Which Acidic Foods Should You Avoid?

Updated on December 17th, 2020
Acidic Foods

The alkaline diet has recently been in the limelight, with everyone from health experts to famous figures advocating the advantages of cutting down acidic foods from your diet.

Research shows that limiting your intake of acidic foods can reduce the risk of kidney stones, improve bone strength, improve hormone levels, lower chronic pain, and lessen acid reflux as part of an acid reflux diet.

Adhering to a healthy diet full of nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods, and minimizing your consumption of some of the most acidic foods can be an effective way to help you advance toward achieving holistic health. Is rice acidic, So are strawberries acidic? and where precisely do your other lovable foods stand on the pH chart?

What Are Acidic Foods?

Your body maintains a strictly regulated pH level. This is a measure of alkalinity and acidity in the body’s fluids and tissues based on a scale from zero to fourteen. Higher pH levels are regarded as more alkaline, while a lower pH level is more acidic. Although a pH of 7 is neutral, a marginally alkaline pH of 7.35–7.45 is ideal for our health.

Even slight changes in your body’s pH levels can have a significant effect on health. Alkalosis triggered by a high pH level may cause symptoms like muscle twitching, confusion, and nausea, while acidosis can result in shallow breathing, fatigue, and headaches.

Fortunately, your kidneys do most of the work in controlling your body’s pH by maintaining electrolyte levels and excreting/reabsorbing alkaline and acidic ions through your urine. However, taking a diet high in alkaline foods may come with some advantages to health.

Limiting your intake of acidic foods could help preserve bone strength, prevent kidney stones, and even decrease acid reflux symptoms [1].

Alkaline Foods vs. Acidic Foods 

The consideration by which any substance is measured to be alkaline or acidic is known as pH. The number of molecules decides the pH of food, free hydrogen ions, released by acids in food.

According to the CAFLS (Clemson College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Science), the sour taste you relate with acids like lemon juice or vinegar is triggered by these hydrogen ions.

A pH of “0” is where you find the majority of acidic compounds, such as battery acid, with 10,000,000 rates the concentration of hydrogen ions present in H2O—compared to a pH of 7, regarded neutral, the pH level of pristine distilled water.

The most basic or alkaline substances have a pH of fourteen, like liquid drain cleaner, with a one in 10,000,000 concentration of the H2O’s hydrogen ions.

Most food is slightly to moderately acidic before it is consumed, with a few exclusions. Vegetables typically fall between 5.0 and 7.0 on the pH scale, fruits 2.8 to 4.6, and meats 5.1 to 7.1.

However, in the diet and fitness world, when people talk about “alkaline foods” or “acidic foods,” they are rarely mentioning their pre-digestion qualities. Rather, the largely debunked acid-ash hypothesis indicates that foods impact health based on the products’ acidity remaining after they get metabolized.

The Alkaline Diet Debate

The renal system does the majority of the work involved in balancing our body’s pH.

A detailed literature review on the subject of an alkaline diet plan published in the 2012 edition of the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, discusses how urine can range in pH from basic to acidic, depending on the ions it has: chloride, sulfate, organic acids and phosphate, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium.

Foods are classified by their PRAL (potential renal acid load) in the acid-ash theory at the base of an alkaline foods diet. Foods with a negative acid load comprise pretty much all vegetables and fruits, including some of the most acidic fruits, like grapefruit and lemons.

Foods with a high acid load cause calcium salts to be released from the body’s stores, as positively charged ions balance the negatively charged ions made during digestion.

Foods that trigger this reaction are considered to have a positive acid load. These foods include:

  • The meat of any type, including, goat, lamb, turkey, chicken, and game
  • Seafood and Fish of all types, including shellfish, farmed or wild 
  • Dairy, including cheese, milk, and butter 
  • Grains, which are the seeds of all grasses, including rye, wheat, oats, rice, and corn

Apprehensions that the release of calcium ions from the body’s stores may lead to osteoporosis have been shown in numerous trials to be unfounded.

However, the concern of the impact acidity has on other long-term health outcomes is still An April 2018 review of the prevailing literature, published in Nutrients, observes that younger individuals and those with proper renal function can maintain blood pH more optimally and can respond well to changes in renal excretion.

The Nutrients review notes, “Diets high in acid precursors add to the body’s acid burden. Most individuals consuming typical western diets whose acid-excretory ability and renal function are normal, dietary acid loads would not be an easily detectable factor in altering bone mineral density, causing osteoporosis.”

Should You Eat Acidic Foods?

It is challenging to say how much the alkalinity or acidity of a diet impacts overall health. It is near impossible to separate one characteristic of food from the rest of the food.

However, an alkaline diet plan does encourage people to eat a large amount and a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Increasing your intake of produce reduces muscle wasting, may benefit bone health and mitigates other chronic disorders such as strokes and hypertension.

Overall, the “eat more vegetables and fruits diet” is pretty simple to follow, without all the other rules. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that only one in 10 Americans gets the prescribed daily intake of vegetables and fruits — 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables and 1.5 to 2 cups per day of fruit [2].

Acidic Foods to Limit or Avoid

Here’s a quick list of the top most acidic foods that you should limit. These foods are considered acid-forming, and their intake should be limited on a healthy diet:

  • Alcohol
  • Convenience meals
  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Milk
  • Pizza
  • Processed cereals
  • Peanuts
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Pasta
  • Cheese
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Butter
  • Wheat products
  • Refined vegetable oils
  • Cold cuts
  • Hot chocolate
  • French fries
  • Table sugar
  • Red meat
  • Pancakes
  • Sports drinks
  • Fried foods
  • Corn syrup
  • Soda

Bottom Line

As you may have already guessed, the best way to neutralize acidic foods’ negative effects is to eat loads of alkaline foods – and the most alkaline foods and fruits and vegetables.

Eating adequate vegetables helps provide your body with the essential minerals and vitamins required for health that are used as buffers against acid-generating foods. By cutting back on acid-generating foods wherever possible and concentrating on taking alkalizing foods, you’ll be doing your body an excellent favor.

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