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Acid and Alkaline Food Diet, Part 2

Acid and Alkaline

source: flikr

 

So what did I mean when I said I shall provide two lists for the Acid and Alkaline Food diet in Part 1?

Confused?

Well, whenever I have scowered the internet for a list identifying the state (i.e. acidic or alkaline) of foods, I always come across some discrepancies in relation to accuracy. In some lists I read that one food may be acidic and on another list I come across that same food is diagnosed as alkaline!!!

This can be quite confusing and annoying.

The original way of calculating the state of a certain food was achieved by conducting the ash analysis technique. I’m not going to explain the science behind it, it’s not worth knowing, but lets just say that it isn’t all that effective.

Solution

So is there a way round this?

Luckily, yes!

Dr. Remer and Manz developed a food rating system refered to as PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load). This method allows researchers to analyse a food based on its components, thereby presenting an accurate result for that specific food.

Why Acid is bad!

Every cell within the body has to function and operate at a certain pH level. Though the net pH of the whole body has to be regulated tightly to maintain homeostasis.

One of the problems we incur living in the West is that a lot of our food is processed and refined and as a result our diets produce what’s known as “low-grade chronic metabolic acidosis”.

So what does that mean?

This means that the foods we eat produce a state of acidosis in our system and therefore the PRAL of our diets is high.

So your probably wondering why your doctor hasn’t warned you about this? Maybe because they can’t detect such a state until it becomes a chronic problem!

You and your doctor won’t know, but your cells and body will!

Problems of Acidosis

Your body will be forced to counteract this problem by neutralising the acidity with alkalising minerals (which are taken from your bones, muscles and cells, e.g. calcium from bones, glutamine from muscles).

That means you are losing a lot of minerals which could be used for repair and growth and many other beneficial functions in your system.

Does this mean your bones will become weaker? Yes!

What else will happen?

You will lose muscle mass too!

These effects may not manifest themselves immediately, but shall accumulate over time!

As you age, your ability to excrete acid via the kidneys deteriorates.

So what can I do?

Well you can increase your intake of fruit and vegetables, but I guess you all know that already!

For those of you who are eager for something more concrete in terms of tracking your acid load, one can use the PRAL index system as a way of calculating this (after the list there is an explanation of how to use it):

Food Group and Food

PRAL Score

Meat and Meat Products AverageLean Beef
Chicken
Canned, Corned Beef
Frankfurters
Liver Sausage
Lunch Meat
Lean Pork
Rump Steak
Salami
Turkey Meat
Veal Fillet

9.5

7.8
8.7
13.2
6.7
10.6
10.2
7.9
8.8
11.6
9.9
9.0

Fish AverageCod Fillet
Haddock
Herring
Trout

7.9

7.1
6.8
7.0
10.8

Milk, Dairy, and EggsMilk and non-cheese average
Low protein cheese average
High protein cheese average
Buttermilk
Low Fat Cheddar
Gouda Cheese
Cottage Cheese
Sour Cream
Whole Egg
Egg White
Egg Yolk
Hard Cheese
Ice Cream
Whole milk
Whole Milk Pasteurized
Parmesan Cheese
Processed Cheese
Whole Milk Yogurt w/Fruit
Whole Milk Yogurt Plain

 

1.0
8.0
23.6

0.5
26.4
18.6
8.7
1.2
8.2
1.1
23.4
19.2
0.6
1.1
0.7
34.2
28.7
1.2
1.5

Sugar and Sweets AverageMilk Chocolates
Honey
Cake
Marmalade
White Sugar

4.3

2.4
-0.3
3.7
-1.5
-0.1

Vegetables AverageAsparagus
Broccoli
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chicory
Cucumber
Eggplant
Leeks
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Onions
Peppers
Potatoes
Radishes
Spinach
Tomato Juice
Tomatoes
Zucchini

