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Acidic vs. Alkaline Foods: Which Are Best For Optimal Thyroid Health?

As you know, there’s a lot of controversy when it comes to one’s diet, as there are hundreds, if not thousands of different opinions regarding what people should eat to achieve optimal health.  I think it’s safe to say that there is no “perfect” diet that fits everyone.  While in general everybody should eat mostly whole foods, while minimizing the processed foods, not everyone should eat the same exact diet.  Of course part of this is due to different food sensitivities, as someone might have an intolerance to a specific food, while another person might be fine eating that same food.  Plus different conditions might require some variations in diet as well.

There seems to be a lot of debate when it comes to acidity vs. alkalinity, and so I wanted to dedicate a post to this.  When it comes to the body pH, this is supposed to be on the alkaline side.  An ideal pH would be 7.5, although a range of 7.0 to 7.5 is fine.  In numerous disease states the pH of the blood may be acidic.  On the other hand, the pH of the digestive system obviously needs to be acidic in order to break down the food we eat.  And many people have a pH of the gut that is too high.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that their stomach is alkaline, but even if it’s on the acidic side but too high, then this can cause problems.  For example, a stomach pH of 6 would be considered to be acidic, but it ideally should be between 2 and 4.

What Happens When There Is An Acid/Alkaline Imbalance?

When areas that normally should be alkaline are acidic, and those that should be acidic are alkaline, this can lead to many different health issues.  For example, if the stomach isn’t producing a sufficient amount of hydrochloric acid, then this can lead to numerous problems.  One example is a condition such as a candida infection.  This can happen when someone takes antibiotics, which will not only kill the harmful bacteria, but will also affect some of the good bacteria which help with the acidity of the stomach.  When this happens one needs to take probiotics and do other things to help restore the health of the gut.  In the meantime they might need to take betaine hydrochloride since their body isn’t producing enough acid on their own.  However, if an H. Pylori infection is causing the low stomach acidity, then this of course needs to be addressed.  H. Pylori is an infection in the stomach which will interfere with the production of hydrochloric acid.

If the stomach acid is too low then this will affect the absorption of the vitamins and minerals.  For example, I recently wrote an article which focused on the mineral iron, and in this article I discussed how an iron deficiency might not be due to one’s dietary intake of iron, but instead can be due to low stomach acidity.  And this of course applies to other vitamins and minerals as well, as sufficient stomach acid is needed to break these nutrients down.  I know we don’t think much about this, but hypochlorhydria is a common problem.

On the other hand, while we want the stomach and part of the intestines to be acidic, other areas of the body should be alkaline.  If we eat too many “acidic” foods, then this potentially can lower the pH of the body, and make us susceptible to certain diseases.  Some conditions which can develop due to a low pH include cancer, liver and kidney problems, cardiovascular issues, and osteoporosis.  So for example, due to the phosphoric acid, drinking soda on a frequently basis can cause a lot of different health conditions.  Of course besides the phosphoric acid, the high sugar content will affect the blood sugar levels, and those who drink diet soda need to be concerned about the toxic effects of the artificial sweeteners.

What I’d like to do is briefly list some of the acidic and alkaline foods.  Keep in mind that these are just a few examples:

Foods That Are Acidic:

  • Apple
  • Beef and pork
  • Blueberry
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Coffee and black tea
  • Dairy
  • Dried Fruit
  • Mushrooms
  • Orange
  • Pineapple
  • Soda
  • Wheat

Foods That Are Alkaline:

  • Avocados
  • Barley Grass
  • Black Radish
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Cucumbers
  • Ginger
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Onion
  • Spinach
  • Wheat grass

This is an incomplete list, and if you do some searching on the internet for acid/alkaline foods you’ll notice that there may be a difference in opinion as to which foods are alkaline or acidic.  In other words, one website might list a certain food as being mildly alkaline, while another will list the same food as being mildly acidic.  One thing you’ll consistently find is that most vegetables are alkaline, and of course your diet should consist of plenty of fresh vegetables, and preferably organic.  While you want your diet to consist mainly of alkaline foods, you can still eat some acidic foods.  For example, meats such as chicken, turkey, and beef are considered to be acidic.  But this doesn’t mean you need to give up meat, as eating a small amount of meat on a daily basis is fine for most people.  Many fruits are acidic as well.  You’ll notice that wheat and dairy are also acidic, which is yet another good reason to minimize your consumption of these foods.

Plus it’s important to keep in mind that there are different “degrees” of acidity and alkalinity.  For example, beef is highly acidic, while certain fruits such as cantaloupe and apples are considered by most sources to be mildly acidic.  Some sources list blueberries and blackberries as being mildly acidic, while others list these fruits as moderately acidic.  Once again, eating these acidic foods in moderation is fine, as apples, blueberries, blackberries, and many other fruits are very healthy.  I personally add berries to my smoothies, and usually have an apple each day.  But you once again want to make sure you’re eating a higher percentage of alkaline foods.

I’ve had some people tell me about natural healthcare professionals who have had success in having their patients maintain a lower pH (i.e. between 6.0 and 6.5).  I bring this up because I’m sure there will be a few people reading this who were told to maintain a pH below 7.0, and perhaps between 6.0 and 6.5.  All I can say is that I’ve had success with a higher pH, and it really does make sense when you look at the different types of foods.  It also shouldn’t be surprising that many people have a pH between 6.0 and 6.5, as many people eat too many of the acidic foods I listed.

So if your pH is currently below 7.0 and you want to increase this, then the best way to accomplish this is by increasing your vegetable intake, while minimizing your consumption of acidic foods.  Once again, it’s fine to eat some acidic foods, as I certainly do.  You just want to eat a greater amount of alkaline foods, and of course many people do the opposite.  Consuming natural sea salt can also help with the pH, which is one of the main reasons why I recommend natural sea salt to most of my patients. As for testing the pH, I recommend getting some pH test strips at your local health food store and to measure your pH on a regular basis.  Just keep in mind that this will take time to happen, but as you continue to eat well you should notice the pH increasing over time.


 

4 Comments

  1. Tania says:

    What is the best way to measure pH – urine or saliva and do you do this first thing on awakening in the morning before consuming anything? Could you please elaborate on how to test pH. So do you like to see pH around 7.0 then?

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Tania,

      Urine is more accurate than saliva. I don’t think it’s necessary to test it first thing in the morning before consuming anything, but it is a good idea to test consistently around the same time. It’s pretty simple to test the pH, as you simply get some pH test strips, pour your urine in a cup, and then dip the test strip in the cup. And yes, a pH of 7.0 to 7.5 is what you’re aiming for.

  2. Rosalind says:

    What about veges like brocolli, cauliflower etc being thyroid suppressants?

    • Dr. Eric says:

      Hi Rosalind,

      There’s a lot of controversy over the goitrogenic foods, and although a few years ago I recommended for people with hypothyroid conditions to completely avoid these foods, I’ve changed my approach, as there really isn’t any evidence I know of which shows that eating “normal” amounts of these foods will cause problems. However, if someone has a moderate to severe iodine deficiency then they do need to be more cautious about eating the goitrogenic foods.

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Natural Treatment Methods:
Graves Disease Treatment
Hypothyroidism Treatment
Hyperthyroidism Treatment
Natural Thyroid treatment


Conventional Treatment
Methods:
Radioactive Iodine
Thyroid Hormone