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  • Body pH vs Urine pH

    (This is a repost of something I put on my blog in 2009. I have had a lot of people asking about this in the past week or so, so I hope it helps!)

    People often ask me why they need to avoid "acidic" foods if they have IC. The answer isn't as clear cut as you may think, however. I believe what has happened over the years is that it is convenient to "explain" an IC diet to someone quickly by telling them to avoid acidic foods.

    That, however, is also part of the historical resistance of doctors and dietitians to accepting a diet for IC. People who have studied biochemistry and physiology know just what you said, "acid in doesn't equal acid out." (An acidic orange juice forms an alkaline metabolite when digested, and the acidic cranberry juice forms an acid metabolite. There are many more interactions here, but you get the point.)

    It isn't all about acid/alkaline, however when it comes to an IC bladder. There are other reasons why a food bothers us.

    One is an allergic or inflammatory type response that kicks up the degranulation of mast cells. This can even be caused by stress. (Maybe you or someone you know has gotten hives when they were under a lot of stress...that is the mast cells of the skin going haywire, just like can happen in the bladder.)

    The second way a food can affect the bladder is as a chemical reaction on the nerves - think about caffeine and MSG - both stimulate bladder spasms or frequency.

    The third way is related to the acid/alkaline theory but isn't as clear as we would like it to be. Nearly everyone's urine pH bounces around all day long. The BODY pH needs to be kept at a fairly constant level or, simply put, we would die. So there are feedback mechanisms in our bodies to prevent wide swings of BODY pH. One of those feedback mechanisms is the urinary tract system. The BODY is kept at equilibrium by expending acidic or alkaline properties often through the urine. (see http://www.rnceus.com/ua/uaph.html for more information.) So as you go through the day, depending on what you consume, if you are exercising, or are under stress, your body is very hard at work trying to keep that pH steady. As a result, the URINE pH bounces around, as I said a bit ago, in an effort to maintain a steady BODY pH.

    Now, the next step in this thought process is to remember that most people have healthy bladders and are not even aware that this is happening. In our cases, however, we have wounds in our bladder - everywhere from tiny hemorrhages to full blown Hunner's ulcers. Do you see where I am going with this?

    If you had a cut on your hand, would you put it in a bucket of lemon juice (an acid product)? NO way, right? BUT, you also wouldn't put that wounded hand into a bucket of bleach (an alkaline product). It would hurt also! Neither of those liquids would hurt a healthy hand in the short term, right?

    The same goes for your bladder....if the pH of the urine is bouncing around all day and you have wounds in your bladder, you are going to know it!

    So, the acid/alkaline situation doesn't explain everything, but it can explain some of our symptoms. The pH issue, however, is not as easily controlled as one might think, nor should we rely only on pH as a way to control our symptoms. Some of the MOST reactive foods are the allergic/inflammatory and neurostimulatory properties of foods.

    I hope this helps!!!
    Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
    IC Dietitian, Patient Advocate, Speaker, & Author


    Did you know that up to 94% of interstitial cystitis patients find some symptom relief when they change their diet, and that dietary modification is recommended as a first line treatment for IC? Check out the IC Food List to get started!

    Do you need a little more help understanding the IC Diet? Schedule a phone or video coaching session through the ICN Store today.

    You can also learn more while supporting the ICN message boards by clicking on these book covers and buying the Confident Choices books from the ICN Store:

    ........ ........


    Other IC Diet Resources:

    IC Diet Webinar
    IC Diet Website
    For Health Professionals: Continuing Education About Interstitial Cystitis and Diet
    Free IC Diet Booklet: What Can I Eat?
    Confident Choices IC Diet Blog
    IC Diet Newsletter


    *Let's Connect!*


  • #2
    Thanks so much, Julie....this is wonderful information. Sure help those like me that didn't focus on Chemistry understand more about our fantastic bodies.
    Never heard of IC til suspected....Never knew so many suffer from it. Praying for a cure. I've found answers...so can you...keep the hope.

    11/2007 IC Symptoms began during recovery of surgery for bladder susp & hysto: painful/urge/freq urination up to 50 times a day, pain walking, even water hurts.
    8/2009 Susp IC; 1/2010 Treatment began; 2/2010 Diag PFD, PT, Surg remove mesh; 5/2010 Surg, 2nd bladder repair, vag vault/sm int prolapse repair, IC confirmed in surg; 7/2010 Diag Candida Esophagitis, Gastritis, Diviticulosis, Gallstones,
    8/2010 Surg gallbladder
    TREATMENTS (updated 4/15)
    IC Diet since 8/2009 (Able to vary 4/15)
    Heparin/Lidocaine/Bicarb/Kenalog Instills 1xDay
    Aloe Vera Capsules, (2) 2xDay, Loratadine 1xDay
    Pantoprazole, Prelief, Pyridium up to 3xDay, Premarin Cream 3xWeek
    *DISCONTINUED since feeling better: Celexa 10mg daily*, Fiber supp*,
    Gabapentin 12/2011 worked well *, Macrodantin 100mg after instill*, Probiotics*, PT-PFD*, Valium Vag Suppositories: Cyclo/diaz/lido, 10/5/62.5mg *
    PROB MEDS: Elavil, up to 50mg 1/2011 ret&hbp, Urelle ret, Vesicare ret

    Comment


    • #3
      Very interesting post, Julie. Thanks!

