Foods that affect the Ph levels of your blood are termed as acidic or alkaline. The body tries to maintain a normal Ph level of 7 to 7.45 in the body. Acidity level in the stomach is about 3.5 to help in digestion. The urine acidity depends on what you eat. Generally an alkaline diet helps in better health.
In India, it was a very grandmother thing to say, “Yeh khana thanda karega” or Isse khane se pet mein garmi hogi”. Which literally meant that the food would either be alkaline or acidic, consecutively have a cooling effect on your tummy or would heat it up. Unlike now, various foods would be divided as per seasons or times of the day for consumption to maximize the effect needed. During the summers, we were often told to have lots of fruits, watermelons, melons, lime juice and vegetables like cucumber, bottle gourd, tomatoes all of which have high water content. Winters would include piping hot preparations of dals(legumes and beans), masala milk, tandoor cooked non vegetarian dishes etc. These create heat in the body as they are acidic in nature. However in today’s times when practically all fruits and vegetables are available throughout the year, one rarely tends to follow our grandmother’s advice.
Many a time, we delegate the acidic nature of a preparation to way it is served or by the sour or spicy taste of it. This can be completely misleading though. Fruits such as lime, grapefruit, pomegranate and berries are often considered acidic, but their effect inside the body is of an alkaline nature. Meanwhile an orange can give rise to acidity. Onions, garlic and ginger which we consider spicy to taste are anti-inflammatory and have a calming effect on the stomach acids. Of course these work only when consumed raw. Meanwhile all sugary or sweet mouthfuls that we may use after a heavy party meal to control the spicy work the opposite.
There is an in depth study in Ayurveda how different foods affect our systems differently once they enter the digestive process. However, for the layman to conclude the difference between alkaline and acidic foods would be that anything that converts directly into sugar is more acidic to the stomach. However if certain carbs are had with fats, the effect is nullified to a large extent as the fat slows the absorption of the sugars in the stomach thereby reducing acidity.
So while you try and include more alkaline foods into your diet, I know that one doesn’t really give up on the food we love. So if you do have an acidity problem specially after a night of partying then make sure you have your toast buttered in the morning or a banana smoothie with yogurt and almonds. Eat well, live well.