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Top Alkaline Foods to Eat & Acid Foods to Avoid

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Diet is one of the biggest determinants of your health. What you put into your body every day affects everything: your biochemistry, your mood, your brain, muscles, tendons, bones, nerves, kidneys, liver.

Unfortunately, when it comes to diet, most people are on autopilot, following a disease-making Western Diet that is high in acidic foods and low in alkaline foods. The Western dietary pattern also called the Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in processed foods, fried foods and red meat. And it’s low in whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and healthier fats and proteins such as nuts, seeds and fish.

Many studies have concluded that the Western Diet causes and contributes to the development of heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis, cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and autoimmune diseases.

The explanation is very simple. Your body evolved to work optimally when provided with the right environment to function. The internal environment in your body requires a healthy mix of nutrients, and when it doesn’t get them consistently over time, things go haywire. For a more in-depth look at biochemistry and its impact on your health, read Dr. Neustadt’s article, Change Your Biochemistry to Change Your Health.

One way diet affects your health is through a process called “acid-alkaline balance.” The pH (potential of hydrogen) determines a substance’s acidity or alkalinity and is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. The lower the pH the more acidic the solution. The higher the pH the more alkaline (or base) the solution. When a solution is about in the middle of the range—neither acid nor alkaline—it has a neutral pH of 7.

The body regulates pH in very narrow ranges. In the different organs throughout the body, finely tuned physiological systems constantly work to keep the pH within specific ranges for optimal function. Stomach acid, which is important for healthy digestion and as a protection against potential infections, has a low pH, about 2-3. When the pH of your stomach cannot get low enough, it causes problems with digestion and can create acid reflux. Most people and medical approaches to acid reflux assume that there’s too much acid, when in fact the problem might to too little acid. Blood is kept at a neutral pH, between 7.35-7.45.

When your blood becomes too acidic, fine-tuned physiological mechanisms kick in to adjust the pH to a healthy level. One way it does this is by releasing calcium from bone. Over many years, this may contribute to developing osteoporosis.

The Western diet is composed of acidic foods such as proteins, cereals, sugars and processed foods. Dietary acid load in the modern diet can lead to a disruption in acid-alkaline homeostasis in various body compartments and eventually result in chronic disease through repeated borrowing of the body’s alkaline reserves.

The opposite of acidic foods is alkaline foods. In the Western Diet, alkaline foods such as vegetables are eaten in much smaller quantities; their alkaline content is insufficient to neutralize surplus acids. Stimulants like tobacco, coffee, tea, and alcohol are also extremely acidifying. Stress and physical activity (both insufficient or excessive amounts) also cause acidification.

Many foods as they exist in nature alkaline-producing by nature, but manufactured and processed foods transform the nutrient content of foods and make them mostly acid-producing.

It’s important to balance each meal with 75% alkaline-producing to 25% acid-producing to maintain health. We need plenty of fresh fruits and particularly vegetables (alkaline-producing) to balance our necessary protein intake (acid-producing). This pattern is essentially similar to the Mediterranean Diet, which research over the past 50 years has shown to be the healthiest dietary pattern. And we need to avoid processed, sugary or simple-carbohydrate foods, not only because they’re acid-producing but also because they raise blood sugar level too quickly (high glycemic index therefore fattening), are nutrient-lacking and may be toxic too.

Water is the most abundant compound in the human body, comprising 70% of the body. The body has an acid-alkaline (or acid-base) ratio called the pH which is a balance between positively charges ions (acid-forming) and negatively charged ions (alkaline-forming.) The body continually strives to balance pH. When this balance is compromised many problems can occur.

It is important to understand that we are not talking about stomach acid or the pH of the stomach. We are talking about the pH of the body’s fluids and tissues which is an entirely different matter.

Test Your Body’s Acidity or Alkalinity with pH Strips

If you want to test your pH levels to determine if your body’s pH needs immediate attention you can do so using pH strips. Doing so lets you determine your pH factor quickly and easily in the privacy of your own home. If your urinary pH fluctuates between 6.0 to 6.5 in the morning and between 6.5 and 7.0 in the evening, your body is functioning within a healthy range. If your saliva stays between 6.5 and 7.5 all day, your body is functioning within a healthy range. The best time to test your pH is about one hour before a meal and two hours after a meal.

