This is a blog to share information about the use of food with low pH by individuals who have a lowered gastric acidity or have had their stomach removed. The reader of this blog should understand that these posts are not meant as medical advice, but rather to share my research and personal experience in order to assist others in making their own decisions.
Food With Low Ph
The body maintains a delicate pH balance. Technically, pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration in solution. The pH scale runs from 0-14. Neutral pH is 7.0. The higher the pH (greater than 7) the more alkaline or basic, while a pH lower than 7 is acidic. Here’s a primer on what foods are more acidic or alkaline.
Acidic Foods And Drinks
Some foods that are especially acidic, or with a pH of 4 or less, include:
- Carbonated water, soda, and energy drinks
- Certain dairy products
- Some meats
Alkaline Foods And Drinks
As for foods that are considered alkaline or low-acid foods, here are a few you could consider in your diet:
- Most vegetables
- Most fruits
- Most beans and lentils
- Fats like olive oil and avocados
For some more examples of which foods are more acidic or alkaline, check out this infographic of the pH spectrum. Note: The graphic details which foods have an acidic or alkalizing effect on the body, rather than the pH level of the foods themselves. For example, some foods (like lemons and limes) have a rather acidic pH, yet they actually have an alkalizing effect on the body.
What is balanced pH?
Proper pH levels vary throughout your body. Saliva ranges between 6.2 to 7.6, while urine is normally more acid, especially in the morning due to the metabolic process of preparing for elimination. Health hint: when using pH strips to test your urine ignore the first morning pee reading—start with your next bathroom visit.
For good health, ideal blood pH levels need to be slightly alkaline (between 7.365 and 7.45). Sounds simple right? But not quite. That’s because the pH scale is logarithmic, meaning the difference between each whole number is equal to ten not so. Therefore a pH of six is ten times more acidic than a pH of seven. So it takes ten times the amount of alkalinity to neutralize an acid. For example, a jump from 7 to 6, for example, would take ten times the amount of alkalinity to neutralize. 7 to 5 = 100 times. 7 to 4 = 1000 times. 7 to 3 = 10,000 times.
Our bodies actually do a great job of keeping our blood pH exactly where it needs to be. Foods likely don’t have a significant influence on pH levels. But more alkaline foods like leafy greens, sprouts, avocados, and other powerhouse plant foods provide our bodies with essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. The acidic side of the pH scale also includes healthful foods like tomatoes, whole grains, and beans. Foods that are often considered less health promoting like animal products and refined carbs also fall on the acidic side of the scale, and should be eaten in moderation.
Your body does go through a complicated process to make sure your blood pH stays balanced. All you have to do is eat a balanced diet to support your body’s natural processes!
Top Alkaline Foods to Eat & Acid Foods to Avoid
Diet is one of the biggest determinants of your health. What you put into your body every day affects everything: your biochemistry, your mood, your brain, muscles, tendons, bones, nerves, kidneys, liver.
Unfortunately, when it comes to diet, most people are on autopilot, following a disease-making Western Diet that is high in acidic foods and low in alkaline foods. The Western dietary pattern also called the Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in processed foods, fried foods and red meat. And it’s low in whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and healthier fats and proteins such as nuts, seeds and fish.
Many studies have concluded that the Western Diet increases inflammation and cholesterol. It also causes and contributes to the development of heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis, cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and autoimmune diseases.
The explanation is very simple. Your body evolved to work optimally when provided with the right environment to function. The internal environment in your body requires a healthy mix of nutrients, and when it doesn’t get them consistently over time, things go haywire. For a more in-depth look at biochemistry and its impact on your health, read Dr. Neustadt’s article, Change Your Biochemistry to Change Your Health.
One way diet affects your health is through a process called “acid-alkaline balance.” The pH (potential of hydrogen) determines a substance’s acidity or alkalinity and is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. The lower the pH the more acidic the solution. The higher the pH the more alkaline (or base) the solution. When a solution is about in the middle of the range—neither acid nor alkaline—it has a neutral pH of 7.
