Acid vs. Alkaline Diet

Posted April 07 2015

The balance of acid and alkaline forming foods in diet is key to good health.

Acid versus Alkaline

In a macrobiotic diet based on whole, living foods, the grains and some beans, such as lentils, are acid-forming; while vegetables and fruits are alkaline-forming (this is why it is important to eat as many vegetables and grains in typical day). If you add in fish, dairy foods, and meat, your diet becomes more acid-forming, increasing the need to alkaline foods. Junk, smoking, and alcohol make the diet even more acid-forming. 

Over acidity generally leads to poor health. When eating more alkaline-forming foods the body store minerals.When your diet becomes too acidic, your body uses these stored minerals to redress the balance. Because minerals such as phosphorus are taken directly from the bones, this could lead to bone weakness and can aggravate arthritic conditions. A general acidic condition is also thought to increase the risk of cancer, headaches, and reduce your reistance to infection. 

Acheiving a Good Balance

It is much easier for the body to balance foods that are closer to eutral rather than trying to balance out extremes. And while its not possible to create a balanced acid and alkaline diet from a list, it is possible to make sure your diet includes adequate sources of both.

Start by having roughly equal amounts of grain and vegetables and then try to match additional acidic and alkaline foods. For example, if you are eating more fish, reduce your intake of grains slightly and increase your intake to vegetables or fruits. Try having lemon or chopped almonds with your fish. If you enjoy coffee or alcohol, try also to eat more alkaline-forming foods.

To increase the alkaline-forming foods in your diet try a daily helping of miso soup with a variety of vegetables and sea vegetables; use more millet and reduce your use of other grains; have fresh melon for dessert; cook parsley as a vegetable dish; eat tofu instead of beans more often; drink kukicha (green twig tea) or herbal teas; have freshly squeezed vegetables or fruit juices. 

The Effects of Everyday Foods

It is difficult to produce a reliable table of acid and alkaline forming foods because some foods that appear acidic, such as lemons, actually result in a more alkaline condition in the body. Tomatoes, for example, are considered slightly alkaline-forming (and the riper the tomato, the alkaline it becomes), but tomatoes become acid forming where the stomach acid is low or the thyroid activity is abnormal - it depends on the health of your digestive system.

The table below gives you a guide to the acidity/alkalinity of many everyday foods, based on these foods' primary influence on the body.

Most Alkaline Forming:

Celery, dates, figs, herbal teas (most types), agar-agar, cantaloupe, watermelon, cayenne, lemons, limes, mangos, kudzu root, papaya, parsley, seaweeds, seedless grapes, watercress

Moderately Alkaline Forming:

Beans (fresh, green), beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, alfalfa sprouts, bananas (ripe), almonds, apples, apricots, asparagus, collard greens, avocados, bancha tea, figs (fresh), carob, fruit juices, garlic, raisins, cauliflower, chard greens, daikon, dates, kiwi fruit, peaches, ginger (fresh), grapefruit, kale, grapes, green tea, herbs (leafy green), lettuce, pears, peas, peppers, pineapple, potatoes (with skin), pumpkin, radishes, raspberries, shitake mushrooms, strawberries, squash, sweet potatoes, sweet corn (fresh), turnips, vinegar (apple cidar), umeboshi plums, vegetables juices. 

Slightly alkaline forming:

Olives, olive oil, artichokes, eggplant, brown rice syrup, millet, miso, buckwheat, cherries, tangerines, chestnuts, coconut, cucumbers, brussel sprouts, essence bread, goats milk, honey, leeks, mushrooms, okra, radishes, tomatoes, sea salt, onions, oranges, pickles, seasame seeds, shoyu, tofu, soy beans, soy cheese, soy milk, spices, sprouted grains, tamari, tempeh, wild rice.

Neutral:

Cream, cow's milk, yogurt, whey, butter, oils

Slightly Acid Forming:

Eggs, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, barely, butter, venison, spelt, spinach

Moderately Acid Forming:

Honey, blueberries, bran, cheeses, dry coconut, eggs, fish, fructose, oats, rice milk, pasta (whole grain), grains (unrefined), dried beans (except soy beans), nuts (most except almonds), rye, ketchup, molasses, maple syrup, mustard, pastry (whole grain), plums, popcorn, potatoes (peeled), prunes, rice (basmati and brown), tea, wheat bread.

Most Acid Forming:

White bread, pastries and cakes (from white flour), chocolate, coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks, fruit juices (sweetened), artificial sweeteners, beef, pork, poultry, fish, cereals (refined), cranberries, prunes, cream of wheat (unrefined), custard (with white sugar), yogurt (sweetened), flour (white wheat), ice cream, jams, lamb, maple syrup, pasta (white), peanuts, pickles, rice (white), seafood, sugar, table salt, tea (black), walnuts, whole-wheat foods.