Should I try alkaline diet?

The body's blood stream maintains a stable PH no matter what we eat, and there is no way that you can affect your blood PH by eating acidic foods. We now know that acidic food does not affect bone health.  A recent systematic review of the literature looking for evidence supporting the alkaline diet for bone health found that relationship between dietary acid with risk of osteoporosis is not confirmed.   And, there is no scientific literature establishing the benefit of an alkaline diet for the prevention of cancer at this time.

Even though a high sugar, high-protein diet can increase acid load of the body, there is very little change in blood pH.  What high acid load diet does to the body is to r change the urinary chemistry. Food that produce more acide in the urine, and higher "Potential renal acid loads" (PRALs)  More acid you eat, more acid is in the urine and urine has a lower PH. 

Medical research shows does show that the potential benefit of alkaline diet or reduced acidic diet:

1. reduce back pain,

Lower acid load in the diet allows enough intracellular magnesium to activate body's vitamin D. This in turn has been shown to improve back pain.

2. improve muscle mass in elderly,

Elderly with poor renal release of acid, acumulate acid from protein and grain in the food, which reduce muscle mass. Research shows that supplementation of potassium bicarbonate reverse the muscle wasting in obese patients who tried weight loss diet high in acid load.  

3. iincrease growth hormon in children,

Research did show that that children suffering from metabolic acidosis (acid in the blood) stunt their growth and researcher adding alkaline to their diet actually helped them grow. There are some deduction from this research that since lower acidity can increase growth hormon, and increase growth hormon would improve memory.  There is no research comparing memory of people eating high acid vs lower acid load food, though. 


You don't need to micromanage your acid/alkaline intake.  This PRALs table serves as a guide.  A balanced nutrition is more important than calculating your acid load. But, here it is... Potential renal acid loads (PRALs) of selected foods

Food or food groupPRAL mEq of: Cl + P04 + SO4 − Na − K − Ca − Mg
 Parmesan cheese34.2
 Processed cheese plain28.7
 Cheddar reduced fat26.4
 Hard cheese (average)19.2
 Fresh cheese (quark)11.3
 Cottage cheese plain8.7
 Yogurt whole milk1.5
 Ice Cream0.8
 Whole milk0.7

 Eggs yolk23.4
 Eggs white1.1
 Eggs chicken whole8.2

 Corned beef13.2
 Luncheon meat canned10.2
 Lean beef7.8

 Sugar white−0.1


Fats and Oils 
 Olive oil0.0

Fruits and nuts and fruit juices 
 Grape juice unsweetened−1.0
 Orange juice unsweetened−2.9
 Apples or apple juice unsweetened−2.2
 Black currents−6.5

Grains and grain products 
 Brown Rice12.5
 Rolled Oats10.7
 Spaghetti whole meal7.3
 Spaghetti white6.5
 Rice white4.6
 Bread rye flower4.1
 Bread whole wheat1.8

 Lentils green and brown3.5
 Green beans−3.1

 Trout brown10.8
 Cod fillets7.1

 Beer pale0.9
 Beer draft−0.2
 Wine white−1.2
 Coffee infusion−1.4
 Wine red−2.4

Shawn Hamilton, MD Internal Medicine Physician

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