The Way to BE

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

At Body Ecology, we talk a lot about the importance of an alkaline diet. It may seem odd, then, when we suggest adding sour, obviously acidic, lemons or berries to your diet. But it’s not that simple!

Many acidic foods—like lemon, kefir, and sauerkraut—are healing and alkalizing!

That sounds crazy, we know, but it’s true. Take, for example, the humble lemon. While the nature of lemon is acidic, once it enters the body, it’s alkalizing. That means it can help balance and cleanse someone who is overly acidic.

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Frequently, charts on acidifying and alkalizing foods simply use the words “acid foods” and “alkaline foods” -- terms which don't specify what impact these foods have on the body. This creates much confusion. Add all of the different terms floating around out there and it’s no wonder we’re all a bit befuddled!

Let’s clear things up a bit:

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

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.


So, how do we tackle the dangers of an overly acidic body? Let's start by looking at some common signs of an overly acidic body:

    • Chronic fatigue
    • Arthritis
    • Allergies

Research indicates that as acidity/acidosis in the body increases, the body becomes more prone to disease, such osteoporosis and kidney stones, with studies indicating acidity may even contribute to cancer, metabolic syndrome, and more.1

As you familiarize yourself with the principles of the Body Ecology Diet, you will naturally choose foods that are alkalizing and healing. You do not need to memorize lists of acidifying and alkalizing foods to get well!


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.

But lactic acid does more than make food sour.

Research shows that lactic acid controls the growth of competing, harmful microbes—like Candida yeast.2 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.

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

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. 3,4 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. 5


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

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. Once lemon enters the body, it’s alkalizing. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a traditional remedy that stimulates the colon, which in turn encourages bile flow and waste release from the liver.

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.

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:

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

By Donna Gates

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, and has even shown to increase disease.

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.


  1. Pizzorno, J. (2015). Acidosis: An Old Idea Validated by New Research. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, 14(1), 10.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:
  • Peter8Piper

    If "The burning sensation that arises during heartburn has more to do with too little stomach acid—rather than too much" then why do I experience almost immediate relief of heartburn when I down a half glass of baking soda and water? Can someone answer that?

  • Alfred Pepaj

    Hello. I have read the book " The ultimate candida diet " written by Lisa Richards and she writes " ‘Good bacteria’ regulate the acidity in your gut. I’ve already shown you how Candida actively reduces the acidity in your gut. It does this by producing an alkaline gas named Ammonia as a waste product. This process changes the pH level of your intestines from acidic to neutral or slightly alkaline. Why is this important? It matters because the Candida yeast cells can only trigger the transformation into their pathogenic, fungal form if the surrounding environment is neutral or slight alkaline. In other words, the Candida is actively trying to create the perfect environment for its transformation into a pathogen. You might be wondering what this has to do with the bacteria in your gut. Well, there are several gut bacteria that actually help to regulate acidity in your intestines. One of the most commonly found of these (and the best example) is Lactobacillus acidophilus, a strain of bacteria that is also found in many probiotic supplements. The name Lactobacillus acidophilus actually comes from the fact that this bacteria releases small
    amounts of lactic acid when it metabolizes lactose (the sugar found in milk). Given a large enough colony of acid-producing bacteria, this can have an effect on the overall pH of your intestines. By maintaining the correct level of acidity in your gut, these acid-producing bacteria prevent Candida from switching to its fast-growing, pathogenic form".
    So what should we eat, alkalizing food or acid- forming foods ?

  • 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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