Urine testing may indicate how well your body is excreting acids and assimilating minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. These minerals function as “buffers.” Buffers are substances that help maintain and balance the body against the introduction of too much acidity or too much alkalinity. Even with the proper amounts of buffers, acid or alkaline levels can become extreme. When the body ingests or produces too many of these acids or alkalis, it must excrete the excess. The urine is the perfect way for the body to remove any excess acids or alkaline substances that cannot be buffered. If the average urine pH is below 6.5 the body’s buffering system is overwhelmed, a state of “autotoxication” exists, and attention should be given to lowering acid levels.

The blood pH has to be kept within a tight range of with a normal range of 7.36 to 7.44. An imbalanced diet high in acidic foods such as animal protein, sugar, caffeine, and processed foods puts pressure on the body’s regulating systems to maintain this neutrality. The extra buffering required can deplete the body of alkaline minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, making the person prone to chronic and degenerative disease.

Minerals are borrowed from vital organs and bones to buffer (neutralize) the acid and safely remove it from the body. Because of this strain, the body can suffer severe and prolonged damage due to high acidity–a condition that may go undetected for years.

Acidosis can cause such problems as:

Cardiovascular damage

Weight gain, obesity and diabetesBladder conditions
Kidney stonesImmune deficiencyAcceleration of free radical damage
Hormonal problemsPremature agingOsteoporosis and joint pain
Aching muscles and lactic acid buildupLow energy and chronic fatigueSlow digestion and elimination
Yeast/fungal overgrowthLack of energy and fatigueLower body temperature
Tendency to get infectionsLoss of drive, joy, and enthusiasmDepressive tendencies
Easily stressedPale complexionHeadaches
Inflammation of the corneas and eyelidsLoose and painful teethInflamed, sensitive gums
Mouth and stomach ulcersCracks at the corners of the lipsExcess stomach acid
GastritisNails are thin and split easilyHair looks dull, has split ends, and falls out
Dry skinSkin easily irritated

Leg cramps and spasms.

Foods: are they Acid or Alkaline-forming?

Note that a food’s acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, lemons are very acidic, however, the end-products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline so lemons are alkaline-forming in the body. Likewise, the meat will test alkaline before digestion but it leaves very acidic residue in the body so, like nearly all animal products, meat is very acid-forming. It is important that your daily dietary intake of food naturally acts to balance your body pH.

This chart is intended only as a general guide to alkalizing and acidifying foods.

Alkaline Foods

Alkalizing vegetables

Alfalfa
Barley Grass
Beet Greens
Beets
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrot
Cauliflower
Celery
Chard Greens
Chlorella
Collard Greens
Cucumber
Dandelions
Dulce
Edible Flowers
Eggplant
Fermented Veggies
Garlic
Green Beans
Green Peas
Kale
Kohlrabi
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Mustard
Greens
Nightshade Veggies
Onions
Parsnips (high glycemic)
Peas
Peppers
Pumpkin
Radishes
Rutabaga
Sea Veggies
Spinach, green
Spirulina
Sprouts
Sweet Potatoes
Tomatoes
Watercress
Wheat Grass
Wild Greens

Alkalizing oriental vegetables

Daikon
Dandelion Root
Kombu
Maitake
Nori
Reishi
Shitake
Umeboshi
Wakame

Alkalizing fruits

Apple
Apricot
Avocado
Banana (high glycemic)
Berries
Blackberries
Cantaloupe
Cherries, sour
Coconut, fresh
Currants
Dates
dried Figs
dried Grapes
Grapefruit
Honeydew Melon
Lemon
Lime
Muskmelons
Nectarine
Orange
Peach
Pear
Pineapple
Raisins
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Tangerine
Tomato
Tropical Fruits
Umeboshi Plums
Watermelon

