How does smoking affect pH balance?
Have you heard about the alkaline diet? It’s a diet that maintains a good pH balance in our body. A lot of health experts stress how important it is to keep our pH levels in balance. You might only remember pH values from science class. But what does pH mean and how does smoking affect it?
What does pH mean?
When we say pH, it is actually short for ‘potential of hydrogen’. It measures the amount of electrically charged particles present in a substance. It is also a fancy way of saying how acidic or alkaline something is. The pH scale is a spectrum. The pH values on this scale range from zero to 14. Low numbers are acidic and high numbers are alkaline. With the value of 7 being neutral. We can measure the pH of any solution. This includes the pH of the fluids in our body, such as our blood.
What should your body’s pH level be?
The body regulates our pH level using the kidneys, respiratory system and through chemicals in our blood. The ideal range for the human body is between 7.2-7.4. This is around neutral, but verging on acidic. During the day, the pH level of our body changes. And our body is constantly trying to balance these pH levels to keep us healthy.
Some parts of our body have different pH values. Our stomachs use acid for breaking down food. So the pH value in the stomach is between 1 and 3.5. Our skin is acidic too. The skin is an important barrier. The acidity is needed to prevent bacteria and harmful microbes from entering our body.
What happens when the pH level is unbalanced?
When your body shifts to the acidic or alkaline values, it impacts your overall health. When our bodies are more acidic, our immune system is lowered and we are more vulnerable to illness and disease. Too much acidity and tissues and organs can become damaged.
When our body is too acidic, the kidneys work to release this acidity through our urine. When our body is too alkaline, chemicals are released into the blood to reduce the levels. Our bodies also balance pH levels with respiration. The acidity is released through exhaling.
Some of the risks of an unbalanced pH include:
- Increased risk of inflammation
- Skin problems
- Fatigue and exhaustion
What affects your pH balance?
Although our bodies naturally work to maintain a balanced pH, we can support this process. Our lifestyle choice is the main way our pH value can be influenced. And what we choose to eat plays a huge role in this.
What makes our body acidic?
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Artificial sweeteners
- Processed food
- Exposure to pollution
- Pesticides and herbicides
How does smoking affect pH balance?
Cigarettes and tobacco products are loaded with harmful chemicals and toxins. These nasties are responsible for increasing the alkalinity of our body. Smoking is a huge risk factor for developing COPD. This is a chronic and incurable lung disease. It causes shortness of breath and affects the ability to move air in and out of the lungs.
When air is obstructed, it is difficult for the lungs to exhale the toxins from the body. This can lead to respiratory acidosis. This occurs when the level of acid in the blood increases due to the high levels of carbon dioxide in the body. So, not only does the occasional cigarette increase our pH acidity, heavy smoking can lead to chronic conditions that make it even more difficult to maintain a balanced pH.
How can you balance your pH?
Diet and pH levels
The easiest way to keep your pH balance in check is to load up on fruit and veg. Yes, getting your recommended 5 a day - or more! - is the best way to boost your health. They are naturally alkaline, so eating more of them improves your health. Interestingly, although citrus fruits are acidic, when the body processes them it has an alkalising effect. Following an alkaline diet means avoiding processed foods as well as sugar, dairy and refined grains like bread.
Drink water to balance pH
Water is needed to remove waste and toxins from the body. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water every day keeps this process working optimally. Aim to choose water rather than coffee, alcohol or sugary drinks. Alkaline water is another quick fix to try. This water has been altered to have a pH of between 8 and 9. Pure water has a pH value of 7 which is neutral. But regular drinking water varies between 6.5 and 8.5.
Exercise and pH levels
When we work out, it increases the flow of oxygen around our body. This is important as it speeds up the process of ridding our body of waste. Don’t book too many extra gym sessions just yet though. If you exercise too much, your body produces lactic acid. So aim for moderation. Exercising moderately 3 times a week is enough to keep your levels balanced.
Stop smoking to balance pH
Our lungs work hard to release toxins from our body. Smoking significantly reduces our lung’s ability to work effectively. Stopping smoking gives the lungs a chance to recover. This improves their ability to remove acidity from our body. Our lungs will regain the strength they need to work efficiently.
Rest and relax to improve pH
Our hustle culture promotes keeping busy. But overworking can increase stress levels and this doesn’t help our body. Without adequate sleep, rest and relaxation, our body doesn’t have a chance to properly eliminate acidity. During sleep our body works to bind and remove the acid. For this process to work properly, getting the recommended 7-8 hours of shut-eye is essential.