20 Foods That Are Way More Acidic Than You Think They Are

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If you tune into diet conversations in the wellness space on a regular basis, then you’ve definitely heard of the alkaline diet by now. The premise behind the nutritional plan is that by eating predominantly alkaline foods (which means they’re basic in their pH levels), you can help keep your digestive system and blood acidity balanced, which, in turn, helps you lose weight, prevent health problems like arthritis and cancer, reduce inflammation and keep your immune system happy.

While we recently broke down how the alkaline diet works and what’s actually beneficial about it (lots of vitamins and minerals and fewer processed foods), we didn’t delve deeply into what’s most useful to know — the list of foods you’re probably eating often that are actually highly acidic.

Just because a food doesn’t taste acidic doesn’t mean it isn’t acidic once it reaches your stomach. So if you’re struggling with things like acid reflux, the overproduction of stomach acid or even kidney stones, here’s a list of certain foods and drinks you should watch out for. (Ideally, only 20 percent of your daily diet is comprised of high-acid foods so your body can regulate its pH more easily.)

1. Wheat

Every gluten-intolerant person’s nightmare, wheat is one of the most highly acidic grain options out there. We’ve come to recognize “whole wheat” as the nutritional counterpart of refined grains loaded into countless processed foods, but when your body breaks down foods that contain wheat, it produces a lot more acid in the process, thus throwing your pH levels out of balance, according to proponents of the alkaline diet.

2. Eggs

We’ve all learned that this animal protein is super healthy for us, but when it comes to acid production, you have to watch how many eggs you’re consuming regularly. Both the egg white and egg yolk create additional stomach acid during the digestion process, so it’s not even like skimping on the higher-fat component will solve the issue. Eggs are definitely a part of a healthy diet, though, so just be mindful of how often you’re eating them and in what quantities.

3. Mushrooms

These little fungi are loaded with important nutrients like selenium, but, unfortunately, they also produce a lot of acid during the digestion process. We were definitely caught off guard by this one because mushrooms seem like pretty much the least acidic food out there, but they’re the biggest acid offender on the vegetable list. Now, don’t stop eating them altogether if you’re using them to keep your selenium intake where it needs to be. Just try to eat them only a couple of times a week.

4. Bacon

Bacon doesn’t taste acidic — it’s savory and salty and fatty in all of the right ways — but wow, can it create some serious acid reflux issues if you eat a fair amount of it. This cured pork product is one of the most acidic meat options out there. For what it’s worth, most meats rank on the acidity scale (as opposed to being alkaline), but bacon is a major offender.

5. Shellfish

So this one definitely came as a shock to us. We’ve always loved that shellfish is low in saturated fat, high in omega-3 fatty acids and full of protein, iron, zinc, copper and vitamin B12. But apparently, it produces high levels of acid in your stomach during digestion. We won’t tell you to avoid the oysters at happy hour or skip the crab legs at dinner, but just be mindful if acid is already an issue for you.

6. Cream Cheese

This oh-so-smooth dairy favorite is not helping your acid levels, nor is any other dairy product, for that matter. Milk, cream, cheese of all kinds and sour cream all ultimately throw off your body’s pH balance (even if temporarily). If you’re not lactose intolerant, there are health benefits to including dairy in your diet on a weekly basis, like protecting your bone health. But just pay attention to how much you consume.

7. Dried Fruits

Yep, these sweet little things are definitely acid-forming foods. Even though they lack fruit juices, which are usually to blame for the pH imbalances, the components that make juices acidic are still in the dehydrated fruit and cause the same digestive issues when you consume them. Not to mention, acidic fruits are typically the ones we transform into dried fruits anyway.

8. Peanut Butter

Oh, peanuts. We wish this nut didn’t cause so many problems, but it’s definitely acid central when it comes to your digestive system. Raw peanuts and peanut oil also lead to similar issues. So if you’re a serious PB fan, just limit your use of it to a couple of times a week and on days when you aren’t already leaning into other highly acidic foods on this list.

9. Ice Cream

We know what you’re thinking: How could ice cream be acidic when it’s so sweet and smooth and creamy?! Again, it’s not about how it tastes — it’s about how it breaks down in your digestive system. And that heavy dairy content, just like with cream cheese, is seriously problematic. Even sadder: Gelato is just as bad. Sigh.

10. Sea Bass

Back in the seafood category, you’d think that sea bass gets a clean bill of health thanks to its omega-3 fatty acid and protein content. However, when your stomach breaks it down, it produces more acid than a lot of other fishies out there. So this guy should definitely be treated like a special occasion fish, not a mainstay in your weekly dinner rotation.

11. Fruit Pies

Acid-forming fruits plus refined wheat flours and sugars equals acid overload. So those beloved seasonal desserts are definitely off the table if you’re trying to keep your pH nice and balanced. We’re still going to have a piece with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream every once in a while, though, because life is too short to never have pie.

12. Spaghetti

On its own, pasta is one of the most neutral-tasting foods out there, but it definitely doesn’t inspire a low pH in your body. All that wheat flour and egg means you’re going to be dealing with a lot of acid production, and that’s before you even add your traditional tomato sauce to the mix.

13. Beef

Beef isn’t wildly spicy or overly fatty, so you probably wouldn’t peg it to be such an acidic issue, but it doesn’t make for a happy gut when it comes to pH. So whether you’re into high-quality steaks or fast food burgers, intake of both should be limited if you’re trying to remain somewhat alkaline on a daily basis.

14. Bagels

Here we go again with our beloved, seemingly-neutral carbs. Bagels are, more or less, equivalent to white bread in the way those bleached flours and refined sugars inspire acid production in your digestive system. So that bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel that you order every Sunday morning? That’s four serious acid offenders all in the same meal. Ooof.

15. Pretzels

So many people consider pretzels to be a healthy, diet-friendly snack, but they are also wheat-based and processed and have very little nutritional value beyond carbs. Therefore, they lead to major energy crashes in addition to extra acid production. So unless you’re eating them with almond butter or something more substantial and alkaline, skip ’em.

16. Veal

If mama cow is acid-inducing, that means baby cow is, too. It’s wild to think that this delicacy you typically only order on a special night out is not a low-acid, gut-friendly food, but so it goes. Eat veal sparingly so you can enjoy the flavor and texture without wreaking havoc on your tummy.

17. Milkshakes

Seriously, all the fun eats are off limits, it seems. Milkshakes, because they’re loaded up with all of the dairy and all of the sugar, are acid issues just waiting to happen. So if you’re going to indulge in one of these bad boys for dessert, either eat like an alkaline angel all day beforehand or prepare to suffer the digestive consequences.

18. Baked Goods

At this point in this list, you’ve probably deduced that even though you can’t taste it, foods that are high in sugar and refined carbs are not kind foods when it comes to acid production. So just to be safe, avoid the baked goods category entirely — cookies, brownies, muffins, croissants, you name it.

19. Chocolate Milk

We still love chugging a bottle of this stuff after a tough endurance race like a half-marathon because of how it helps to replenish our muscle energy stores and hydrate us at the same time, but it’s definitely not an alkaline food. The dairy combined with the sweet sugar means your stomach is going to be working overtime, producing extra acid, to digest it.

20. Pancakes

Last but not least, this sweet breakfast staple has “high acid” written all over it. Between the wheat flour and eggs used in the batter and the coating of sugary maple syrup the hotcakes are doused in upon eating, your stomach is going to feel this meal choice for hours after brunch is over.

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