Alkaline & Acidic Foods Chart: Understanding The pH Spectrum Of Food

Expert review by Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Texas Christian University and a master’s in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from Tufts University. She lives in the Greater Boston Area, and enjoys connecting people to the food they eat and how it influences health and wellbeing.

The body maintains a delicate pH balance. Technically, pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration in solution. The pH scale runs from 0-14. Neutral pH is 7.0. The higher the pH (greater than 7) the more alkaline or basic, while a pH lower than 7 is acidic. If you're looking for an introduction to what foods are more acidic or alkaline, check out this infographic of the pH spectrum.

What is balanced pH?

Proper pH levels vary throughout your body. Saliva ranges between 6.2 to 7.6, while urine is normally more acid, especially in the morning due to the metabolic process of preparing for elimination. Health hint: when using pH strips to test your urine ignore the first morning pee reading—start with your next bathroom visit.

As far as normal vaginal pH is concerned, you want between 3.8 and 4.5 (anything higher, you're more at risk for getting vaginal infections).

By far the most important measurement is blood pH, and it has a very narrow range. An understanding of how to keep your blood in an alkaline range is important for maintaining good health. Your body doesn’t just “find” the balance it works extremely hard to create it. When you make poor lifestyle choices or are burdened by a toxic environment, your body has to work harder to create a peaceful homeostasis.

For good health, ideal blood pH levels need to be slightly alkaline (between 7.365 and 7.45). Sounds simple right? But not quite. That’s because the pH scale is logarithmic, meaning the difference between each whole number is equal to ten not so. Therefore a pH of six is ten times more acidic than a pH of seven. So it takes ten times the amount of alkalinity to neutralize an acid. For example, a jump from 7 to 6, for example, would take ten times the amount of alkalinity to neutralize. 7 to 5 = 100 times. 7 to 4 = 1000 times. 7 to 3 = 10,000 times.

Our bodies actually do a great job of keeping our blood pH exactly where it needs to be. Foods likely don’t have a significant influence on pH levels. But more alkaline foods like leafy greens, sprouts, avocados, and other powerhouse plant foods provide our bodies with essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. The acidic side of the pH scale also includes healthful foods like tomatoes, whole grains, and beans. Foods that are often considered less health promoting like animal products and refined carbs also fall on the acidic side of the scale, and should be eaten in moderation. 

Your body does go through a complicated process to make sure your blood pH stays balanced. All you have to do is eat a balanced, plant based diet to support your body’s natural processes! 

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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