You may have heard claims that consuming too many acidic foods causes a host of health problems and even increases your risk for cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research busted this myth and concluded that this claim is false. However, consuming an acidic diet may cause other problems if you have a condition triggered by acid. Unless you have such a health condition, it's unnecessary to make changes to a healthy, balanced diet.
The Alkaline Theory
To sustain life, the pH, which refers to the acidity of a solution, of your blood must remain within a narrow range. It's been theorized that certain foods negatively impact your health by making your body's cellular fluids too acidic. To counter this, alkaline diets have been promoted to increase pH and improve health. However, there is no evidence to support this theory. The human body has a remarkable ability to control the pH balance of your cellular fluids.
Conditions Aggravated by Acidic Foods
While the claims that acidic foods harm your body's pH are unfounded, there are health conditions that acidic foods may worsen. Gastroesophageal reflux, or acid reflux, is one of these conditions. It happens when digestive fluids come back up into your esophagus. The result is digestive discomfort such as heartburn, which is a burning sensation in your chest. To combat symptoms, your doctor may recommend cutting out foods that increase stomach acid.
Acid and Tooth Enamel
Drinking too many acidic beverages may harm tooth enamel, warns a study published in the May 2008 edition of "Nutrition Research." Researchers tested a sports drinks, an energy drink, a cola and apple juice, which is acidic. The study demonstrated how, over time, consuming too many acidic beverages increases the risk of tooth decay. Researchers found that the sports drink and the energy drink posed the greatest risk, followed by the cola and the acidic juice. This may be significant if you are at risk of tooth decay and have a habit of consuming acidic beverages.
Making Dietary Changes
Your doctor may recommend a low-acid diet to help you control related symptoms. On this type of diet, you avoid acidic foods or foods that increase stomach acid, such as carbonated drinks, citrus fruits and their juices, tomatoes, tomato soup and tomato juice, onions, peppermint, chocolate and alcohol. You may also need to avoid greasy or fatty meats, pizza, tacos and full-fat dairy. Ask your doctor for a complete list of safe foods and foods to avoid.