The body regulates pH in very narrow ranges. In the different organs throughout the body, finely tuned physiological systems constantly work to keep the pH within specific ranges for optimal function. Stomach acid, which is important for healthy digestion and as a protection against potential infections, has a low pH, about 2-3. When the pH of your stomach cannot get low enough, it causes problems with digestion and can create acid reflux. Most people and medical approaches to acid reflux assume that there’s too much acid, when in fact the problem might to too little acid. Blood is kept at a neutral pH, between 7.35-7.45.
When your blood becomes too acidic, fine-tuned physiological mechanisms kick in to adjust the pH to a healthy level. One way it does this is by releasing calcium from bone. Over many years, this may contribute to developing osteoporosis.
The Western Diet is composed of acidic foods such as proteins, cereals, sugars and processed foods. Processed foods are highly acidic and almost completely stripped of their nutrients. Refining flour removes more than 80% of B vitamins, 85% of magnesium and 60% of the calcium from what was in the whole wheat. Eating a Western Diet increases your risk for nutritional deficiencies. I couldn’t find a dietary supplement for my patients that contained the optimal doses and combination of nutrients to help counteract the nutrient-depleting effects of the modern Western Diet, which is why I created Supreme Multivitamin.
In addition to the nutritional deficiencies damaging your health, dietary acid load in the modern diet can lead to a disruption in acid-alkaline homeostasis in various body compartments and eventually result in chronic disease through repeated borrowing of the body’s alkaline reserves.
The opposite of acidic foods are alkaline foods. In the Western Diet, alkaline foods such as vegetables are eaten in much smaller quantities; their alkaline content is insufficient to neutralize surplus acids. Stimulants like tobacco, coffee, tea, and alcohol are also extremely acidifying. Stress and physical activity (both insufficient or excessive amounts) also cause acidification.
Many foods as they exist in nature alkaline-producing by nature, but manufactured and processed foods transform the nutrient content of foods and make them mostly acid-producing.
It’s important to balance each meal with 75% alkaline-producing to 25% acid-producing to maintain health. We need plenty of fresh fruits and particularly vegetables (alkaline-producing) to balance our necessary protein intake (acid-producing). This pattern is essentially similar to the Mediterranean Diet, which research over the past 50 years has shown to be the healthiest dietary pattern. And we need to avoid processed, sugary or simple-carbohydrate foods, not only because they’re acid-producing but also because they raise blood sugar level too quickly (high glycemic index therefore fattening), are nutrient-lacking and may be toxic too.
Water is the most abundant compound in the human body, comprising 70% of the body. The body has an acid-alkaline (or acid-base) ratio called the pH which is a balance between positively charges ions (acid-forming) and negatively charged ions (alkaline-forming.) The body continually strives to balance pH. When this balance is compromised many problems can occur.
It is important to understand that we are not talking about stomach acid or the pH of the stomach. We are talking about the pH of the body’s fluids and tissues which is an entirely different matter.
Test Your Body’s Acidity or Alkalinity with pH Strips
If you want to test your pH levels to determine if your body’s pH needs immediate attention you can do so using pH strips. Doing so lets you determine your pH factor quickly and easily in the privacy of your own home. If your urinary pH fluctuates between 6.0 to 6.5 in the morning and between 6.5 and 7.0 in the evening, your body is functioning within a healthy range. If your saliva stays between 6.5 and 7.5 all day, your body is functioning within a healthy range. The best time to test your pH is about one hour before a meal and two hours after a meal.
Urine testing may indicate how well your body is excreting acids and assimilating minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. These minerals function as “buffers.” Buffers are substances that help maintain and balance the body against the introduction of too much acidity or too much alkalinity. Even with the proper amounts of buffers, acid or alkaline levels can become extreme. When the body ingests or produces too many of these acids or alkalis, it must excrete the excess. The urine is the perfect way for the body to remove any excess acids or alkaline substances that cannot be buffered. If the average urine pH is below 6.5 the body’s buffering system is overwhelmed, a state of “autotoxication” exists, and attention should be given to lowering acid levels.
