Acid-alkaline balance – briefly
This article refers to the books and methods of Dr. Stephen Domenig MD, “The Alkaline Cure“, and Dr. Eva-Maria Kraske MD, “The Acid-Alkaline Balance“. Dr. Kraske’s book is available in German, French, and Spanish, but not in English. An acid-alkaline balance is not a new idea, although the connection to food is controversial. Dr. William Howard Hay also wrote about an acid-alkaline balance in his book, “A New Health Era“, published in 1935. If you are looking for fast practical advice only, read this section only. If you are looking for an explanation and the scientific details, read the rest of this article. These doctors write that:
- Some foods are acid-forming in the body, reducing the pH of the blood, tissues, and organs very slightly, depending mostly on the protein, phosphorous, chloride, or refined sugar content of the food.
- Some foods are alkaline-forming, increasing the pH of the blood, tissues, and organs very slightly, depending mostly on the mineral, particularly the magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium, content of the food.
- Healthy digestion depends on eating sixty to ninety percent alkaline-forming foods and ten to forty percent acid-forming foods, measured by portions, depending on the specific person and biochemical individuality. Dr. Domenig recommends a mix of two to one (2:1) of alkaline-forming foods to acid-forming foods.
It is not always intuitive what foods are acid-forming. For example, lemons have a sour, acidic taste, but they are alkaline-forming after they pass through your stomach. Again, the factors that make a specific food acid- or alkaline-forming are the refined sugar, protein, and mineral content. Most starch, even so-called “slow carbohydrate”, is similar to refined sugar. In other words, bread and pasta are similar to refined sugar, regarding acidification of the body.
The goal is to improve digestion, which naturally results in a healthy weight and longevity. Good health depends on optimal digestion. What is optimal digestion? It begins with an absence of constipation, bloating, diarrhea, stomach pains, and excess gas. It continues with absorption and assimilation of the nutrients into your blood, tissues, and bones. Good digestion ends with healthy excretion and leads to a healthy weight and healthy ageing.
|walnuts, pecans, most oils & nuts (except pumpkin seeds & almonds)||vegetables, especially broccoli, spinach, red beets, parsley, carrots, garlic, onion, sweet potato, kale, endive, celery, asparagus, seaweed, algae|
|eggs, fish, turkey, beef, lamb, chicken||fruits, especially lemons, citrus, apples, pears, pineapple, watermelon, most berries|
|wheat, including “whole wheat”, bread, pasta, oats, other grains and cereals, except brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, amaranth (alkaline or less acidic)||pumpkin seeds, almonds, flax seeds, chia seeds, olive oil, hempseed oil|
|lentils, soy, beans, except adzuki beans||cayenne, turmeric, cinnamon, dandelion, ginger, clove|
|coffee, black tea, alcohol, chocolate, pickles, ketchup, fried foods, salt||most herbs and spices, green tea, bee pollen|
|refined sugar, even brown sugar||adzuki beans, tofu & miso (fermented food), umeboshi plums|
|dairy, milk, cheese, yogurt (cow’s dairy)||blackstrap molasses, sea salt, mountain salt|
|food additives (preservatives, colorings, flavoring, emulsifiers, others)||apple cider vinegar (fermented food)|
|pharmaceuticals (antibiotics, psychotropics, antihistamines, aspirin, …)|
Try it for a week. Eat at least two of three alkaline-forming portions at every meal, and then see how you feel. You have nothing to lose. It can even be cheap. One way to start to apply this method is to eat meals at home, starting with a smoothie or soup. Wait ten to fifteen minutes, according to food combining. Then eat steamed vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, or carrots. Lastly, eat the eggs, fish, meat, also according to food combining. If you prefer vegan, then first take a smoothie or soup and then eat vegetables. Eat beans and healthy grains at the end of the meal. If you enjoy nuts, then eat a few at the very end of the meal. Again, it can even be cheap to apply this method, if you plan your meals and shop around. Try to buy good-quality animal foods, such as grass-fed, pasture-raised chicken and eggs. Try to avoid meat from confined animal farming operations. Try to know your suppliers, such as local suppliers.
