance’ and ‘making the body alkaline’.
Let’s start with the first three of eighteen clarifications, and some background info about acids, bases, and pH. A base is an alkaline substance.

Part 1: pH and the Alkaline/Acid Dynamic

Acids & Bases are Equally Essential to Life.

Acids and bases are opposite sides of the same coin, as conjoined as day and night, male and female, inhalation and exhalation. They are equally essential to Life.

Acid/base chemistry is based on the interplay between H+ and OH- in the presence of water.
Notice that H+ and OH- combine to make water (H20).
This is a reversible process.
H2O molecules can donate H+ and OH- to other water molecules and to other substances.
This interplay is fundamental to virtually all living systems and one of the reasons why water is the medium, means and mother of life.

H+ is the chemical symbol for hydrogen ions. [A lone hydrogen ion is a proton.]
OH- is the symbol for hydroxide ions.

An ion is defined as an electrically charged atom or group of atoms.

pH is about Hydrogen Ions.                                                                      

pH is a scale which indicates the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) in an aqueous solution.
Acids have a surplus of H+ (hydrogen ions) which they donate.
Bases (alkaline substances) lack hydrogen ions. They accept H+ (hydrogen ions) and donate OH- (hydroxide ions) of which they have a surplus.

On a scale of 0 to 14, pH below 7 is exponentially more acidic as it approaches zero, and pH above 7 is exponentially more alkaline as it increases toward 14.
pH 7 is neutral, representing an equal concentration of H+ and OH- ions.

‘Pure’ water is neutral (pH 7) at 25° centigrade. However, water is rarely ‘pure’ in nature because water has a remarkable ability to dissolve other substances. H+ and OH- ions in water are constantly changing partners as the H20 components of water interact with each other and with everything else.

When an acid substance is dissolved in water, the balance between the H+ and OH- shifts. There is now more H+ than OH- in the solution. The solution becomes acidic.

When a base (alkaline substance) is dissolved in water, the balance between H+ and OH- shifts in the opposite direction. The alkaline substance attracts H+ from the water. The solution then becomes more alkaline because it has less H+ remaining in solution.

The ‘p’ in pH stands for the ‘potential’ or ‘power’ of hydrogen, depending on who you are talking to. Those who use ‘potential’ are referring to the electrical ‘potential’ required to register a state change. Those who use ‘power’ are referring to a mathematical power. Either way, it works out to about the same numbers on the pH scale.
You might wonder why the pH number gets smaller as the concentration of hydrogen ions gets bigger. The reason is because the pH scale is based on a negative logarithmic concentration of H+. 2

pH and the Body

The body is largely made up of water in the form of various types of bodily fluids. The pH levels of those fluids are tightly regulated by the body to maintain essential life processes. Organs, blood, cells, proteins and enzymes require fluid environments with specific, yet dynamic, pH ranges which must remain relatively constant for those systems to function properly.

There is currently a popular assumption that mistakes the slightly alkaline pH required for the blood and extracellular fluid to be the optimal pH of the entire body. The body is a complex organism involving layers of interrelated systems requiring appropriate ranges of pH to maintain the specific functions of each system.

As soon as any substance enters your mouth, bicarbonates adjust the pH of the saliva preparing the substance for delivery to the stomach (pH 1.5 – 4.0) where very strong acids kill foreign bacteria and enable the digestion process. Alkaline secretions from the pancreas neutralize this acidity before the contents of the stomach move on into the duodenum (pH 7.0 – 8.5) where nutrient absorption occurs. Waste passes to the colon (pH 4.0 – 7.0) for excretion.

Here are the approximate pH levels required by various body parts:
Blood 7.4
Extracellular fluids 7.4
Intracellular fluids 6.8
Skin 5.5
Saliva 6.5 – 7.5
Sinuses 6.5
Stomach 1.5 – 4.0
Chyme 2.0
Bile 7.0 – 8.0
Duodenum 7.0 – 8.5
Small intestine 4.0 – 7.0
Large intestine 4.0 – 7.0
Urine is a waste product. Consequently, its pH will vary according to what the body needs to eliminate.

pH is Dynamic and Rhythmic

Although tightly controlled, the pH levels within the body are not static. There is a natural acid/alkaline tide which swings in sync with your circadian rhythm (response to hours of light and darkness). Your life force, immunity and reparative cycles are dependent upon this natural momentum. More about this important daily rhythm in Part Two of this article series.

Acids are Not the Enemy. They Supply the Fuel of Life.

‘Acidity’ has been mistakenly given a bad reputation, as though it must be avoided. However, life does not happen without acids. Acids donate hydrogen ions. Our energy comes from the hydrogen supplied by acids digested from the food we eat. Hydrogen fuels life.

A surplus of acid in some part of the body may be the natural response to, not the cause of, a problem as the body attempts to supply more hydrogen ions to correct an imbalance.

Acids Defend the Body

The parts of your body that come in contact with the outside world have an acid pH. Acids help keep the pathogens that enter your body under control.Skin: pH 5.5
Mouth: pH 6.3 (average fluctuating pH for oral cavity)
Stomach: pH 1.5 – 4.0
Large intestine: pH 4.0 – 7.0
Sinuses: pH 6.5
Vagina: pH 3.8 – 4.5

End of Part One

About Part Two of This Article:

There are strongly held and highly charged opinions about the importance of making oneself more ‘alkaline’. Part Two of this article will address some highly contentious issues which may be met with strong disagreement from some parties. However, I believe science backs up the points that will be made in Part Two which are outlined in the following clarifications:

See Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4 of this 4-part article series entitled ‘pH of the Body, Water and the Food We Eat’.

References for Part One:

  1. http://cultureofchemistry.fieldofscience.com/2010/03/chemical-urban-legends-ph.html
  2. https://www.ysi.com/ysi-blog/water-blogged-blog/2015/02/why-is-the-ph-scale-logarithmic


The information in this article is for information purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this article. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The information and opinions provided here are believed to be accurate and sound, based on the best judgment available to the authors, but readers who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries. The publisher is not responsible for errors or omissions.