Humans eat a variety of foods that are classified as acidic or alkaline. Acidic foods are defined as foods that increase acid waste products in your blood. Alkaline foods are foods that produce ash that neutralizes acid products in your blood. Holistic practitioners believe that disease arises from consuming too many acidic or alkaline foods and throws the pH of the body into chaos, according to naturopathic doctor Christopher Vasey. Christopher Vasey maintains that the human body works to maintain a pH level between 7.36 and 7.42 in order for enzymes, nutrients and minerals to function properly.
Felicia Drury Kliment, an alternative health consultant, writes in her book “The Acid-Alkaline Balance” that the Western diet is filled with foods that raise acid levels in the body and leave behind acid wastes for the liver, skin and kidneys to neutralize and excrete. Drury Kliment asserts that acid levels in the body rise due to overconsumption of animal proteins, dairy products, processed foods and sugars this leads to a high level of acids which causes metabolic changes. The lungs and kidneys will compensate for above normal acid levels, but if an underlying disease is present these organ systems can be altered, according to Audrey Ensminger, adjunct professor at California State University-Fresno in “Food and Nutrition Encyclopedia."
Foods are classified as acidic or alkaline based on the ash produced after they are eaten. According to Audrey Ensminger, foods are classified as acidic or alkaline by the mineral content left behind from the metabolism. Acid-promoting diets can be prescribed for patients with kidney stones, as it is believed the stones were produced under alkaline conditions in the body, as stated by Audrey Ensminger. Before starting this type of diet, consult with your healthcare provider as you may increase your risk of compromising your nutritional and health status. According to Ingrid Kohlstadt in “Food and Nutrients in Disease Management,” the popular Mediterranean diet that is used to manage cholesterol abnormalities is an alkaline diet. The Mediterranean diet has been recommended by the American Heart Association to lower cholesterol levels and lower risks of heart disease. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, seeds, nuts and limits meat, dairy, sugar and processed foods.
Vegetables and fruits are alkaline foods because the ash left behind is rich in potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium, according to Audrey Ensminger. Many citrus fruits are alkaline because when your body uses them for energy, they leave behind potassium, which has an alkaline effect on your blood.
Proteins such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy products are acidic in nature because they are rich in choline, phosphorus and sulfur. In addition, proteins are broken down into amino acids that can produce sulfuric acid, as stated by Audrey Ensminger. Grains and cereals are also acid-forming foods. Phytates in grains bind phosphorus, leaving it unavailable to raise pH levels in the blood. This is the main reason why grains are considered acid-forming foods.
Acid and Calcium
Acid and alkaline foods are both essential to sustain life. Writing in “The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health,” Christopher Vasey states that food rich in sulfur, sodium, phosphorus, chlorine, iodine and silicon increase the acidic qualities of foods. When a person eats foods rich in these minerals, their levels will increase in the blood. The bones will release calcium to neutralize these minerals in order to decrease the acid level in the blood. The use of calcium for this purpose could possibly lead to osteoporosis -- porous bones – if a person's diet remains high in acid foods for long periods. Calcium is an alkaline mineral of which dairy products contain high amounts. The body excretes excess calcium in the stool, which decreases the alkalinity of dairy products and changes it to an acid. According to Audrey Ensminger, many foods that may taste acidic or alkaline are not when they are metabolized or binding elements in the food that alter their pH effect on the body.
- "The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health"; Christopher Vasey, N.D.; 1999
- "Food and Nutrition Encyclopedia, Vol 1"; Audrey Ensminger; 1994
- "The Acid-Alkaline Balance Diet"; Felicia Drury Kliment; 2002
- "Food and Nutrients in Disease Management"; Ingrid Kohlstadt; 2009
- American Heart Association: Mediterranean Diet