Why does this work?
Dr. Domenig writes, “Too much acidity makes us age quicker. Worse, excess acidity creates an environment in the body where allergies and diseases can flourish.” A proper acid-alkaline balance can increase your “base metabolic rate”, which is the production of energy (adenosine triphosphate) at rest. This can give you a sense of more energy or at least less fatigue. The calorie theory of weight gain and loss is a myth. Metabolism is the total of all processes and functions of the body to keep itself healthy and in balance. This includes digesting food, absorbing nutrients, repairing and renewing tissues and cells, producing hormones, and excreting waste. A renegade pharmacist further explains why this method works here.
What is acidity? What is “pH”?
Acidity and alkalinity are measured by pH. “pH” is an acronym for “potential hydrogen” (H+). pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity. The pH scale is from zero (most acidic) to fourteen (most alkaline). Seven is neutral. Your stomach has a pH of nine-tenths to five (very acidic). Your urine is usually slightly acidic and reflects the acidity or alkalinity of your body. To observe this method work for you, buy pH test strips at your local pharmacy and measure the pH of your urine in the morning.
By definition, the more acid a solution (a liquid, such as blood or urine), the greater the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+). The more alkaline a solution, the greater the concentration of hydroxyl ions (OH-). In other words, the more alkaline a solution, the more oxygen it has. Your stomach, your urine, and your skin are acidic, but the rest of your body is slightly alkaline for health. On the other hand, it is possible to be too alkaline. Some acid-forming foods are usually required to absorb the minerals of alkaline-forming foods into your blood. A balance is desirable, but the optimal balance depends on the person and also on their condition, according to biochemical individuality.
Regulating your pH autonomically
Your blood has a pH that varies between seven and thirty-five one-hundredths (slightly alkaline) and seven and forty-five one-hundredths. Without your consciousness, your nervous system tightly regulates your blood pH in this range. You do this mostly through your urine and your breath. This is why you breathe heavily after exercise. The carbon dioxide that you exhale is acidic. You can also gradually buffer your blood pH through your bones. If your blood tends to be slightly acidic over time, then you transfer alkaline-forming minerals from your bones to increase the pH of your blood and tissues. If your blood tends to be more alkaline over time, you deposit minerals in the blood into your tissues and then into your bones.
A truly “balanced diet”
Again, what you eat or do not eat can affect your urine pH. This may also slightly affect your blood pH. Specific foods can be acid-forming or alkaline-forming after digestion, independently of their taste. Again, lemons have a sour, acidic taste, but are alkaline-forming after digestion. You can measure this effect on your urine, using pH test strips that you can find at your local pharmacy or online.
Try it for a week, and see how you feel. You have nothing to lose.
To reach your optimal acid-alkaline balance:
- Eat mostly alkaline-forming foods – sixty to ninety percent – by portions.
- Eat some acid-forming foods – ten to forty percent – by portions.
- Keep proper food combining in mind. Possibly cut sugar, dairy, and wheat.
According to Dr. Susan Richards MD, author of “Acid Alkaline Balance: The Missing Link to Health“, the elements that form acidic residue in the body are chlorine, phosphorous, sulfur, and iodine. The minerals that leave alkaline residues, similar to the ash of burned wood, are potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium. Since health depends on a balance, it is desirable to include some acid-forming foods in your eating habits, such as small portions of salt, walnuts, eggs, turkey, beef, or chocolate. Most but not all nuts, grains, beans, and legumes are acid-forming. Refined salt is made of sodium and chlorine. It tends to be acid-forming. Sea salt and mountain salt have other minerals, such as iodine and selenium, that can make them acid- or alkaline-forming on balance. Fibrous vegetables, buckwheat, oats, millet, and quinoa contain phosphorous. The phosphorous is acid-forming, but other minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, can make these foods alkaline-forming on balance. Similarly, onions and garlic contain sulfur, an acid-forming element, but other minerals can make these foods alkaline-forming on balance. Sardines, kelp, and small fish from the sea contain iodine. See the above table for details.
