Acidic foods are foods that increase metabolic acid production when digested. This acid is produced by the body during digestion and then eliminated in the urine. It can cause oxidative stress, which can increase your risk for illnesses like the flu, diabetes or obesity. You should consume these foods in moderation, and should only make-up about 40% of your total diet.
It is important that acidic foods do not necessarily have an acidic pH. They are referred to as acidic because they produce acidic waste that decreases metabolic pH.
Although it is not scientifically supported that consuming acidic foods will modify body pH, these foods should be consumed in moderation. Sodas and processed foods should especially be consumed in moderation, as excess intake may contribute to the development of health conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer.
List of acidic foods
The most common symptoms acidic foods are:
Grains like rice, couscous, wheat, corn, carrob, buckwheat, rye and cereal germ (as well as the products prepared with these grains, like bread, pasta, and cake) are acidic foods. The digestion of these increases acidic waste products in the body.
Although these are important for a balanced and healthy diet, they should be consumed in moderation as they can contribute to the emergence of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure or even cancer.
2. Milk and dairy products
Milk and dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and heavy cream can also increase waste products in the body. This can interfere with immune system functioning and also cause illnesses like osteoporosis and high blood pressure.
Nonetheless, consuming dairy is important for bone and muscle health, and therefore consumption should be maintained.
3. Animal-based protein
Just like other acidic foods, animal-based protein (like eggs, meat, fish, seafood and chicken) and increase metabolic acidity. This can lead to muscle mass loss, osteoporosis and kidney stones.
When eaten in excess, this protein can increase acidic waste-products in the body. Therefore, these should also be consumed in moderation.
Legumes like beans, lentils, chickpeas and soybeans also have the potential to increase acidity and decrease pH in the body during digestion.
Although these are acidic foods, legumes have low in fat and rich in fiber, minerals and protein. They should be consumed on a daily basis, but in moderation.
5. Processed foods
Mayonnaise, ketchup, chocolate, refined sugar, margarine, sausage, mortadella, soda, processed juices and alcohol are just some processed foods that can increase metabolic acid in the body.
These foods generally contain saturated fat, sugar and chemical additive which can promote the development of illnesses like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Therefore, you should avoid consuming these when possible.
Alkaline foods vs acidic foods
Different from acidic foods, alkaline foods (like fruits, vegetables, plant-based fat and herbs) can decrease the production of acidic waste products that are eliminated through the urine.
Eating too many acidic foods can increase the amount of acidic waste products that are released in the urine. This creates oxidative stress, which contributes the development and diseases like cancer and high blood pressure.
There is no scientific evidence to support whether eating acidic foods will increase body pH, however. Therefore, it is important to consult a registered dietitian to assess your current diet and prepare a more customized meal plan suited to your health goals.
Are fruits considered to be acidic?
Although the majority of fruits contain a more acidic flavor, fruits are generally considered to be alkaline. They help to decrease acidity in the body. However, it is important to note that some fruits can worsen gastrointestinal symptoms related to stomach ulcers or GERD.
Incorporating acidic foods into diet
Acidic foods are important and do have a place in our diet. However, they should only make-up about 40% of your daily intake, while the other 60% should be acidic foods.
To include acidic foods into your diet, you should opt for those that are natural and less processed, like beans, lentils, eggs, yogurt or milk, which are essential for our body. Processed foods, like refined sugar, sauces and white flour, should be avoided.
A more alkaline diet, which is rich in fruits, veggies and natural foods, contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which help to regulate metabolic pH. This helps to strengthen the immune system and prevent the development of health conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity.
Healthy recipes with acidic foods
Acidic foods can be consumed on a daily basis, but in moderation and together with alkaline foods. Some examples of recipes that respect this balance of alkaline and acidic foods are:
1. Veggie omelet
- 1 egg
- 50 g spinach
- 30 g fresh mushrooms
- 3 cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- oregano and pepper to taste
How to prepare:
Beat the egg in a bowl, and add the spinach (diced), tomatoes and spices. Mix carefully. Heat up the olive oil in a frying pan and pour the egg mixture in. Cook on low heat for about 2 minutes, or until the omelet starts to form on the bottom, Then flip the omelet and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
2. Lentil salad
- 50 g lentils
- ¼ tomato (without seeds, diced)
- ¼ yellow pepper (without seeds, diced)
- ¼ green pepper (without seeds, diced)
- ¼ onions (diced)
- 1 teaspoon of chives (diced)
- 1 teaspoon of parsley (diced)
- 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- Lemon juice, to taste
- White pepper, to taste
How to prepare:
Soak the lentils in water for one day. Strain the water and cook in a pot of boiling water with the bay leaf for 2 minute. Strain this water once cooked and allow the lentils to cool. In a bowl, add the lentils and all the other ingredients. Mix and serve.