It is important for optimal health to eat a high proportion of anti-inflammatory alkaline-forming/ alkalising foods, which are mainly fruit and vegetables, and a low proportion of acid-forming foods, which include all animal products, refined foods, fried foods, grains and sugar. The food and drink we consume impacts our internal environment. Medical research shows that cells with higher acidity in the body are associated with disease. I also experience the effects of the acidity or alkilinity of food directly everyday as an arthritic, if I eat acidic foods then my joints are more painful. I also get indigestion, as a coeliac and lactose intolerant my digestive system is sensitive. I am across the board especially sensitive to the effects of foods. It is very useful for me as an arthritic especially to categorise foods as alkaline or acidic, because that definition directly corresponds to the foods that make me well or unwell. Foods that fall under the acidic category are generally unhealthy if eaten too much, and foods that fall under the alkaline category are generally healthy to eat a lot of, and you should. This is the basic premise.
an anti-inflammatory diet of mostly alkaline foods is giving your body (and brain) what it needs to be as healthy as it can be.
Things, however, are rarely black and white, there is much that is not known about the way the body works and the internal effects of food, we all to often isolate an issue and it is the holistic perspective that is lacking. This is very true of many scientific arguments that are used against the concept of alkalising foods, and for and against many such ‘schools of thought’. The information presented is viable and important, but not conclusive as it is not holistic. And so we need to draw from many sources of information, the most important being ourselves. How do we react to different food? Much is obvious to us as we experience its effects and use our common sense and observation skills (follow an elimination diet if needed, and keep a health diary, it is very useful for such analysis), and also the wisdom that is rich throughout the world and from the past as to the health-giving properties of foods and good combinations.
I have provided links, at the bottom of each health page and in my resources, to places I have visited as an aid to online research, as a time-saver, but not as a conclusive guide. Online sources of information are difficult to verify, there are many competing voices and varying opinions. I always take a generalised view, I use my common-sense and my experience. I have a research-based degree in Social Anthropology, and I am trained to sift through information and perspectives and strive for objectivity. I would say that it is good to explore issues, and that online is often the only place to do that and certainly the easiest, but that it is always important to draw back, don’t throw yourself into an extreme unless you have conclusive evidence, which basically has to come from you. In general I would say extremes aren’t advisable, what we should all be looking for is balance. Some things of course are obvious, the evidence is out there plain to see about foods that are obviously harmful to health, and that a whole food diet is conducive to health. But when it comes to different schools of thought, they each have their ideology to sell and that does not do it for me. I’m interested in holistic truth.
Looking at the alkalising effects of food is just a way of coming at the matter, which is that alkaline-forming foods are more conducive to health than acidic foods, and that this is especially important to people fighting illness. The fact is that fruit and vegetables are the most healthy foods, they give us most of what we need; eat a balanced diet of low-processed and mostly whole foods high in fruit and veg, eat fermented foods, soaked and sprouted pulses, seeds and nuts for maximum nutrients, protein and healthy fats, giving the easiest digestion, and you’re eating well and nurturing yourself.
find a diet that suits you and enjoy it!
Fermented foods are acidic and very beneficial to health, in fact our microbiome holds the key to health in many ways. Squash, berries and other acidic fruits are good for you. But if you ate too many of them in proportion you would feel unwell. It’s about balance. For most people eating grains in a balanced diet is fine, eating gluten is fine if you are not intolerant to it, but I would say it is best to avoid refined foods, and especially if you have an inflammatory health condition it is important to really focus on alkaline-forming foods and to avoid those foods which will exacerbate inflammation. And as there are healthier alternatives to foods such as wheat and corn, it’s good for everyone to embrace them as part of their diet at least. The advice out there is to eat 70% alkalising foods, and 30% acidic. I’d say that this is a good guideline.
focus on eating natural whole foods, be aware of the foods that disagree with you and you can’t go far wrong.
And far from being boring or lacking in flavour, the more natural and unprocessed your diet is the better your taste buds will become and the more pleasurable food will be. A plant-based diet can be so incredibly varied and wonderful. Check out my recipes, which are specifically anti-inflammatory, and the resources page for a selection of fantastic plant-based blogs. There are more delicious and easy to prepare meals, snacks, desserts and bakes to make than you could eat in a life-time, and just so much inspiration out there! It’s easy to be put off when talking about the scientific side of food and health, or for the food to be imagined as unappealing, but really this couldn’t be further from the truth!
a plant-based revolution is going on out there, it’s the most exciting thing!!