The blood pH has to be kept within a tight range of with a normal range of 7.36 to 7.44. An imbalanced diet high in acidic foods such as animal protein, sugar, caffeine, and processed foods puts pressure on the body’s regulating systems to maintain this neutrality. The extra buffering required can deplete the body of alkaline minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, making the person prone to chronic and degenerative disease.
Minerals are borrowed from vital organs and bones to buffer (neutralize) the acid and safely remove it from the body. Because of this strain, the body can suffer severe and prolonged damage due to high acidity–a condition that may go undetected for years.
Acidosis can cause such problems as:
|Cardiovascular damage||Weight gain, obesity and diabetes||Bladder conditions|
|Kidney stones||Immune deficiency||Acceleration of free radical damage|
|Hormonal problems||Premature aging||Osteoporosis and joint pain|
|Aching muscles and lactic acid buildup||Low energy and fatigue||Slow digestion and elimination|
|Yeast/fungal overgrowth||Loss of drive, joy, and enthusiasm||Lower body temperature|
|Tendency to get infections||Pale complexion||Depressive tendencies|
|Easily stressed||Loose and painful teeth||Headaches|
|Inflammation of the corneas and eyelids||Cracks at the corners of the lips||Inflamed, sensitive gums|
|Mouth and stomach ulcers||Nails that thin and split easily||Excess stomach acid|
|Gastritis||Skin easily irritated||Hair looks dull, has split ends, and falls out|
|Dry skin||Leg cramps and spasms|
Foods: are they Acid or Alkaline-forming?
Note that a food’s acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, lemons are very acidic, however, the end-products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline so lemons are alkaline-forming in the body. Likewise, the meat will test alkaline before digestion but it leaves very acidic residue in the body so, like nearly all animal products, meat is very acid-forming. It is important that your daily dietary intake of food naturally acts to balance your body pH.
This chart is intended only as a general guide to alkalizing and acidifying foods.
Acid Reflux (Heartburn, GERD): Symptoms & Remedies
Acidic foods are those that typically have a pH of 4.6 or lower. Here are 10 foods high in acid and how you can prevent too much acidity in your body
Acidic foods are those that typically have a pH of 4.6 or lower. Experts are divided on whether acidic foods actually induce metabolic acidosis in a healthy body. According to one school of thought, excessive consumption of acidic foods may be linked to poor bone health, urinary stones, and development of diseases such as arthritis.
Some researchers also believe that acidic foods are more likely to produce metabolic acidosis in people with compromised kidney function, a condition characterized by decreased blood levels of bicarbonate, specifically 22 mEq/L.
10 foods high in acid
- Dairy products, including cheese
- Processed foods that are high in sodium, such as packaged crackers
- High-sodium condiments such as soy sauce, steak sauce, and barbecue sauce
- Fresh red meats
- Processed meats
- Starchy foods such as wheat
- Carbonated beverages such as soda
- Drinks that are high in phosphorus (or phosphoric acid) such as beer and hot chocolate made from cocoa
Some acidic foods such as citrus fruits may be acidic based on their pH levels, but they have an alkalizing effect on the body. It is therefore OK to have these fruits daily unless you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—reflux of food from the stomach into the esophagus. Citrus foods are known to trigger GERD.
What is acidity?
Acidity of foods or body fluids is determined by their pH value. The pH values fall between 0 and 14. The lower the pH, the more acidic. The higher the pH, the more alkaline. Some experts believe that having more alkaline foods and beverages and fewer acidic ones can help you prevent the development of chronic diseases including cancer and delay the signs of aging. However, evidence supporting this claim is insufficient.
Your ideal blood pH is between 7.35 and 7.45, which is slightly alkaline. Your kidneys and lungs work constantly to keep your body pH at this optimal level, irrespective of the food you eat.
- pH of 0: Most acidic
- pH of 7: Neutral
- pH of 14: Most basic, or alkaline
What happens if you develop metabolic acidosis?
