When nutrients in your food reach your kidneys, they produce ammonium (acidic) or bicarbonate (alkaline) end-product in your tissues. These end-products are called ash and are what remains in the body after the food has been broken down. Foods that produce an alkaline ash are called alkaline forming foods whereas foods that produce an acidic ash are called acid-forming foods. The acid or alkaline-forming effects of foods and liquids that you ingest can disrupt the pH of your body fluids. Fortunately, your body has mechanisms to prevent these forces from shifting the pH of your blood outside of the 7.35 to 7.45 range.
A food’s acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. Lemons, limes, and grapefruits are all chemically acidic, however, tests show that when they are metabolized in the body they actually have an alkalizing effect that can be beneficial. On the other hand, meat will test alkaline before digestion but it leaves very acidic residues in the body.
So what exactly does this mean for us? When an acidic environment exists, it forces the body to borrow the electrolyte minerals (calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium) from the blood, vital organs and bones to buffer or neutralize the acid so it can be safely removed from the body. If the diet does not contain enough minerals to compensate for an acidic pH, a build up of acids in the cells will occur (acidosis). Respiratory acidosis develops when there is too much carbon dioxide in the body. Metabolic acidosis which occurs when too much acid is produced in the body or when the kidneys are not able to remove enough acid from the body. An acidic pH can occur from an acid forming diet, toxic overload, immune reactions, or any process that deprives the cells of oxygen and other nutrients. The vast majority of highly processed foods have an acid-forming effect on your system, and if you spend years eating a poor diet that is mainly acid-forming foods, your body will overwork to a point where you could create undesirable changes in your health.
Ideally, you want to eat more alkaline-forming foods so the net effects of your diet match the slightly alkaline pH of your blood. However, a good variety of nutrient dense alkaline and acid forming foods is best for your health.