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What Factors Affect the pH of the Digestive System?

The digestive tract begins at the mouth and ends with the anus and includes all the organs in between.
Certain foods can affect the pH of the digestive system.
The human body typically has a pH level of about 7.
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  • Written By: Jennifer Leigh
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 07 August 2014
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In order for the digestive system to work at its optimal level, there needs to be a balanced pH in the body. When the pH of the digestive system is balanced, food is digested more easily and more nutrients are absorbed into the body. This creates a healthier environment for cells and promotes positive health consequences such as weight loss and cell growth. Food is the main way to change the pH of the digestive system, though anything placed in the body through the mouth can affect the overall pH. pH can be affected by creating a more acidic or alkaline environment in which digestion occurs.

A balanced pH consists of a blood level of anywhere from 7.43 to 7.45 on the pH scale, which is slightly more alkaline than acidic. When the blood's pH is at this level, the body operates better throughout all parts, including the digestive system. This is considered to be the optimal, or balanced, pH for most people.

Food can be either acidifying or alkalizing, but foods that most people would think are acidifying are not always so. This occurs because an item's original pH changes once it is metabolized and broken down in the body. Alkaline-forming foods include such items as most vegetables, fruits, and things that contain probiotics such as yogurt. Acidifying items that affect the pH of the digestive system include meat, grains, oils, and dairy. Other acidifying elements that are consumed include alcohol, sugar, and certain types of nuts.

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Other items that are eaten, such as supplements and antacids, also affect the pH of the digestive system. Antacids, which are commonly taken for ailments such as heartburn, lower the acidity in the digestive tract. Unfortunately, they can also interfere with how well nutrients are absorbed into the system. This is another reason why it is healthier to change the pH of the digestive system through dietary changes.

There are tests available for a person to check what the current pH is in his or her body. A physician can provide an accurate blood pH, but there are also urine and saliva pH tests that can be purchased without going to see a doctor. While these are not as accurate as a blood test, they can still provide some information on what needs to be changed within the body through the foods and other items that are consumed.

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