6 Signs Your Body's pH Levels Might Be Off

by Isadora Baum, CHC
Originally Published: 
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When your body is balanced hormonally and pH wise, everything will seem to just click. Your digestion, energy, and mood will more likely be positive and efficient. However, when your body's pH levels are unbalanced, meaning your body isn't in an optimal state, you might feel a bit off. Keeping your body in a happy state can boost performance and productivity in the day, and it'll be better for your health and happiness, long-term.

"When looking at the human body, the pH, otherwise known as the power of hydrogen, is how we measure the hydrogen ion concentration in the body — this tells us how alkaline and acidic the solutions are in our body," Michelle Schnider, an integrative nutrition coach with 1MD, tells Bustle. "For the body to thrive, remain in balance, and avoid health problems, the ideal pH is 6.5 - 7.5, just slightly alkaline. "

As a certified health coach, I definitely notice when my own personal pH is off, which can happen when I'm not eating well, am stressed out, or are not digesting things properly. Therefore, I strive to eat foods that are less acidic and more alkaline. I also try to get in exercise and relaxation techniques to banish stress, not to mention boost digestion and immunity. It's suggested that an overly acidic pH can be harmful on bone health, nutrient retention, and cell reparation, and one study published in 2012 found that there may be "some value" in adopting an alkaline diet to lower the risk of death from chronic disease. Still, while more research is needed on these health effects, a diet that is more alkaline is also higher in whole, nutritionally dense foods, which has strong effects on our overall health.

Here are 6 signs that your body's pH levels may be off.

1. Low Energy

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If you’re feeling fatigued out of nowhere, excessive acidity might be to blame, says Schnider. This is because “being in an acidic state like this will make it difficult for the body to absorb minerals and other nutrients,” Schnider says, and those minerals and nutrients are what our body uses to create energy. If you’re feeling extra fatigued, look for more nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to up your nutrient balance.

2. Weakened Bones

If you're more prone to injuries and falls, it could signify an imbalance in pH levels. Schnider explains that when our bodies are too acidic, they will try to compensate by leeching alkalizing minerals like calcium and magnesium from our bones, leaving them weaker, though one 2018 study found that this was only a slight effect. Try supplementing your diet with calcium to prevent osteopenia or osteoporosis, which are both bone density disorders.

3. Indigestion

If you’re consuming too much acid in your diet, you might find yourself getting an upset stomach more often than you’d like, says Schnider. Seemingly healthy foods like tomatoes, citrus, garlic and onions, or other foods that are high in acid can trigger acid reflux or other gastrointestinal distress. Talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your chances of an upset stomach.

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4. Insomnia

According to James F. Balch, M.D., author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, over interview with Medical News Today, when pH levels are imbalanced, and the body is more acidic, you're more likely to experience sleep impairments and insomnia due to a lack of vital nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium.

5. Poor Dental Health

According to a 2015 study in the International Journal of Chemical Engineering and Applications, poor dental health and enamel degradation can be a sign that there's too much acidity in the body and that pH levels are out of whack. If you're getting cavities or have trouble eating super hot or cold foods without experiencing pain, it could be a sign that you’re exposed to too much acid. Try to avoid sodas or fruit juices that are overly acidic to protect your teeth.

6. High Stress

We definitely know to avoid stress as much as possible, but sometimes it creeps up on us. “Stress puts much pressure on your body and your life, making it difficult to function effectively as a whole,” Schnider says. "Stress can affect your pH balances as much as a poor diet," says True Citrus spokesperson and trainer Kim Lyons. If you're feeling too stressed, it can hurt your health and hormonal balance. There are so many effects of stress on the body that can lead to health issues if left unaddressed, but techniques like mindfulness meditation and exercise are proven to reduce stress.

If you notice any of these issues in your body, it could mean your pH levels are off. Having an imbalance can lead to worsened health and wellbeing, so it's best to be cautious and work to eat nutritionally dense foods, exercise, sleep, and take care of yourself accordingly.

This post was originally published on January 10, 2017. It was updated on June 26, 2019.

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