-2.8

-0.4
-1.2
-4.9
-4.0
-5.2
-2.0
-0.8
-3.4
-1.8
-2.5
-1.4
-1.5
-1.4
-4.0
-3.7
-14.0
-2.8
-3.1
-2.6

Fruits, Nuts, and Juices AverageApple Juice
Apples
Apricots
Bananas
Black Currants
Cherries
Grape Juice
Hazelnuts
Kiwi Fruit
Lemon Juice
Orange Juice
Oranges
Peaches
Peanuts
Pears
Pineapple
Raisins
Strawberries
Walnuts
Watermelon

-3.1

-2.2
-2.2
-4.8
-5.5
-6.5
-3.6
-1.0
-2.8
-4.1
-2.5
-2.9
-2.7
-2.4
8.3
-2.9
-2.7
-21.0
-2.2
6.8
-1.9

Grain Products Bread average
Flour average
Noodles average
Mixed Grain Rye Bread
Rye Bread
Mixed Grain Wheat Bread
Wheat Bread
White Bread
Cornflakes
Rye Crackers
Egg Noodles
Oats
Brown Rice
White Rice
Rye Flour
White Spaghetti
Whole Grain Spaghetti
Wheat Flour

 

3.5
7.0
6.7

4.0
4.1
3.8
1.8
3.7
6.0
3.3
6.4
10.7
12.5
1.7
5.9
6.5
7.3
8.2

Legumes AverageGreen Beans
Lentils
Peas

1.2

-3.1
3.5
1.2

Fats and Oils AverageButter
Margarine
Olive Oil
Sunflower Oil

0

0.6
-0.5
0.0
0.0

BeveragesAlkali rich average
Alkali poor average
Draft Beer
Pale Beer
Stout Beer
Coca-Cola
Cocoa
Coffee
Mineral Water
Red Wine
Tea
White Wine

 

 

-1.7
0

-0.2
0.9
-0.1
0.4
-0.4
-1.4
-1.8
-2.4
-0.3
-1.2

This table is adapted by John Berardi and taken from the Remer and Manz study (1). Each PRAL score is based on a 100g portion of food.

How to use the PRAL list

To make things REALLY simple:

  • All the positive figures (e.g. 2, 4.5 etc.) mean a positive acidic load on your system, in Laymans terms, these foods are acidic.
  • All the negative figures (e.g. -3, -2.2 etc.) mean a negative acidic load on your system, in Laymans terms, these foods are alkaline.

Simply record the amount (in grams) of each food you eat in a meal. Then, multiply the PRAL score listed by your food amount (2)

For example, if you’ve eaten 250g of lean meat (8 oz or about 1/2 lb), your PRAL score for the meat will be 7.8 (score for 100g) multiplied by 2.5 (for the 250g serving), or 19.5. (2)

If you’ve also eaten 250g of potato (8 oz or 1/2lb), your PRAL score for the potato is -4 (score for 100g) multiplied by 2.5 (for the 250g serving) or -10. (2)

In addition, if you’ve eaten 100g of spinach, the PRAL score for the spinach is -14. If you tally up the total score of this meal, the net PRAL is 19.5 (meat), -10 (potato), -14 (spinach), or -4.5. This means a meal containing 8 oz of lean meat, 8 oz of potato, and 3.5 oz of spinach produces a PRAL of -4.5. (2)

In other words, the meal produces a net alkalinity. And that is what you want!

“Cheaper, faster, quicker…” solutions?

If you’re going to eat a large meal and you know its going to be a net acid producer, you can add a small amount of glutamine to this meal. Want something cheaper than glutamine? Try sodium or potassium bicarbonate supplementation.

Those of you who regularly drink protein shakes, you could add some glutamine to them or alternatively some sodium or potassium bicarbonate (2g-5g should be sufficient to neutralise).

Also, adding sodium can have the same effect, though be careful not to over do it!

What’s the formula?

