You are certainly familiar with both basic and acidic , also in relation to food. But what exactly is it all about? Which foods are acidic and is it advisable to avoid them and switch to a purely alkaline diet if you want to lead a healthy life?
In this article we explain in detail what acidic foods are all about, how to recognize them and what you should consider when eating them. In addition, it is discussed how to eat healthily now, in relation to alkaline and acidic .
the essentials in brief
- To counteract acidification in the body, an alkaline diet can be useful. Alkaline foods can help to flush unhealthy acids out of the body.
- Acidic foods have the stigma of leading to hyperacidity if consumed in excess. The consequences are said to be a wide variety of diseases.
- The be-all and end-all for a healthy lifestyle is a healthy and balanced diet, as well as plenty of exercise and avoiding excessive stress.
Background: What is meant by acidic foods and how do they affect your body?
In our guide, we answer the most important questions about acidic foods and give you information on how they affect your body.
What exactly are acidic foods?
Different foods have different effects on our metabolism. Foods with potassium, magnesium , calcium and sodium have a basic effect on our body. In addition, the protein content decides whether a food is metabolized as acidic or basic.
Despite extensive research, it has not yet been conclusively clarified how much acid which foods produce. The PRAL classification offers a point of reference and thus a possible guideline. PRAL stands for potential renal acid load. Food is divided into acidic, neutral and basic based on the PRAL value.
The table below gives you an overview of basic and acidic foods. If you are acidic due to excessive consumption of acidic foods, you can eat an excess of bases. This means that you eat more alkaline than acidic foods.
In the case of the PRAL values, alkaline foods get a negative value (e.g. lamb's lettuce -5.0) and acidic foods get a positive value (e.g. Gouda 18.6). The higher the PRAL value, the more acidic the respective food is metabolized.
Milk and, accordingly, dairy products are among the acidic foods. (Image source: unsplash / Jet Timms)
The foods olive oil, sunflower oil, kefir and white sugar are classified as neutral. Especially with the white sugar, you realize that it's not about how healthy a food is in itself. It's all about how much acid the food metabolizes in the body.(1)
Which food has which PRAL value?
In order to know which foods are acidic and which are basic, we have created several tables for you below. Here you can find the PRAL value for the respective food. By increasing the intake of alkaline foods and reducing acidic foods, you can bring your acid-base balance back into balance.
Table 1: Cereals & Fruit
|Sour: Cereals and flours||PRAL value||Basic: fruit||PRAL value|
|wholemeal rye flour||5.9||peach||-2.4|
|whole wheat flour||8.2||Currants, black||-6.5|
Table 2: Dairy products, eggs and vegetables
|Sour: Dairy products and eggs||PRAL value||Basic: vegetables||PRAL value|
|egg yolk||23.4||Lamb's lettuce||-5.0|
|Cream, sour, fresh||1.2||sauerkraut||-3.0|
Whey is the only milk product that is alkaline with a PRAL value of -1.6.
Table 3: Legumes & Nuts
|Sour: legumes / nuts||PRAL value||Basic: legumes||PRAL value|
|legumes / nuts||PRAL value||legumes||PRAL value|
|Lentils (green, brown)||3.5|
Table 4: Cakes and sweets
|Sour: cakes and sweets||PRAL value||Basic: Sweets||PRAL value|
|milk ice cream||0.6||Honey||-0.3|
|Biscuit cake||3.7||Nut nougat cream||-1.4|
|brown cane sugar||-1.2|
Table 5: Pasta, herbs, vinegar and oils
|Sour: Pasta||PRAL value||Basic: herbs and vinegar||PRAL value|
|egg noodles||6.4||Apple Cider Vinegar||-2.3|
|whole wheat spaghetti||7.3||Balsamic vinegar||-1.6|
Table 6: Fish, Seafood & Bread
Caution: All foods in the table below are acidic and should therefore be reduced as much as possible in an alkaline diet.
|Sour: fish and seafood||PRAL value||Sour: bread||PRAL value|
|halibut||7.8||mixed rye bread||4.0|
|herring||7.0||Whole grain bread||5.3|
|cod fillet||7.1||White bread||3.7|
|crabs||15.5||mixed wheat bread||3.8|
|Sardines in Oil||13.5|
Table 7: Meat, sausages & beverages
|Sour: meat, sausages and beverages||PRAL value||Basic: drinks||PRAL value|
|beer ham||8.3||apple juice, unsweetened||-2.2|
|duck, muscle meat||8.4||vegetable juice||-3.6|
|lamb meat||7.6||White wine||-1.2|
In these tables we have listed various foods with their PRAL values. With a base-rich diet made up of lots of fruit and, above all, vegetables, potential over-acidification of the body is buffered.
