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Stress, Diet and Body Acidification

by Nicki Woodward(more info)

listed in cellular chemistry, originally published in issue 130 - December 2006

We all know the dangers of mental stress and the detrimental effect it has on our body. We also know that energy, function and health within our body are affected by its pH balance. Thus, optimal health is created by a good balance between acid and alkaline.

Body acidification can lead to a surprising number of physical complaints, and importantly, stress can upset the acid-alkaline balance and encourage acidification. Nervous tension and noise can also increase the pH level of the body tissues through the physiological disturbances they create. Diet is undoubtedly another cause of body acidification, increasingly so, as the modern diet is laden with acid-forming foods.

Acid has a detrimental effect on the body as it can cause enzymatic disturbances and demineralization, and have an actual aggressive effect on organic tissues. Signs of acidification in the body are numerous. They include fatigue, nervousness and agitation, sensitive gums, acid, diarrhoea, dry skin, burning in the bladder, osteoporosis, arthritis and leg cramps, to name but a few.

Stress has a negative influence on the body’s pH simply by upsetting natural homeostasis. The brain is first to experience the changes, as a surge of hormones causes intense alertness which prevents sleep or relaxation. The hypothalamus is, meanwhile, suppressed, preventing the release of ‘feel good’ hormones. Not surprisingly, the body becomes irritable and aggressive as moods and concentration are affected.

Stress makes us take short, shallow breaths and increases our heart rate. Blood pressure rises as the hormones epinephrine and cortisol are produced. Extreme and constant stress can even prevent blood from clotting and lower white blood cell count. Blood insulin levels are raised causing hunger, and as stress tenses up our body the brain sends chemical messages to the muscles which tightens them and prepares them for action. Messages are also sent to the digestive tract to slow digestion, resulting in indigestion and colon spasm.

Meanwhile, the modern diet is acid forming and any given population in the Western industrialized world can demonstrate this. There has been a huge increase in the consumption of coffee, tea and alcohol. Acid-forming proteins, cereals and sugars have become our dietary mainstay, whilst acid-neutralizing alkaline foods, such as vegetables are eaten in limited amounts. Tobacco, although not a consumable, provides toxic substances taken in and utilized by the body. Not surprisingly, these cause acidification. Exercise in moderation helps to control the acid-alkaline balance. But if insufficient or excessive, it contributes to discrepancies in a healthy pH balance.

For clients with acidosis, treatment should undoubtedly involve stress reduction and dietary changes. The steps taken need not be drastic, and even small changes can provide positive results. Stress reduction is paramount; key topics of time management, reducing guilt load, career changes, organization skills and scheduled relaxation time can be discussed with the client. Relaxation, through massage and meditation, is also often welcomed by a tired and stressed body and mind.

Acidifying foods should be reduced in the diet as much as possible. According to C Vasey, author of The Acid-Alkaline Diet,[1] these foods are primarily rich in proteins, carbohydrates and/or fats. Cheese, vegetable oils, hard animal fats, bread, pasta, white sugar and coffee fall into this category. Vasey states that there is a second group known as Acid foods which the body turns into acid or alkaline substances, depending on the metabolic capabilities of the individual. For example, lemons contain weak acids (hence their taste), but a person with a healthy metabolism can oxidize these acids and transform them into alkaline elements. Foods such as yoghurt, sweet and citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar and honey are all acid foods. The last group or Alkalizing foods our bodies can enjoy in abundance include all green and coloured vegetables (except tomatoes), potatoes, popcorn or polenta, milk, bananas, almonds, Brazil nuts, avocado and cold pressed oils
Moderate, regular exercise can improve the oxidation of acids, and diuretic herbs, such as dandelion leaf, can help remove acids already seated in the tissues. Widely available green drinks, such as those rich in Chlorella, are alkalizing and can be drunk every day. Alkaline mineral supplements can also be taken to eliminate acids ingested during the day. These contain the main alkaline minerals, such as calcium, potassium and magnesium, and greatly support the process of de-acidification.


1.    Vasey C. The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health. Healing Arts Press. 2006.


  1. Will Jaffee said..

    This is pretty much nonsense. The kidneys and lungs keep blood pH within a tight range just aroun 7.4, and any deviation from this reflects significant pathology, not normal variance.

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About Nicki Woodward

Nicki Woodward BA Hons DN MED MBANT Dip Phyt MNIMH ITEC is a fully qualified Nutritionist, Medical Herbalist and Massage Therapist who practises in Middlesex and Surrey. She is a member of the NIMH (National Institute of Medical Herbalists) and BANT (British Association of Nutritional Therapists). Her experience to-date includes training, research and supplement development. She may be contacted on Tel: 07989 968 349;

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