The top 10 acid and alkaline foods
By Louise Belle BHSc (Nut Med)
Not all foods are created equal. Once digested, particular foods will cause a spike in acidity in the body, whilst others will help to reduce acidity and to alkalinise the body. Buffering systems in the body work very hard to maintain a constant pH of 7.35-7.45. When the bulk of your diet is made up of acid foods, and is lacking in alkaline foods, these buffering systems are forced to leach minerals out of the bones, muscles and organs to restore the balance. This leads to a snowball effect of health complaints such as headaches, osteoporosis, constipation, fatigue, allergies, joint pain and premature ageing, as well as increasing the risk of cell damage and mutation. Acidity = inflammation, so any inflammatory condition will benefit from an alkalinising diet.
The top 10 acid foods
Walking past a bakery, it’s hard not to resist buying a freshly baked loaf of bread or sweet croissant. Do you wake up in the morning and have jam on toast, followed by a fresh salad roll for lunch? Regular intake of bread and other gluten-containing goods leads to inflammation and acidity in the body, and is often a contributor to digestive complaints.
2. Corn syrup
Whilst corn syrup is not a product you would usually buy and use in your cooking, major food companies sneak high fructose corn syrup into many of your favourite packaged goods. Popular breakfast cereal, muesli bars, sauces and marinades, ice cream, yoghurt, salad dressing and canned fruit can often contain hidden acid-producing corn syrup.
Yes, unfortunately that bacon and egg roll that you enjoy on a Saturday morning could be doing more harm than good. Bacon is preserved with sodium nitrate- a known carcinogenic and is grouped in with other processed meats like salami, sausages and corned beef. Eating processed meats increases acidity and inflammation in the body.
Did you realise that those vodka shots and pints of beer were not only doing your liver damage, but raising acidity in your body? Reducing alcohol intake in general will greatly benefit your health, but if you suffer from any health complaints, it is even more important.
Nooooooooo. Not chocolate too! Unfortunately, even dark chocolate is an acid-forming food. For people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD), chocolate is one of those offending foods that makes symptoms worse.
Beef and any other red meat for that matter has been correlated with increased acidity and inflammation in the body when consumed in large amounts. The Mediterranean diet, which has been proven to increase overall health parameters recommends that intake of red meat be limited to once a fortnight.
7. Soft drink
Soft drink is one of the worst offenders when it comes to leaching minerals out of the bones and increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Phosphoric acid added to most soft drinks may be the culprit, but none the less, soft drink is acid-forming!
8. Potato chips/ hot chips
Fried potato in any form is delicious, but eating it regularly won’t do your health any favours. Whilst potato itself is not an acid-forming food, when you fry it in poor quality oil, it is suddenly acidic, inflammatory and a risk factor for heart disease.
Having a cheese platter on a Sunday evening with a glass of wine sounds pretty perfect, but your body may not agree with that. Soft cheeses are better than hard cheeses on the scale of acidity, but all cheese is acid-forming in the body so don’t go overboard.
I’m sure you were waiting for this one. Sugar is often to blame, or at least a major contributor to a vast array of health problems. Whether it be white sugar itself, or added to ice cream, donuts, lollies, cake and beverages, sugar is acidic and inflammatory to the body and offers no health benefits, so limit or avoid it all together.
The top 10 alkaline foods
Alfalfa sprouts make a great addition to any salad, offering a crisp, fresh flavour. It is often a component of alkalinising and green powders as it is an excellent source of chlorophyll and is acid-reducing in the body. These sprouts are also rich in nourishing minerals.
Wakame, kombu, kelp, dulse and nori are all types of seaweeds that can be eaten. Whilst seaweed may not be your first-choice of ingredients, it is a rich source of iodine, which supports healthy thyroid and immune function and is also alkalinising to the body. You can sprinkle seaweed flakes on salad, add to soups or make your own healthy sushi rolls.
3. Pumpkin seeds
Also known as pepitas, pumpkin seeds are amongst the most alkalinising out of all the nuts and seeds. They can add a delicious crunch to your salad or granola and can be blended into smoothies. They are also a rich source of the immune-boosting mineral zinc.
This zingy herb that gives your stir fry or vegetable juice that extra kick is actually a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-acid forming food. Ginger can also be steeped in warm water to reduce nausea or headaches.
This one may come as a shock, as it is a common misconception that limes and lemons are acidic. Whilst they may be acidic in taste, when they are consumed they are acid-reducing to the body. They have potent antioxidant properties, boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Berries are amongst the healthiest fruit you can eat. Whilst deliciously sweet in flavour, berries are low in sugar and calories and are a great source of antioxidants and fibre. Add berries to your regular diet to alkalinise your body.
Onions are one of the most flavoursome vegetables, often added to soups, stews, stir-fry’s, baking and salads to enhance the flavour. A great sulphur-rich vegetable for liver detoxification and also acid-reducing in the body.
Commonly referred to as the vegetable that makes your urine smell, asparagus is extremely nutritious and helps to reduce the risk of kidney stones and arthritis. Add asparagus to your favourite vegetable juice or to a green salad for a nice crisp crunch.
Whilst water is not a food, it is your best friend when it comes to alkalinising. Drinking at least 2 litres of water per day will support the detoxification pathways of the body to flush out toxins, waste products and heavy metals.
10. Sweet potato
This is great news for all those potato lovers out there. You can happily eat sweet potato and it will have an alkalising effect on your body, will provide you with energy and is an excellent source of potassium.
Your health is in your hands. You can choose to fill up on acid-forming foods and deal with the consequences, or you can make the conscious choice to eat foods that will nourish your body. Dr Cabot’s book – Raw Juices Can Save Your Life, serves as a fantastic guide to help you choose the most nutritious vegetables and fruits that you can juice for any health complaint.