So you’ve heard some talk about this idea of Acidic vs. Alkaline Foods, and you’re here to learn a bit more as you go towards a path of eating healthy and limiting inflammation and disease in the body. There is so much information on this topic out there and I hope to fine tune it and break it down so that you will have a better understanding of what exactly we mean by acidic foods and alkaline foods along with what happens in the body when we eat these particular foods.
What do we mean by Acidic vs. Alkaline Foods?
Hearing these terms you might be brought back to your childhood when testing PH levels in science class, or maybe you had a fish tank and constantly had to test the levels to make sure your fishes would stay alive. Well it is similar. To start off easy anything Acidic measures a PH of 0. Neutral is 7 and Alkaline is 14. In the body the ideal blood PH is between 7.35 and 7.45 (slightly alkaline), while the stomach has a more acidic environment at 3.5 PH, which helps it to break down the food that we eat.
There are a lot of websites that argue against eating Alkaline by misdirecting the information saying that the “alkaline diet” maintains that the blood PH changes. Our blood PH does not change. If it did we would potentially die. While it doesn’t change, the body does work either very hard or not that hard, depending on what we eat, to keep it at that 7.35-7.45 PH level. A diet high in acidic foods means that our body is working harder, while a diet higher in alkaline foods means that our body does not have to work as hard to maintain balance.
Research and studies done
The foods we choose to eat are contributing factors to our health. Diet induced acidosis refers to changes in our body that are induced by the foods we eat. Specifically this is pointing to foods that are acidic within our body. Now our blood PH doesn’t actually change because our body works to keep this at a steady PH between 7.35 and 7.45. But the more acidic we eat the harder our body needs to work, and there is a potential price to pay for this. Some of the potential diseases that are caused by diet induced acidosis are osteoporosis, kidney stones, cancer, muscle wasting, metabolic syndrome, impaired glutathione synthesis and others.
Regarding osteoporosis, studies have shown that bone base helps to neutralize part of the dietary acid load. What this means is that calcium is actually alkaline, and when we eat acidic, our body pulls from calcium stores to help neutralize itself. This isn’t the only place it is taken from, because if that were the case we would have no bone left after a few years of eating a typical western/acidic diet, but it does show that there is an effect on our bodies which is determined by how we eat.
Some information in this section was taken from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566456/
The body is designed to naturally eliminate free radicals, which exist is a by-product of respiration, metabolism, exercise, and cellular breakdown. They are highly reactive and unstable and are associated with inflammation in the body. With all the pollutants and toxins in the air, food additives, prescription drugs and stress, the body ends up with more free radicals than it can eliminate. Acidic foods which include processed foods add to this overload of free radicals. However when the body is in an alkaline state it converts the free radicals to water and oxygen, which cause no harm whatsoever to the body. Eating a diet high in alkalinity will help in converting the free radicals in the body, keeping us more stable and healthy.
Acidic Alkaline Food Chart
This chart below demonstrates a breakdown of foods from more acidic to less acidic and then crosses over to the middle towards the right side to show foods that are more alkaline. There is no definite right and wrong. But a good rule of thumb is to have a diet along the guidelines of 80/20. That means aim for 80% in the alkaline range, and 20% in the acidic range. Try to apply this rule to each meal working in more and more fruits, vegetables, teas and herbs as you go on, while limiting processed foods, animal proteins, sugars and dairy products. Also a good thing to keep in mind, is that slow and steady wins the race. Don’t drop everything all at once. Take it day by day, or week by week. Add one alkaline item to your lunch every day, and eat that first, so you’ll have less room for the more acidic foods. Substitute almond milk for regular milk in your coffee, then switch to tea. Drink water instead of fruit juice. Grab a fruit instead of ice cream. Getting into a regular habit one item by one item, will make it easier to do this.
As we can see from the Acidic Alkaline Food Chart, not every food item that is acidic in nature is acidic in the body. For example limes and tangerines are “acidic” in nature, but in the body they are alkaline. Watermelon happens to be a fruit that is very high in sugar, but despite that when it comes to alkalinity, it is very healthy for us to eat.
On your way to a healthier you
By the time you get to this point I’m confident that you will have at least a few ideas of foods you can add to your lifestyle that will benefit your health. I don’t like to label this a diet, because a diet is something that people tend to do for a period of time and not stick to. This type of lifestyle is all about balance. Finding the foods that balance out how we feel and how our body responds will allow us to live out our lives, without the development of chronic or acute diseases. This doesn’t mean you can never have a donut or an ice cream sundae. Just fit that into your 20%, while your 80% is made up of healthy and nutritious choices. We get to make the choice to live our best possible life. Hope you choose the choice that’s best for you!