Alkaline foods for good health and balance
Have you ever been told that you’re too acidic or too alkaline, or that you should eat more alkaline foods? What does this really mean?
Acidity and alkalinity are opposing biochemical states in your body, and are a major system that controls your body’s function, health and risk of disease.
They are measured in pH units; 7 is neutral, less than 7 is acidic, and more than 7 is alkaline.
In a functional healthy person, they are in balance and work together to maintain health. Imbalances can lead to a range of serious health conditions (see Are You Imbalanced?).
This page helps you assess your state of balance, shows you how to use alkaline foods and acid producing foods to restore and maintain balance. I’ve also provided an alkaline foods list and an acid foods list for reference.
Acidity and Alkalinity – How Does It Work, and What’s ‘Normal’?
Different areas of your body need different levels of acidity or alkalinity to function effectively and maintain good health.
For example, your stomach must be very acidic (pH 3) to break down proteins, but your intestines must be slightly alkaline (pH of 8) so that intestinal enzymes work properly. All metabolic reaction in our body involves enzymes with specific pH preferences which vary from acidic to alkaline.
Your overall acid/alkaline balance also changes naturally throughout the day as part of a complex system of circadian rhythms.
In other words, your body is a finely-tuned machine that needs balance in acidity and alkalinity so that you can fire on all cylinders.
While acid/alkaline balance varies in different locations in the body, it is common to be ‘stuck’ too far one way or the other. That is, after ‘doing the ledger’ of all reactions in the body, your body is in an overall acid or alkaline state.
The research of Dr Rudolph Wiley suggests that the amount of acid forming or alkaline foods we need to eat is partly determined by heredity - our genes. He departs from the theory of 80% alkaline/20% acid foods that is widely published.
Dr Gabriel Cousins, on the other hand, suggests it is more likely that low digestive enzyme levels in the stomach can cause problems such that an alkaline person (e.g. vegetarian eating alkaline plant foods) uses available stomach acid to 'balance' their alkaline diet and therefore cannot digest or get acidity from proteins they consume.
Both doctors have published books on the subject and both are well worth the read.
Regardless of the cause of imbalance, a common misconception is that most people are too acidic, and that it is good to be alkaline. But being ‘too alkaline’ is relatively common and is just as bad as being ‘too acidic’. Either case causes severe disruption to metabolic activity, but in different ways.
Symptoms of an acid/alkaline imbalance include:
• Fluid imbalances,
• Digestive problems,
• Glandular problems,
• Energy problems,
• Emotional disturbances, and
• Inflammation and degenerative health conditions.
Conditions of acidity include:
• Bone degeneration, where the body borrows minerals from organs and bones to buffer (neutralise) the acid in the body (e.g. osteoporosis),
• Chronic constipation,
• Being prone to noticeable energy fluctuations, and
• Being prone to agitation, irritability, hyperactivity and exhaustion (tired but wired).
Conditions of alkalinity include:
• Underactive thyroid,
• Chronic diarrhea,
• Elevated bicarbonate in blood serum.
Causes of Acid or Alkaline Imbalances
As far as we know, acid/alkaline imbalances could be caused by four main things:
• Imbalances in your body (for example, nervous system, underactive thyroid, overactive adrenals),
• The acidic and alkaline foods you eat,
• Digestive disorders, and
• Vitamin and mineral imbalances which alter the capacity to digest and absorb different foods.
That is, the type of imbalance you have affects your biochemistry and dictates how different foods will behave in your body.
1. Imbalances in Body Systems
Any imbalances in the various systems within your body, like your nervous system or your thyroid gland, have an influence on your biochemistry. Therefore, they influence the way in which your body deals with food, and whether you are more acidic or alkaline.
The causes of these types of imbalances are different for everyone. Your imbalances are likely to be different than your friend’s, therefore may affect different organs or glands (e.g. stomach, liver, intestine). In fact, there are many possible different types of acid or alkaline imbalances.
2. Foods Eaten
Some foods are known as alkaline foods because when burned and analysed they have an alkaline ash. Other foods have an acid ash.
Food also affects the way your control systems operate, so therefore also influences the way foods break down in your body (to either acidic or alkaline forms).
For example, if your sympathetic nervous system is hyperactive, eating fruit might make you can make you more alkaline. If your carbohydrate metabolism is overactive, then eating fruit might make you more acidic.
In other words, acid/alkaline imbalances are dependent on both the type of imbalance you have and the type of food you eat.
3. Digestive problems
Low stomach acid and a highly alkaline diet might limit your ability to get a balance in acidity and alkalinity. It might mean you can't break down proteins to release enough acid into your system, or that you can't break down carbohydrates properly to get enough alkaline minerals in your body.
4. Vitamins and mineralsAlkaline foods are rich in the minerals calcium, potassium, sodium iron and magnesium. These include most fruit and vegetables and some grains.
Acid producing foods are comparatively rich in phosphorous, chlorine, and iodine. Animal foods tend to be acid forming.
Foods to Restore Acid/Alkaline Balance
Any given food will have an effect in three categories; energy, acid/alkaline balance, and influence on the body's systems.
Foods grown in nutrient deficient soils or picked prematurely are predisposed to causing acidity as they lack vital minerals. Unfortunately, these are two common problems in our food industry. Organic foods grown in soils enriched with minerals are alkaline foods.
A list of alkaline foods includes:
Sprouted seeds, nuts soaked overnight before use
Organic, tree-ripened fruit
Raw vegetable juices
Unprocessed fruit and vegetables
A list of acidifying foods includes:
Cooked animal protein
Acidic sauces (e.g. vinegars, tomato sauces, ketchups)
Starchy grains combined with acid sauces
Preserved foods where acids are a preservative
The best approach to achieving acid and alkaline balance is a balanced diet, adequate rest, clean water, digestive enzymes and peaceful thoughts.
This is only a guide - every person has unique circumstances. For more information on metabolic typing or assessing your personal imbalances, please contact me.