by Catherine M. Haug, January 2009; updated May 2019
For optimal health, our bodies should be slightly alkaline. There are three fluids for which pH (measure of acidity/alkalinity) is extremely important. The pH of the first 2 is very slightly alkaline; the third is neutral:
- blood: the body goes through heroic efforts to keep the blood in a very narrow range, between pH 7.35 and 7.45, in order for oxygen transport to work properly;
- extracellular fluid – the fluid that bathes all cells of the body – affects the ability of cells to function properly. For example, take-up of nutrients from the fluid. the pH is tightly regulated at 7.4, similar to blood.
- Intracellular fluid is also important, but it is maintained at neutral, 7.0
The foods that we eat, and their combinations, affect the pH of these body fluids.
- Includes: 1. Food Combining Chart; 2. Acid and Alkaline Forming Food; 3. Juicing
- See also: 1. Diet & Health Menu; 2. Mercola article: Juicing: Your key to radiant health (1); 3. My article: Acidity/Alkalinity-Body.pdf; and related pages on my old iWeb site: 3a. Acid-Alkaline Balance; 3b. Balancing an Acid System; 3c. Balancing an Alkaline System
- Other sites: 1. The Wolfe Clinic Acid-Alkaline Food Lists (2A); 2. The Wolfe Clinic Food Combining Chart (2B); 3. Detoxify Now: body pH (3)
Food Combining Chart
(See below for list of specific foods)
Combining certain foods can make an alkalizing food behave as an acid-forming food in combination. And combining two acid forming foods makes an even more acidifying combination. And so on, so that it is important to plan your daily diet to avoid acidifying combinations, or at least to minimize their occurrence.
In the following chart, red indicates acid-forming and blue indicates alkaline-forming foods and combinations. Circles in black mean that the food category includes both acid and alkaline-forming foods. Avoidance is recommended for
- Extremely Acid-Forming foods/combinations should be avoided 99% of the time;
- Moderately Acid Forming foods/combinations should be avoided most (80%) of the time.
However, sprouting, soaking, culturing or fermenting acid-forming foods make them alkalizing (or neutral), and improves the alkalizing nature of their combination with other foods. For example, combining cooked beans and grains (chili and cornbread) is slightly acid-forming; if the beans are sprouted before cooking, and the flour in the bread is soaked before baking, the combination becomes slightly alkaline-forming.
Also note that while commercial pasteurized dairy products are acid-forming (alone or in combination), raw milk is neutral, and cultured milk products (like yogurt) are slightly alkaline forming. The following diagram is from The Wellness Education Center (WEC) in Kalispell MT. (file saved as FoodComb_acid-alk diagram.jpg)
Acid and Alkaline Forming Foods
These foods are listed in alphabetical order by category. See also printable pdf: Acid-Alkaline Foods.pdf. [note to Cat: when updating the chart, below, use the png file, not the jpg file.]
Discussion Q&A with Jeanette Cheney (4)
NOTE: the “A” in the following list indicates Jeanette’s answer to the question posed.
- Beans and grains should not be combined with meats and animal products because both are acid forming. But when beans or grains are sprouted, they become alkalizing; can they then be combined with meats and animal products?
- That does make it more digestible, but at that point you’ll have three types of protein and a greater quantity of protein than needed in 1 meal.
- Does cooking sprouted beans or grains make them acidifying? In other words, is it worth it to sprout beans before cooking, especially when making soups with diluted chicken stock.
- The sprouting process helps “predigest” the beans & grains and also reduces cooking time, so yes, it’s worth it.
- What about combining sprouted beans or fermented grains with raw milk or raw cream?
- [No response was provided.]
- What about combining sprouted grain bread (such as Ezekiel or manna bread) with meats for sandwiches?
- This is better option than non-sprouted. Also, consider using wrap or pita version to lessen quantity of bread.
- The handy schematic you gave us indicates that combining meats with citrus fruits is not a good idea, but there is no indication of impact when combining meats with other fruits. For example, chicken and apples, or chicken and grapes?
- OK if done in small quantity and occasionally.
- Where does plantain fit into the scheme? It’s related to a banana, but is more starchy than sweet, and used like potatoes. Is it considered a starch, or a fruit?
- I consider it a starch. [Cat’s note: A few years after Jeanette gave that answer, plantain was determined to be high in “resistant starch” which behaves more like fiber than starch.]
- “Custard” is listed under starchy food. I make custard from raw milk, eggs and stevia. Why is this considered “starchy?” Or does it refer to puddings thickened with corn starch? What if thickened with arrowroot? I presume my milk & eggs custard would be considered an animal food, not a starch.
- I didn’t realize it was under starch. I would consider your version definitely under “lighter animal protein”.
- Where does raw milk fit on the schematic? That is, it is a “heavy” protein, or a “light protein” or something else altogether? And what about raw cream? I know raw milk is not acidifying like pasteurized milk (you indicated it is “neutral”). I like to have raw cream on my fermented oatmeal (I follow the fermented oat porridge recipe in Wild Fermentation). Is this problematic?
- In his book, Baroody shows raw milk to be slightly alkaline. It would fall in light protein category, but much easier to digest than pasteurized version.
- The schematic indicates combining starchy foods with sweet fruits (like bananas) is moderately acid-forming. So I take that to mean banana bread is not a good idea. But what about combining starches with semi-sweet fruits like apples (for example, apple crisp or pear tart); or starches with citrus fruits (lemon pie sweetened with stevia, for example).
- Actually, the sweeter fruits are slower digesting and therefore combine better with starches. Just count banana bread as part of your acid forming count for the day.
- As far as I know, rice cannot be sprouted, but it can be soaked and fermented before cooking. Generally, fermenting foods makes them alkaline; is that true for rice? That is, if I fermented rice before cooking, could I have it with salmon?
- Rice can be sprouted, but takes SOOOO long to do so. Fermenting definitely helps with alkalinity and also predigests the food.
- Is wild rice (a seed, not a grain) considered a starch?
- Not sure.
- When I cook broccoli, I like to add thin slivers of lemon peel. But veggies and citrus are moderately acid-forming. Because I use so little peel, is that so bad? Or is the peel categorized differently from the pulp and juice of the lemon?
- No problem, lemon is alkaline in the body a little bit as flavoring is fine.
- Similarly, I use fresh orange peel in my fruit and yogurt smoothie, for the bioflavonoids in the peel. The fruit is apple and berries. I know that combining citrus and apples or berries is good, but what about when yogurt or raw milk are added?
- Should be OK because milk is fermented first.
- Mercola: Juicing: Your key to radiant health (mercola.com/nutritionplan/juicing.htm)
- The Wolfe Clinic:
- Acid-Alkaline Food Lists: thewolfeclinic.com/articles/acid_alkaline_food_chart.html (2A);
- Food Combining Chart: thewolfeclinic.com/foodcombining.html (2B);
- Detoxify Now: detoxifynow.com/body_ph.html (3)
- Wellness Education Center (WEC), Kalispell MT; Jeanette Chaney is the owner and teacher.