Living Healthy Guide

Our "Living Healthy Guide" explains different ways to get healthy and stay healthy. Each category provides valuable information that can help in not only to add years to your life but life to your years. We do our best to include both the obvious as well as reliable information that you do not normally hear from the media

I. The Importance of Acid/Alkaline Balance in the Diet

Most Americans have diets that push the body into an acidic direction. In the world of health, too much acidity is not a good thing. The good news is that if a person’s blood is too acidic, the body is armed with several buffering systems designed to increase the body’s pH to make its environment less acidic. The bad news is that persistent buffering of the body’s acidity will eventually “cost” the body in terms of overall health.

For example, if the body is too acidic, it will pull minerals such as calcium out of the bones. Why does the body “insist” on keeping such a precise pH? The answer is simple: a pH of just slightly below 7 (a pH of 7 is neutral) can prove fatal. Therefore the immediate need of preserving life trumps a potential risk for osteoporosis and other chronic conditions. It should be noted however that eating more acidic foods than alkaline foods will not result in a hip fracture at the end of the day. Remember however habits related to diet are just that: habits. This means that if your eating patterns are more acidic than alkaline, you could be subjecting yourself to unnecessary health risks over a period of years.

Acidity in the body will also deplete the body of magnesium. This will result in decreased energy production within the cells thereby slowing the healing and repair process. This will also result in increased fatigue and lethargy and result in a compromised immune response. Amazingly, the importance of proper pH balance is rarely discussed by the media or even by health professionals.

A presentation such as this is of little help if one merely knows the importance of pH in the diet without actually knowing which foods to consume and which to avoid or at least to eat sparingly. This of course begs the question: which foods are alkaline and which are acidic. Before answering that question, one should take note of the fact that the pH of any food on the dinner plate is not necessarily the pH of the same food once it is metabolized in the body. A lemon is quite acidic on the chopping board but following the body’s metabolic processes, lemons will nevertheless push your body’s pH in a more alkaline direction. While a list is available below, unless you have it committed to memory or bring it to the store when you go shopping, you may become confused as to what foods are or are not alkaline.

Here then is an abbreviated list to work as a general rule of thumb. Most fruits and vegetables are alkaline forming while grains, meats, sugars, coffee and artificial sweeteners are acid forming. An acidic environment can also be formed within the body under such circumstances as extreme or prolonged stress, prolonged exercise, infections such as the flu and chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cancer.

List of Alkaline/Acid Forming Foods

Because lists of alkaline and acid forming foods may vary from one source to another, this list should be considered as generally accurate rather than exact.

Very Alkaline

Lemons, Limes, Watermelons, Pumpkin Seeds, Lentils, Onions, Sweet Potatoes, Nectarines, Raspberry, Pineapple, Cantalope, Dates, Figs, Kelp, Mango, Papaya, Seedles Grapes, Asparagus, Kiwi, Passion fruit, Pears, Raisins

Moderately Alkaline

Apples, Apricots, Avocado, Bananas, Garlic, Lettuce, Peas, Pumpkin, Kale , Parsley, Endive, Mustard green, ginger root, Broccoli, Grapefruit, Honeydew melon, Olives, Carrots, Mango, Celery, Peaches

Mildly Alkaline

Almonds, Jerusalem artichokes, Brussel sprouts, Cherries, Cucumber, Eggplant, Leeks, Okra, Mushrooms, Olives, Radishes, Tomatoes, Mayonnaise, Olive oil, Soy Beans, Potato, Bell pepper, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Beet, Coconut (fresh)

Mildly Acidic

Honey, Maple syrup, Cream, Butter, Cheese, Chicken, Venison, Fish, Duck, Brown Rice, Spinach, Fava Beans, Black eyed peas, String beans, Zucchini, Milk, Lamb, Shell fish, Turkey, Wheat, White Rice, Pinto beans, White Beans, Navy Beans, Red Beans, Lima Beans, Barley, Bran, Cashew Nuts, Cornmeal, Cranberries, Rye, Blueberries, Brazil nuts, Butter, Cheeses, Prunes

Moderately Acidic

Blueberries, Pasta, Popcorn, Coffee, Cottage Cheese, Pork, Veal, Squid, Corn, Rye, Oat, Peanuts, Snow peas, Garbanzo beans, Pomegranate, Fruit Juices (sweetened), Wheat germ, Wine, Yogurt

Very Acidic

Artifical Sweeteners, Beef, Brown Sugar, Carbonated soft drinks, Chocolate, Drugs (several types), Flour (white), Jams, Jellies, Liquor, Pastries, Table Salt, Tea (Black), Wine, Yogurt (sweetened), Beer, Sugar, Cocoa, Lobster, Pheasant, Fried foods

II. Consume Foods with High ORAC Values

While alkalinity is just one reason why you should eat your fruits and vegetables it certainly isn’t the only reason. Another one of many reasons why fruits and vegetables are an essential part of anyone’s diet are their ability to provide a rich source of antioxidants within the diet. A foods ability to protect cells from oxidative damage is expressed in ORAC units. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. ORAC measures the antioxidant potency within a particular food or substance. In other words, ORAC tells you how much a particular food can protect your cells from oxidative damage.

While terms such as “ORAC” and “antioxidant” may spark little interest in the minds of many, what may be of interest with the consumption of high ORAC foods are the practical results that come from eating them: lower rates of cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and several other chronic illnesses. As these conditions are believed to be caused at least in part by oxidative damage to the cells, it should be considered sound judgment to include large amounts of high ORAC foods in your dietary regimen.

According to an article written in February of 1999 by Judy McBride for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, eating large amounts of foods with high ORAC values resulted in:

  • Raised the antioxidant power of human blood 10 to 25 percent
  • Prevented some loss of long-term memory and learning ability in middle-aged rats
  • Maintained the ability of brain cells in middle-aged rats to respond to a chemical stimulus--a function that normally decreases with age
  • Protected rats' tiny blood vessels--capillaries--against oxygen damage

Now that we know the importance of high ORAC foods, it would still be of little benefit if we didn’t know which foods had the highest ORAC values. The following table provides a list of such foods and their respective ORAC values.