Acid Base Balance

As you know, foods we eat and drink, the environment we live in, the amount and types of exercise we engage in, and even the stress levels we incur have profound impacts on how our body functions and ages. With regard to the food and drink we ingest, one of the most important things to consider is what happens once they're inside the body. When food is eaten, digested, broken down, and then absorbed into the system, each nutrient is separated and eventually sent to the kidneys and deciphered as either an acid-forming or alkaline forming compound. Beyond the typical suspects like calories, fat, protein, and carbs, considering the generation of acidity of certain foods is pinnacle to overall homeostasis of your body. The average diet is loaded with plenty of acidic foods such as meats, cheese, grains, and soda, which if consumed in excess over time can create a multitude of problems. Foods on the Alkaline side tame and balance out the acidity but those tend to be the foods we let slide: vegetables and fruit. It becomes ever more important to incorporate alkaline foods to maintain a body that is in balance for overall health and longevity.


pH (percent hydrogen)

The term low-grade chronic metabolic acidosis is given to the situation where we are in a chronic state of high acidity from eating too many acid-forming foods. The body is set to maintain a stable acid-base balance at a pH of 7.4 and even the littlest deviation up or down must be dealt with immediately. A higher pH is called alkaline, a lower pH acidic. Fluctuations either way to often for too long, and health concerns arise. There are three main systems to maintain pH: buffer systems in the bloodstream and cellular fluid, the kidneys, and the respiratory system. The kidneys, with around 180 liters of blood running through them each day, are constantly regulating pH by using bicarbonate and sodium to maintain 7.4


This is a chart that measures and scores various foods and their potential acid-forming load on the kidneys. The score is coined PRAL or potential renal acid load. 

Check it out here


A Few Facts


- Protein foods tend to be high in sulfur-containing amino acids which are metabolized toward sulfuric acid.


- Plant foods are typically alkaline-forming. Alkaline forming plant foods help to neutralize the acid-forming protein foods.


- Foods that contain primarily fat are typically more neutral.


- Foods High in Acidity

Meat, Dairy, Fish, Whole Gains, Artificial Sweeteners, Legumes, Soda


- Alkaline Foods

Vegetables, Fruit, Green tea


- Neutral Foods

Vegetable oils, butter, nuts, seeds


- Grains and meat are highly acidic. The average American gets 35% of calories from grains.

- Meat acidity is naturally balanced out by various mechanisms in the body and other nutrients it possesses.


- You can’t judge the acid-forming and basic/alkaline-forming properties of a food by the actual acidity of the food itself. For example, citrus fruits and vinegars are acidic, but when we consume them, they are alkaline-forming.



- In an acidic environment, calcium and phosphorous are pulled from bones to neutralize the acidity.


- Excess acidity and the minerals called in to tame it can generate kidney stones and create circulating calcium that can get deposited as plaque on the lining of your arteries.


- Kidney stones are salts of phosphoric acid and uric acid, generally combined with calcium and/or magnesium.


- An acidic environment can call in Glutamine from muscle. The amino acids from muscle breakdown are then excreted, causing a net loss of muscle protein.

- Foods with Potassium and Magnesium help lower acidity. A list here


- Growth Hormone, Insulin, (IGF), and Thyroid function are impaired.


- Cortisol
 levels rise.


- Acidic anions in food include chloride, phosphorous, sulfates, and other organic acids.

- Basic/Alkaline cations in food include sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

A cation is a positively charged atom or group of atoms
A anion is a negatively charged atom or group of atoms

Tips to Increase Alkalinity


Eat Your Vegetables

Veggies are the true powerhouse not only in terms of vitamins and minerals but the effect they have on maintaining acid/alkaline balance
. Kale and other dense, dark greens are a good choice.


Balance That Plate

A quick glance at you dinner plate will give you an idea where your acid/alkaline value is going to be. A plate with a piece of grilled fish and some vegetables is going to be a lot healthier than a sandwich with deli meat, mustard, mayo and a side of chips.


Ditch the Grains

It is undisputed that bread, cereal, and soy products are nutritionally worthless and highly acidic. But lentils, oatmeal, soy are just as bad.


Give up Soda

Phosphoric acid, citric acid and
carbonic acid, not to mention the sugar, (real or fake), colorings, and caffeine.


Vary Your Meats

Some are more acidic than others

. Check out the chart above.


”Due to food processing and an increase in wealth (among other reasons), most diets tend to be acidic. This is due to the high intake of dairy foods, grains and meats. Generally, the intake of these acid-forming foods isn’t balanced with adequate vegetable and fruit intake (alkaline-forming foods).”
 - Precision Nutrition