The acid/alkaline balance of the body must be maintained within certain margins at all times for it to function effectively. A lot of the foods we eat such as meats, fish, dairy products, bread, poultry, eggs, cakes and biscuits are acid forming. If we eat too much of these foods, the body may take calcium from the bones in order to alkalise the acidity. To avoid this unnecessary loss of calcium, it is advisable to eat alkaline forming foods daily. Acid forming foods are also inflammatory and alkaline forming foods are anti-inflammatory. Stress, as well as exercise has an acidic effect on the body.
Acidosis is a state of too much acid in the body – this may be respiratory, in that if there is a problem with the lungs, such as in asthma, one may not be able to excrete carbon dioxide effectively, causing an acid condition. Acidosis can also be metabolic – for example, kidney failure. Contributing factors include ketosis (happens in a high protein diet), stress and excessive consumption of a non-buffered form of vitamin C (ascorbic acid, choose magnesium or calcium ascorbate instead).
Symptoms associated with acidosis include frequent sighing, insomnia, water retention, recessed eyes, arthritis, migraine headaches, abnormally low blood pressure, acid or strong perspiration, dry hard stools, foul-smelling stools accompanied by a burning sensation in the anus, alternating constipation and diarrhoea, difficulty swallowing, halitosis, a burning sensation in the mouth and /or under the tongue, sensitivity of the teeth to vinegar and acidic fruits and bumps on the tongue or the roof of the mouth.
Alkalosis (when the body is too alkaline) on the other hand, is a lot more rare and may, for example, be due to excessive intake of alkaline-forming drugs such as sodium bicarbonate for peptic ulcers. The main symptom is overexcitability of the nervous system. Alkalosis may even cause calcium to build up in the body, as in bone or heel spurs.
Alkaline forming foods include:
- Most vegetables and fruit and their juices
- Quinoa, millet and amaranth
- Almonds, chestnuts and coconuts
- Sesame seeds
- Most herbs
- Cayenne pepper and paprika
- Cinnamon, cloves, ginger and caraway seeds
- Herbal teas
- Fennel, seeds and tea
- Eat a diet high in raw foods and avoid overcooking as raw foods maintain the correct acid/alkaline balance within the body.
- Chew food thoroughly and do not drink fluids during meal times to prevent dilution of stomach acid.
- Use a non-acidic form of Vitamin C such as Magnesium Ascorbate in cases of acidosis.
- Practice deep breathing.
- If you have heartburn and/or indigestion after meals, you may be low in hydrochloric acid (acid helps with the breakdown of food in the stomach) and you may need to supplement it.
- Avoid animal protein, eggs, oily foods, sugar, cranberries and prunes, sticking to the above list of alkaline forming foods in cases of acidosis.
- In the case of alkalosis, adopt a diet that consists of 80% grains including beans and brown rice, avoid salt, and do not use antacids. Helpful pH balancing nutrients include Vitamin B complex – especially B6, which is needed to make stomach acid, hydrochloric acid itself and vitamin C in its ascorbic acid form.
The tables below are your complete guide to alkalising foods: