Alkaline Foods vs Acidic Foods – What You Need to Know

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

PH Scale

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

Alkaline Foods vs Acidic Foods-SodaIronically 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.

Acid-Forming Foods

  • processed, sugary, or refined foods
  • hydrogenated oils
  • alcohol
  • coffee, tea and sweetened fruit juices
  • white or wheat breads, pastries and pastas
  • dairy products
  • artificial sweeteners
  • animal fats
  • refined salt
  • most grains

 Alkaline-Forming Foods

  • Alkaline Foods vs Acidic Foodsleafy greens
  • vegetables
  • 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)
  • avocados
  • celery
  • 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.

Tip

Three quick and easy ways to kick start your body’s alkalizing state first thing in the morning:

  1. 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.
  2. Himalayan salt sole (recipe here).
  3. Green smoothie, juice, or powder (recipes here).

Conclusion

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.

16 Comments

  1. Thanks for the recent info on alkalinity, & pH balance. I will be putting to use the information, applying the tips for myself and others. I appreciate how you make it easy and realistic to take action, less is more so much of the time. I don’t feel over whelmed with too much information. Your website is currently my favorite for healthy solutions in a reasonable way.

    cheryl Kelley
    1. My pleasure, Cheryl! You’re very welcome. Thanks for the wonderful compliment, it makes me thrilled to know that you are finding the information on this site helpful and I wish you all the best in applying the nutritional principles for a balanced pH, and on your overall healthy journey and staying well :)

      Jess
  2. Wow! I never thought about the acidity within the body. This is very interesting information. I have seen several friends on Facebook ranting about green smoothies and how great they feel after drinking them. Now I understand.

    I have just recently started to experience acid reflux but had no idea why, I pretty much only drink soda and coffee. A recipe for disaster by the looks of what I just read.

    Thank You so much for this information. I will have to take your advice and try eliminating some acidic beverages, or at least drink more water.

    Melody
    1. I’m glad you found this post helpful Melody! Well, you said it yourself so I won’t harp the point lol, but acid reflux is definitely your body telling you it’s being overloaded with too much acid. Remember all that phosphoric acid in soda just draws minerals including calcium right out of your bones.

      Sounds like you have a good plan to reduce your intake of acid forming beverages. Yes, drink LOTS of water, and I would suggest starting your morning with 1/2 lemon squeezed into a cup of warm water (super quick and easy) and adding a good quality greens powder like the one recommended. The cool thing is if you’re not up for the green flavor it comes in a variety of flavors (including chocolate) that all taste great! Also you may want to check out this post, it’s what my fiance has replaced his everyday soda habit with, with total success. Good luck :)

      Health Benefits of Water Kefir – Natures Probiotic Soda (Part 1)

      Jess
  3. Hi Jess

    That is a very informative and amazing article for our health. I have recently experienced the effect of such and acidic diet. Well, I changed my diet and started a very healthy lifestyle last year. After travelling I spending my holidays with my parents, I started eating junk food again very frequently. I realized I got kind of addicted to it… I always want pizza, burgers and I keep finding excuses to go out to eat them. Well, this week I got a strong cold and and it is taking so much longer to heal. I believe it is because my immune system is very bad… so, back to healthy style again :) I think it is worth it and I will follow your advice.

    stefan
    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences Stefan, it can be tricky to eat a well balanced diet while traveling! But I agree, once you realize how great you feel when eating healthy it seems like you notice the effects more when you fall off the wagon (which we all do from time to time). You’re so right, like anything food can become an addiction to where we crave more, and it’s usually the bad stuff that has the potential to slowly kill us.

      At least you’re aware when adjustments need to be made. Staying healthy is not about being perfect it’s about being good most of the time and getting back on track when necessary without punishing ourselves for it. Well your body definitely told you how it felt and now you can make it up by feeding it some alkalizing foods :)

      Jess
  4. Hi Jess,

    I am just going through your list of acid forming foods and I am very sure that my body pH is very imbalance right now.

