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Acidic and Alkaline Food List

 

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basket of plums
  Plums and prunes (dried plums) are acid forming fruits.


Overview

The chart below categorizes a food as either acidic or alkaline based on the effect consumption of the food has on urine pH. For example, if a food tends to increase the acidity of urine after it is ingested, it is classified as an acid forming food. Conversely, if a food increases the alkalinity of urine after it has been ingested, it is classified it as an alkaline forming food. The effect foods have on urine pH may be quite different than the pH of the foods themselves. For example, orange juice is a highly acidic food due to its high citrus acid content, but after being metabolized it will cause urine to become alkaline.

Most of the information below is based on information from my large collection of nutrition books, including a chart from a Mayo Clinic diet manual, and also from personal observations. The books I have sometimes vary significantly in how they categorize the pH of different foods, so it can be hard to tell which ones are correct. With this in mind, take the chart below as a general guide that most likely will contain some errors.

Nutrient status can be impacted by the acid-base balance in the body. Researchers in Germany found that "acid-base status affects renal magnesium losses, irrespectively of magnesium intake." This means that, besides not eating enough foods high in magnesium, acid load in the body could be another factor that contributes to a magnesium deficiency condition.

 

Acidic Foods

  • Corn
  • Meat
  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Fowl
  • Most grains
  • Coffee
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Cranberries
  • Distilled water

*I get a lot of email from people saying distilled water is not acidic or that it is very healthy for you to drink. According to the Environmental Protection web site, "Pure distilled water would have tested neutral, but pure distilled water is not easily obtained because carbon dioxide in the air around us mixes, or dissolves, in the water, making it somewhat acidic. The pH of distilled water is between 5.6 and 7". The pH of distilled water I have bought from stores and tested myself at home has always tested out to be acidic.

Very Acidic Foods and Supplements Include

  • Eggs
  • Liver and other organ meats
  • Gravy
  • Broth made from bones or other animal parts
  • Wine
  • Yogurt with active cultures
  • Buttermilk, including buttermilk pancakes and biscuits
  • Sour cream
  • Most fermented foods and aged cheeses
  • Some B vitamin supplements (or foods supplemented with B vitamins) can make your stomach more acid
  • Hydrochloric acid supplements
  • Digestive enzymes

Please note that fermented foods like yogurt, buttermilk and sour cream seem to become more acidic in the body if they contain some types of active cultures of helpful bacteria.

Non Food Substances That Can Make Urine Acidic

  • Probiotics - These are supplements that contain "helpful bacteria". At least some types of beneficial bacteria help to create an acidic environment in the digestive tract. Probiotics are often used after taking antibiotics and may help some cases of bladder infections, irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. My friends and family have noticed that if we take excess amounts of probiotics it may cause heart burn and/or high blood pressure. (See my related section on diet treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.)

  • Soft water - Soft water is water that is low in minerals. This type of water tends to be more acidic.

Alkaline Foods

  • Most fruits, except as noted above
  • Most vegetables, except as noted above

Very Alkaline Foods Include

  • Bananas
  • Chocolate
  • Figs
  • Mineral water
  • Orange juice
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Watermelon
  • Dandelion Greens

Please note that some foods, such as citrus fruits, have an acid pH before they are consumed and but can leave an alkaline residue in the body after they have been metabolized. Sorry to spell this out twice, but I get a lot of emails on this topic.

Non Food Substances That Can Make Urine Alkaline

  • Antibiotics - antibiotics destroy both the bad and the helpful bacteria in the intestinal tract. Some of the helpful bacteria work to create an acidic environment in the human body. When these bacteria are eliminated by antibiotics, urine may become more alkaline. I think this is one reason why women will frequently get bladder infections after taking antibiotics.

    I have some old nutrition text books, and in the era before wide spread antibiotic use, health care professionals often advised people suffering from urinary tract infections to eat a lot of meat and other acid forming foods. Many allopathic doctors of today think acid-base balance is a lot of malarkey, but thirty years ago you could actually find this type of knowledge in some college nutrition text books.

  • Many mineral supplements - especially calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. Calcium and magnesium are common ingredients in antacids as they neutralize stomach acid. Some people get upset stomachs (gas, bloating, diarrhea, malabsorption) from these types of mineral supplements, especially if they suffer from hypochloridia (low stomach acid).

  • Antacids - Antacids, which often contain magnesium or calcium supplements, may cause an increase in the alkalinity of the urine, which can lead to bladder infections as bacteria tend to thrive in alkaline environments.

  • Hard Water - Hard water is just the opposite of soft water. It is water that has a high mineral content, and as a result tends to be more alkaline. Some studies have shown that people have less heart attacks where the water is hard, presumably because the disolved minerals that make the water hard are important for nutrition.

Neutral Foods

The Mayo Clinic Diet Manual, Seventh Edition categorizes the following foods as neutral foods:

  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Cooking fats
  • Oils
  • Plain candies
  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Honey
  • Arrowroot
  • Corn
  • Tapioca
  • Coffee
  • Tea

Many other books on pH balance have conflicting information to the neutral foods listed above. Most alternative health books I own state that coffee, tea, sugar (and anything with sugar), and corn make the urine more acid.

 

 

 

 

Related sections of interest:

Acid - Alkaline Balance for Optimal Health

Acidic and Alkaline Food Lists

Acid, Alkaline and Neutral Food Chart

What causes an ammonia smell in the urine?

Dry Mouth - Xerostomia

Sweaty Heads, Night Sweats and Hot Flashes

 

Selected Links:

Acidosis May Cause Bone Loss

Effect of potato on acid–base and mineral homeostasis in rats fed a high-sodium chloride diet - an interesting paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Acidic foods - Another way to control blood glucose levels.

Introduction to the Digestive System - explains how the acid environment of the stomach helps to kill fungi, bacteria, and other unwanted organisms.

Low Acid Foods - This is slightly different type of low acid foods as this list focuses on foods to prevent heartburn rather than bladder infections.

 

References -

1. De Young, Laura, ed. Mayo Clinic Diet Manual: A Handbook of Nutrition Practices, Seventh Edition, St. Louis Missouri: Mosby, 1994.

2. Cordain, Loren, The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat, Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley and Sons, 2002.

 

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