I knew someone would email me asking this, so to save you the hassle, here’s the formula, though I doubt many, if any, will use it. But for the sake of completing the article, here it is:

pral =
0.49 * protein (g) + 0.037 * phosphorus (mg) – 0.021 * potassium (mg) – 0.026 * magnesium (mg) – 0.013 * calcium (mg)

I did warn you :P

Conclusion

While the PRAL index is a good source of information to gauge the state of one’s diet, I do not advise going crazy and calculating each food value before consuming, unless of course you have serious health issue, in which case go ahead.

I know I said I’d provide two lists, but after realising that there are a billion sites with acid and alkaline lists, I thought I’d let you search the net for the one which is most suited to you.

Moderation and common sense are sufficient to help us devise sensible choices when it comes to nutrition.

Simply put: eat more vegetables and fruit!

(1) Remer and Manz, J. Am Diet Assoc. 95: 791-797, 1995.

(2) Berardi, J. Covering Nutritional Bases: The importance of acid-base balance. July 2003

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22 Responses to Acid and Alkaline Food Diet, Part 2
  1. Laura
    April 2, 2008 | 8:32 pm

    I can’t believe I never knew about the PRAL list.

    Is this a new “thing”?

    Thanks!

  2. the health blogger
    April 2, 2008 | 8:34 pm

    Laura,

    No this list is not new, it has been around since 1995 (if I’m not mistaken).

    Not many people refer to it, I guess probably for simplicity they just tell you what is acid forming and what is alkaline forming.

  3. Chris
    April 2, 2008 | 8:36 pm

    I have to admit, I never knew about the PRAL list and I’ve studied nutrition!

    I was going to ask what Laura asked, but hey maybe it’s not considered to be that important, hence it was probably not in any of my courses.

  4. Evan
    April 3, 2008 | 1:54 am

    Hmm. So, I replace meat with beer? That is my problem with these kinds of lists. They are a good measure of one factor – and if you habe gout for instance would be incredibly useful. Unfortunately a healthy diet means integrating many factors.

    One reason for the confusion in the lists may be the difference between the food and its effect on the body. Some foods which are acid in themselves can have an alkalising effect in the body and vice versa.

  5. Richard-FOG
    April 3, 2008 | 6:47 am

    Hi Bro!

    This is off-topic. My mum always sends us products here in Dubai from this site: http://www.firstvitaplus.net/VitaWeb_Home.htm

    I wanted to know your opinion about it. My mum has undertaken upon herself a mission to propagate herbal and alternative health lifestyle amongst her friends and family.

    Can you shed light on this?

  6. the health blogger
    April 3, 2008 | 10:54 am

    Rightly said Evan. An example of which is Lemon.

    These lists are just that, lists! As you said, we need to integrate various factors to cater for our individual needs.

    Thanks for your awesome comments, feel free to comment anytime!

  7. [...] the health blogger wrote an interesting post today on Acid and Alkaline Food Diet, Part 2Here’s a quick excerptWhile the PRAL index is a good source of information to gauge the state of one’s diet, I do not advise going crazy and calculating each food value before consuming, unless of course you have serious health issue, in which case go ahead. … [...]

  8. the health blogger
    April 5, 2008 | 11:23 am

    Hey Richard,

    How you doing? Long time!

    Will check out and get back to you on that.

    Hope all is well otherwise.

  9. judy
    August 13, 2008 | 12:05 am

    Hi, Thank you for providing a list of alkaline foods. It is a benefit trying to improve their health. You have done a great job. Thank you

  10. Angie
    September 3, 2008 | 10:57 am

    I had no idea what a PRAL score was till I found this page. But according to this white sugar is ALKALINE forming!?!… I believe it’s actually highly acidic?

  11. the health blogger
    September 3, 2008 | 11:25 am

    Hey Angie,

    That’s what I used to think & still do actually (i.e. sugar = acid).

    Though for some reason, on the PRAL index it is only slightly Alkaline.

