Health and the pH Balance Lie: With Dr. Michael Wald
Jun 30, 2015 11:20AM
Thanks to science class, most people understand that pH involves acid versus base, but few understand the role of pH in human health, says Dr. Michael Wald, supervisor of longevity medicine at Integrated Medicine in Mount Kisco, NY.
“Acid-alkaline balance may be important to your health,” he says, “but I can tell you that the ‘pH lie’ is at the top of my list of misconceptions that can delay healing or worsen health problems.”
Wald, who has a medical degree and a master’s in nutrition and is a licensed doctor of chiropractic, is the author of The Anti-Aging Encyclopedia of Laboratory Tests. He developed the Blood Detective computer technology, which interprets more than 100 aspects of a person’s chemistry for hidden nutritional needs.
“I tell my patients that if they want to stay healthy or beat a health problem, no matter how bad it is, they must understand the role of pH balance,” he says.
Misconception #1: “An alkaline body allows for less disease and better health.”
“Healthy people are alkaline in their mouth, acid in their stomach, alkaline in their small intestine, slightly acidic in the colon, just left of a neutral pH in their blood, and on the acid side in their urine,” Wald says. “It’s basic chemistry. All the body tissues add to the overall pH requirements—and they are different, depending on the area of the body. This wrong thinking has caused many people to waste years on fruitless health efforts.”
Misconception #2: “If I eat alkaline, I will become alkaline.”
“The phrase become alkaline has no meaning,” he says. “Eating alkaline foods does not always translate into an alkaline body, even in the areas of the body that should be alkaline, like the mouth and the small intestine. That’s because the body responds in complex ways that may prevent alkalinity from happening. Also, we are not what we eat. An acid food like steak provides proteins that may help repair the pancreas so it can produce sodium bicarbonate, which is then released into the small intestine, promoting alkalinity!”
Misconception #3: “Diseases like cancer happen because the body is too acidic, promoting inflammation.”
“Cancer happens for lots of reasons, but not because the blood is acid,” Wald says. “Acid blood is not compatible with life. It does not happen. Now, the blood pH may become reduced—that is, leaning toward the acid side—but it’s never a true acid. The area right around a tumor often becomes acid, but that’s not the same as the blood becoming acid. Blood pH can be measured with a special meter—I have one—and the number should lie between 7.3 and 7.45. Below 7.3 is toward acid, and under 6 is acid—something that only happens in someone fatally ill. A pH above or approaching 8 is considered alkaline, and that’s rare unless caused by a doctor. The goal is to move the pH only slightly above 7.5.
Misconception #4: “Being alkaline promotes detoxification.”
Partly true, Wald says. “Alkaline urine does help rid the body of certain toxins. But a lower pH—toward acid—helps eliminate many other toxins. Any detox effort must attempt to move the pH of the urine or stool or blood in the direction that favors elimination of specific toxins. The idea of a general detox is silly, because all the cells in the body add to its pH level.”
Misconception #5: “The best way to check pH balance is in the urine or saliva.”
“The best way to check pH balance in the urine or saliva is to check the urine or saliva,” Wald says. “But the urine and saliva change their pH in response to organ changes—mostly in the kidneys and lungs, but also in the liver, the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems, and the skin and other tissues. Blood pH does its best to stay around 7.5, and it can only do that by throwing off acid and alkaline products in the urine and/or saliva, thus changing their pH. What I do is adjust nutrition and lifestyle to move pH in the saliva, urine and blood depending upon the health of the person’s detox organs, the toxins in question, and other factors.”
Misconception #6: “Acid-base food charts provide accurate dietary recommendations to change the body’s pH balance.”
“They might,” Wald says, “but it’s not just what we eat that influences pH. There are other influences, too, including absorption, stomach-acid and enzyme levels, intestinal flora, various diseases and even breathing patterns.”
Misconception #7: “Healthy greens and multicolored veggies promote alkalinity.”
“No doubt they’re healthy—I juice every single day, multiple times—but I have patients who have done the same thing, and their saliva, blood and urine pH are not healthy, and therefore neither are they. It’s not only about what we eat, but how we digest, absorb and utilize what we eat … plus other stuff.”