Alkalizing vs Acidic Foods and Why A Balanced pH is Key to Good Health

alkaline vs acidic diets health wellness


Last week I posted a photo on instagram talking about alkaline vs. acidic foods that garnered a positive response from many of you. I wanted to discuss the imporance in more detail and answer some questions. Its a fun topic in my opinion and SO IMPORTANT! Lets just get to it, ok?

What does pH mean?

The term pH refers to the relative proportions of acidity and alkalinity and stands for potantial hydrogen. Every living system on earth has a pH: your hair, ocean water, the air. Even Draino and lighter fluid has a pH.

Maintaining a proper pH inside our bodies is one of the necessities for good health. When we have a balanced pH we lose weight easily (assming you have weight to lose), we have clearer skin and are less likely to get sick or suffer from chronic illness.

Essentially a balanced pH = healthy af.

Health and an Imbalanaced pH

Addressing an over acidic system is fundamental to bringing the body back to  health. So what can happen if you are overly acidic which many Americans are?

Acidic enviorments are breeding grounds for pathogens that get us sick.

The ratio of celluar pH determines whether bad bacteria and pathogens incuabte or reamin dormant -basically if disease spreads or not. When tissues and organs are loaded down with acidity then the body can’t properly distribute oxygen to cells- this leads to mucus building up in lungs causing infections and viruses. The main forms of arthritis relate to a pH imbalance and accumalation of acid in the joints.

Acidity weakens the nervous system making it harder to manage stress and day to day life.

If you are constantly out of breath you might be suffering from acidosis which means the body is having trouble delivering oxygen to the cells because the blood is too acidc.

Acidic conditions in the body are also associated with cataracts,  gout, migraines, constipation, cancer, acne, skin rashes, stroke, allergies, diabetes, obesity and more. Its a laundry list people.

Why is it A Matter of Life and Death?

The pH of the enviorment determines if a living organism will thrive or die.

For example crops and plants can grow in soil that has the right pH. They will be able to absorb nutrients, bare fruit and ripen. If the soil’s pH is out of the range in which it was designed to live (either too acidic or too alkaline) it will not grow and existing plants will die.

If you put a salt water fish in a fresh water tank it wont be able to survive. Swimming pools and spas have to maintain a certian pH so it doesn’t turn green and gross shit grows all over. You get the point- pH is important.

Your internal pH works the same. If it is out of balance then your health pays the price. In order to assimulate nutrients and minerals from food your pH has to be properly balanced.

pH is measured on a scale from 0-14. 0 being acidic and 14 being alkaline. The measurement of 7 is considered neutral and there is really only one solution with a pH of 7 and that is pure distilled water.

pH is the most important factor in your health

To help illustrate the importance of the pH inside our bodies lets look at fish. Freshwater fish need a water pH between 6 and 7 to survive and thrive. This is described as slightly acidic.

If things dip below 6 then the fishes food supply will start to dwindle and their eggs cannot survive so the fish supply will start to decrease. If the pH of the water goes below 5 then almost all freshwater aquatic plants and animals die. Our oceans are begining to acidicfy from pollution which is bad news for the climate and for all living organisms in the ocean.

The pH of fluid inside our bodies works the same as the fluid outside of the fish. Our blood and the fluid in and outside of our cells has been designed by nature to function optimally when the pH is 7.30-7.45 or slightly alkaline.

When our pH is out of balance every metobolic fuction in the body suffers – if our blood becomes too acidic or too alkaline we die- just like the fish.

Mother nature is the OG genius

Our bodies were designed by nature to maintain an alkaline pH. The way it does this is through the process of neutralization. Its like momma earth knew we’d over due it on the acidic stuff (soda, fries, donuts). If the body is becoming too acid due to the food and drinks we consume then it will draw upon the bodies alkaline reserve consisting of minerals that are stored in our teeth, bones and tissues to balance the pH.

Your body naturally procudes lactic acid when you work out. Even breathing, cell building and calorie burning are normal functions that create acid that our bodies neutralize from our reserves. However the reserves are not infinte and we have to replenish the alkalizing minerals throuh proper diet rich in alkalizing foods.

Unfortunately most Americans eat a SAD diet that is full of too much acidic foods and not enough alkalizing foods.

Fruits and vegetables are alkalizing and meat, dairy, most fats, grains, and junk food are all acidic forming. The most acidic foods are refined carbohydrates (white flour, sugar), soda (especially diet) artificail sweeteners, alcohol, coffee and prescription drugs.

pH and Cancer

Back in 1931 Dr. Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery around cancer cells. He proved that cancer cells thrive in an acidic enviornemt but die when the bodily fluids are alkaline. The opposite is true for health cells in the body- they thrive in alkaline enviornments and die when the body becomes to acid. This is why many homopathic and naturapathic doctors put their patients on alkaline diets when they are diagnosed with cancer.