    Need to look into I guess :)

  12. Dating Expert
    September 15, 2008 | 2:21 am

    First of all, I would like to thank the person behind this blog, because, I learned a lot of information. Too bad and i have to admit, I never mind about PRAL list until I read about this, and this is a great help to me since I am starting a new healthy lifestyle.

    Regards,
    John

  13. Anna
    December 3, 2008 | 12:36 am

    Lucky me, I graduated in former USSR so it’s nothing new for me ;) but yes! it’s realy important diet factor.

  14. karina
    November 9, 2009 | 10:59 pm

    nice thats good im doing an experiment with that=)

  15. james
    November 10, 2009 | 7:59 am

    This is very beneficial post i must say as it has very great information regarding acid and alkaline food.

  16. Bob the builder
    November 17, 2009 | 3:31 am

    Ahh, I see how this works, you get people who will positively comment on your post to reply.

    To bad this is complete b******t, you lost me at -

    “Well you can increase your intake of fruit and vegetables, but I guess you all know that already!”

    Increase fruits, some which contain citric acid to combat acid?

    *****.

    • the health blogger
      December 3, 2009 | 11:36 am

      Hi “Bob”,

      When you can’t construct a sentence without swearing, how do you expect me to approve your comment(s)?

      How old are you?

      If you don’t agree with me, there’s nothing wrong with that, everyone has their opinions.

      However, if you are insistent on swearing, then I will not publish your childish and rude comments.

      And for your information, generally the highest acidity contained in a “citric acid” containing fruit is at most 8%! However, the acidity is generally quite mild and the other benefits associated with such fruits considerably outweigh any “negativity” in relation to the low (natural) acidity.

      How many people eat lemons/limes etc. as they do oranges, apples etc.?

      No one is forcing you to read this blog.

      Whenever one tries to help others and do good, you will always get those people (who are a minority of course!) to try and harm that benefit and work!

      Thanks for your comments, but if you continue to be rudem they are of no benefit here.

  17. Anna
    December 6, 2009 | 8:12 pm

    I’d like to add this comment exactly for such readers like Bob

    It looks confusing, that acidic food make your body alkaline, but it’s true. You have to understand, that all food we eat doesn’t go directly to our system, it just a raw material for lots of biochemical reactions and acidity that we are talking about here is a final result in your homeostasis.
    And yes, lemons, apples, tomatoes and even vinegar will bring your PRAL scores down.
    If you are not familiar with organic chemistry and it’s hard to understand how all these reactions going, so just trust to the facts, take some indicator papers and measure your urine acidity every morning to see how your food affect your pH level, otherwise be thankful to people who provide you valuable information.

    PS. I’m not very happy with this list though, some data are questionable in terms of scores, but it’s about methodology of analysis.
    Too bad we are still lack of research info on this matter. My concern is a big difference sometimes between different reference sources and it makes data statistically poor.

  18. Anne
    January 11, 2010 | 3:21 am

    This food list seems complicated but the best food choices have not changed. This list concurs with all the other food lists, increase fruits and vegetables. Add lemon to water, have a fruit smoothy, do what you can to eat enough fruit and vegetables, they balance the body’s pH. I wonder how alkaline water fits in with this?

  19. alkalinefoods02
    February 4, 2010 | 12:27 pm

    its a great list.. very informative

  20. Dr. Alwyn Wong
    February 6, 2011 | 3:05 am

    Great article. I PhD friend of mine put me on to this topic a couple of years ago, so I decided to write a book about. It’s called The Kick Acid Diet.

    I find the PRAL is confusing for people, especially if they’re familiar with the pH scale. But, If people are serious about reducing the acidity of their acidity, it’s crucial that they understand it (the PRAL).

    For more information, visit the website at http://www.thekickaciddiet.com.

    Can I link to your site?

    Alwyn

    • the health blogger
      February 10, 2011 | 12:58 pm

      Hi Alwyn,

      Thanks for the info., please feel free to link to my site.

      Thanks.

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