Maybe you have heard about the alkaline diet, and its possibilities in regards to improving your health. Now, you can learn what acidic foods to avoid, and how to replace them.

Food is the most significant contributor to your health. It provides nourishment for the body to thrive and function properly. Any food can either be acidic or basic/alkaline and to stay healthy; the body must maintain a stable PH balance.

Eating too many acidic foods can negatively affect your health, while alkaline foods may help neutralize your PH back to normal.

This article goes over the most harmful acidic foods to avoid, and some healthy alternatives.

What are acidic foods?

Whether a particular food is acidic or alkaline depends on the PH scale, usually ranging between 0-14.

When you eat, all the nutrients are extracted from food leaving behind an ash residue. It’s this ash that determines the PH of that particular food.

The higher the PH, the alkaline the food, and the lower the PH, the acidic the food.

A PH level of 7 is considered neutral, with a slightly alkaline PH of between 7.35-7.45 being optimum for normal bodily functions.

Just because a food is acidic doesn’t mean it will create an acidic environment in the body. Lemon, for instance, is acidic on the surface, but after digestion, it becomes alkaline and helps stabilize normal body PH.

Balancing your body’s PH will increase oxygen supply to the cells, improve digestion, improve memory and cognition, promote heart health, boost immunity, prevent cancer, and promote bone health.

Unfortunately, a lot of the foods people eat fall on the acidic side. If uncontrolled, highly acidic body environments disrupt normal processes, leading to insulin resistance, weight gain, diabetes, low bone density, poor liver detoxification, and increased cancer risk.

Luckily, your kidneys have been designed to bring the body’s PH back to its optimal equilibrium. But eating less acidic foods may come a long way in maintaining health and wellbeing. Besides, your stomach is in an acidic environment, and consuming acidic food can only exceed the required acidity.

Acidic foods to avoid?

There are some major categories of acidic foods listed to below. If these are avoided, some symptoms of diseases, especially of acid reflex, GERD, and heartburn, can be possibly aided or alleviated.


Animal protein found in meat, including red meat, turkey, and chicken contains purines that break down to form uric acid. A high concentration of uric acid may lead to gout (a painful form of arthritis), bone and tissue damage, heart disease, and kidney disease.

High uric levels have also been linked to fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Other than the associated acidity, red meat, especially processed ones, has been shown to increase the total mortality rate, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and heart disease in both men and women.


Dairy is thought to help neutralize stomach acidity, but it actually causes heartburn, which is a symptom of acidity. This is because dairy products like cheese and milk are high in phosphorus which makes it acidic in the stomach.

Cow’s milk is a common trigger for acid reflux in healthy individuals and those with GERD.


Alcohol increases acid production in the stomach. It also causes inflammation leading to the destruction of the protective stomach mucosal lining leading to gastritis.

Alcohol further relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which allows the acid in the stomach to leak out, leading to heartburn. Over time, this may damage the esophagus, increase sensitivity, and the risk of developing other chronic conditions, including esophageal cancer.


Coffee is associated with high stomach acid production. This can trigger inflammation, abdominal discomfort, and heartburn.

And like alcohol, caffeine relaxes the muscles connecting the stomach and esophagus, causing regurgitation back into the esophagus, leading to acid reflux.


Research has found that soda and other carbonated drinks facilitate stomach acid production and relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, both of which are great contributors to heartburn and increased acid production in the stomach.

In one study, drinking carbonated beverages had a 69 percent increased risk of developing acid reflux symptoms.

In another study that involved 15000 participants, 25 percent of the participants reported nighttime heartburn, and drinking carbonated soft drinks was one of the determined predisposing factors.

Besides, soda is full of sugar which is highly inflammatory and damaging to the gut flora.

Fried foods

Whether it’s fried chicken, French fries, or funnel cake, fried foods take longer to digest, meaning they will sit in the stomach for a long time, causing fermentation and increased acidity.

Fried foods also cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax and not perform its job correctly. This causes acid reflux and heartburn.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol are hard to digest and contribute to high stomach acid production. They also increase your risk for acid reflux and may cause gas and bloating.


Tomato is highly acidic and can induce heartburn if overeaten. Always combine tomatoes with alkaline foods such as other vegetables to minimize the acidity.

Additional acidic foods to avoid include

  • Spicy foods
  • Processed wheat and its products
  • Onions
  • Processed grains
  • Corn oil
  • Maple syrup, aspartame, and processed honey
  • Soy sauce, mayonnaise include

Substitutes for acidic foods?

  • Replace animal proteins with plant proteins such as peas, chickpeas, beans, and other legumes.
  • Consider green smoothies in the morning instead of coffee.
  • Go for natural sweeteners like dates instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Focus on minimally processed or whole foods.
  • Go organic whenever possible.
  • Replace soft drinks with alkaline water or whole fruits.
  • Minimize your onion consumption, especially raw onions.

Final thoughts on acidic foods to avoid:

Acidic foods are foods with a low PH.

When consumed in plenty, they can cause inflammation, heartburn, acid reflux, esophagitis, low bone density, and to a severe extent, cancer.

Some acidic foods to avoid include meat, dairy, fried foods, coffee, and soft drinks.

For those individuals that can’t do without products such as wheat, ensure you go for whole grains and, of course, in moderation. Onions and spices can also be eaten in moderation.

Always aim for whole, minimally processed foods high in vegetables and fruits to maintain your PH within the required range.

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