    My breakfast is almost always coffee, bread and dairy products because they are just so yummy but, yeah there are almost no greens in the menu. I think I should start waking up early to make myself some smoothies.

    I like the idea of squeezed lemon for the morning too. It doesn’t sound like it would take too much of my time.

    Thanks for the healthy tips.

    Cathy
    1. Cathy, yeah, the lemon water is sooo quick and easy to do, you should give it a go! My smoothies take no time to make, in fact all said and done they may fair quicker than your current breakfast routine, if you’re toasting that bread.

      My Nutribullet makes them super quick and easy. Here’s some smoothie recipes for you too!

      Another suggestion is to add some sauteed greens like kale, or spinach with your bread, they are really good with eggs too. Or you could add some mashed up avocado on your toast :) Smoothies are the quickest though.

      Jess
  5. Wow! What a well laid out web page, comprehensive and easy to read. I found the content really engaging and the layout was perfect. The first image of the PH scale indicator and liquids was particulary attractive.

    It’s very difficult to make a recommendation…the only thing I would suggest is if your could embed a short video for the more auditory/visual learners.

    Congratulations on a fab site!

    Nusrat
    1. Thanks for visiting my site, Nusrat! I’m glad you enjoyed the content, and the pH scale, it can be a really helpful reference to determine which types of foods and beverages are alkaline and acidic. Thank you for the feedback on adding videos, and I totally agree, although not used in this particular post, I tend to make use of videos in quite a few different posts :) I hope you will visit again soon and check some of these posts out!

      Jess
  6. Jess, thanks for sharing this article. Now I know why garlic and ginger is good for me. Typically, I will eat raw garlic every morning and raw ginger if I fall sick. Both are alkaline that will help to neutralise my acidic body. I thought green apples are prone towards acidic? Good info and thank you.

    Stanley
    1. My pleasure Stanley! Good for you on the ginger and garlic, I love them both and use them often. Eating raw garlic is hardcore but it’s so great for you. Great question regarding green apples. While they contain slightly more acid than other apples, apples in general are a low acid food. Fruit in general is acidic, but most contain low acid which exists when eaten in an unripened state, so the key is to eat fruit in its prime, nice and ripe, to benefit from the alkalinity.

      The body needs some acid, it’s when we become overly acidic that problems can result. Fruit has too many other health benefits from vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and so forth that benefit our health. Great to sort this out for other readers too! Thanks for taking the time to comment and posing such a great question :)

  7. Some of this information is really eye opening. The fact that you have to drink 32/8 oz glasses of water just to counteract the effects of a single can of soda is mind blowing. Thankfully, I am not a soda drinker and I haven’t been for a long time. I do understand that an acidic environment can contribute to many diseases. It’s just no wonder that diabetes and certain diseases are on the rise. Many more people should be following a more alkaline diet and start healing with food rather than medication that just eases the symptoms rather than cures the disease. Thanks for the great information. I’m going to go make a green smoothie. :)

    Kristin
    1. I’m glad you were able to take away some good things about how alkaline foods and beverages can have a positive effect on our bodies. You hit the nail on the head, more people are seeing the healing benefits of food and choosing to change their lifestyle to forgo medications which is such a great thing! Way to go on that green smoothie by the way, keep up the great work, your body will love you for it :)

      Jess
  8. Hi Jess,

    This is a very informative article. Most of the time we do not know if the food we are consuming acidic or alkaline? And some can be deceiving. A very good example is the lemon as you have explained.

    When my body starts to ache, it is a sign that I have consumed too much acidic food. Never gave it much thought that walnuts are acidic. Been eating those to reduce cholesterol. It helped but my body aches increased. That is how I came to know what triggered? That was the day I learned about how acidic and alkaline food affected our well-being.

    I am sure your informative article will create much awareness on this topic.

    Stay healthy!
    Sharon

    Sharon
    1. Thanks for sharing your story Sharon and the importance of listening to your body. I will try and stay healthy and wish you the best in health and well being!

      Jess

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