Now for a list. It’s a useful guideline and a good reminder.
ACIDIC INFLAMMATORY FOODS
Refined foods such as refined flour and sugar are very acidic and unhealthy.
Sugar is highly acidic and inflammatory. Always choose natural sugar alternatives, in moderation. Stevia leaf extract is an alkaline sweetener and so anti-inflammatory.
All highly processed foods are acidic and unhealthy, lacking in nutrition, higher GI/GL, and bad for the digestion.
Grains are inflammatory, especially wheat, and are hard for the body to process. Brown rice is a healthy nutritious grain, but it is acid-forming so eat as part of a balanced diet. Pseudo-grains are healthier choices.
All animal products are inflammatory and acidic. Fish is said to be anti-inflammatory but you can achieve this effect with a vegan diet also.
Fried foods are very acidic and unhealthy, have them in moderation or ideally not at all.
Coffee is highly acidic and though it contains antioxidants, for those with joint pain especially should be avoided.
Cocoa is acidic. Dutch processed cocoa is less acidic but also less nutritious.
ALKALINE-FORMING ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FOODS
Herbs and spices are the highest in antioxidants. Spices such as turmeric, cloves, ginger, rosemary and cinnamon are amongst the most powerful. Turmeric when combined with black pepper has even more potency and is powerfully anti-cancer, particularly prostate.
Garlic is powerfully anti-inflammatory and cleansing.
Leafy greens are powerful foods, highly alkaline, full of antioxidants and minerals and relatively high in protein. Green foods such as kale, spring greens, spinach and wheat-grass are powerful antioxidants and packed with vitamins, minerals and also a source of protein.
Tea is powerfully antioxidising, especially green teas such as Matcha. Also caffeine-free teas such as Rooibos. Chai tea is a powerful anti-inflammatory tonic (taken without refined sugar of course! choose stevia instead which is very alkalising).
Sprouted foods are powerfully healthy, sprouting optimises nutrients. Alfalfa sprouts are especially alkalising. You can buy sprouted grain flours if you eat grains, or make your own.
Mushrooms and especially shitake are powerfully anti-inflammatory.
Raw foods are highest in antioxidants and are the most alkalising and anti-inflammatory in general and important to work into your diet. Balance the more acidic fruits such as berries, the more neutral starchier roots with plenty of alkalising greens.
H20! We must all drink plenty of good filtered or mineral water to flush out those toxins and keep hydrated.
A more detailed list of acidic and alkaline foods here and here. But I have found many sites say slightly different things, so I think t’s best not to get hung up on the minutiae, but to keep note of what foods make you feel well, and those that make you unwell; elimination diets are very useful in this. Eat plenty of whole foods, stay hydrated and don’t be too anxious about it. Eat raw foods, cooked foods, fermented foods, when possible, and don’t eat a lot of processed, fried, sugar high foods, and you’ll be well on your way.
Most fruits are acidic outside of the body, but alkaline within, and the lemon is a great example of this. As an alkaline-forming food it is anti-inflammatory, cleansing, conducive to healing, and creates a healthy internal environment. This is because it is high in salts called citrates, which form bicarbonate in the body, which is alkaline.
A healthy diet is high in fresh, organic fruit and veg, and includes fermented foods, prebiotics, nuts, pulses, and beans. If you want the most from your food, look into sprouting, and soaking grains, nuts and beans, for easier digestion and optimal nutritional benefit.
the key is to have a balanced diet of whole foods and so to nurture your health.
Pseudo-grains like quinoa and buckwheat are great because, as well as being higher in protein and easier to digest, they are slightly alkaline or neutral, unlike grains which are acidic.
find the foods you enjoy and that agree with you, and make you feel good before, during and after eating.
And don’t stress yourself out about it too much! Just work towards making the right decisions and breaking those habits, stress is highly acidic and makes you ill. Enjoy it! you’re on a journey towards optimal health, for you, and there are so many delicious foods out there to make and enjoy ♥