Very acidic foods, that is, foods less than pH four, can activate an enzyme that’s normally in the stomach called pepsin. Pepsin breaks down protein in an acidic environment. The stomach is very acidic. Pepsin gets activated below pH four, but pepsin can float out of the stomach and sit in the chest in the vocal cords, in the mouth, in the teeth, in the sinuses, and the middle ear spaces. And when you eat or drink something less than pH four, what you eat can start eating you. So there only a handful of foods less than pH four. I call them the dirty half dozen. Two are unhealthy, four are healthy. The unhealthys are any flavored beverage in a can, bottle, or box. Classics, Coke, diet Coke, bottled ice teas. And then some of the new classics, the flavored sparkling waters. And then there are four healthy things.
Citrus, tomato sauce, not tomato, vinegar, and wine. Coffee and chocolate are not acidic. They contain methylxanthine which loosens the lower esophageal sphincter and increases acid production by the stomach. In the healing phase of the acid watcher diet, we’d like to avoid almost all alcohol, but in the maintenance phase, which is eating foods more than pH four, you can have vodka or tequila, as typically vodka is greater than pH four. In fact, corn based vodkas and potato based vodkas can often start above pH eight. If you have traditional heartburn, there are six foods that you have to be careful of because they typically loosen the lower esophageal sphincter. Coffee, chocolate, alcohol, mint, raw onion, and raw garlic. If you cook onion and garlic, you can actually take away its carminative effect. Carminatives loosen the lower esophageal sphincter. Most spices are carminative. So if you cook the spices, you generally take away its loosening effect on the lower esophageal sphincter.