So what did I mean when I said I shall provide two lists for the Acid and Alkaline Food diet in Part 1?
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.
So is there a way round this?
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||
|Meat and Meat Products AverageLean Beef
Canned, Corned Beef
|Fish AverageCod Fillet
|Milk, Dairy, and EggsMilk and non-cheese average
Low protein cheese average
High protein cheese averageButtermilk
Low Fat Cheddar
Whole Milk Pasteurized
Whole Milk Yogurt w/Fruit
Whole Milk Yogurt Plain
|Sugar and Sweets AverageMilk Chocolates
|Fruits, Nuts, and Juices AverageApple Juice
|Grain Products Bread average
Noodles averageMixed Grain Rye Bread
Mixed Grain Wheat Bread
Whole Grain Spaghetti
|Legumes AverageGreen Beans
|Fats and Oils AverageButter
|BeveragesAlkali rich average
Alkali poor averageDraft Beer
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:
0.49 * protein (g) + 0.037 * phosphorus (mg) – 0.021 * potassium (mg) – 0.026 * magnesium (mg) – 0.013 * calcium (mg)
I did warn you
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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