Metabolic acidosis may or may not cause any signs and symptoms. If they do occur, they include:
- Fatigue easily
- Mental confusion
- Trouble breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
If metabolic acidosis is not controlled, it can lead to long-term problems that include:
- Bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis (thin, brittle bones)
- Muscle loss
- Hyperglycemia (spike in blood sugar)
- Worsening of existing chronic kidney disease
Can metabolic acidosis be prevented through diet?
Your body has an inherent control mechanism that helps regulate your pH levels. However, metabolic acidosis can occur, especially in people with chronic diabetes or kidney disease. Certain drugs if taken in high doses or for longer durations can also cause metabolic acidosis.
Consuming a moderate amount of acidic foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables is unlikely to cause metabolic acidosis and problems caused by metabolic acidosis.
Healthy habits, such as avoiding carbonated drinks and replacing meat with plant-based sources of protein help prevent too much acidity in the body. Replacing meat with poultry can also help you maintain ideal pH levels of the blood and urine.
Eating a balanced diet that includes whole grains, nuts, seeds, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables is a great way to maintain a healthy acid-base balance.
Acid Reflux (Heartburn, GERD): Symptoms & Remedies
What Is Heartburn?
Heartburn is a burning sensation in the middle of the chest behind the breastbone and in the middle of the abdomen. It occurs when acid and other contents of the stomach travel up the esophagus and irritate the tissues. A faulty stomach valve allows acid and stomach contents to escape and cause the burning sensation. Approximately 60 million Americans suffer from the condition at least once a month. Approximately 15 million Americans suffer from it daily. Eating spicy foods and overeating are common triggers of the symptom. Indigestion is another name for heartburn.
The Lower Esophageal Sphincter
When you swallow food, it travels down the esophagus and passes through a muscular ring known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This structure opens to allow food to pass into the stomach. It is supposed to remain closed to keep stomach contents where they belong. If the valve is weak or damaged in some way, it may open and allow stomach contents and acid to travel back up, or reflux, into the esophagus. Acid reflux produces a burning sensation.
What Causes the Valve to Malfunction?
In some people, the lower esophageal sphincter relaxes at the wrong time or becomes weakened. This allows stomach contents to escape and travel up the esophagus. This causes burning, irritation, and pain. Surprisingly, not everyone who has acid reflux experiences a burning sensation. Other times, burning in the area of the chest and abdomen is caused by a condition other than reflux. Sometimes chest pain may occur due to a heart attack or other serious conditions. Acid reflux is the main symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but GERD is associated with other symptoms like nausea, dry cough, hoarseness, sore throat, trouble swallowing, and a feeling of a lump in the throat. See your doctor if you experience pain, burning, or irritation in your chest or abdomen.
What Are GERD Symptoms?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition whose main symptom (burning or chest discomfort) is caused by acid reflux. This reflux causes burning in the chest, typically after eating. An attack may last for up to several hours. Lying down and bending over may make symptoms worse. Severe reflux may cause additional symptoms including trouble swallowing, a feeling that something is stuck in the throat or chest, or a sour taste in the back of the throat. Reflux can trigger shortness of breath, asthma attacks, and a chronic cough. Chest pain caused by reflux may mimic chest pain that occurs during a heart attack. If you are unsure about reflux vs cardiac chest pain, see your doctor. A doctor can usually diagnose reflux easily by asking a patient to describe his or her symptoms.
Who Gets Heartburn?
Anyone at any age can get heartburn, but certain factors make it more likely to get the condition. Risk factors may weaken or damage the LES. Other factors may affect the amount of stomach acid that is produced. Those at increased risk for the condition include pregnant women, those who are overweight or obese, and those who smoke or who are exposed to secondhand smoke. Certain medications increase the risk. Even wearing clothes that are too tight may increase the risk of reflux.
Do You Have GERD or Something Else?
Occasional heartburn usually is not a cause for concern, but severe, ongoing acid reflux can be dangerous. Severe heartburn that occurs at least twice per week may indicate GERD which needs to be treated. Chronic GERD can cause ulcers, scarring, and inflammation in the esophagus. It can also change cells that line the esophagus. This is known as Barrett’s esophagus and it increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Do You Have Nighttime Symptoms?
Nighttime heartburn may be particularly dangerous. Waking up with a sour taste in the mouth, coughing, or sore throat may indicate nighttime acid reflux. Not only does it disturb sleep, but the esophagus may sustain more damage. That’s because when you are lying down for several hours, acid has a lot of time to linger in the esophagus and damage the tissue. When we are awake, we swallow saliva throughout the day. Saliva helps neutralize stomach acid. We naturally swallow less saliva when we sleep, so stomach acid is not neutralized.
Heartburn Home Remedies
There’s a lot you can do to prevent heartburn symptoms at home. Eat small meals to avoid overeating. Do not eat within 3 to 4 hours of your bedtime. Give yourself plenty of time to digest so stomach contents cannot back up into your esophagus at night. Do not eat late at night. You want to go to bed with your stomach empty. If you eat before bed, acid and food may travel up the esophagus when you lie down and cause burning. Raise the head of your bed by approximately 6 to 8 inches. This allows gravity to work to your advantage and helps stomach contents to remain where they belong.
Make Dietary Changes
The types of food you eat may cause digestive discomfort. If you are prone to acid reflux, avoid eating spicy foods, acidic foods, and other foods that trigger reflux because they relax the LES. Known trigger foods include tomatoes, garlic, citrus fruits, onions, chocolate, peppermint, and fatty foods. Avoiding drinking alcohol. You may be able to tolerate normally spicy dishes by toning down the heat in the dish. Choose milder versions of your favorite spicy dishes that are less likely to provoke your symptoms.
Choose Beverages Wisely
Just as foods can provoke heartburn symptoms, so can drinking certain beverages. Tomatoes and citrus fruits may provoke reflux, so can juices make from these foods. Do not drink tomato juice, orange juice, or grapefruit juice. Other beverages that may bring on reflux include tea, coffee, alcohol, and sodas and carbonated beverages. Everyone is different. Some people may be able to consume these beverages without a problem but some people may find drinking them brings on symptoms. Others may be able to consume these beverages in moderation without affecting their condition. Experiment a bit and do what’s right for you.
Be Smart about Exercise
Getting adequate physical activity is necessary to maintain your overall health, but the types of activities you engage in may affect your acid reflux symptoms. Exercises that increase abdominal pressure may force stomach contents back up into the esophagus. Yoga poses that invert the body, like downward dog and headstands may provoke symptoms. Abdominal exercises, like crunches, also increase intra-abdominal pressure and may give you reflux. Exercise is great. Just make sure to choose exercise that keeps the contents of your stomach where it belongs.
Make Gravity Work for You
People spend approximately one-third of their lives sleeping. Nighttime reflux is particularly dangerous because stomach acid may come into contact with the esophagus for many hours at night while sleeping, damaging and eroding the tissue. Sleep in a way that makes gravity work for you and keeps stomach acid in its place. Put wooden planks under the head of your mattress to raise your head by about 6 to 8 inches. Other good ways to raise your head include sleeping on a wedge pillow or sleeping with multiple pillows under your head. You may also notice that sleeping on your left side is better for preventing reflux than sleeping on your right side.
Neutralize Your Body pH With the Right Foods
The regulation of acid-alkaline balance is one of the most important factors in homeostasis, or dynamic equilibrium in the body. Recent studies show that when the body’s pH is too acidic, it’s difficult for enzymes to function properly, which can lead to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other inflammatory diseases.
The acronym pH stands for “potential for hydrogen,” and measures the hydrogen ions in bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, or urine. Dissolved acid produces hydrogen ions, so the more hydrogen ions in a solution (higher concentration), the more acidic the solution is, and the lower the number on the pH scale.
The pH scale runs from 0 (pure acid) to 14 (most alkaline), with 7 being neutral. The human body functions optimally at a pH of around 7.4, which is just on the alkaline side of neutral.
How Acidic pH Can Lead to Disease
Most people exhibiting symptoms of disease from heart disease and cancer, to osteoporosis, diabetes, and beyond, have a body pH that is chronically acidic. As the body tries to neutralize the pH to keep it close to 7.4, it will take necessary minerals from the body to help with this neutralization process.
