What Is it About Food That Causes it to Be Alkaline?
With the exception of pure water, all foods can be classified as either acid- or alkaline-forming in your body based on the simple compounds they produce when metabolized. Generally, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices are alkalizing, while processed foods, meat, poultry, fish and most nuts, grains and legumes are acidifying. Cells and tissues require a slightly alkaline environment to function properly, and alkaline-forming foods contribute compounds that support this natural state of homeostasis. To maintain a balanced body pH after consuming acid-forming foods, your body must buffer and remove the acidic residues they produce.
Early Food Analysis
Early analysis of the pH nature of food was based on the concept of acid and alkaline ash, according to the “Acid Alkaline Food Guide.”
Beginning in the early 20th century, researchers studied the acid-alkaline impact of foods by burning them into ashes. If a food’s ashes contained mostly acidic residues such as sulfur or phosphorus, the food was considered acid-forming. If its residues contained primarily alkaline substances, including calcium, potassium or magnesium, it was considered alkaline-forming.
In the late 20th century, scientists began studying food’s metabolic effect -- or the nature of the compounds it produces after its breakdown in the body. This involved studying the acid-base nature of a food’s building blocks, such as minerals and amino acids. Once they understood the nature of each component, scientists developed formulas to calculate the total effect of a food.
In 1995, according to the “Acid Alkaline Food Guide,” German scientists Thomas Remer, Ph.D., and Dr. Friedrich Manz developed a model that estimated the potential acid load of food on the kidneys. In 1998, Dr. Lynda Frassetto of the University of California published findings that simplified the earlier kidney-acid model. Frassetto found that a food’s ratio of protein to potassium predicts the exact amount of acid the kidneys excrete after its consumption.
A food’s acid content is reflected in its pH value, but its pH value isn’t an indication of its pH nature in the body. Limes and lemons, for example, are high-acid fruits that are also alkaline forming in the body. Similarly, eggs have slightly alkaline pH values, but are acid forming once metabolized. Protein is primarily an acidifying force, because it produces sulfuric or phosphoric residues when metabolized. Potassium, on the other hand, is a major alkalizing force. Many fruits and vegetables contain potassium citrate, a mineral compound that becomes potassium bicarbonate, a very alkalizing compound, when metabolized. Other alkalizing minerals are magnesium, calcium, sodium and iron.
Dates, figs and raisins are among the most alkaline forming of all foods, according to the “Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.” Other highly alkalizing fruits include all melon varieties, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, mangoes, guavas, papayas, lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, kiwi fruit, avocados, olives, bananas, pears and apples. Cranberries, and plums are slightly acid-forming because their benzoic and quinic acid content converts to hippuric acid, which overpowers the alkalizing compounds they produce. [most of the fruits and berries mentioned are too high in sugar or starch content for he diabetic-alkaline lifestyle]
Nearly all vegetables, herbs and spices are alkaline forming. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, zucchini, beets, all winter squash varieties and most leafy greens rank among the most alkalizing vegetables. Sea salt, paprika, parsley and ginger root are some of the most alkalizing herbs and spices.
- “Encyclopedia of Healing Foods”; Michael Murray, N.D., et al.; 2005
- “The pH Balance Diet”; Bharti Vyas, et al.; 2007
- “Acid Alkaline Food Guide”; Dr. Susan E. Brown, et al.; 2006
- “Alkalize or Die”; Theodore A. Baroody, Ph.D.; 1991
- Oklahoma State University: The Importance of Food pH in Commercial Canning Operations; William McGlynn
- Raw Food Explained: Acid and Alkaline in the Diet
Health-e-Solutions comment: Alkalinity is an important aspect of the diabetic-alkaline lifestyle, but not the only determining factor in food selection. Glycemic index, glycemic load, fungus, yeast, inflammation, GMO, farming practices and other factors are also important to consider.
Our recipe e-books, workshops and home study course will teach you how to transform your lifestyle in a practical, livable way for long term sustainability and better living. You will enjoy a natural way to help manage type 1 and type 2 diabetes with healthy, alkaline-forming, low-glycemic foods.