      Originally posted by Julie B View Post
      There are other reasons why a food bothers us.

      One is an allergic or inflammatory type response that kicks up the degranulation of mast cells.
      This is on the subject of something I've been kicking around in my head this past week. While peanuts are on the "bladder friendly" side of the IC diet list, they cause me to flare every time. This seems strange to me since I can have so many items listed in the try it column without a problem, and even a few in the caution category. So I'm wondering, what's up with peanuts? Then I began to wonder since peanuts are known to cause serious allergic reactions in some, is it possible for a person to be slightly allergic? Could my flare from peanuts be due to some sort of an allergic response to them rather than their acidity?
      "The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have."

      Comment


      • #4
        Acidic VS Alkaline

        I found a "detailed list of Acid / Alkaline Forming Foods". I found it very interesting that some "safe" foods are found on the acidic list. After reading your post, I'm even more confused about how to figure out what is safe and what isn't!

        Here's the website: http://www.rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm
        Don't take my word, be your own health care advocate. Research everything and make an educated decision on what treatments you think are right for you.

        ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

        Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
        - Albert Einstein

        ~ Lisa
        My Store: http://www.zazzle.com/saveena*

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks so much for posting this info!
          I have recently been reading up on this topic and now I am confused, too.
          Some foods that start acidic are metabolized into alkeline, such as oranges, lemons and limes. This would be the whole fruit, not the pre-packaged juices.
          Has anyone been brave enough to try these? I have had a few satsuma tangerines with no problems, yay!
          Any thoughts?

          Jana

          Comment


          • #6
            Tangerines?! That's awesome! My dad has a honey tangerine tree in his backyard and I hate the fact that I can't have any.

            I know that some of the reasons foods are on the list are for allergic reasons. Chocolate is a prime example of this. But the more I learn, the less I feel I know.

            Jana, where do you get your information on what becomes alkaline? Is it a list like the one I've posted?
            Don't take my word, be your own health care advocate. Research everything and make an educated decision on what treatments you think are right for you.

            ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

            Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
            - Albert Einstein

            ~ Lisa
            My Store: http://www.zazzle.com/saveena*

            Comment


            • #7
              I want to raise some caution about the acid/alkaline lists. As I said in the original post here, that is not quite the case with IC. There is no doubt that most IC patients cannot eat much citrus fruit, if any at all. That is why the acid/alkaline situation isn't clear.

              The other situation that doesn't make sense is that high protein foods seem to help IC patients and the list of foods that are "acid" include many of these foods.

              I think the best thing to do is stick to the IC Food list that you see on ICN, ICA, and my website since that has the most research behind it.

              I hope that helps!
              Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
              IC Dietitian, Patient Advocate, Speaker, & Author


              Did you know that up to 94% of interstitial cystitis patients find some symptom relief when they change their diet, and that dietary modification is recommended as a first line treatment for IC? Check out the IC Food List to get started!

              Do you need a little more help understanding the IC Diet? Schedule a phone or video coaching session through the ICN Store today.

              You can also learn more while supporting the ICN message boards by clicking on these book covers and buying the Confident Choices books from the ICN Store:

              ........ ........


              Other IC Diet Resources:

              IC Diet Webinar
              IC Diet Website
              For Health Professionals: Continuing Education About Interstitial Cystitis and Diet
              Free IC Diet Booklet: What Can I Eat?
              Confident Choices IC Diet Blog
              IC Diet Newsletter


              *Let's Connect!*

              Comment


              • #8
                Julie,
                I see what you're saying but don't you think acidic urine would "hurt" the IC bladder more then something closer to base? What about taking supplements that bump up the alkalinity in the urine such as citrates? (in the form of calcium, magnesium, potassium).

                Kind of like if we take prelief to reduce acidity in foods, wouldn't it help to also reduce acidity in the bladder? I read somewhere that citrates will do this as they are excreted through the kidneys.
                Cindi


                Gelnique for frequency/urgency - works great
                Macrobid after sex
                Prilosec, continuous birth control pills
                synthroid .088mg, mucinex-d, restasis

                Supplements: Desert Harvest Aloe vera, Cysta-q, prelief, magnesium and calcium, Vit D, flaxseed oil

                Diag Mild IC Jan 11 but have had symptoms for 25 years. Also have GERD, TMJ, IBS-C, chronic dry eye syndrome, hashimotos thyroiditis, non-allergic rhinitis.

                IC Diet Link: http://www.ic-network.com/diet/2009icdietlist.pdf
                AUA 2011 Guidelines to diagnosing and treating IC overview- http://www.ic-network.com/forum/showthread.php?p=571592
                AUA 2011 Guidelines to diagnosing and treating IC PDF: http://www.auanet.org/content/guidel...ent_ic-bps.pdf
                Great treatment flowchart on page 19 of the pdf

                Comment


                • #9
                  Both acid and alkaline can damage tissues with enough concentration. Prelief seems to contribute to the balance of the urine pH, but it doesn't work for everyone.

