Is urine pH useful as a measure of acid base balance?

Answered on March 06, 2017
Created November 13, 2010 at 6:43 PM

William Davis writes on his blog, Heart Scan Blog, "While hunter-gatherers who consume meat along with plentiful vegetables and fruits live a net alkaline diet (urine pH 7 to 9), modern humans who consume insufficient vegetables and too much grain (of which more than 90% is usually wheat) shift the body towards net acid (urine pH 5 to 7)."
link: http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-does-wheat-cause-arthritis.html

This is the first I heard about measuring urine pH. Has anyone measured the pH of their urine? Comments welcome.



on November 14, 2010
at 02:38 AM

The acid/base thing has already been visited a number of times on paleohacks including in this question: http://paleohacks.com/questions/1368/is-the-acid-base-balance-theory-important#axzz15DiuoC00 and this one: http://paleohacks.com/questions/11760/is-bone-broth-acid-or-base-yielding#axzz15DjVM6oH

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4 Answers



on November 13, 2010
at 07:43 PM

Interesting question, Michael. I think that the whole obsession some seem to have with acid/base balance is misplaced (see also here and here for previous discussions).

Urine pH between 4.5 and 8 is normal. Urine pH varies depending on your diet and even the time of day. Your urine will tend to be acidic early in the morning. Meat-eaters tend to have more acidic urine than vegans/vegetarians. In fact, vegans exploit this difference to argue the whole "alkaline=good, acidic=bad" concept.

Urine pH can be used in screening for some kidney, metabolic and respiratory diseases. There are also rare cases when one may want to manipulate urine pH. For example, some kidney stones form in acid pH, while some form in alkaline pH. Some poisonings, such as aspirin, can be treated by alkalinizing the urine.

However, if you are healthy, you do not need to check or worry about your urine pH. When I went to medical school, there was an aphorism on the wards--"The kidneys are smarter than we are." So let your kidneys do their job(s), and don't try to over-think your body's acid/base balance.




on November 13, 2010
at 09:21 PM

I agree with Ed's response about vegan claims about urine pH complicating its significance. I tried measuring urine pH during my short burst of interest in raw veganism. I was still eating chicken occasionally, but everything else in my diet was consistent with a eating gluten-free, soy-free raw vegan diet. In all honesty, I found the whole process highly confusing because of all the different vegan claims that mention alkaline/acid balance. I usually registered at something around 5 or 6, even if I went authentically raw vegan for weeks. I can see the change in urine pH not being instant, but I was pretty dismayed that I couldn't even hit alkalinity after weeks. One day I ate chicken and a few days later, I hit 7 and was super excited. But then I saw a raw vegan website claiming that if a meat-eater has an alkaline reading on urine pH then that just means that our poor bodies are pulling calcium from our bones to neutralize the acid-creating meat, which is even more dangerous. Also super confusing to me because it meant that even alkalinity readings couldn't be taken at face value and needed to be treated as acid readings. According to the vegan theory of it, it seemed like my would never genuinely reach alkalinity if I responded to my body's craving for real protein. At the end of the day, I've found that I feel 1000% better on paleo that I did experimenting with raw veganism, so that's more meaningful for me than urine pH.

But that might just have been my own weird experience with urine pH. Some Whole Foods sell the ph testing tape, so it's fairly easy experiment to do.


on March 06, 2017
at 09:15 PM

I think the comments have answered the question.

But I have some disagreement with some of the info here and would like to clarify some important stuff:

Ed: "However, if you are healthy, you do not need to check or worry about your urine pH."

Sorry, but scientific evidence proves otherwise...

If your body is acidic, you will be at high risk for disease. Major cancer creations will occur when pH is acidic, particularly when blood pH approaches 5.

"The eight major diseases are linked to the connexin molecule and its dysfunction. Medical and scientific studies show that the net acid-producing diet of modern man along with declining kidney function (this reduces the ability to remove acids from our body) as we age, results in the formation of a metabolic state known as chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis. This acidosis, or too much acid in our bodies, can diminish connexin function and lead to disease. "

And yes, eating meat (ingesting amino acids) will cause blood pH to drop.


The original question "While hunter-gatherers..." implies human beings are intended to eat meat... umm... no we are not.

1) Our digestive system does not match a carnivorous animal's digestive system. It matches perfectly to animals who eat fruit diets (fruit implying products of plants, including fruit, veg, grains, ect.). The ratio length of our intestines do not match a carnivore's intestinal length, it matches that of a fruit-eating animal. Also note our digestive system does not match that of a cow/horse, a grass eating herbivore.

2) Our teeth are nothing like carnivorous animal's teeth. It matches perfectly to animals who eat fruit diets.

3) Our instinct does not attract us to killing, blood, gore, nor the odors associated with it. In fact, our instinct actually makes us revolted/sickened when we see these things. We have to put meat packing plants far outside our cities and then cook and flavor our meat in order to make it appealing and ingestible, and then also preserve it carefully so that we do not get food poisoning if we want to eat it later. And heavy meat diets are well proven to cause cancer and other diseases. It also makes us stink/have body odors. However, we are instinctively attracted to fruits, vegetables, grains. We love the smells. The “angels” in heaven eat ‘ambrosia’ not meat. People with high fruit diets have minimal body odors and their sweat smells sweet/fruit-like. No woman wears meat smelling body lotions or perfumes. We do not go to Jamba Juice and ask for a blended meat shake with extra blood and sinews mixed in.

4) Our babies are incapable of ingesting meat. They thrive specifically on breast milk, and later, a diet of soft fruit and vegetables.

5) A new mother is incapable of producing milk if she eats mostly meat. However, she will produce gallons if she eats a mostly fruit and vegetable diet.

6) For those who want to think we came from monkeys and rationalize that the chimpanzee eats a 'omnivorous' diet, therefore, so should we. Ok... well a chimpanzee's diet consists of less than 2% meat, and of that 2%, almost all of it are bugs. So by all means, go ahead and eat 2% meat, majority of which are bugs, and likely you will be very healthy and have a healthy pH.

Overall, vegetarian diet is all a human being needs. There is no rationalization for eating meat, other than for habit/desire/addiction.

Good luck.

Adesh, registered nurse, civil engineer, professional engineer, BSN, BSE, MSE, vegetarian/vegan for 20+ years




on November 14, 2010
at 02:02 AM

PH tests of urine only measure the acid base balance of your urine which can vary by quite a lot depending on what you ate just recently. If you did the same test in your stomach, you'd get a different measurement. If you did the same test on your blood, you'd get a whole 'nother measurement. The PH of various parts the body are different. THe body keeps blood PH in a very narrow range, unlike the variances allowed in the gut. There is no evidence that one kind of food makes a difference in blood PH. Blood PH is only threatened when your body is unhealthy and its many PH balancing mechanisms, like breath regulation, are not working properly. THere is not a molecule of evidence for the whole acid/base theory. However, I do think that a lot of the foods (but not all) that it recommends you don't eat tend to be on the healthy side so I would not be surprised if many people would feel better if they eliminated or cut back on those foods.

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