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What Effect Do Acidic Foods Have on the Body?

author image Allison Adams
Allison Adams has worked as a registered dietitian since 1996. She began writing professionally in 2000, with work featured in a variety of medical publications such as "Women's Health Magazine" and the "New England Journal of Medicine." Adams holds a Master of Science in nutrition and food sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
What Effect Do Acidic Foods Have on the Body?
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The pH in food depends on its acidity or basicity, which is usually determined by the soil where it grows. To stay healthy, you must maintain a proper pH balance in your body. Acidosis is a condition in which your body becomes too acidic. With alkalosis, on the other hand, your body is too alkaline or basic. The types of foods you eat affect your body’s pH level. Eating foods that are too acidic can have a negative impact on overall health. On the other hand, eating foods that are alkaline tends to balance your system to the proper pH level.

Eating Acidic Food

Side effects associated with consuming foods that are too acidic include listlessness, depression, headaches, acne, dry skin, mood swings, poor digestion, brittle nails and hair, and sensitive gums. A mild case of acidosis can increase free radicals in your body, decreasing your cellular energy. Bacteria and viruses thrive in an acidic environment, and any state of acidosis will make you body more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections.

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In a constant state of acidosis, your body uses its available minerals to help balance its pH levels. Calcium is the most important mineral your body uses to neutralize acid. When your body repeatedly leaches calcium from your bones, you may start to develop conditions such as osteoporosis. Acidosis is also a major factor in stressing your body and increasing your cortisol levels, which affects sleep patterns. Acidosis can cause kidney stones, lower growth hormones, increased body fat and a reduction in muscle mass.

Foods That Form Acids

Some foods are more acidic than others. By avoiding overly acidic foods, you can help balance the pH levels in your body. Dairy products, including all types of cheeses, butter and milk, are acidic. Meat from venison, wild game, poultry, shellfish, coldwater fish and cattle is also acidic. Other acidic products include many prescription drugs, coffee, soft drinks, alcohol, soy and whey protein isolates, margarine and synthetic vitamins.

Risk of an Imbalance

Your body constantly works to maintain a proper pH balance between 7.35 and 7.45. As a reference, the pH of pure water is 7. When your pH levels fall below 7.35, clinically you have acidosis and your central nervous system will start to depress. If your pH level falls below 7, you have severe acidosis, which can cause a coma and ultimately become fatal. When your pH level rises above 7.45, you have alkalosis. Alkalosis makes your nervous system hypersensitive, resulting in muscle spasms and convulsions.

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