Alkaline diets are gaining popularity amongst celebrities, health professionals and regular people. Research has shown that cutting down on the amounts of acidic foods we consume has a positive impact on the strength of our bones, the chances of kidney stones, body pains and hormone levels in the body.
If you wish to make significant strides towards a healthy body, sticking to a diet rich in nutrients from alkaline unprocessed foods will go a long way.
So what is acidic? Are strawberries acidic? Is rice acidic? Where do your favorite foods fall on the pH scale?
What are acidic foods?
Your body regulates the pH levels within. The pH levels determine the acidity or alkalinity in the fluids and tissues that make up your body. This scale is from 0 through 14.
A lower pH level indicates a more acidic environment and a higher pH level indicates a more alkaline environment. A pH of 7 is considered neutral. Studies have shown that a pH level of 7.35 to 7.45 is optimal for human health.
Every tiny change in your system’s pH level can have a major impact on your overall health. When the pH levels are too high, it results in a complication known as Alkalosis and the symptoms are confusion, muscle tightening and nausea. Acidosis is the opposite and this condition is as a result of low pH levels with symptoms such as fatigue, shallow breathing and headaches.
It’s a good thing our kidneys do a lot of work in regulating the pH levels of the body. It achieves this by maintaining consistent levels of electrolytes and getting rid or absorbing acidic and alkaline ions through our urine. A healthy alkaline diet will have major benefits for the overall health of the body.
Cutting down on the amount of acidic foods we consume will help strengthen the bones, prevent kidney stones and lower the risks of acid reflux.
Acidic Foods To Stay Away From
Below is a rundown of the top 25 foods that are highly acidic and you need to stay away from? Consumption of these foods should be as minimal as possible.
- Convenience meals
- Processed cereals
- Artificial sweeteners
- Wheat products
- Cold cuts
- Refined vegetable oils
- French fries
- Hot chocolate
- Red meat
- Sports drinks
- Table sugar
- Corn syrup
- Fried foods
You have to understand that not all acidic foods are bad for you and you need not eliminate them from your diet completely. There are some active ingredients in acidic foods that have important nutrients that your body needs. You just have to moderate the consumption levels is all?
A lot of meat for instance is categorized as acidic but there are too many vitamins and minerals that are in them for anybody to advice a total removal of meat from the diet. They are also rich in protein which is strongly needed for cell and muscle development.
Walnuts are also classed acidic but at the same time they are rich in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. These ingredients are known to lower inflammation levels and promote better health. Other known healthy foods that are classed as acidic are oats, eggs, whole grains and citrus like lemon, oranges and lime.
The important thing here is to moderate the amounts of these foods in your diet. Eat them in combo with a lot of non-acidic food and give yourself a completely healthy diet.
Acidic foods vs alkaline foods
How exactly do we determine acidic or alkaline food groups?
When we consume food, the calories and nutrients gotten from the food are absorbed into the body and metabolized and the residue is basically ash. This ash residue is what we use in determining the acidic or alkaline levels of the food and thus categorizing as acidic or alkaline.
Acid forming foods usually have a lot of protein in them like eggs, meats, poultry, fish and ilk. However fruits, vegetables and plant based proteins are typically alkaline foods.
There are a lot of negative side effects to be had from consuming an excess of acidic foods. These are some of the most impactful
- Lower bone density
Studies have shown that diets rich in acids increase the amounts of calcium that is excreted through urine and this leads to a general decline in the density of our bones. One such study showed that these acidic foods can increase the amount of calcium excreted by about 74%. This is quite staggering.
Milk is slightly acidic and we tend to turn to it for calcium but there are plenty other foods that are rich in calcium and can improve bone strength. Vegetables such as kale and broccoli or spinach are all known to be rich in calcium.
- Worsen acid reflux
Acid reflux is a condition also referred to as gastroesophageal reflux and this is a condition where acid from the stomach is churned up the esophagus and resulting in symptoms such as heartburn and chest pain.
Under normal circumstances, there exists a muscle in the oesophagus that acts a sphincter to close and prevent this up flow of acid from the stomach. But with cases of acid reflux, the individual has a deficiency in the blocking of these acids.
A lot of acidic foods contribute to this condition by relaxing the mules in the oesophagus and allowing acids splash back up. Drinks high in alcohol and fatty foods can trigger this reflux.
On the other hand, alkaline foods such as vegetables and non-citrus fruits are going to help reduce the acidity levels of the stomach and this will help lower the symptoms. The ideal scenario is balancing the pH levels in the system to neutralize the stomach acids and this you can achieve with very little diet changes.
- 3 kidney stones
The foods that you consume can have a major impact on the pH levels in your urine. When you consume more acidic foods, the pH levels are more likely going to be acidic. Eating a lot of non-acidic foods on the other hand is more likely to result in an alkaline pH
When the acidic levels in the urine are high, it increases the risk of developing uric acid or cystic kidney stones. These are small mineral like substances that form in your kidneys. The only course of treatment is usually surgery. People with kidney stones have to limit their intake of acidic food to see an alleviation in their overall condition.
Also, drinking more water and cutting down on salt can also help reduce the issues surrounding kidney stones.
- Chronic pain
Inflammation is another problem that is associated with acidic foods. When acidic levels are high, it results in a condition knowns as acidosis and this is associated with symptoms such as muscle spasms, headaches and chronic back pain.
A study carried out in Germany gave supplements rich in alkaline minerals to 82 participants that were experiencing chronic back pain. After 4 weeks, the symptoms were reduced in 92% of the participants. Further studies have shown that whole foods, plant based diets rich in alkaline content can also help lower the symptoms around osteoarthritis.
Sticking to a healthy diet and getting enough exercise alongside some natural painkillers can go a long way in alleviating chronic back pain.
- Alter Hormone levels
Studies out of the European Journal of Nutrition from the University of California have shown that acidosis can lead to decreased levels of human growth hormone in the blood. This hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and it is mainly I control of cell regeneration and growth.
Based on research carried out by scientist and published in the Journal of clinical investigation, some interesting facts were observed in a group of 10 children and infants with tubular acidosis that were taken through various stages of alkaline therapy.
Six of these patients were experiencing stunted growth and two of them were too young to have this. These were the findings of the researchers:
(a) each patient attained and maintained normal stature; (b) the mean height of the 10 patients increased from the 1.4+/-4 to the 37.0+/-33 percentile (of a normal age- and sex-matched population); (c) the mean height reached the 69th percentile in the eight patients whose heights could be analyzed according to parental prediction (Tanner technique); (d) the rate of growth increased two- to threefold, and normal heights were attained within 6 mo of initiating alkali therapy in the stunted infants and within 3 yr. in the stunted children; (e) the height attained correlated inversely with the maximal possible duration of acidosis (before alkali therapy) only in those patients in whom alkali therapy was started after 6 mo of age, and not in those treated earlier.
A healthy alkaline diet can be very simple to achieve. All you have to do is make a few changes around what you eat and you are on track. This article will go through a list of small changes or switches you can make in your diet to achieve this.
Switch from soft drinks and soda to alkaline water.
Introduce plant based legumes into your diet such as beans, legumes instead of meat.
Use natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup.
Lower your intake of processed foods. Stick to whole unprocessed foods
Organic is always better.