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.

1. Meat

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 from various conditions.

A study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that out of 100,000 participants aged 50-71, 20% of men and 12% of women died in the next four years due to red meat consumption. The culprit? High levels of saturated fat found in meats like beef, pork, and lamb. The study also found that people who ate red meat at least once per week were twice as likely to die from cancer than those who didn’t eat red meat at all.

Additional effects of meat on health

Increased cholesterol levels

One of the main effects of meat on health is that it raises cholesterol levels. This is because meat is high in unhealthy fats and cholesterol itself. This, in turn, can lead to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. Additionally, high cholesterol levels can clog arteries leading to strokes and heart attacks, one of the leading causes of death in America today.

Increases the risk of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that develops when the body can’t properly control blood sugar levels. It’s typically caused by poor diet and/or lifestyle choices, but it can also be caused by genetics.

Meat consumption is one of the major causes of type 2 diabetes. This is because meat is very high in calories and fat. Meat consumption has also been linked to increased belly fat, which is a major risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes, among other metabolic conditions.

A study found that those who consume a diet high in animal protein are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The research, which was conducted by Harvard University, looked at the diets of over 130,000 people and found that those who ate the most animal protein were 32% more likely to develop diabetes than those who ate the least.

Makes it harder to lose weight

If you’re trying to lose weight, cutting out meat can help. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people who ate a mostly whole plant-based diet lost more weight than those who didn’t. This is generally because meat is high in calories and fat which contributes to insulin resistance leading to weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

Puts stress on kidneys

One of the main organs that meat consumption puts a strain on is the kidneys. This is because meat is high in protein and, as your body breaks down and metabolizes this protein, your kidneys have to work extra hard to filter out the byproducts. In fact, a diet high in animal protein has been linked with an increased risk for kidney stones and chronic kidney disease. So if you want to keep your kidneys healthy, it’s best to limit your intake of meat.

2. Dairy

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.

Other effects of dairy  include:

Causes inflammation

Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection. It helps the body to heal and protect itself. However, too much inflammation can be harmful. Dairy products are known to cause inflammation in the body because they are high in milk proteins. These proteins can provoke an immune response in the body.

This immune response can cause inflammation in different parts of the body. It can also lead to problems like Crohn’s disease and arthritis. If you’re concerned about the negative effects of dairy, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

It’s high in saturated fat

Dairy is one of the most controversial foods out there. Some people love it, while others find it to be unhealthy. But the truth remains that dairy is high in saturated fat, which can negatively affect your health.
Saturated fat can clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease, among other issues.

Casein causes cancer

Dairy products are a major source of casein, a protein that has been linked to cancer. Casein is found in most dairy products, including milk, cheese, and ice cream.

Studies have found that casein can cause cancer in both humans and animals. In humans, it’s been linked to prostate, ovarian, and other cancers. In animals, it’s been linked to cancer of the liver, kidney, and pancreas.

Hormonal imbalance

Dairy is full of hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. These hormones can have negative effects on your body, including an increase in fat storage and weight gain. Additionally, dairy can also cause hormonal disorders such as PMS and menopause.

If you are looking to improve your health and reduce your risk of disease, it is important to avoid dairy products. There are many other healthy foods that offer similar benefits without the negative side effects.

Increases the risk of osteoporosis

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who consume dairy products are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. The study examined data from 10,000 women from the Nurses’ Health Study. It found that those who consumed dairy products daily were 33% more likely to develop osteoporosis than those who didn’t.

The study found that dairy products were also linked with an increased risk of hip fractures. Women who drank milk or used cheese daily were 74% more likely to have a hip fracture than those who didn’t.
If you’re worried about your bone health, avoiding dairy products is essential.


3. Alcohol

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.

Additional effects of alcohol on health

It disrupts brain functions

One of the most significant effects of alcohol consumption is that it disrupts brain function.
This disruption can have a number of consequences. For example, alcohol can cause confusion and disorientation. It can also lead to poor decision-making and poor coordination. These effects can lead to accidents and injuries.

It can cause inflammation of the pancreas

Another effect of alcohol in the body is inflammation of the pancreas or pancreatitis.

 This inflammation can lead to problems with sugar metabolism, including diabetes. It can also cause other diseases, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. In fact, alcohol is responsible for about 40% of all liver cancer cases.

lowers the immune system

One of the negative effects of alcohol on the body is that it lowers the immune system. This makes people more susceptible to infections, which can lead to serious health problems.

4. Coffee

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.

Additional effects of coffee on health include

Causes anxiety

Coffee is a popular beverage that many people enjoy. However, coffee has some negative effects on the body. One of the most common negative effects of coffee is anxiety.

Caffeine can interact with other chemicals in your brain to create anxiety symptoms. Also, caffeine blocks the receptors in the brain that are responsible for calming brain activity. When this happens, anxiety symptoms can increase, including feelings of stress, fear, and panic.

High blood pressure

Coffee is a diuretic, which means it causes the body to lose water. This can lead to high blood pressure, because the body tries to retain water by increasing the pressure in the blood vessels.

Rapid heart rate

Caffeine is a stimulant and it increases heart rate by increasing the amount of blood that flows through the veins. This increased flow can lead to problems such as anxiety, panic attacks, and even heart failure. For people with preexisting conditions such as heart disease or hypertension, coffee can make these conditions worse.

Digestive issues

Coffee also has a dehydrating effect on the body, which can cause constipation and other digestive issues. It can also increase your risk for stomach cancer, liver problems, and kidney stones.

5. Soda

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.

Other effects of soda on the body include:

Leaches calcium

Soda can leach calcium from bones. This can lead to osteoporosis later in life. Additionally, soda can contribute to tooth decay and other dental problems.

increases the risk of obesity

In a study published in the journal “PLoS One,” researchers analyzed data from more than 600,000 people and found that people who consumed soda on a daily basis were almost twice as likely to be obese as those who didn’t drink soda. The study also found that people who drank sugar-sweetened soda were especially at risk for obesity. Replacing sugary drinks with lower-calorie alternatives could help reduce the prevalence of obesity and its serious health consequences.

increases the risk of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones, making them easy to be fractured.

According to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, women who drink soda each day are 33% more likely to develop osteoporosis than women who don’t drink soda. Additionally, research has shown that people who drink two or more servings of sugary drinks per day are 54% more likely to develop osteoporosis than those who don’t drink sugary drinks.

6. 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.

Other effects of fried food

insulin resistance

One of the main effects of fried food on the body is insulin resistance. This occurs when the body becomes resistant to the hormone insulin, which helps to control blood sugar levels. This can lead to type 2 diabetes or other health problems. Fried foods also contain large amounts of unhealthy fats and calories, which can contribute to weight gain and other health problems.

Fried food can cause acne

Acne is a skin condition that is caused by the blockage of oil and sweat glands on the skin’s surface. The oil and sweat mix with sebum, which is a secretion that helps to keep the skin moist and healthy. When these three factors are combined, they create an environment that is hospitable for bacteria to grow.

Heart disease and stroke

If you’re eating a lot of fried foods, it might not be the best idea for your health. Fried food can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a study published in the journal “Lancet.” The study found that people who ate the most fried food had a 36% increased risk of heart disease and a 42% increased risk of stroke. These risks were even greater for people who ate the most unhealthy types of fried foods, like those high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

7. 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. Besides increasing your acidity levels, artificial sweeteners can alter your taste buds, promote eczema, cause kidney toxicity, cause migraines, 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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