ACID-ALKALINE DIET

Many of us consume foods that are acid-forming in the body. It is not the food itself that is acidic, but how the body processes it.  Consuming too many acid-forming foods can lead to a condition called acidosis.  Dr. Susan E. Brown and Larry Trivieri, Jr., authors “The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide”, write extensively about acidosis. They provide a comprehensive list of potential complications, but just being aware of the highlights should make us rethink the foods that we include in our diets. 

One of the major complications of acidosis is the risk of osteoporosis since minerals are leached out of bones to maintain an acid-base balance in the body.  Acidosis can increase levels of parathyroid hormone, resulting in our bones becoming brittle and putting us at risk for fractures.  This makes it especially important for older people already at risk for fractures to avoid an overly acidic diet.  Muscle mass loss, a problem that naturally occurs with aging, can be accelerated by acidosis as well.  Over time, acid wastes can accumulate in the body and accelerate the aging process itself.  Acidosis can actually increase hypertension as potassium and magnesium stores are depleted from the body.  Any readers interested in learning more about acidosis should refer to “The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide” as an excellent resource.

People consuming a processed foods diet are especially prone to excess acid in the body.  Sugar, corn syrup, and flour, all part of the Standard American Diet, are high acid-forming foods, along with coffee, soda, and alcohol.  High protein foods are acid-forming, such as beef, fish, and eggs.  Beans and most grains are acid-forming as well.  You want to focus on vegetables, especially dark green vegetables, and at least five half-cup servings a day.  Most fruits, nuts, and seeds are alkalizing to the body, but should be consumed in moderation. If you must have some of these acid-forming foods, consume them in small amounts and balance the meal or snack with a food that is alkalizing to the body.  For salads, it is best to rely on cold-pressed olive oil rather than any processed dressings that can be acid-forming.  It can be helpful to familiarize yourself with an acid-alkaline food table for a fuller understanding of acceptable foods in the diet. Having this basic knowledge of acid-forming foods and how excess can compromise our health is a beginning and important step toward good health.

References

Brown, S. & Trivieri, L. The Acid Alkaline Food Guide: A Quick Reference to Foods & Their Effect on pH Levels. Square One Publishers, Garden City Park, New York, 2006.

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