The Importance of an Alkaline Diet
The internal environment of our bodies is maintained at a pH of just about 7.0. This means our internal environment is alkaline. Maintenance of this state is a dynamic, not static, process mediated moment to moment by numerous reactions that produce acid products. Our internal chemical equilibrium is primarily controlled by our lungs, kidneys, intestines, and skin. For necessary reactions and functions to occur, our body must maintain a proper pH. Adequate alkaline reserves are necessary for optimal pH adjustment. The body needs oxygen, water, and acid-buffering minerals to accomplish the pH buffering, while also briskly eliminating waste products.
When an alkaline environment is maintained in the body, metabolic, enzymatic, immunologic, and repair mechanisms function at their best. The acid-forming metabolics of stress and inflammation and of high fat and high protein foods are adequately and effectively neutralized only when sufficient mineral-buffering reserves are present. Mineral-buffering reserves are the gift that alkaline-forming foods give to our body. A diet that is predominantly alkaline-forming is essential to the maintenance of sustained health.
Most vegetables and fruits contain higher proportions of alkaline-forming elements than other foods. These foods promote a more alkaline environment in the body. For example, commercial corn, barley, soybeans, and legumes are acid forming. This may reflect breeding selection in the last fifty years that favored higher carbohydrate and fat content. Traditional organically or biodynamically grown forms of these grains and grasses may well be much less acid forming. Surprisingly, despite their pronounced acid flavor, citrus fruit and rhubarb form alkaline residues. This is because their distinctive organic acids like citric, succinic, fumaric, and malic (Krebs' DCA or dicarboxylic acid) metabolize to water and alkalinizing bicarbonate, while producing energy (ATP) inside the cell.
Body balance, in terms of acid-alkaline state, is a pH of 7.450 for blood in the arteries, and 7.350 for blood in the veins. Acid-alkaline equivalence is a pH of 7.000. Thus, a healthy body means a pH that is slightly alkaline. This means there are more buffering mineral receptors for electrons than acid-forming electron donors.
In foods containing large amounts of protein and fat, the acid-forming elements predominate over the alkaline-forming elements. Thus, cow's milk and related dairy products are acid-forming, although goat and sheep milk/cheeses (with less fat and protein) produce less acid. The one diary product exception is clarified butter (known as "ghee" in Indian cookery), which has alkalinizing short chain fats known as butyrates and caprylates. The butyrates and caprylates present in ghee are also thought to promote healthy bacterial growth in the intestines, promote repair of the intestine wall, and suppress pathogen growth of some yeasts and parasites if they are present.
Whole grains give an acid reaction disproportionate to their protein content due to the extra phosphorus present in the phytates. The phosphate content of commercial grains may be higher than traditional, organic, or biodynamic sources in part because of fertilizer differences and plant strain selection. Although most fruits have an alkaline effect, some such as prunes, plums, and cranberries make a net contribution of acid to the body since they contain organic acids that are not metabolized by the body. Nuts such as coconuts, almonds, and chestnuts are alkaline forming, while others like peanuts (a legume) and walnuts yield net acid. Highly refined and processed foods consisting chiefly of fats, sugars, and simple starches, along with protein-rich foods are metabolically acidifying.
The following chart titled, "Food & Chemical Effects on Acid/Alkaline Body Chemical Balance", presents the message that, in general, fruits, vegetables, lentils, seeds, sprouts, roots, and tubers are healthfully alkalinizing, while grains, grasses, fowl, fish, seafood, dairy products, meats, and most beans are acidifying. Here is a way to simplify this and make it memorable. If it comes from under or near the ground, it is likely to be alkalinizing. If it comes from on or high above the ground, it is likely to be acid forming.
The specifics of how each food was categorized on this chart are based on a formula wherein protein, fat, carbohydrate, mineral, and other specific factors were taken into account. More specifically, the basic neutral and acidic end-products of protein, fat, and carbohydrate digestion were calculated, and the content of minerals and special factors were also accounted. A computation was used to determine the relative degree of acid- or alkaline-forming effects of the food on body chemistry. Based on this determination, the items were placed in the appropriate acid or alkaline group on the chart.
