Dr. Jeannette Graf, M.D. is a New York-based, board-certified dermatologist and former National Institutes of Health fellow. She received an award for Outstanding Achievement from the National Institutes of Health, for her research on peptides in 1987. Published in Journal of Cell Biology, Dr. Graf is a leading expert on skin cells and anti-aging, consulting for cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies including Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena and Aveeno. She is author of Stop Aging, Start Living: The Revolutionary 2-week pH Diet.
By creating pH balance in your body, Dr. Jeannette Graf says you can prevent your cells from accelerated aging, achieve youthful skin and feel fantastic.
Posted on August 10, 2011
A little strip of paper the size of your toothbrush is one of the most “empowering” health and beauty tools an FOF can own, according to dermatologist and former National Institutes of Health research fellow Dr. Jeannette Graf, M.D. The strip tests your body’s pH level, which according to Dr. Graf is the best indicator of how our cells are functioning and aging. Her her book, Stop Aging, Start Living, Dr. Graf explains how to “balance” your body’s pH by changing the amounts of alkaline-producing foods and acidic-producing foods you eat. The result? Fewer wrinkles, brighter skin and more energy. Here, Dr. Graf answers all our questions about her pH diet and what it means to FOFs.
Plus, 3 FOFs will WIN a copy of Dr. Graf’s book Stop Aging, Start Living and a package of pH strips. Leave a comment below to enter.
As a dermatologist, how did you discover the correlation between pH and anti-aging?
I was doing cosmetic procedures to help women look better, and although the procedures went well, technically, the women still didn’t look great. I’d peel them, and their skin would look a little better, but they were still missing something. On the other hand, I had 80-year-old patients who were just full of life and energy and had a glow, yet they never did any procedures. So I began asking questions. I realized that what’s going on internally impacts what your skin looks like and how it ages, but I didn’t know why. So I went back and began to read old research.
What did you find?
A 1931 Nobel Prize Winning study in which Dr. Otto Warburg did a very simple test. He immersed cancer cells and healthy cells in two solutions. The first solution was oxygen-poor and highly acidic. The second solution was high-oxygen, highly alkaline. The cancer cells thrived in the low-oxygen, highly acidic environment but could not replicate well in the high-oxygen, more alkaline solution. The opposite was true for the healthy cells. Essentially, his study shows that when you’re alkaline at a cellular level you can defeat disease. That’s when I realized how important your body’s pH is to your overall health and appearance.
I remember pH from chemistry class, but how does it relate to your body?
pH measures the alkalinity or acidity of a liquid. All liquids have a pH. The pH scale is between 0-14. Acids are solutions with a pH lower than 7. A solution is alkaline when it has a pH higher than 7. You may think of the human body as a solid, but it’s made up mostly of water and has a pH. For optimal health and functioning, most of the cells, fluids and tissues in your body need a slightly alkaline pH.
What is the correlation between alkalinity, acidity and aging?
Body cells function best in the pH range of 7.35 to 7.45 (slightly alkaline). If your pH falls too low (acidic) the cells in the skin stop dividing, produce fewer enzymes and create less collagen. This leads directly to sagging, dullness and wrinkles.
Does your pH get more acidic as you age?
When we are born, our bodies are at their most alkaline, and when we die we are very acidic.
How do you test your pH?
The best way to test your pH is by using a pH strip every day. You want to make sure that your mouth is clean. If you just did something like brush your teeth or drink coffee, you’ll want to rinse your mouth with water. Then, you’ll want to take a strip and saturate it with saliva. Saliva is the best indicator of your pH since it is from an immediate organ. After you determine your pH, you can make adjustments to your diet to get it in the 7.35 to 7.45 range.
Where do you get pH strips?
Health food stores are selling them more and more. I also have an index of places that sell them in the back of my book.
What can we eat to get our pH in the ideal range?
If your pH is too acidic, you need to eat more alkaline-producing foods. If your pH is too alkaline, you need to eat more acid-producing foods. Certain foods are acidic such as lemons and limes, but these are alkaline-producing foods. Other foods that are alkaline, such as milk and dairy, are acid-producing foods. It doesn’t matter whether a food is acidic or alkaline; what matters is if the food is acid-producing or alkaline-producing. After every food is metabolized there’s an ash that is left. The pH of that ash determines if that food had an alkaline or acidic effect.
So what are acid-producing foods?
Refined carbs, sugar, cola drinks, meat and dairy. Cola drinks are the number one enemy. Coffee is acid-producing as it sits around and oxidizes, so you are better off having freshly-brewed coffee from newly-ground organic coffee beans. It can actually have a beneficial antioxidant effect when consumed in this way.
What are alkaline-producing foods?
The most alkaline-producing food is kale. I cook with it or I make juices out of it. Organic greens, vegetables, garlic, olive oil, lemon, fruit, Brazil nuts and seeds are other alkaline-producing foods.
If your pH is acidic, should you only eat alkaline-producing foods?
No, you’ll just want to up your intake of alkaline-producing foods until your pH is back in that 7.35 to 7.45 range. I recommend a Mediterranean diet— fruits and vegetables, protein, but not too much protein (about 20 percent of your diet), olive oil and safflower oil. Instead of table salt I would use sea salt. I recommend Stevia for a sweetener. I also recommend the addition of super alkalinizing green powdered drinks, which can be reconstituted in your favorite beverage, and spirulina tablets to boost pH. Mineral supplements are also a great way to boost alkalinity.
How often should you be testing your pH?
Every day. But if you want to play with the pH strips to see the effects that different things have, go ahead.
How long after you eat can you can see a change in pH?
After taking a mineral supplement, sometimes you can see results in an hour.
Is there anything else that can affect your body’s alkalinity or acidity?
Smoking and stress can also make your pH very acidic.
Some of this sounds like what we already knew about bad behaviors and bad eating habits...
It’s common sense proven by science. What’s unique is that it is simple to be alkaline. You can do it with simple changes each day. What’s appealing to most people is, it’s not prison. Dieting is stressful. Let’s say you went out with your friends and had a couple of margaritas, and then the next day you test your pH and maybe it’s not as alkaline as it was. So that’s the day you beef up your intake of greens and alkaline-producing food.
Are there other effects besides better skin? Can you lose weight from this diet?
It can give you energy, lower your cholesterol, and help you lose weight.
Can you change your pH through topical lotions?
There are two pH issues -- outer and inner. We have been discussing inner pH which influences organized skin formation. The outer skin has a slightly acidic pH which is extremely important for skin barrier function. Both inner alkalinity as well as correct skin care are needed.
How fast can you see results from this diet?
In my experience, most patients felt an immediate surge of energy the first day.
How come I never heard about this before?
There are studies as far back as the early 1900s that have documented the negative health effects of unbalanced pH. However, it wasn’t until scientists were able to piece together a century’s worth of research on cellular function that we had a clear picture of the importance of acidity and alkalinity on cell health. The importance of pH is rapidly gaining acceptance in the medical community, and I predict that this will not be the last time you hear about it.