What are the differences between alkaline foods vs acidic foods and does eating more or less of them really matter when it comes to our health?
Using the pH Scale to determine Alkalinity and Acidity
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral, which is the pH of pure water.
Through a “built in” buffering system, our body constantly works to maintain a pH of 7.35 to 7.45 which is slightly more alkaline than water and considered to be a well balanced range.
Higher or lower ranges tip the scales to one side or the other:
- Acidic = 0 to 6.9
- Alkaline = 7.1 to 14
Where it gets even more interesting is that on the pH scale, each number represents a tenfold difference from adjacent numbers!
So a liquid with a pH of 6 is ten times more acidic than one with a pH of 7, and a liquid with a pH of 5 is one hundred times more acidic than liquid with a pH of 7. You can see how quickly the effects of imbalances can compound.
Which is why the goal is not to be overly acidic or overly alkaline, as either can cause negative health effects.
The goal is to maintain a balanced pH, enabling the body’s natural ability to heal itself through avenues such as increased energy, increased immune function, reduction/elimination of inflammation/pain, and to raise it’s defense against disease.
What Happens When we Consume Acidic Foods?
Earlier I mentioned our body’s “built in” buffering system and here’s where that comes into play. Various acid forming foods cause this buffer system to over exert itself to neutralize these acids.
In an effort to neutralize the over-abundance of acid your body begins pulling from various mineral stores, mainly calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium – all integral structural components of bones, teeth and muscles.
Over time, these minerals get leeched from the body and can lead to structural weakness/damage in these areas.
In order to rid itself of the excess calcium your body tries to excrete it via the urinary tract which is why an acidic diet can lead to a build up of calcium based kidney stones.
Acid build up within your cells can cause a decrease in energy production within the cells, which impairs the body’s ability to repair cellular damage and detoxify itself leaving you more susceptible to chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and chronic diseases. An acidic environment is a breeding ground for disease.
Acidic Offender #1
Ironically enough, kidney stones, low bone density, and dental problems are all common, well known side effects of one of the most highly acidic offenders – carbonated sodas. Coming in at a pH range of 2.5 to 3, they are ten thousand times more acidic than water!
It takes 32 8oz. glasses of water to neutralize the acid in just one single can of soda. And just think, a liter + per day of soda is pretty typical in the standard American diet.
Now think of the amount of water it takes to counteract that acid, which just doesn’t get consumed causing gobs of minerals to be stripped from the body. No good Joe.
If you’re ready to kick the number one killer of alkalinity to the curb, it’s a good time to swap soda out for water kefir (learn the health benefits here) and get the recipe here. It’s an awesome substitute!
Acidic Foods and Leptin Resistance
Leptin is a hormone that plays a role in various aspects of the body but probably most well known for sending your body the signal that it’s full. The more full your stomach becomes the more leptin signals the brain to stop eating.
Consuming too many acidic foods causes high levels of leptin which counteracts your body’s ability to respond to normal levels of it, interfering with your efforts when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and BMI.
Increased leptin levels also encourage inflammation which ties into the chronic inflammation at the root of most diseases that thrive in an acidic environment.
- processed, sugary, or refined foods
- hydrogenated oils
- coffee, tea and sweetened fruit juices
- white or wheat breads, pastries and pastas
- dairy products
- artificial sweeteners
- animal fats
- refined salt
- most grains
- leafy greens
- fruits – keep in mind, fruits that are not ripe can be acidic, so consume fruit at the peak of ripeness to reap the alkaline benefits (lemons, cherries, watermelon, dates, figs, apples, bananas, to name a few)
- red beets
- onions, garlic, ginger
- sprouts and grasses (i.e. barley, wheat)
- green smoothies, green juices and green superfood powders
*These are just some of the alkaline and acid foods, the list is by no means inclusive.
Three quick and easy ways to kick start your body’s alkalizing state first thing in the morning:
- 1/2 lemon squeezed in a cup of warm water before breakfast. Although it may seem counterintuitive since it reads as a 2 on the pH scale, lemon is alkalizing once it’s metabolized in the bloodstream.
- Himalayan salt sole (recipe here).
- Green smoothie, juice, or powder (recipes here).
I have noticed tremendous health benefits from incorporating alkaline foods in my diet, and I’m super excited for you to experience them too :)
The more you’re aware of your food choices, the effects they have on your body and the way they make you feel the more inclined you are to continue to make healthy choices.
The body thrives in a balanced pH state which can be achieved by eating 80 percent alkaline producing foods.
If you happen to be in a state of heavy acidosis from a long term diet of acid-forming foods, increasing the proportion of alkaline-forming foods will be needed to get your body balanced again. But it absolutely can be done, and a quality greens supplement can really help to greatly improve your alkalinity in the process.
Want to Know Your pH?
In case you didn’t already know there are easy methods to test your pH level. pH papers test your saliva or urine to see whether your body is in a balanced or acidic state. You’ll get fast and accurate results in a matter of seconds. A convenient and easy way to check your pH as many times a day as you like to keep your health on track.
Want to alkalize your body? A quality GREENS POWDER helps to promote alkalinity in your body. Learn more about my favorite GREENS HERE.