Acidic Foods – are they really a problem?
The overacidification myth
Surely you also have heard the statement once before: “We are completely acidified!”. All the protein, the dairy products, the meat, the coffee, etc. allegedly acidifies us and makes us more and more unhealthy. Many problems, such as fatigue, weight gain, etc., are due to a hyperacidity of our body, according to statements of the “alkaline camp”. For this reason, you should eat purely an alkaline diet, which means mainly to eat vegetables and fruits. Whether this approach really is a good choice and the possible advantages and disadvantages of an alkaline diet, we highlight in today’s article.
Benefits of alkaline-rich foods
First, let’s talk about the positive aspects of alkaline foods. There are many disputes about nutrition. However, one thing that most “experts” agree on is that high consumption of vegetables is highly recommended. I agree with that. If you look at the experiences around the alkaline-rich diet, you also quickly realize that people often feel vital, healthy and fit and often lose weight. These relatively quick successes eventually lead to these people really having the impression – “Wow, I must have been completely acidified, as fast as I feel better now!”. This leaves people in the belief that the increase in energy levels and weight loss is really due to acidification of the body and therefore acidic foods must be avoided. A piece of meat for example would in context lead to hyperacidity, which automatically means fatigue and weight gain.
Are acidic foods really the problem?
So far so good. From my point of view, you have to ask yourself a few critical questions on this topic:
The weight loss and the increased energy level may not come from the fact that I …
- just ate more vegetables and fruits and therefore compensated for possible nutritional deficiencies?
- abstained from alcohol?
- almost didn’t eat protein and therefore have reduced muscle (= weight loss)?
- ate no sugar, sweets, chocolate, etc.?
- refrained from coffee and therefore improved my sleep + improved my cortisol rhythm?
- just in general ate less crap?
In 99% of the cases, from my experience, these very points are responsible for the success of the alkaline-diet and NOT the deacidification of the body. Why am I so staunchly asserting that? Let’s take a look behind the scenes of the body’s acid / base balance and see if nutrition really does play such an important role.
How does an alleged hyperacidity arise?
When eating various foods, the processing of the kidney produces minerals, which are either acidic or alkaline in the body.
To express the effect of individual foods on the acid-base balance in numbers, the so-called PRAL value (PRAL = Potential Renal Acid Load) was launched.
The numerical value indicates whether the food:
- has an alkaline (-)
- an acidifying (+, or no sign)
- or has a neutral effect on the acid-base balance
Examples of basic foods are:
Examples of acidic foods are:
- Dairy products
Examples of neutral foods are:
- herbal tea
- olive oil
It is assumed that the body is exposed to acid formation helplessly and therefore changes the PH value of the body.
PH levels in the body
An important consideration to look at in the debate is the different levels of PH in different parts of our body.
Stomach: 1.2 – 3.0
Blood: 7.35 – 7.45
Bile acid: 8,8
Amniotic fluid: 8.0
As you can see, there are different PH levels in our body. A classic test used by the alkaline-dieters is the urine test. Here you urinate on a small test strip and then determine – I’m hyperacid, or not. Often people are shocked, when a “bad” PH is the result . True to the motto: “Oh my god I’m over acidified!”. What most people do not know, however, is that these values are extremely dependent on the time of day and provide little information about a true acidification of the body.
What does our body do with the excess of acid?
One aspect that is often completely disregarded is that our body is an absolute masterpiece and uses various buffering systems to balance the acid load in the body. There are buffer systems from the blood to the bone. Especially the classical bicarbonates, which are produced in the kidney, are well known for their buffering qualities. So if we eat a piece of meat and “acid remains”, the body buffers the acid through its systems and we stay healthy.
Can a chronic acidification of the body nevertheless creep in over a longer period of time?
Not in healthy people. The acid in the blood is controlled very precisely by two regulation systems. On the one hand via the lungs, by exhaling the acid and thus making the blood alkaline. On the other hand via our metabolism. Thus, as mentioned above, the kidney excretes the acid that we have ingested with food. Only in renal or respiratory, problems would occur and the body would become acidic. If this is the case, clear and extreme symptoms such as shortness of breath or vomiting occur.
So you see, a hyperacidity, as it is often propagated, is actually almost impossible. In addition, a strictly alkaline-diet quickly becomes one-sided and you run the risk of developing several nutrient deficiencies. By abstaining from protein-containing foods, the body quickly lacks essential amino acids and fats. Just like that important B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and valuable amino acids from fish and meat are deprived of the body. If you’ve already read my article on depression, you know what an essential role these nutrients play in our body and well-being. (more about depression)
Do not believe every garbage that gets spread. A diet of alkaline rich foods is generally positive because of the high consumption of fruits and vegetables, but should always go hand in hand with the consumption of protein and healthy fats. I hope I could open your eyes a little with this article. Do me a favor, please share this article with a person who thinks you or she is hyperacid, because all this fear about acid containing foods is just complete rubbish.
Your coach Markus