Lemon Juice, Apple Cider Vinegar, Coffee, and the Maintenance of a Neutral pH of Saliva
When people start to get serious about nutrition, it does not take long before they encounter claims about pH levels. This leaves a person wondering:
- How low is too acidic?
- How alkalined should one’s saliva be?
Some say the more alkaline the better, others say the closer to a neutral pH of 7.0 the better, and still others say it hardly matters because your body will adjust to the situation and do the right thing anyway. Without taking sides in that debate, I’ll simply offer you a sample of the homeschool science experiments that we enjoy conducting.
Does freshly-squeezed lemon juice alkalize your saliva?
Yes. Here’s the evidence:
Upon waking, the pH of my saliva was 6.6 (slightly acidic, but within the 6.5 to 7.5 range that is typical for saliva).
I diluted freshly-squeezed lemon juice in water, producing a solution with a pH of less than 5.5. (I’ll guestimate it at 5.0, but my test strips are indexed from 5.5 to 8.0, so all I can say is that the strip was a brighter and lighter yellow than the 5.5 reference point.)
Then, I drank the lemon juice solution and re-checked my saliva. You might expect the result to be somewhere in the middle of lemon juice (5-ish, or 5-isch for those of you following this blog in Germany) and pre-lemonized saliva (6.6), but instead the test strip turned dark green, registering 7.2 on the pH scale. After 15 minutes it dropped to 7.1, and after 30 minutes it dropped to 7.0, neutral. Hence, I am convinced that freshly squeezed lemon juice will make saliva more alkaline, in this case essentially neutralizing what began as slightly acidic saliva.
Does 30-minute old lemon juice alkalize your saliva?
No. The following day, I repeated the same experiment but with one key alteration: I let the lemon juice sit out for 30 minutes before drinking it. This time, the lemon juice began at a pH of 5.8—still acidic, but higher than the previous day’s batch (perhaps due to the uniqueness of each lemon, or the degree to which I diluted it in water?). My saliva prior to drinking the lemon juice on this day was 7.0. After drinking the 5.8 pH lemon juice, the pH of my saliva dropped to 6.8.
Does bottled lemon juice alkalize your saliva?
No. My batch of bottled lemon juice, diluted in water, had a pH of 5.5. My saliva prior to this experiment was at a pH of 6.6. After drinking the lemon-juice solution, the pH of my saliva dropped to 6.4.
What about bottled apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV), diluted in water, registered a pH of 5.8. Drinking ACV raised my saliva from 7.0 to 7.6, notably alkaline. After 15 minutes, my saliva had returned to 7.0. So, yes, ACV will alkalize saliva, at least temporarily. Lemon juice must be freshly squeezed—not squeezed 30 minutes ago, nor squeezed weeks ago and then bottled and shipped to the supermarket—or else it will not succeed in alkalizing one’s saliva. ACV, by contrast, can be squeezed, bottled, shipped, purchased, opened, refrigerated, reopened and resealed and re-refrigerated day after day for weeks, and still have an alkalizing effect on your saliva.
Does coffee make your saliva too acidic?
First, I should admit some bias here. I like coffee. I want the answer to this research question to favor my continued consumption of coffee. Some tout the antioxidants in coffee and claim the drink to be a heroic component of a healthy diet. Others blame the caffeine or acidity for a variety of ailments. I drink weak coffee as a way of splitting the difference: one table spoon of organic coffee grounds per 10 to 12 oz. of water.
It turns out that the pH of my coffee is 6.6, the same as my waking saliva. After starting my day with freshly squeezed lemon juice, which, brought my saliva to a pH of 7.2 initially and 7.0 after checking again 30 minutes later, I drank a cup of coffee and re-checked. The result? My saliva faithfully held the course, registering a delightfully neutral 7.0.
So, no, my coffee does not make my saliva too acidic. Now what about yours? Please send your saliva sample to our Into Your Hands LLC laboratory for analysis. Just kidding. We’d rather that you keep your spit to yourself. So, if you want your own saliva tested, please order some pH strips, repeat the experiments above, and share your results on our Facebook Group. Thank you.