Why and How to Eat More Alkaline-Forming Foods
Alkalinity is one of the main benefits that whole, plant-based foods provide. People that I work with are often fascinated by the health benefits of alkaline-forming foods. They find it amazing that they can influence their alkalinity simply by their dietary choices. It’s empowering to educate yourself on the pH scale, why you should care about alkalinity, which foods are most alkaline-forming, and how to incorporate more alkaline-forming foods into your diet.
What is the pH scale?
The pH scale measures the acid-alkaline balance within the body. The scale ranges from pH 1 to pH 14; pH 1 being the most acidic, and pH14 being the most alkaline. Our bodies work automatically to control our pH balance to be within a tight range of 7.35 and 7.45; but we can influence our alkalinity through the foods that we eat. It’s important to note that when foods are digested, they then produce an acid or alkaline product in the body. This is why foods that tests acidic outside of the body, such as lemons, can actually be alkaline-forming in the body. It’s also important to note that any type of stress causes acidity in the body as well, so we don’t need to be worried about getting acid-forming foods into our diets. Due to non-dietary forms of stress, our bodies tend to sway to the acidic side.
Why should we care about alkalinity?
Acid-forming foods produce toxins within the body, can cause free radicals, and can create an environment for bacteria and viruses to thrive. People with acidic bodies also tend to experience more fatigue since acidity is a stressor, which causes cortisol to rise, and can impair sleep and increasing body fat. Excess acidity can also be harmful to the kidneys, cause loss of muscle mass, and cause loss of bone mass . In addition to overall well-being, alkalinity is a key factor in athletic performance and recovery.
What are the most alkaline foods?
In general, meat, eggs, dairy and refined carbohydrates are acid-forming; and fruits, vegetables, pseudograins, and certain seeds and vinegars are alkaline-forming. Cooked foods are also generally more acidic than raw foods. Brendan Brazier’s book, The Thrive Diet, has a great chart that categorizes different foods from most alkaline to most acidic. It’s a great idea to grab a copy of his book for reference.
What are the easiest ways to get more alkaline foods into our diets?
I always suggest focusing on “crowding in” rather than restricting. Think “what whole, alkaline, plant-based foods can I add to my diet?” rather than “what should I be avoiding?” When you add whole nutrient dense foods, you’ll realize how much better your body feels, and you’ll naturally gravitate toward those foods anyway. Your taste buds do change! I also recommend taking things slow and making small changes. Too much change made too fast can also be a stressor to your nervous system as well (and as we now know, stress causes acidity in the body). So take things slow, and have fun with it!
The following are simple ideas for how to add more alkaline foods into your diet:
• Add greens to your morning smoothie. Greens are extremely alkaline! If you don’t normally enjoy eating greens, try adding them into a fruit smoothie - you’ll hardly be able to taste them and you’ll gain all of their nutritional benefits.
• Add broccoli or spinach to a noodle dish or grain bowl. For example, if you usually have noodles with tomato sauce, add some spinach!
• Add lemon or lime to your water. This is one of the simplest ways to increase your body’s pH! Be sure to drink your lemon or lime water with a straw to protect the enamel on your teeth though.
• Swap white pasta and white rice for whole pseudo grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, millet, or quinoa. This will give you the same satisfaction of a delicious grain-based meal, but with the health benefits of alkalinity and greater nutrient density.
• Add fresh herbs to any dish! For example, parsley is extremely alkaline, and you can simply toss it on top of almost any savory dish.
• Swap coffee for Green Tea or Yerba Mate. Green Tea and Yerba Mate are both stimulating, but they’re highly alkaline-forming, unlike coffee which is highly-acidic.
• Pack fruit, pumpkin seeds, and almonds as snacks. These are such simple snacks for when you’re on the go. It’s always great to be prepared incase you don’t have access to health snack options when you’re out.
• Use apple cider vinegar in your salad dressings. Vinegars are known to be acidic, but apple cider vinegar is actually promotes an alkalinity in the body. Swapping out other vinegars for apple cider vinegar is a simple way to incorporate more alkaline foods.
How much alkaline food do you get in your daily diet? An alkaline diet creates optimal health, which gives you optimal energy, which allows you to achieve high levels of productivity, which gives more time to enjoy doing whatever it is you love to do! Let me know in the comments below how you’re going to incorporate more alkaline food into your diet this week.
Lots of love,
1. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (2016). Acid and Alkaline-Forming Foods.
2. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (2016). Glorious Greens.
3. Brazier, Brendan. The Thrive Diet, 10th Anniversary Edition. Penguin Canada.
4. NutritionFacts.org. Alkaline Diet. Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/alkaline-diet/.
5. NutritionFacts.org. Testing Your Diet With Pee & Purple Cabbage. Retrieved from
6. Campbell, Colin T. 1997. China Report: Osteoporosis. Retreived from https://nutritionstudies.org/china
7. Brazier, B. The Alkaline Advantage How pH Promotes Optimal Health and Performance. Retreived from http://nutritionstudies.org/alkaline-advantage-ph-promotes-optimal-health-performance/.