The foods that you eat can have a powerful effect on your overall health. Most people are aware of the need to balance carbohydrates, fats and protein levels while ensuring that they get enough vitamins and minerals, but a growing trend in dieting is trying to balance acidic and alkaline foods in the diet to keep the body at the right pH.
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Acidity and Physiology
The body strictly controls the levels of acidic and alkaline chemicals in the body. The balance between acids and bases can be measured using the pH scale, in which acidic substances have a low pH and basic or alkaline substances have a higher pH; a neutral pH is 7. In order to function properly, the body needs to keep the blood at a pH between 7.35 and 7.45, Intelihealth explains.
Because the body carefully regulates the pH, it is difficult to significantly raise or lower the pH of the body via food. What can happen, however, is that consuming too much of acidic or alkaline foods can deplete some of the chemicals that the body uses to maintain its pH balance, Dr. Ben Kim explains. For example, the body uses phosphate to neutralize excess acid; the main source of phosphate in the body is calcium phosphate, which is found in bones and teeth. Thus, a diet that is too acidic could weaken the strength of these structures due to depletion of calcium phosphate.
Foods that are considered to be "acidic" are those which increase the acidity in the body, regardless of the pH of the food itself. Many oils, including corn, canola, safflower, sesame and avocado oil are acidic. Corn, oats, barley, rice and wheat are all acid-producing grains, the Wolfe Clinic explains. Many meats, including beef, fish, lamb, pork and turkey, are acidic, as are dairy products. White pasta, alcohol, and many different kinds of beans also increase the amount of acid in the body.
Most fruits and vegetables are considered to be alkaline foods, particularly leafy green vegetables. Citrus fruits, although technically acidic, are also classified as "alkaline" foods because when they are digested and metabolized, they overall increase the amount of alkaline substances in the body. Alkaline protein sources include eggs, why protein, yogurt, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, squash and many kinds of nuts. Spices such as cinnamon, mustard, curry, chili pepper and miso are also alkaline.
Although the theory behind balancing alkaline and acidic foods is sound, there is not enough scientific evidence to support the concept that an imbalance between acidic and alkaline foods causes any sort of disease, InteliHealth explains. In addition, people trying to balance acidic and alkaline foods should make sure that they do not neglect other principles of a healthy diet, including eating foods from all the food groups and making sure that they do get enough vitamins and minerals. In spite of what you eat, Dr. Kim Explains that your body is designed to keep itself within a narrow margin of acid/alkaline range.