The Alkaline Diet – A Closer Look
Every cell in our body operates within an optimal PH range, and those PH ranges differ between different cells.
The NET PH of our body however, is pretty tightly regulated within a healthy range.
In the case of somebody eating a diet which provides an acid inducing effect we can see what is called a “low grade chronic metabolic acidosis”.
This level of acidity would be sub clinical (i.e. if you saw your doctor they would be unlikely to see it as a problem) but arguably its sub optimal for your health.
Some of the health issues seen due to low grade chronic acidosis include:
Bone loss- Calcium is transported from your bones to buffer acidity.
Muscle protein breakdown- Glutamine is highly alkaline and due to the acidic environment in your body you will transport glutamine which is stored in skeletal muscle. The amino acids from this are then excreted in the urine resulting in net muscle loss.
We can build greater resistance to growth hormone.
Insulin like growth factor activity goes down.
Cortisol goes up.
So if we want to reduce acidity in our diet where do we start?
Researchers can now look at the components of a food to determine what effect it will have on body PH.
When we eat a food and it is absorbed it is presented to the kidneys as either an acid or alkaline (sometimes referred to as “base”) forming compound.
The potential a particular food has to raise acidity is called it’s potential renal acid load or PRAL for short.
Foods that raise acidity are given particular positive number (the higher the greater potential acid load) and those that reduce acidity are given negative numbers.
When the PRAL of all of the foods we have eaten are added together at the end of the meal or day you are left with the net acid or alkaline/base load which will then affect your bodies net PH.
Well, just to confuse you further, what you might consider acidic foods like for example lemons can have a profoundly alkaline effect on the body.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a list of the PRAL of foods somewhere?
Whenever you search for anything handy when it comes to nutrition precision nutrition seem to have created a resource.
Here are the PRAL score of some of the more typical foods people eat.
Their values are given per 100g so for example if you eat 50g you take the PRAL score and multiply by 0.5.
If you were feeling keen you could then tally up all that you have eaten and work out the PRAL.
Remember. Minus numbers = alkaline, close to zero = neutral and the higher numbers = acidity. I can save you a bit of effort and show you an example:
Imagine you have been having the following breakfast:
A small bowl of cornflakes (50g) with sugar, skimmed milk and a black coffee; a PRAL of +8.25. Quite acid.
If you switched to a two egg spinach omelette with a slice of wholemeal toast and a handful of strawberries, you would bring your PRAL for this meal down to 0.02.
Similarly, in your other meals of the day, including a hearty portion of veg can help to bring the PRAL back to neutral.
You don’t need to eliminate all grains, meat and coffee from your diet like some online would suggest and in fact it would be counterproductive to do so.
If you are eating a high protein and moderate/ high carbohydrate diet, the chances are your renal acid load could be quite high.
If you’re concerned you can start by eating more vegetables. I have yet to meet somebody who eats too many vegetables (I include most vegetarians in this statement too)
Adding 5g of glutamine or 3g bicarbonate of soda to your protein shakes can also reduce PRAL significantly.
So is acidity a factor? Yes.
Do we need to eat solely alkaline foods, organic seaweed we have dredged and have special filters fitted to the taps in our home?
In my view definitely not.
If you’d like to get fit and healthy drop us a line using the contact form at the bottom of this page. Thanks for reading.
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