Food & Chemical Effects on Acid/Alkaline Body Chemical Balance
|Spice/Herb||Baking Soda||Cinnamon, Valerian, Licorice, Black Cohosh||Herbs: Anica, Bergamot, Echinachea, Chrysanthemum, Ehpedra, Feverfew, Goldenseal, Lemongrass||White Willow Bark, Slippery Elm, Artemesia|
|Preservative Beverage||Sea salt, mineral water||Kambucha||Green or Mu Tea||Sulfite*, Ginger tea|
|Vinegar||Soy sauce||Apple cider vinegar||Umeboshi Vinegar|
|Therapeutic||Umeboshi Plum||Sake||Algae, Blue-Green|
|Processed Dairy||Ghee (Clarified Butter)|
|Cow/Human||Human Breast Milk|
|Egg||Quail Egg||Duck Egg|
|Grain Cereal||Oat Quinoa Wild Rice Japonica Rice|
|Nut Seed/Sprout Oil||Pumpkin Seed||Poppy Seed Cashew Chestnut Pepper||Primrose Oil Sesame Seed, Cod Liver oil Almond Sprouts||Avacado Oil Seeds (most) Coconut Oil Olive Oil Flax Oil|
|Bean Vegetable Legume
|Lentil Brocoflower Seaweed Onion Miso Dailkon Taro Root Sea Vegetables Burdock Lotus Root Sweet Potato Yam||Kohlrabi Parsnip Garlic Asparagus Kale Parsley Endive Arugula Mustard Greens Ginger Root, Broccoli||Potato Bell Pepper Mushroom Cauliflower Cabbage Rutabaga Ginseng Eggplant Pumpkin Collard Greens||Brussel Sprout Beet Chive Cilantro Celery Scallion Okra Cucumber Turnip Greens Squash Lettuce Jicama|
|Citrus Fruit/Fruit||Lime Nectarine Persimmon Raspberry Watermelon Tangerine Pineapple||Grapefruit Canteloupe Honeydew Citrus Olive Dewberry Loganberry Mango||Cherry Peach Papaya Lemon Pear Avocado Apple Blackberry||Orange Apricot Banana Blueberry Pineapple Juice Rasin Currant Grape Strawberry|
|Preservative Beverage||MSG Kona Coffee*||Alcohol* Black tea||Aspartame* Coffee*||Table Salt* Beer Soda Yeast/Hops/Malt|
|Sweetener Vinegar||Honey/Maple Syrup Rice Vinegar||Balsamic Vinegar||Saccharin||Sugar/Cocoa White Acetic Vinegar|
|Processed Dairy||Cream/Butter||Cow Milk||Casein Milk Protein Cottage Cheese||Processed Cheese*|
|Cow/Human||Yogurt||Aged Cheese||New Cheese||Ice Cream|
|Soy||Soy Cheese||Soy Milk|
|Goat/Sheep||Goat/Sheep Cheese||Goat Milk|
|Meat Game Fish||Gelatin/Organs Venison Fish||Lamb/Mutton Elk/Game Meat Sheel Fish/Mollusks||Pork/Veal Bear Mussel/Squid||Beef
|Fowl||Wild Duck||Goose Turkey||Chicken||Pheasant|
|Grain Cereal||Triticale Millet Kasha Amaranth Brown Rice||Buckwheat Wheat Spelt/Teft/Kamut Farina/Semolina White Rice||Maise Barley Groat Corn Rye Oat Bran||Barley Processed Flour*|
|Nut Seed Oil||Pumpkin Seed Oil Grape Seed Oil Sunflower Seed Oil Pine Nut Canola Oil||Almond Oil Sesame Oil Safflower Oil Tapioca Tofu||Pistachio Seed Chestnut Oil Lard Pecan Palm Kernel Oil||Cottonseed Oil/Meal* Hazelnut Walnut Brazil Nut Fried Food*|
|Bean Vegetable Legume>||Spinach Fava Bean Kidney Bean Black-eyed Pea String/Wax Bean Zucchini Chutney Rhubarb||Split Pea Pinto Bean White Bean Navy/Red Bean Aduki Bean Lima or Mung Bean Chard||Green Pea Peanut Snow Pea Legumes (other) Carrot Chick Pea/Garbanzo||Soybean Carob|
|CitrusFruit/Fruit||Coconut Guava Pickled Fruit Dry Fruit Fig Persimmon Juice Cherimoya Date||Plum Prune Tomato||Cranberry Pomegranate|
* items are NOT recommended. Prepared by Dr. Russel Jaffe. Sources include USDA food data base (Rev 9&10), Food & Nutrition Encyclopedia; Nutrition Applied Personally, by M. Walczak, Acid & Alkaline by H. Aihara.
Want to know How To Get Started eating to optimize your health?