80% alkaline 20% acidic
Chemistry classes teach us that acidic or alkaline substances are measured on a scale of pH from 1 – 14. The lower end of the scale is the most acidic, the higher end is the most alkaline. Different areas in our bodies are at a different pH allowing enzymes in those areas to work at their optimum pH. For most bodily fluids and cells the normal pH range is between pH 7.35 and 7.45, which is just slightly more alkaline than the neutral pH 7 of pure water. The most significant exception to this is stomach acid which is around pH 2. The pH is kept in balance by a variety of mechanisms as well as alkaline mineral buffers found in fruits and vegetables. Many disease conditions are helped by keeping pH at optimal levels.
Testing pH in our bodies is a simple home urine test with a dipstick. You simply place a piece of pH-sensitive paper into your first morning urine and ‘read’ it to see what your pH is. Optimally, the level will be between 6.5 and 7.5, or fairly neutral. By manipulating your foods you can bring this into an optimal range, which will give support to your body’s own innate healing and balancing capacities. Also, exercise makes the blood more acidic and deep breathing makes it more alkaline.
Most of us have diets that are slightly too acidic. This has a negative impact for our health. The over-acidic person has been described as grouchy, sensitive, exhausted, inclined to headaches, sleeping problems and stomach acidity problems. Smokers have been found to have a high acid level in their urine, and cravings appear to reduce on a more alkaline diet.
When foods are metabolised by the body, a residue is left which can alter the body’s acidity and alkalinity. Foods are either acid or alkaline forming depending on the proportions of various minerals within them. Some foods are considered neutral as they contain too few minerals or an even balance of acid and alkaline forming minerals and thus have little effect on pH. These categories are not to be confused with the immediate acidity of the food. Oranges, for example, are acid due to their citric acid content. However, citric acid is completely metabolised by the body and the net effect of eating an orange is to alkalise the body, hence it is classified as an alkaline forming food. Roughly 80% of our diet should come from alkaline forming foods and 20% from acid forming foods.
Acid forming foods: most high protein foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and cereals. Also, unexpectedly perhaps, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, plums, cranberries, butter beans, broad beans, asparagus, mustard, cress and olives.
Alkaline forming foods: most fruit, vegetables, pulses and nuts.
Neutral foods: milk, sugar, starch, fats, oils, tea and coffee. (Some believe these to be acid forming? Perhaps they are – it is difficult to get an absolute agreement).