For example, the body will pull calcium out of the bones into the urine, leading to osteoporosis and a reduction of bone formation. Potassium and magnesium stores can also be leached from the body, contributing to high blood pressure. Too much acidity can lead to breakdown in muscle mass and an inability for cells to repair themselves as well. These are just a few of the effects of too much acid in the body. Scientists call this shift in body chemistry to the acidic side of neutral chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis. The primary cause of this acidosis is a highly acidic diet.
Which Foods Are Acidic or Alkaline?
The Standard American Diet (SAD) tends to be highly acidic, containing lots of processed foods, sugars, meats, dairy, grains, coffee, and alcohol. The typical anti-inflammatory diet, on the other hand, contains lots of fruits and veggies, which are more alkaline or base in nature.
Many foods that you might think would be acidic, like lemons and limes, are actually alkaline once metabolized. So it’s important to take into account which foods are acidic versus alkaline after they are metabolized, as that’s what matters to the body.
Sugar and artificial sweeteners are highly acidic foods, which is one of the reasons the consumption of sweets has recently been linked to so many health ailments.
Most foods falling between 2 and 9. As an example, battery acid has a pH of zero, while liquid Drano cleaner has a pH of 14. Here is a range of foods from the highly acidic to the highly alkaline (base.)
- Highly Acidic: Lemon juice, vinegar (pH 2)
- Highly Acidic: Sodas, energy drinks, carbonated water (pH 3)
- Medium Acidity: Alcohol, coffee, black tea, cheese, milk, yogurt, distilled water, chocolate, roasted nuts, beef, pork, wheat, pastas, pastries, breads, crackers (pH 4-5)
- Low Acidity: Eggs, fish, beans, fruit juice, coconut, brown rice, soy milk, salmon, oats, cooked spinach (pH 6)
- Neutral: Tap water, spring water, river water, sea water (pH 7)
- Low Alkalinity: Apples, almonds, tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, pineapples, wild rice, strawberries, bananas, cherries (pH 8)
- Medium Alkalinity: Avocados, lettuce, celery, peas, sweet potatoes, blueberries, pears, grapes, kiwis, beets, melons, mangos, papayas (pH 9)
- Highly Alkaline: Spinach, broccoli, artichoke, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, cucumber, lemons, limes, carrots, seaweed, asparagus, kale, collard greens, onions (pH 10)
While the human body needs to remain on the slightly alkaline side of neutral (7.4 pH), it’s important to remember it’s all a balancing act. If you strive for a low acidic diet for your health and eat only alkaline foods, your body can actually become too alkaline, or in a state of alkalosis. This can lead to a host of other symptoms ranging from light-headedness and confusion to seizures and even coma.
Balancing out your diet to ensure you’re eating from both sides of the pH spectrum—but with attention to eating more alkaline (anti-inflammatory) foods than acidic foods—will be good for your whole body.
Can You Neutralize Your Body and Eliminate Excess Acid?
How does your body neutralize excess acid? The main organs involved in acid elimination to neutralize your body pH are the liver and lungs, and the skin to a lesser extent. While the skin helps to eliminate acid buildup through sweat glands, it can only eliminate about one quart of sweat a day, whereas the kidneys can eliminate 1.5 quarts of urine. Interestingly, strong-smelling sweat or bad body order can be a sign of too much acidity in the body. Again, switching to a low-acidic, anti-informatory diet can help to neutralize your body’s pH.
Testing Your pH Levels
One indicator of the body becoming too acidic is an increased respiratory rate. In fact, if your body is too acidic you won’t be able to hold your breath for more than about 20 seconds.
The most common pH test is a urine test. While you can test your own urine using pH litmus test paper, it’s more accurate and recommended to have your doctor do a urine test for you. They will likely want to use urine from first thing in the morning, preferably after you’ve slept for at least six hours, to ensure that the kidneys aren’t overworked at the time of urination.
The bottom line is that eating a diet higher in alkaline foods than acidic foods will be better for your health in the long run, so enjoy those fruits and veggies.