What do acidic foods do in the body?
Your body naturally has its own buffering and excretion systems to neutralize or dispose of the acids that are produced during metabolism. Volatile acids are disposed of through the lungs by exhaling CO2, the liver breaks down metabolic acids, and fixed acids are excreted through the kidneys. However, if there is a permanent acid overload, the buffer and excretion systems reach their limits. Acidification occurs.
An increased intake of sodium chloride, for example, which displaces potassium, which is so important for your body, has devastating consequences for your health. This can cause a change in the blood pH value and the buffer systems it contains can decrease. In order to protect the buffer systems in the blood, the body first deposits the acids in the connective tissue.
If you eat more alkaline foods, they ensure the removal of acidic metabolic products from the connective tissue . They also ensure that their buffer and water-binding capacity can regenerate. If more and more acidic metabolites accumulate over a long period of time, the buffer reserves can no longer regenerate completely. This leads to acidification of the body.(3)
Fruits and vegetables are alkaline foods and help the body to eliminate acids. (Image source: unsplash / Tom Burgberg)
What are the consequences of acidification in your body?
Over-acidification of the body is triggered by too many animal products, too many isolated carbohydrates and, above all, by too many heavily processed and nutrient-poor foods. This overacidification can develop in the body over decades. Acidosis is not acutely life-threatening, but it can lead to chronic diseases in the long term. Consequences of over-acidification can be:
- Osteopenia (decrease in bone density, possible precursor to osteoporosis)(4,5)
- Osteoporosis (reduction in bone density, increased fractures)
- high blood pressure
- bone and muscle wasting
- Accelerate kidney disease(6,7,8)
- allergic diseases
- rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory disease of the joints)
- Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries due to deposits)(9)
These diseases can be improved by an excess of basic foods, insofar as they are caused by over-acidification caused by the diet. There are other ways to counteract or prevent acidification in the body. More on that in the next section.
What can I do against hyperacidity from acidic foods?
We have put together a list of ways you can counteract acidosis in your body. If your body is not acidic, these are also good ways to prevent acidification.
- Diet change: An important point is the diet change, which means that you eat more alkaline than acidic foods. This balances the acidity in the body.
- Exercise / Sport: Through more sport and exercise in everyday life, you promote deeper breathing and thus the exhalation of carbon dioxide. It also makes you fitter and more resilient.
- Sweating: Sweating during sports or during a sauna session promotes the elimination of acid through the skin. In addition, regular exercise and repeated sauna sessions can strengthen the immune system.
- Avoid unnecessary stress and anger: If you have a lot of stress or anger, this promotes acidification of the body due to stress hormones. So try to avoid unnecessary stress or anger.
- Drink a lot: The intake of liquid facilitates acid excretion via the kidneys. However, only non-carbonated water , unsweetened herbal teas and heavily diluted fruit juices are recommended here.
As you can see, there are a number of ways to support your body in eliminating acids and also to do something good for your body. A long-term change in your habits could also prevent renewed hyperacidity.(10)
Should I only eat alkaline now?
You are probably now asking yourself whether you should only eat alkaline foods. First of all, it should be said that an alkaline diet is an important part of hyperacidity caused by acidic foods. Alkaline foods help the body drain and neutralize acids.
However, it should not be forgotten that, for example, eggs or walnuts are among the acidic foods. These contain, among other things, health-promoting antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, these foods should not simply be completely eliminated from the menu. For these reasons, we advise against a purely alkaline diet. However, a diet with an excess of bases can make sense.
In conclusion, a diet high in acidic foods is not healthy for the body in the long run. Over-acidification of the body can lead to mild consequences such as tiredness or sluggishness and even to the onset of an illness. Although this process happens over decades, you still want to be healthy and fit in old age.
However, we cannot recommend a purely alkaline diet, as some foods, such as walnuts or eggs, are acidic foods. And this despite the fact that these foods do contain important antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
A good balance between alkaline and acidic foods, with alkaline foods predominating, is the better choice here. In addition, exercise and sport and avoiding stress and anger contribute to a healthy and fit body.