The Acid Alkaline Debate
To understand this debate, we must first understand what is pH? And what do we mean when we refer to the pH balance of the body’s internal environment. Your body comprises of 70% water, and then a lot of other fluids. Human blood should be slightly alkaline – 7.35 to 7.45, anything below or above is a breeding ground for disease to start and the body will not heal itself of any problems as well.
Your diet can be thrown off by the foods you eat, and what you choose to do by abusing it with things on a daily basis (like smoking, alcohol, excessive coffee, tea, drugs, antibiotics). An imbalance diet high in acid producing foods like animal protein, sugar, caffeine and processed foods, thereby putting pressure on the body which struggles to maintain a good PH balance. At least 60% of your daily volume consumption must comprise of alkaline foods (if you want to strive for the optimum then go for 80%) and the balance could be acid forming foods, but from the right source. By consuming acid forming foods, I don’t mean you can have those copious amounts of sugar, coffee, processed junk.
The overtly acidic condition which most people suffer from is called acidosis and will decrease the body’s ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients, decrease the energy production in the cells, decrease its ability to repair damaged cells, make tumor cells thrive, and make it more susceptible to fatigue and illness. Acidosis will also destroy the internal flora and fauna of your digestive system, causing bad bacteria to thrive in your digestives system. The body’s state of imbalance shows up in various ways could be simple weight gain, bloating, hormonal problems, premature aging, aching muscles, low energy, chronic fatigue, slow digestion, irritable bowel syndrome, depressive patterns, anxiety, headaches, eye problems, dry/bad skin, leg cramps and then cancers as well.
While all dieticians/nutritionists harp on keeping the body alkaline, they fail to convey that it is the correct ratio and combination between alkaline and acidic foods that work to keep this balance. A purely alkaline diet, can in-fact weaken you over time, while making you feel great in the initial phase of regaining your health back. The combination of acid and alkaline foods, after the process of digestion produce what is termed as an “alkaline ash” once digested and metabolized by the body helps to maintain a healthy internal environment.
A Macrobiotic approach is based on living foods like whole grains (all types of millets, brown rice, barley, amaranth [rajgeera] and lentils are which are acid forming while vegetables and fruits are alkaline forming (this is why its important to eat as many vegetables as it is to eat whole grains in a day). If you add animal foods and dairy foods, then your diet becomes acid forming. So make sure that you keep the ratio of 60% alkaline and the balance 40% acid-forming foods and balance this acid-forming nature of dairy and meats. Our body has an ability to manage the neutral foods and not of overtly extreme acid or alkaline energy. It is not possible to create a balanced acid and alkaline diet from a list, but what you can do is make sure your diet includes a supply of both types of natural living foods.
So how do you start?
- Highly acid forming foods like sugar, red meats, soft drinks, white flour products (maida), nuts (except almonds), wine, beer, sweeteners which include synthetic ones, refined vinegar. All processed foods have preservatives and chemicals and should be avoided.
- Start by having equal amounts of grains and vegetables, and try to match additional alkaline and acidic foods. For e.g., if you are eating more fish, reduce your grain intake and increase your vegetable and fruit intake. The same would apply for heavy meat eaters. Lemon and chopped almonds (see acid/alkaline foods chart below) will also balance out the fish or have grated mooli (radish).
- Using millet and reducing your intake of other grains will up the alkaline quotient in your diet.
- Combining foods properly – As improper food combining will cause fermentation the stomach, causing acidosis and multiplying the bad bacteria or yeast, creating toxins and causing the PH balance of your digestive system to go completely off. SEE PRINICIPLES BELOW
ALKALINE FOODS CHART
|MOSTLY ALKALINE||MODERTELY ALKALINE||SLIGHTLY ALKALINE||NEUTRAL|
|Celery||Beans (pulses, dals)||Olives, eggplant||Ghee, cows milk|
|Herbal Teas||Beetroot, sprouts, bananas||Millet, coconut (fresh)||Oils (except olive)|
|Watermelon||Asparagus, cauliflower||Cucumbers, honey (raw)||–|
|Lemons||Green tea, mooli, dates||Onions, sesame, spices||–|
|Mangoes||Kiwi, peaches, ginger, lettuce||Sprouted grains||–|
|Papaya||Potatoes, corn, mushrooms||Tangerines, okra||–|
ACID FORMING FOODS CHART
|SLIGHTLY ACID FORMING||MODERATELY ACID FORMING||MOST ACID FORMING|
|Eggs, kidney beans||Honey, bran, cheese, dry||White bread, cakes|
|Pumpkin, seeds, butter||Coconut, goats milk, pasta||Cookies (packaged)|
|Beef, spinach||(Whole grain), grains (unrefined)||Alcohol, soft drinks|
|–||Mustard, popcorn, prunes||Artificial sweeteners|
|–||Brown rice, tea, wheat||Beef, pork, fish|
|–||–||Sugar, dairy, molasses|
|–||–||Table salt, Indian chai|
|–||–||Coffee, whole wheat|
PRINCIPLES OF PROPER FOOD COMBINING FOR GOOD pH
- Eat fruits on an empty tummy.
- Always eat animal protein (includes eggs) with non-starchy vegetables: like bamboo shoots, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, mooli, endive, garlic, green beans, leeks, okra, onion, parsley, red bell pepper, spinach, sprouts, turnips, zucchini.
- Always eat grains and starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, pumpkin) with non-starchy vegetables.
- Combine fish with steamed or stir-fried vegetables; chicken with leafy greens, or a vegetable soup.
- A veggie salad with protein (fish or egg) and dressing (unrefined oil).
- Combine millet with leafy greens, and yellow squash or leeks.
- Have mostly cold pressed, unrefined oils, and ghee. Never combine large amounts of fat (oils) with protein. An e.g., is mayonnaise with chicken, or the more popular tuna salad. Use oil-based dressings with the ones that are suggested, olive oil is good for this. Avoid hydrogenated fats, like margarine.
- Do not have a glass of milk after meals, specially at bedtime, it feeds the yeast. If you do dairy then combine it with acid forming foods like seeds, nuts, and non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens.
- Initially to balance the body quicker avoid beans, as you regain digestive health add them.
- Eat a grain meal with vegetables for breakfast, a protein meal with vegetables for lunch, and grain and vegetables for dinner.
It takes a bit of practice, but will soon come to you as your brain gets wired in a way to follow these principles. Remember if you can follow the 80% to 20% (or even 60% to 40%) principle, then 80% of your daily consumption should be land vegetables and the balance 20% can be meats, fish, eggs and starchy vegetables.
If you have thyroid: Tomatoes are slightly alkaline, but are acid-forming in a system with thyroid or where the digestion is weak. Since Indians use a lot of tomatoes, people with a thyroid or stomach weakness condition should be aware of this.