You know the difference between acids and alkalis, thanks to Chemistry lessons in school. In Chemistry labs, you learnt about the acidic and alkaline properties of a substance, but did you know that they have a large role to play in our diet and bodily functions? While choosing your food, you need to understand what will help balance pH levels in your body.
Before we tell you which foods are acidic and which are alkaline, let us first understand how they impact our body. TV commercials often show soaps which can balance pH levels of the skin and how an imbalance can make it dry and dull. Similarly, there should be a perfect balance of acidic and alkaline foods in your dietary intake for the proper functioning of the organs and your overall well-being.
Praduman Bisht, executive chef, Marriott Suites Pune, Koregaon Park, says that the body has an acid-alkaline ratio which is a balance between positively and negatively charged ions, and is controlled by the kidney.
“A lot of people are raising their awareness about alkaline diet and are getting more inclined towards it to live a healthy life. It helps in slow ageing, preserves muscle mass and even helps in controlling diabetes and kidney stones and many other health-related issues,” he explains.
So what food should you eat in plenty and what must you avoid? “All-purpose flour, sugar, dairy, meat and processed foods are all acidic whereas fruits and vegetables, which are high in fibre and have antioxidants, are alkaline foods. Increase of acidic level in the body can cause certain changes like excess weight, weak bones, dental problems, fatigue, skin problems, muscle pain and even arthritis which is also known as gout,” says Bisht.
Some of the acid-causing food include cottage cheese, curd, eggs, cheddar cheese, trout, salami, turkey, alcohol and so on. “Apricots, oranges, raisins, strawberries, watermelons, asparagus, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, lemon juice etc are alkaline foods. You will be amazed to know that lemon being acidic in nature is still an alkaline food ingredient and aids in flushing out toxins from the body. Also, water is a natural alkaline which gets rid of all toxic agents and acids from the body. Considering the hot weather these days, one should try to have alkaline foods in their natural states or raw like lemon water, orange juice, watermelon, raw avocados, crudites of bell peppers, celery sticks and carrots, a full bowl of quinoa salad etc,” says Bisht adding, “Anyone aiming to reduce weight should definitely go for an alkaline diet plan.”
Contrary to common belief acidic food like lemon, raw apple cider vinegar and so on, act as alkaline elements in the body.
Arindam Bhattacharya, executive chef, Le Meridien Mahabaleshwar, says that people living in cities have been consuming highly acidic food over the past few decades. Sandwiches, colas, samosas, doughnuts, pizzas etc do affect the acidic balance of the stomach in the long run. He says, “Foods that are highly acidic include chicken, grains, eggs, peanuts, fish, seafood, and all dairy products whereas foods that are alkaline in nature are green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, bananas, seaweed/ sea salt, root vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, onion, garlic and ginger.”
When asked how does one include alkaline food in one’s diet and ensure that there is a perfect pH balance in the body Bhattacharya says, “Most traditional Indian meals have the right balance of alkaline ingredients. A simple vegetable preparation like Gobi Matar or Saag are perfect examples of the same. An Asian vegetable Stir Fry is also a good way to consume alkaline ingredients. Smoothies, using fruits and almond milk, are another way of consuming alkaline ingredients.”
pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is. On a scale of 0 to 14, a pH of 0 is totally acidic, 14 is totally alkaline, and 7 is neutral.
The blood running through our veins is slightly alkaline (pH between 7.35 and 7.45.) While acidity in body is needed to break down food and prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria and foreign bodies inside the body, the amount of acidic food that you consume needs to be kept in check. The first sign of excessive acidic substance in your body is the change in the colour, and smell of your urine. Hence alkaline food is extremely important for your health as it controls and reduces acidity in your system, boosts bone health, prevents kidney stones and back pain, muscle wasting, hypertension, stroke, cancer, asthma and so on.