Whats the good news?

You have to eat health acid forming foods too. Your body does not have a way to balance an over alkaline body like it does acidic. Over alkalinity could be worse then over acidic- Just an FYI. So feel free to enjoy the coffee and the wine and the dark chocolate, ok? Just keep the quantity in check.

This being said it is extremely hard to eat too much alkalizing foods simply because our enviornment is so toxic already. The indoor and outdoor air pollutants, herbicides and pesticides on food, contaminated water supply,  cosemetics and shampoo. All these things can throw off our pH so don’t worry its highly unlikely that you will over do it on the spinach.


Eating a diet of 75-80% alkaline foods and 20-25% acidic foods creates a balanced pH in the body. To help you figure out what foods are alkaline and what foods are acidic I put together this chart for you. And if you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments or send me a DM on IG. xo

C A R A S kitchen Chart of Alkaline and Acid Forming Foods

Lemons, dates, figs, strawberries, raspberries, currants, cantaloupe, asparagus, parsley, watermelon, watercress, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens and salad, kelp, endive. Most fruits and veggies are alkaline forming. blueberries, cranberries, plums, black and green olives, pickles, white potato without the skin, jams, preserves with sugar, canned fruit,
amaranth, quinoa, millet, wild rice, brown rice, buckwheat. Acid-forming grains and dried beans become alkaline when sprouted. Tempeh and miso, if made with organic fermented soybeans, are alkaline. most grains (even whole grains) and grain products (cereal, pasta, muffins, tortillas, bread), beans, peas, lentils, oat bran, wheat bran, wheat germ, corn, popcorn, spelt. Foods made from non-organic soy beans and processed soy foods like tofu are acid forming. White rice and refined grain like white flour are extremely acid forming.
almonds, dry roasted chestnuts, hemp seed, chia seeds, fresh coconut, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, tahini, pine nuts, coconut butter. Nuts are best consumed raw and sprouted. dried coconut, most nuts and seeds and their butter are acid forming (peanut butter, cashew, almonds). Aside from coconut cooking, smoking and roasting destroys nuts and seeds healthful oils, vitamins and increases acidity.
There are no alkaline foods in this category. Nadda, zero, nope. all meats, poultry, fish and seafood. Processed, cured and preservative-laden meats and poultry (such as deli slices, bacon, hot dogs) are ridiculously acid forming – Stay away from that shit, sorry.
raw cow and goat milk and products made from them including ghee, kefir, raw cheese and raw yogurts. Cold-pressed whey concentrate from pesticide free, hormone-free, grass-fed goats and cows eggs, pasteurized cow and goat milk and products made from them, both organic and conventional including yogurts, kefir, half and half, cream, cheese. Whey protein from pasteurized milk and any product from a grain-fed cow and products containing sweeteners, soy lecithin. Processed cheese like Kraft Singles, ice cream, puddings, flavored yogurts are extremely acid forming.
freshly made milks from coconuts, coconut cream and almonds are alkaline. Ice cream made from fresh coconut milk, and almond milk using alkaline sweeteners are A-ok too, most commercial alternative dairy products are acid forming due to added preservatives, sweeteners, synthetic vitamins. This includes milks from rice, hemp, almond, soy, flax, coconut milks, yogurts, ice creams. The processing and additives are what makes them acidic.
extra-virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, unrefined avocado oil, hemp seed oil, flax seed oil, unrefined sesame oil, most refined cooking oils and vegetable oils (canola, corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower, hydrogenated oil) margarine, shortening, mayo, commercial salad dressings, animal fats, are all extremely acid forming
stevia, coconut nectar, raw honey, brown rice syrup, coconut crystals, date sugar, organic whole cane raw sugar, unsulfured black strap molasses artificial sweeteners (saccharine, aspartame, surcalose, acesulfame K are extremely acid forming and should be avoid completely. Refined white sugar (both cane and beet), brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, and processed and pasteurized honey are all extremely acid forming and should be avoided. Agave, barley malt, erythritol, truvia, pure via, xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol, cane juice, turbinado, damarara, sugar in the raw, processed sulfured molasses.
freshly made juices from fruits and vegetables are extremely alkaline forming. Lemon water and apple cider vinegar tonic is extremely alkaline. Alkaline water, spring water (fuji, evian) mineral water (still), unsweetened coconut water, green tea, KOMBUCHA sodas, both diet and regular are so freaking acid forming. Please kick the soda to the curb like a cheating and lying boyfriend. Hard liquor, beer, and wine should be super occasional. Overindulging makes them extremely acid forming for the body. Coffee, black tea, tap water, sparkling water (club soda, sweetened coconut water, La Croix (fuck). Energy drinks, sports drinks, pasteurized fruit drinks, herbal coffee substitutes like teechino are acid forming.
cayenne, garlic, ginger are all extremely alkaline. Raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar, coconut vinegar, arrowroot, braggs aminos, coconut aminos, carob, chili pepper, herbs and spices, sea salt, pink salt, bio-salt, herbamare, wheat free tamari, ketchup (natural homemade not Heinz) pure vanilla bean extract, salad dressings (made with alkaline ingredients like lemon juice, EVOO and salt) prepared mustard, dried mustard, nutmeg, Heinz ketchup, store bought mayo, iodized salt, seasoning salts, black pepper, soy sauce, tamari with wheat, most commercial salad dressings, boxed gelatin and Jell-o, distilled vinegars are super acid forming (avoid them and things made with them like salad dressings to condiments)
raw unsweetened cacao- cacao nibs, cacao powder, cacao butter, are the most alkaline forms of cacao. Other forms include unsweetened organic cacao, 100% cacao baking chocolate, organic dark chocolate with is 70% cacao and higher are slightly alkalizing. Look for chocolate not treated with “alkali (dutched). Any chocolate (even organic) that is less then 70% cacao,. Milk chocolate, white chocolate are acid forming.
bee pollen, royal jelly, chlorella, spirulina, chlorophyll. Nutritional yeast, probiotics, whole food vitamins and mineral supplements, green superfood powders, most naturally prepared food supplements. synthetic vitamins and minerals supplements, aspirin, tylenol, over the counter medications and drugs, prescription drugs, recreational drugs, tabacco, food additives, preservatives, pesticides, hormones, chewing gum, breath mints, candy, chips, junk food, protein bars.

