The human body requires a very specific pH level in the blood, in the region of 7.4 (1). This pH is maintained by means of our diet, which is itself influenced by the pH of the environment (land and water).
But intensive farming methods and industrialisation have profoundly affected the pH of our soil and oceans (2). What’s more, the growth of the agro-food industry has exacerbated imbalances, with increases in saturated fats, simple sugars, preservatives and other additives (3).
As a result, our mineral levels suffer as modern Western diets encourage imbalances between potassium and sodium in favour of sodium, and between chloride and bicarbonate, in favour of chloride. These disparities can lead to metabolic acidosis which can be damaging, in particular, for the skeleton. (4)
Note: excess sodium and chloride produce acidity whereas an abundance of potassium, bicarbonate and magnesium induce alkalinity.
When the diet is too acidic, the body is forced to restore acid-base balance by drawing on its resources in potassium and calcium, minerals which have an alkalinising effect.
This use of resources to combat the adverse effects of an unbalanced diet can cause demineralisation. Indeed, numerous studies suggest that an over-acidic diet has a negative effect on bone health (5).
In addition, a diet that’s too acidic, especially one high in animal protein not balanced by sufficient alkaline foods, can lead to calcium in the urine, or calciuria (6), a condition that should be avoided at all costs by those who suffer from kidney stones.
There is also scientific evidence that a more alkaline diet is associated with a better muscle mass index in healthy women (7).
When food is metabolised by the body, the majority of proteins produce acids, while most fruits and vegetables produce alkalis (8).
To restore the right acid-base balance, it therefore makes sense to prioritise a healthy diet high in fruit and vegetables (the ‘alkaline diet’). All the more so as this doesn’t even take into account the acidity of food in the mouth.
Completely counter-intuitively, it seems that sugary foods are actually acidifying for the body, while many acidic-tasting foods are actually basifying or alkalinising. Refined sugar, for example, is one of the main culprits in causing acid-base imbalances, while lemons are among the most alkalinising foods!
The acronym PRAL stands for Potential Renal Acid Load. The higher the PRAL index (above 0), the more acid the food, and the lower, the more alkaline. (9)
Examples: beef has a PRAL of +13.2 (an acid effect), whereas radishes have a PRAL of -3.7 (alkaline effect).
This index has enabled scientists to categorise foods according to their potential acidifying effect on the body.
Thus the most acidic foods are:
Those with a pH of between 5 and 8 include a number of non-processed foods:
And the most alkaline foods are:
Because eating a balanced diet is not about eliminating foods that are too acidic, with the exception of those known to be bad for our health (alcohol, bakery products, processed foods, ready-meals, etc). It is instead about achieving an acid-base balance.
Note: as indicated, tap water normally has a neutral pH, depending on where you live. In some regions, the water is slightly more acidic, and in others, slightly more alkaline (with a pH, in some cases, of up to 8.4).
There’s nothing to say you can’t enjoy a barbecue with friends, even if the barbecued meat (particularly beef) is quite acidifying. Just try and compensate for this acidity by eating a good amount of broccoli or other vegetables at the same meal, making sure you limit the quantity of grains. And why not, for example, offer raisins as an appetiser, or for dessert, with a fruit salad?
You can also choose to take dietary supplements based on alkaline foods such as ginger (with Super Gingerols), spirulina (with Spirulina) or a combination of alkalinising foods (with the comprehensive formulation Alkaline Formula).
Similarly, you could opt for an alkaline water, such as our product Super Water. This not only provides your body with hydration but it has a significantly higher-than-normal pH to help counteract the effects of consuming acidic foods and drinks.
So you now have all the information you need to correct your body’s acidity and restore your acid-base balance.
What can you do to compensate for the never-ending succession of meals over the festive period? Discover our top 10 dietary and detox tips for staying in shape and maintaining your health.
“A glass of wine keeps the doctor away”. Do you agree with this old adage? Our true/false article tells you all you need to know about the health benefits or otherwise of alcohol.
Sweets are an obvious example of a product containing food additives – but there’s often nothing ‘sweet’ about these sometimes controversial ingredients. Let’s take a look at the food colours, preservatives and other undesirable substances we’d do well to avoid.
The liver is a crucial organ for purifying the body. Taking certain plant extracts with detoxifying properties can help it function at its best: discover the 7 most effective of these plants.
Inspired by the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors, the paleo diet has been very much in vogue for several years now. Spotlight on this healthy diet - its principles and effects.
This vegetable from the thistle family appeals to both young and old alike with its delicate, sweet flavour … but how can you get the most out of its properties?