Our body likes to be in a state of steady balance (homoeostasis). We prefer our blood pressure to be within a certain safe range, same goes for blood sugar levels, hormone levels, temperature and pH levels.
pH is a measure of acid/base (alkali). Different parts of the body, need to have differing pH, for instance blood needs to hover around a pH of 7.4 (slightly alkaline) whereas stomach acid should be a corrosive 2-3, in order to kill bacteria and parasites that may have come along for the ride alongside our food and drink.
Although there is little research so far in this interesting area, for decades natural health practitioners have recommended a diet that ‘alkalises’ the blood stream. Basically the premise is that many diseases including cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and many others are in fact influenced considerably by the dietary acid-alkaline balance. For example, in osteoporosis may be the result of a chronic intake of acid-forming foods consistently outweighing the intake of alkaline foods leading to the bone being constantly forced to give up their alkaline minerals (calcium and magnesium) in order to buffer the excess acid.
Establishing pH balance
In regards to proper pH balance, the dietary goal is quite simple - make sure that you have a higher intake of alkaline producing foods than acid producing foods. Basically, an alkaline diet is one rich in vegetables, fruit, and legumes while avoiding over consumption of grains, meat, dairy, and some nuts. There is a difference between between acidic foods and acid-forming foods. For example, while foods like lemons and citrus fruits may taste acidic they actually have an alkalizing effect on the body. What determines the pH nature of the food in the body is the metabolic end products when it is digested (sometimes called ‘metabolic ash’). For example, the citric acid in citrus fruit is metabolised in the body to its alkaline form (citrate) and may even be converted to bicarbonate — also alkaline. I hope this is not too confusing; it’s important to remember that, like everything in life…it’s about balance. We need to eat some acid forming foods too.
List of acid/alkali forming foods
Here is a brief food table based on the information provided by Professor Vormanne of the Institute for Prevention and Diet in Ismaning, Germany. Foods with a negative value exert a base (B) or alkaline effect, foods with a positive value an acid (A) effect. The more ‘alkalising’ the food, the lower the B value eg raisins have a -21 value. The more ‘acidifying’ the food the higher the A value eg Tiger prawns have a value of 18.
|Food||Effect||Potential acidic load|
|Apple juice, unsweetened||B||-2.2|
|Orange juice, unsweetened||B||-2.9|
|Fats, Oil & Nuts|
|Fish & Seafood|
|Grains & Flour|
|Corn (whole grain)||A||3.8|
|Wheat flour, white||A||6.9|
|Wheat flour, wholemeal||A||8.2|
|Pasta and Bread|
|Bread, wheat flour, whole meal||A||1.8|
|Bread, white wheat||A||3.7|
|Beans, green / French beans||B||-3.1|
|Lentils, green and brown, whole, dried||A||3.5|
|Meat & Sausages|
|Beef, lean only||A||7.8|
|Chicken, meat only||A||8.7|
|Turkey, meat only||A||9.9|
|Milk, Dairy products & Eggs|
|Cheddar-type, reduced fat||A||26.4|
|Cottage cheese, plain||A||8.7|
|Emmental Cheese full fat||A||21.1|
|Fresh cheese (Quark)||A||11.1|
|Milk, whole, evaporated||A||1.1|
|Milk, whole, pasteurised and sterilized||A||0.7|
|Processed cheese, plain||A||28.7|
|Rich creamy full fat cheese||A||13.2|
|Yogurt, whole milk, fruit||A||1.2|
|Yogurt, whole milk, plain||A||1.5|
|Peppers, green bell||B||-1.4|
|Herbs & Vinegar|
|Wine vinegar, balsamic||B||-1.6|
Reference: Vormann J, Worlitschek M, Goedecke T, Silver B. Supplementation with alkaline minerals reduces symptoms in patients with chronic low back pain. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2001;15(2-3):179-83.