LIST OF ACIDIFYING FOODS
- Meat, poultry, cold cuts, meat extracts, fish, seafood (mussels, shrimp)
- Cheeses (strong cheeses are more acidic than mild cheeses)
- Animal fats such as lard and suet
- Vegetable oils, especially peanut oil and oils that are refined or hardened (margarine)
- Whole grains and refined grains: wheat, oats, especially millet
- Bread, pasta, cereal flakes, and foods with a grain base
- Leguminous plants such as peanuts, soybeans, white beans, broad beans
- White sugar
- Sweets: syrups, pastry, chocolate, candy, jelly, fruit preserves
- Oleaginous fruits: walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds
- Commercially manufactured sweet drinks, primarily sodas
- Coffee, tea, cocoa, wine
- Condiments such as mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup
Foods rich in proteins (meat, dairy products, and leguminous plants) are acidifying because their digestion produces amino acids; and because proteins, once they have been utilized by the body's cells, engender products of acidic degradation, such as uric acid, which primarily comes from the proteins that serve in the construction of the cell core and are found in foods consisting of cells, such as animal meats. Unlike meat and fish, dairy products do not carry uric acid because milk and cheese are not composed of animal tissues. Furthermore, the essential amino acids that make up animal meats always contain sulfur, an acidic mineral.
Although they are not composed of animal tissue, the leguminous plants (soybeans, chickpeas) bring a large quantity of uric acid into the body because they are rich in purines. Intrinsically alkaline, these purines are transformed into uric acid so they may be eliminated from the body. The presence of large amounts of purines in coffee, tea, and cocoa also explains why these beverages, as well as chocolate, are acidifying.
The acidifying nature of foods rich in fats (animal fat used in cooking, the fat contained in meat, deep-frying oil) is twofold. First, fat is utilized by the body in the form of fatty acids, and secondly, saturated fatty acids-which animalbased foods contain in great quantity-are difficult to metabolize. When their digestion is incomplete they create toxic acid substances such as acetones, acetylacetic acid, betahydroxybutyric acid, and others. These waste products and metabolic residues appear only if fat breakdown in the body is faulty; normal digestion of fats yields fatty acids. As fat consumption is rather high in today's standard diet, acidification from fats is all too common.
The acidifying properties of carbohydrates are due to the same types of processes that are involved with fat and its acidic nature. In the form of starch, carbohydrates are actually aggregates of thousands of glucose molecules-up to 250,000 of them-whereas it takes only several hundred amino acids to produce a protein. For the body to use carbohydrates they must be broken down into increasingly smaller fragments until they are reduced to their basic constituent element: the glucose molecule.
The greatest culprit in the production of acids is the poor conversion of long chains of glucose. Just like fat and proteins, carbohydrates go through various stages of transformation during which their characteristic properties change what was originally alkaline into an acid. If these conversions are interrupted while in progress the body becomes acidified, because the intermediary acid substances are not converted back into alkaline substances, as would be the normal end result of this process. This breakdown of the process is all too common, since the over consumption of carbohydrates (bread, cereals, pastas, crackers) is quite significant and often goes well beyond the body's capacity to digest them properly. The problem is the same whether the process involves whole grains or refined grains.
While cereal grains are acidifying, germinated grains are not. In fact, because of the radical transformation of their composition due to the germination process, these foods are considered to be alkalizing and are classified with green vegetables, since young grain sprouts are more or less green when eaten. This is also the case for the sprouts of leguminous plants such as soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas. (Bread made with sprouted grains, however, is not alkalizing.)
White sugar, a carbohydrate that consists of only two molecules (glucose and fructose), is acidifying for a different reason. Its acidifying nature, and that of the foods containing it (jellies, candies, chocolate, cookies), comes from the fact that it is refined and stripped of all trace elements, vitamins, and enzymes; it is thus generally poorly converted by the body. The body cannot indefinitely continue releasing large quantities of vitamins and trace elements to produce the conversion of sugar into energy. The average annual consumption of white sugar today is more than ninety pounds per person, which is more than the body can handle. The transformation of sugar in the body inevitably stalls at one of the intermediary acidic stages.
Refined white sugar and all the products that contain it are strongly acidifying, but the naturally occurring sugars of fruits and vegetables (like carrots and beets) are not. This is because the tissues of fruits and vegetables contain all the necessary trace elements, vitamins, and enzymes necessary to complete their transformation in the body. For the same reasons, whole sugar, meaning the concentrate obtained from the evaporation of sugar-cane sap, is not acidifying either. Brown sugars, on the other hand, have undergone several refining processes that have depleted their vitamin and trace element content. Consequently, they too are acidifying, and the closer they are to white sugar (the most acidic form of sugar), the more acidifying their effect is on the body. The fructose or fruit sugar available for sale commercially is also depleted of all its naturally occurring vitamin content, making it an acidifying agent as well.
Oleaginous fruits (except for almonds and Brazil nuts) are all acidifying, including walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, coconut, or even the seeds used in health food mixes-sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and so forth. Their acidifying character is due to their high fat content as well as their high content of protein, phosphorus, and sulfur. However, a couple of sunflower seeds does not acidify the body to the same extent as six to twelve ounces of meat, although both foods are included in the list of acidifying foods.
Based on their characteristics, the foods in the acidifying group have an acidifying effect on everyone who eats them, unlike acid foods, which may have an acidifying or alkalizing effect depending on the individual's physical capabilities. The manner in which the body utilizes acidifying foods inevitably leads to the production of acids, so it is advisable to pay strict attention to the amount of acidifying foods you include in your daily diet if you want to avoid acidification of your internal environment. This does not mean an extreme reduction or complete elimination of these items from the diet; it is simply a matter of keeping the quantity of acidifying foods lower than that of alkalizing foods. This should be a general guideline for what you eat every day, or even better, for what you eat at every meal.