The best way to sustain good health is by eating the right foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains contain the nutrients our bodies need to thrive. However, some foods can be too acidic for the human body and lead to many health complications. With this information, you should be able to recognize and reduce the use of acidic foods in your diet.

Which Foods Are Acidic?

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Although many foods contain natural acids, like tomatoes, limes, and lemons, that doesn’t mean they are bad for humans. Foods that contain citric or other acids don’t necessarily cause an acidic state in the body. Instead, foods that are acidic means they change the body’s acidity levels once they are digested.

The body struggles to maintain a balance between acidity and alkaline, which is measured by pH levels. A pH of zero means something is totally acidic, while a 14 is totally alkaline, and a pH of seven is neutral. Normally, the overall pH levels show that blood leans toward being alkaline with the pH being between 7.35 and 7.45.

The stomach is very acidic with an average level of 3.5 or below, which allows it to break down food for digestion — other areas of the body measure at different pH levels. For example, urine fluctuates depending on what a person eats or drinks. It is important for the body to achieve proper pH levels to prevent diseases and keep it functioning correctly.

Problems With Acidity

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Foods that create an acidic state are bad because they cause inflammation. Normally, inflammation is part of the body’s immune response, so when bacteria or viruses invade the body, white blood cells and the chemicals they produce respond to protect it from infection. However, chronic inflammation can lead to a variety of diseases.

Some of the diseases that have links to inflammation include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Autoimmune diseases

Although anti-inflammatory medications can be prescribed to help people with chronic inflammation, they can be hard on the body and cause liver damage. The best way to combat inflammation is through a healthy diet.

What Is Pepsin And Why Is It Important?

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The main link between acid and inflammation is a digestive enzyme called pepsin. This enzyme is usually found in the stomach and helps to break down protein. However, the higher the acidity level of the body, the more active pepsin becomes.

Scientists have recently found that pepsin, during an overactive state, can float out of the stomach area and attach itself to other organs. It can cling to the:

  • Lungs
  • Throat
  • Sinuses
  • Vocal cords
  • Ears

However, until it is activated, it doesn’t cause any harm. To activate pepsin, it must encounter acidic substances, such as the foods that people eat that cause an acidic state. Then, it triggers inflammation, which can have symptoms like bloating, chronic coughing, hoarseness, or a feeling of something stuck in the throat.

Acidic Foods

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The best way to avoid triggering inflammation is to change what foods you select in your diet. Many foods can increase acidity levels in the body. Everyone should avoid these foods in their diet because overeating them can cause inflammation in anyone, but it can affect some people more than others.

People with acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), women who are pregnant, anyone with autoimmune diseases, diabetics, and people with heart conditions should avoid foods that can trigger high acidity and cause inflammation.

Some of the foods and drinks that can cause higher acidity include:

  • White bread
  • Pizza
  • Beer
  • Soda, including diet soda
  • Sports drinks
  • Dairy foods
  • White potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Red meat

However, out of all the foods that trigger an acidic response, there are five that people should try to eliminate from their diets. These foods are:

  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Monosodium glutamate, MSG
  • Trans-Fats
  • Soda

A good rule of thumb is to reduce or avoid processed foods, especially if they are laden with sugar, salt, artificial sweeteners, or fat. These foods have little, if any, redeeming value. They may taste good, but they can do serious damage to the body and cause a host of diseases. Let’s look at the five foods mentioned above in depth.


Sugar is the main ingredient that you should try to eliminate, or greatly reduce, from your diet. While it can make things taste good, over consuming it can spark inflammation in the body and cause weight gain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many other problems.

One of the reasons that sugar is problematic is because it is addictive. It feeds the brain cells, which respond by feeling pleasure. So, the more you eat, the more positive feelings flood your body. Illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin also trigger the same responses in the brain.

Also, consuming sugar causes blood sugar spikes, which releases insulin. The insulin acts to control the sugar in your bloodstream, and your sugar levels drop, which can cause you to crave more of it. It can also imitate nutrients that the body is deficient in, such as magnesium.

One of the main problems with sugar that it is in almost every processed food that humans eat. Did you know that McDonald’s uses sugar, in the form of dextrose, on its French fries to make them look more appealing? To avoid so much sugar, eat fresh foods and read the labels on anything processed or canned that you buy.

Artificial Sweeteners

Instead of consuming sugar, many people switch to “sugar-free” foods in hopes to avoid it. However, they contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, neotame, and many others that can trigger the immune system to respond and attack them as foreign invaders in the body. In fact, aspartame is a neurotoxin that the body frequently attacks, which is what causes inflammation.  

Like sugar, many foods and drinks, especially those with sugar-free labels, use artificial sweeteners like aspartame. It is the sweetener most often found in diet sodas. Along with inflammation, aspartame causes quick blood sugar spikes and crashes, so you can feel tired, get headaches, and experience other symptoms associated with inflammation after consuming it.

Monosodium Glutamate

This addictive known as MSG has a strong association with Asian cuisine, but it is in many processed foods as well. By reading the labels of processed foods, since it is a flavoring agent, you're likely to find it in many of them. However, it goes by many other names besides MSG. Over 40 ingredients contain the same ingredient that’s in MSG, which is free glutamic acid. Some of them are:

  • Monopotassium glutamate
  • Hydrolyzed proteins
  • Anything labeled “Hydrolyzed”
  • Calcium caseinate
  • Yeast nutrient
  • Yeast food
  • Textured protein
  • Soy protein
  • Gelatin

Like MSG, these ingredients can trigger headaches, heart palpitations, neck pain, nausea, and vomiting. Learning to read labels is the best way to avoid this, and any ingredient that is bad for your body.


Consuming fat isn’t always a bad thing because there are some types that the body needs to function correctly. Also, some fats, like Omega 3 fatty acids, can be very beneficial to human health by preventing heart disease and other illnesses. However, trans-fats are fats that you should try to eliminate from your diet.

Trans-fats naturally exist in some foods, such as meat and dairy, which is why they should be limited in any diet. However, they are made in an industrial process that puts hydrogen in vegetable oil to keep it solid at room temperatures. Many fast food restaurants use frying fats that use this process to keep the fat solid until it goes into a hot fryer.

So, it’s safe to say, if you purchase any fried foods from a restaurant, they are likely to have trans-fats in them. They are also in processed foods found in grocery stores like:

  • Baked goods
  • Snack foods
  • Fried foods
  • Refrigerated dough
  • Creamers
  • Margarine

The primary reason trans-fats are so bad is that they can lower HDL, or good, cholesterol, and raise LDL, or bad, cholesterol levels.

Sodas And Diet Sodas

Sodas are nothing more than sugar-laden drinks with no redeeming value. The primary sugar that is used to make these beverages is high fructose corn syrup. Fructose, which is a natural sugar, is the worse one the body can consume because only the liver can break it down. It also gets stored as fat in the body, so the more of it that you consume, the more fat you gain.

Diet sodas contain aspartame, which is mentioned above under sweeteners. However, both types of soda, regular and diet, include another ingredient, phosphoric acid, that is very acidic. You’ve probably heard of the trick of using soda to clean corroded battery posts, so why wouldn’t it harm your body if it so acidic?

If you want to improve your health, especially if you already suffer from chronic diseases, try to greatly reduce or eliminate these five acidic foods from your diet. The best ways to do so are to read labels of any canned or processed foods that you buy, eat a healthier diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, and significantly reduce your consumption of processed foods.