pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of substances, in this case food. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 14, foods with a pH of 7 are neutral, those with a pH below 7 are acidic, and those with a pH above 7 are alkaline.
Each unit is 10 times larger or smaller than the upper or lower unit (as appropriate). For example, a food with pH 4 is 10 times more acidic than a food with pH 5 and 100 times more acidic than a food with pH 6. Conversely, a food with pH 8 is 10 times more alkaline than a food with pH 7.
Life on earth depends on strict control of the pH in and around cells. To survive, the human body must maintain a slightly alkaline pH of 7.35-7.45.
Depending on the compounds that are produced as a result of food metabolism, they can have an alkalizing or acidifying effect. Thus, each food consumed temporarily influences the body’s pH. The influence of acidic or alkaline foods on the body is minor and short-lived, the body being able to restore the optimal pH in almost all cases.
There are also conditions that diminish the body’s ability to restore pH. Age is also an important factor in determining the body’s ability to return to normal pH.
There may also be isolated cases in which excessive consumption of acidic foods leads to the consumption of alkalizing compounds and acidification of the body (metabolic acidosis).
The ability of a food to alkalize or acidify the body is not closely related to the actual pH of the food. It depends on the compounds that result from the metabolism of food. The actual pH of the food can be seen in this article.
Thus, many acidic vegetables and fruits have an alkalizing effect on the body. For example, many fruits and vegetables contain potassium citrate which in the body is converted into potassium bicarbonate, a highly alkalizing compound.
Alkaline foods (alkalizing)
The best known alkaline foods are: natural teas, mineral water, almost all vegetables and fruits, spices, legumes, soy, etc.
Acidic foods (acidifiers)
The main acidic foods are: foods containing added sugar, dairy products, alcohol, coffee, meat of all kinds, almost all cereals, peanuts, nuts, eggs, etc.
A study conducted in 2012 that conducted a complex analysis of the scientific literature on alkaline diet and alkaline foods had the following conclusions:
– there is insufficient evidence to suggest that an alkaline diet prevents osteoporosis;
– too much salt in the diet can harm health (osteoporosis, heart disease, loss of muscle mass);
– the large amount of vegetables and fruits in the alkaline diet leads to the improvement of the potassium / sodium ratio and thus diminishes the negative effects of table salt;
– alkaline diet stimulates the production of growth hormone, which has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and memory;
– alkaline diet leads to an increase in the amount of magnesium in the body;
– the alkaline environment may increase the capacity of drugs used to kill cancer cells (only those drugs that require a higher pH).
The conclusions of the study do not include many details present in its content. A short version of the study’s findings may lead you to follow an alkaline diet and avoid acidic foods.
The general conclusion of the study which emerges from its text and which is not presented as a general conclusion (I did not understand why) is that it is not the pH of the food that is essential but the fact that the alkaline diet includes foods high in nutrients (vegetables and fruit).
It is known that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is very healthy and that a high consumption of processed foods containing sugar, salt, additives, etc. it is harmful. The coincidence is that alkalizing foods also have a high content of nutrients.
There are also many acidifying foods that are high in nutrients and should not be completely eliminated from your diet. For example, there are online articles that recommend avoiding “acidic” foods such as apples, certain fruits, berries and vegetables, nuts, peanuts, meat (including fish meat), dairy products, eggs, coffee, just because they are acidifying.
Eliminating the foods listed in the paragraph above and following a strict alkaline diet is a mistake you should not make!
In addition, sites that promote alkaline diets generally have different lists of acidifying and alkalizing foods, and from this you can deduce that the information is not exactly correct.
It is scientifically proven that the foods listed above are very healthy if eaten in moderation and that a strictly vegetarian diet is not healthy.
Regarding the strictly vegetarian, vegan diet or as you want to call it, there have been cases of death, especially in babies. Do not force your child to follow your diet!
If you want to breast-feed, you should avoid the above-mentioned diets so as not to affect the baby’s development and to avoid extreme cases. If you decide not to follow this advice, at least use proper nutritional supplements.
Another aspect of the aforementioned diets is the fact that many people who follow them try to produce imitations of previously consumed foods (of animal origin), much more harmful foods than the original (vegetable cream, vegetable butter, etc.).
What I can tell you is that people who suggest a strict alkaline diet have not correctly assessed the causes of the benefits of such a diet. They are not produced by the pH of food (a minor indicator) but by the nutrients they contain.
It is normal for a diet rich in vegetables and fruits to have a positive effect on the body (no matter their pH), but “acidic” foods such as dairy products, eggs, peanuts, nuts, almonds, berries or fish, as suggested by some “nutritionists” who support an alkaline diet.
The soil can greatly influence the mineral content of fruits and vegetables and so it is useless to base your diet only on some generic tables found online.
I also noticed some sites that recommend in alkaline diets the consumption of 75% alkaline foods and 25% acidic foods or 60% -40%. These recommendations may be correct if acidic foods are part of those listed above (almonds, eggs, dairy, fish meat, etc.).
Our recommendation is to have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and not completely eliminate the above foods only on the basis of pH. All foods should be eaten in moderation or eliminated if you suffer from conditions that may be aggravated by them.
Moderation is also essential in the case of “wonder foods” because they contain large amounts of nutrients and can cause major imbalances if consumed in large quantities.
If you want to be guided by alkalinity / acidity, try to eat both alkaline and acidic foods at every meal to balance the body.
Do not choose foods only according to their ability to alkalize / acidify the body! The main criteria you need to be guided by are the quantity and quality of nutrients, freshness and how they were obtained (organic / conventional, unprocessed / minimal processing / intensive processing)!