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Acidic Foods and Acid-Forming Foods: Do You Know the Difference?

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Not all acidic foods are acid-forming.

The burning sensation that arises during heartburn has more to do with too little stomach acid—rather than too much.

Take a lemon, for example. You know that a lemon tastes tart. The sour taste gives it away, and you could easily guess that lemon is an acidic fruit.

While the nature of lemon is acidic, once it enters the body, it’s alkalizing.

In other words, even though lemon is an acidic fruit, it can help balance and cleanse someone who is overly acidic. If this sounds confusing, you’re not alone.

Lauren, a reader of the Body Ecology Newsletter, recently asked:

“I thought the goal was to be more alkaline. How is eating something that will create lactic acid helpful to heartburn or acid reflux?”

Acidic Foods vs. Acid-Forming Foods

Foods that are acidic in nature are not always acid-forming once they are consumed.

Lemons Splashing

Drinking fresh squeezed lemon juice with water first thing in the morning can put your body into a healing, alkaline state.

This point is especially important to remember when healing the gut or rebuilding the immune system. Many acidic foods—like lemon, kefir, and sauerkraut—are healing and alkalizing! Many charts on acidifying and alkalizing foods simply use the words “acid foods” and “alkaline foods.”

To clear up some of the confusion:

  • Acidic and alkaline describe the nature of food before it is eaten.
  • Acidifying foods and acid-forming foods are the same, making the body more acidic.
  • Alkalizing foods and alkaline-forming foods are the same, making the body more alkaline.

Please do not feel like you need to memorize lists of acidifying and alkalizing foods to get well.

The Body Ecology Diet has the Principle of Acid/Alkaline built into it. We teach that the body thrives in a slightly alkaline state. We show that too much acidity—which comes from stress and poor sleep patterns, as well as an acidifying diet—allows yeast, chronic bacterial infection, and parasites to take over.

Common signs of acidity include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Arthritis
  • Allergies

As you familiarize yourself with the principles of the Body Ecology Diet, you will naturally choose foods that are alkalizing and healing.

Lactic Acid and Heartburn

The good bacteria found in cultured foods naturally produce a chemical called lactic acid, which gives cultured foods (like kefir and sauerkraut) their sour taste.

Lactic acid does more than make food sour.

Research shows that lactic acid controls the growth of competing, harmful microbes—like Candida yeast. (1) While yeast overgrowth can occur anywhere in the body, it is very common in the digestive tract and vaginal tract, where tissue is thin and sensitive. Candida overgrowth in the digestive tract leads to an inflamed and leaky gut.

While acid reflux and heartburn seem to only involve the stomach, studies show that there is more to the story. Heartburn may actually be a sign of a wounded inner ecosystem. The burning sensation that arises during heartburn has more to do with too little stomach acid—rather than too much. (2)(3)

This means that the lactic acid found in cultured foods might actually reach the root cause of heartburn, while repairing leaky gut at the same time. (4)

One Tip to Alkalize the Body

The Body Ecology Principle of Acid/Alkaline tells us to eat a diet that is 80%-100% alkalizing.

While you can find more information in The Body Ecology Diet, alkalizing foods include:

  • Most vegetables
  • Ocean vegetables
  • Millet, amaranth, and quinoa
  • Lemons, limes, berries, and unsweetened pomegranate, cranberry, and black currant juice
  • Cultured foods and probiotic drinks
  • Seeds, except for sesame
  • Soaked and sprouted almonds
  • Sea salt
  • Herbs and herbal teas
  • Mineral water
  • Raw apple cider vinegar

One easy way to move your body into an alkaline state is to drink fresh squeezed lemon juice in a glass of water first thing in the morning. Lemon contains up to 6% citric acid—but like lactic acid, this doesn’t make the body acidic! In fact, quite the opposite is true. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a traditional remedy that stimulates the colon, which in turn encourages bile flow and waste release from the liver.

We recommend rehydrating and alkalizing the body first thing in the morning.

If you want to begin your day feeling refreshed and energized, make this morning routine a habit:

  1. Upon waking—drink one cup of room temperature or slightly warm water.
  2. Then, drink one more cup of room temperature or slightly warm water with the juice of one lemon.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

An acidic food may not be acid-forming once it is digested. Even though a lemon is acidic, for example, it is alkalizing once it enters the body. A lemon is an acidic fruit that can balance and cleanse by making the body more alkaline.

The Body Ecology Diet teaches the Principle of Acid/Alkaline. The body thrives in a slightly alkaline state. Too much acidity caused by stress, poor sleep, or an acidifying diet can support chronic bacterial infection and yeast and parasite growth.

Eat a diet that is 80%-100% alkalizing, along with probiotic-rich cultured foods. Cultured vegetables contain lactic acid to create a sour taste. Lactic acid also controls the growth of harmful microbes, like Candida yeast, to prevent a leaky gut. Other alkalizing foods include ocean vegetables, millet, amaranth, quinoa, lemons, limes, berries, probiotic drinks, and sea salt, to name a few.

Body Ecology Top Tip: Start your day off right by rehydrating and alkalizing first thing in the morning. Drink one cup of room temperature water upon waking; then, drink one more cup of room temperature water with the juice of one lemon.

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  1. Wagner, R. D., Johnson, S. J., & Tucker, D. R. (2012). Protection of Vaginal Epithelial Cells with Probiotic Lactobacilli and the Effect of Estrogen against Infection by Candida albicans. Open Journal of Medical Microbiology, 2, 54.
  2. Compare, D., Pica, L., Rocco, A., De Giorgi, F., Cuomo, R., Sarnelli, G., ... & Nardone, G. (2011). Effects of long‐term PPI treatment on producing bowel symptoms and SIBO. European journal of clinical investigation, 41(4), 380-386.
  3. Lo, W. K., & Chan, W. W. (2013). Proton pump inhibitor use and the risk of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: a meta-analysis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 11(5), 483-490.
  4. Wagner, R. D., & Johnson, S. J. (2012). Probiotic lactobacillus and estrogen effects on vaginal epithelial gene expression responses to Candida albicans. J Biomed Sci, 19(1), 58.

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I'm most interested in:
  • Lynn

    I have emailed you before and asked if you will ship your Kefir starter kit to Canada. No one got back to me. Will you find out for me? Thanks a lot. Lynn

  • Michael

    What would be a good portable substitute for coffee to help promote alkalinity? Some kind of tea? I travel a bit and find myself drinking a decent amount of coffee, but I'm sure I'm better off replacing the coffee with something else.

  • maureen Still

    I drink green tea with the juice from one lemon every morning. Is this just as good for me as the warm water with lemon?

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