Skeptics and critics of the concept of the acid-alkaline balance point out that you have no direct, conscious control of your blood pH. It is controlled by your autonomic nervous system without your consciousness. Only your liver, kidneys, and lungs regulate your blood pH, without your thinking about it, at least according to this point of view. To offset acidity and restore a pH balance, your kidney actively and passively pulls bicarbonate from your gastro-intestinal tract. If there is little bicarbonate to pull, then is it possible that this can cause an imbalance? What if the liver, kidneys, or lungs are weak, damaged, or insufficient? Is there a possible long-term buffering – via the minerals in your tissues and bones? None of the critics appear to have read these books nor tried this method for themselves. This does not prevent you from reading what the critics write, but thinking for yourself. First think. Then talk. Then act. Try it for a week, at all meals, and see how you feel. If you eat a lot of snacks between meals, then eat mostly alkaline-forming snacks, such as fruits and vegetables.
In this thirty-nine-minute, subtitled video, Barbara O’Neill clearly describes the acid-alkaline balance. Other references are Dr. Russell Jaffe, Dr. Elson Haas, Dr. Otto Warburg, and others.
Acid-alkaline balance – an art and not a precise science
Many books have been written about an acid-alkaline balance. Different authors interpret this idea differently. Some of them even contradict each other about whether a specific food is acid-forming or alkaline-forming. This can be confusing, but they agree on the guidelines and on a desirable balance.
For optimal digestion and health, it is desirable to eat mostly alkaline-forming foods. What foods are alkaline-forming? In general, most vegetables and fruits and some nuts (almonds) are alkaline-forming. What foods are acid-forming? In general, coffee, sugar, starch, industrial foods, pasteurized cow’s dairy, eggs, fish, meat, and most nuts are acid-forming.
Because of biochemical individuality and the variability of other specific foods, it is possible that other foods may be acid-forming for some people and alkaline-forming for other people. Why? It may be for reasons that nobody understands, possibly because of the mineral content of that specific batch of that specific food and biochemical individuality. Listen to your body. Try it for a week, eating according to your acid-alkaline balance. Listen to your body, and see how you feel.
For me, the references are Dr. Domenig, Dr. Kraske, Dr. Richards and this list of acid- and alkaline-forming foods. Dr. Kraske points out that this idea is not new. She refers to Dr. Franz Xaver Mayr in 1900, the nutritional researcher Ragmar Berg, and Dr. Maxmillian Bircher-Brenner. All of them were active in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Naturally, each of them had their own ideas and recipes, but they all promoted the idea of the acid-alkaline balance.
The acid-alkaline balance transcends the idea “to eat more fruits and vegetables”. What type of soil they were grown can determine the mineral content. It also transcends the vegan-carnivore dichotomy. Note that there are no clinical studies to confirm the acid-alkaline balance, but there are also no clinical studies to prove that water is a cure for dehydration or that prunes have a laxative effect.
Domenig MD, Dr. Stefan, “The Alkaline Cure“, Modern Books, Elwin Street Ltd., 2014
Kraske MD, Dr. Eva Maria, “Säure-Basen-Balance“, Graefe und Unzer Verlag, 2013 (German)
Kraske MD, Dr. Eva Maria, “Equilibrio acido-base“, Hispano Europea, 2009 (Spanish)
Kraske MD, Dr. Eva Maria, “L’équilibre acido-basique“, 2013 (French)
Richards MD, Dr. Susan, “Acid Alkaline Balance: The Missing Link to Health“, self-published, 2015
Vasey ND, Christopher, “The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health“, Healing Arts Press, 2006, translated
Bieler MD, Dr. Henry, “Food Is Your Best Medicine“, Ballantine Books, 1987, review
Jubb, Annie and David, “Secrets of an Alkaline Body“, North Atlantic Books, 2004
Grosgogeat, Dr. Hervé, “La Méthode Acide-Base“, Odile Jacob, 2007 (in French)
Brown PhD, Susan, “The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide“, Square One, 2013
Hay MD, Dr. William Howard, “A New Health Era“, Hay System, 1933, read online
Young PhD, Dr. Robert, “The pH Miracle“, Grand Central Life & Style, 2005