                  Also, people who have used baking soda as a rescue treatment for flares often find that if they use it more than two or three days in a row, it begins to backfire.

                  The bottom line is that it isn't as clear cut as we may think. :-)
                  Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
                  IC Dietitian, Patient Advocate, Speaker, & Author


                  Did you know that up to 94% of interstitial cystitis patients find some symptom relief when they change their diet, and that dietary modification is recommended as a first line treatment for IC? Check out the IC Food List to get started!

                  Do you need a little more help understanding the IC Diet? Schedule a phone or video coaching session through the ICN Store today.

                  You can also learn more while supporting the ICN message boards by clicking on these book covers and buying the Confident Choices books from the ICN Store:

                  ........ ........


                  Other IC Diet Resources:

                  IC Diet Webinar
                  IC Diet Website
                  For Health Professionals: Continuing Education About Interstitial Cystitis and Diet
                  Free IC Diet Booklet: What Can I Eat?
                  Confident Choices IC Diet Blog
                  IC Diet Newsletter


                  *Let's Connect!*

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I liked reading this post. It's interesting but still leaves me with a lot of questions.
                    Maybe if I get a moment later, I'll see if you might be able to answer some. Thanks!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hey friends, thanks for providing information in detailed manner.
                      This is really useful information for me. I was completely unaware about
                      the topic, got good details after reading your post. thanks for posting.
                      Last edited by ICNDonna; 09-28-2011, 04:23 AM. Reason: Removed advertising.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi All, I am just learning how to post. I've been reading this site for a few years. I plan on posting my story (when I am less lazy and have good news to report). I used Prelief and it helped, then after a few weeks, it backfired. Often, I find too much of a good thing tends to backfire. Also, peanuts... I like peanut butter (quick and easy, good protien). I've found using organic peanut butter works fine, others do not. Almond butter is good too (organic). I am finding organic anything pretty much works better. Our bladders are detectives of purity Kendra

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          So helpful, thank you. My triggers so far are mushrooms (which I am in general allergic to anyway) and all onions and sodas except ginger ale... I'm not sure what else yet.

                          Strangely coffee, garlic, and spicy foods do not bother me.

                          When ever my urine is tested, its always highly acidic. I've also had problems with stomach ulcers/acid issues. And my skin eats through metal. I just kind of figured my body is more acidic. I have tried changing my diet to more alkaline and in general I eat more alkaline naturally, but no difference really. I find anything with a low pH will sometimes through my body off (soaps, personal products).

                          I will be studying more about this definitely.
                          ~21.F. IC, Endometriosis, Possibly mild IBS~

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by cmclien View Post
                            Julie,
                            I see what you're saying but don't you think acidic urine would "hurt" the IC bladder more then something closer to base? What about taking supplements that bump up the alkalinity in the urine such as citrates? (in the form of calcium, magnesium, potassium).

                            Kind of like if we take prelief to reduce acidity in foods, wouldn't it help to also reduce acidity in the bladder? I read somewhere that citrates will do this as they are excreted through the kidneys.
                            Calcium citrate you mean? For me, ANYTHING with the word 'citrate' in it is forbidden. I wish I understood the alkaline/acid thing better too. I had a Uro who told me citrus is metabolized as alkaline in the body. That statement was responsible for my horrible suffering because I thought the IC diet was bunk. I wish I had started this diet like in the year 1999 instead of 2006!

                            I've always liked my science Cut and dried. However, I've been having a lot better results with fuzzy things like this diet and certain health food store items than anything the medical community has to offer. Probably just means the science isn't all there yet. Some of these studies I swear, they look so inane. Like, gee, listening to music reduces pain! Wow who'd a thunk.

                            Methinks it might be time to go to an allergist.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I too am having a lot of problems with this subject. I dip my urine daily, and notice that I am always very acidic 5.0-6.0. I follow the IC diet, and cant tolerate a lot of the things on it. Before I went into this flare that has lasted almost 7 months, my urine was always more alkaline. I ate tons of fruits and veges, drank Folgers Simply Smooth coffee (half decaf/reg) with a touch of baking soda. And even drank soda. I dont know what it is about the IC diet that is making me so acidic. Maybe all the bland grains I eat. But I cant tolerate an apple or a blueberry. So how am I going to alkalize my urine. I notice I burn more the lower my urine PH, so have to resort to baking soda and water.
                              I have basically done every treatment for IC except cyclosporine and botox. Everything has failed. I live on pain meds all day. My diet is so strict that I now have multiple vitamin deficiencies. I have also tried numerous alternative therapies. I would do a cystectomy, but doctors seem to think living in pain is better. Currently taking Synthroid, Elmiron, Percocet, Toradol, Desert Harvest aloe. Interstim done 4 times, what a waste. Also newly diagnosed with Hunners Ulcers on cysto. Now disabled due to IC. A body of life, a bladder of hell.

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