Alkalizing protein

Almonds
Chestnuts
Millet
Tempeh (fermented)
Tofu (fermented)
Whey Protein Powder

Alkalizing sweeteners

Stevia

Alkalizing spices & seasonings

Chili Pepper
Cinnamon
Curry
Ginger
Herbs (all)
Miso
Mustard
Sea Salt
Tamari

Alkalizing other

Alkaline
Antioxidant Water
Apple Cider Vinegar
Bee Pollen
Fresh Fruit Juice
Green Juices
Lecithin Granules
Mineral Water
Molasses, blackstrap
Probiotic Cultures
Soured Dairy Products
Veggie Juices

Alkalizing minerals

Calcium: pH 12
Cesium: pH 14
Magnesium: pH 9
Potassium: pH 14
Sodium: pH 14

Unknown

There are several versions of the Acidic and Alkaline Food chart to be found in different books and on the Internet. The following foods are sometimes attributed to the Acidic side of the chart and sometimes to the Alkaline side. Remember, you don’t need to adhere strictly to the Alkaline side of the chart, just make sure a good percentage of the foods you eat come from that side.

Brazil Nuts

Brussel Sprouts

Buckwheat

Cashews

Chicken

Corn

Cottage Cheese

Eggs

Flax Seeds

Green Tea

Herbal Tea

Honey

Kombucha

Lima Beans

Maple Syrup

Milk

Nuts

Organic Milk (unpasteurized)

Potatoes, white

Pumpkin Seeds

Quinoa

Sauerkraut

Soy Products

Sprouted Seeds

Squashes

Sunflower Seeds

Tomatoes

Yogurt

** These foods leave an alkaline ash but have an acidifying effect on the body.

Although it might seem that citrus fruits would have an acidifying effect on the body, the citric acid they contain actually has an alkalinizing effect in the system.

Note that a food’s acid or alkaline forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, lemons are very acidic, however the end products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline so, lemons are alkaline forming in the body. Likewise, meat will test alkaline before digestion, but it leaves very acidic residue in the body so, like nearly all animal products, meat is very acid forming.

 

Acidic Foods

Acidifying vegetables

Corn
Lentils
Olives
Winter Squash

Acidifying fruits

Blueberries
Canned or Glazed Fruits
Cranberries
Currants
Plums**
Prunes**

Acidifying grains, grain products

Amaranth
Barley
Bran, oat
Bran, wheat
Bread
Corn
Cornstarch
Crackers, soda
Flour, wheat
Flour, white
Hemp Seed Flour
Kamut
Macaroni
Noodles
Oatmeal
Oats (rolled)
Quinoa
Rice (all)
Rice Cakes
Rye
Spaghetti
Spelt
Wheat
Germ Wheat

Acidifying beans & legumes

Almond Milk
Black Beans
Chick Peas
Green Peas
Kidney Beans
Lentils
Pinto Beans
Red Beans
Rice Milk
Soy Beans
Soy Milk
White Beans

Acidifying dairy

Butter
Cheese
Cheese, Processed
Ice Cream
Ice Milk

Acidifying nuts & butters

Cashews
Legumes
Peanut Butter
Peanuts
Pecans
Tahini
Walnuts

Acidifying animal protein

Bacon
Beef
Carp
Clams
Cod
Corned Beef
Fish
Haddock
Lamb
Lobster
Mussels
Organ Meats
Oyster
Pike
Pork
Rabbit
Salmon
Sardines
Sausage
Scallops
Shellfish
Shrimp
Tuna
Turkey
Veal
Venison

Acidifying fats & oils

Avacado Oil
Butter
Canola Oil
Corn Oil
Flax Oil
Hemp Seed Oil
Lard
Olive Oil
Safflower Oil
Sesame Oil
Sunflower Oil

Acidifying sweeteners

Carob
Corn Syrup
Sugar

Acidifying alcohol

Beer
Hard Liquor
Spirits
Wine

Acidifying other foods

Catsup
Cocoa
Coffee
Mustard
Pepper
Soft Drinks
Vinegar

Acidifying drugs & chemicals

Aspirin
Chemicals
Drugs, Medicinal Drugs, Psychedelic
Herbicides
Pesticides
Tobacco

Acidifying junk food

Beer: pH 2.5
Coca-Cola: pH 2
Coffee: pH 4

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