Autumn 2014 True Natural Health Magazine – Your Questions Answered
By Roger French
QUESTION: What is it that makes a food acid-forming or alkali-forming? I have heard that all cooked vegetables are acid-forming. If this is the case, why does cooking make them acid-forming?
Foods are either acid-forming or alkali-forming in the body, except for a few that are neutral. First and foremost, note that this has nothing to do with the acidity or alkalinity of the food itself, but rather the acidic or alkaline residue that that food leaves in the body after it is processed, that is metabolised.
One of the best examples of this is lemons. Their juice is very acidic (feel the sting if a drop gets into a cut on your skin), yet lemons are extremely alkaline forming in the body. Likewise, meat will test alkaline before digestion, but after metabolism is complete, most meats are very acid forming.
The explanation is simple enough. The alkali-forming foods contain a predominance of the alkaline minerals, potassium, magnesium and calcium, and after metabolism is complete, these minerals make the bodily fluids more alkaline. For the acid-forming foods, it is the opposite. Their predominant minerals are the acidic minerals, chlorine, phosphorous and sulphur, and they leave the bodily fluids more acidic.
Broadly speaking, the alkali-forming foods are the fresh, ripe fruits and green, yellow, red and blue vegetables, while the acid-forming foods are almost all the rest, that is, those with substantial contents of protein, carbohydrate and fat – meat, cheese, eggs, nuts, legumes, seeds, grain foods (such as bread, pasta, rice and cakes), refined sugar, coffee, tea and so on.
Neutral foods include vegetable oils and unpasteurised dairy products.
There are a few notable exceptions to the general rules. Sour berries and sour plums are slightly acid-forming, whereas almonds, millet, quinoa, soya beans and soya products, sesame seeds, fresh coconut and unheated (‘raw’) honey are slightly alkali-forming.
The acid-forming foods have their acid-forming property increased by the fact that, on digestion, proteins yield amino acids, carbohydrates yield carbonic acid and fats yield fatty acids.
But how can lemons and other acid fruits be ultimately alkali-forming? One of the greatest mistakes in nutrition is the assumption (made by many orthodox doctors) that acid fruits, including citrus, pineapples and tomatoes, are acid-forming. They are not. Their weak organic acids are actually intermediate stages of the plant manufacturing sugar. During metabolism, these acids are ‘burned’ to release energy and the acidic end-product, carbon dioxide, is breathed out, leaving a residue of the alkaline minerals. We get rid of the acidic part and are left with the alkaline part. Hence, ripe acid fruits, like other fruits, are alkali-forming.
The foundation of sound nutrition is to maintain balance between the acidic minerals and the alkaline minerals in the diet. Because fruits and vegetables have high water contents (averaging around 85 – 90%), we need much more of them to balance the concentrated foods. Fruits and veggies need to comprise three-quarters to four-fifths of total food intake (by weight), with the foods that supply protein, carbohydrate and fat comprising the remaining one-quarter to one-fifth.
Just how important is this acid-alkali balance? It is critical to life. Just as body temperature is kept within very narrow limits, so is the acid-alkaline state of the blood, which should be between 7.3 and 7.4, ideally 7.36. If it departs much from this range, we are in big trouble. However, the bloodstream is strongly buffered to stay within these limits, but the tissue fluids can sacrifice their acid-alkali level. The typical way of eating in Australia and the Western world generally is highly acid-forming, resulting in the tissue fluids becoming highly acidic, which paves the way for a Pandora’s box of diseases, both acute and degenerative.
Finally, does cooking veggies (or fruit) change them from alkali-forming to acid-forming? I can find no evidence that it does, and indirect evidence that it does not. The minerals are not necessarily rendered inorganic and the alkaline minerals still contribute their alkaline effect.