Copyright © Cara Carin Cifelli | | 2017 | @caraskitchen

These books are filled with so much information and are the source for much of what I discussed today:

The Science of Skinny: Start Understanding Your Body’s Chemistry
Staying Healthy with Nutrition,

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  • Can I just say I love visiting Cara’s Kitchen not only do you share healthy delicious recipes you also educate and I love to learn, especially about what I should and shouldn’t be putting into my body. I had no idea why a balanced pH diet was so important.

    • Mary, thats the best compliment and absolutely something I strive for. Thanks so so much, Eating a balance an 80/20 balance of alkaline/acid foods is important for health in general, ensure you get all the nutrients you need.

  • Honey What’s Cooking

    So informative Cara. Really appreciate the article. Read the entire thing. My Brother in law died of cancer and I’m always looking for ways to keep the body alkaline. So important.

    • Nisha, I am so sotty to her about your brother in law. Eating alkaline foods also ensures you are eating nutrient dense foods which is alwasy good for prevention and long term health 🙂 I truly hope it was helpful, sending you lots of love

  • This is such a super post of info- I’ve only recently began learning about alkaline vs. acidic foods; it’s crazy some on the list that are actually acid-producing (like my blueberries- noooo, I love blueberries!), but some definitely make sense (white, starchy, processed foods).

    Le Stylo Rouge

    • Hey babe! You can totally still enjoy (organic) blueberries, we need healthy acidic forming foods too so enjoy those little blue morsel- they have tons of antioxidants and phytochemicals.

  • Sprint2theTable

    This is so interesting! We were just talking about getting those pH strips to test. I’ll be keeping this list handy!

  • my mom used to have a book called “alkalize or die.” dramatic af, but apparently true (: some of those alkalizing foods are surprising; lemons are so sour that i would have thought them to be acidic!

    • Ahh thats a great point- so when a food is categorized as alkaline vs acidic it is based on its make up during and after digestion. so yes lemons or say raw unpasturized apple cider vinegar are super acidic but are actually alkaline forming in the body during digestion!

  • I followed an Alkaline Diet as part of my New Year’s Resolutions in January this year and loved it!


    • Oh how nice! I love that you took super good care of your body 🙂 perfect resolution

  • Mes Voyages à Paris

    Yummy!! It must be delicious!!
    Mónica Sors

  • Laura Dembowski

    This was so interesting, Cara! I have been very into acid versus alkaline, and this gave me a great boost in info. AVC is one of my go to products.

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