you’re trying to eat a healthy diet, you have a lot
to keep track of. Do you get enough vitamins, minerals, and
fiber (soluble and insoluble)? Enough good fat (from nuts,
olive oil, and fish) and not too much bad fat (from meat)?
And don’t forget all those phytochemicals that you need
to stay healthy.
what about the acid/alkaline balance of your foods—do
you need to consider that, too? Many articles, websites, and
ads claim that an acid-boosting diet is unhealthy—perhaps
even the cause of most diseases, from cancer and arthritis
to depression and diabetes—and they promote special
diets or supplements (with names such as Acid2Alkaline or
Buffer-pH+) to keep your body from becoming too acidic.
of these claims are farfetched or even nonsensical. However,
as with many fad diets and supplements, there’s a kernel
of truth within them. Research has shown that diet can influence
the acidity/alkalinity of the body and that this may affect
and alkalinity are measured by the pH scale, which goes from
0 to 14; 7 is neutral, and lower numbers indicate increasing
acidity, higher numbers alkalinity. The body keeps its acid
balance in the normal range several ways. Acid is excreted
by the kidneys and also reduced via exhalation of carbon dioxide.
And most important, as far as bone health goes, the body buffers
the blood (that is, neutralizes acidity in it) by releasing
calcium compounds, which are alkaline.
Diet Comes In
typical Western diet is high in animal protein, which increases
the acidity of blood slightly. Fruits and vegetables reduce
blood acidity—that is, make it more alkaline. It’s
not that meat is acidic, but rather that it contains acid-forming
compounds, such as amino acids and phosphorus. Similarly,
fruits and vegetables have alkaline-forming compounds (even
though many of them taste acidic).
studies have shown that an acid-boosting diet can indeed cause
bones to release calcium; alkaline-forming foods help prevent
this loss. People who eat lots of fruits and vegetables tend
to have stronger bones, and this may help explain why. Thus,
studies have found that the blood-pressure-lowering DASH diet,
which is rich in fruits and vegetables, helps reduce calcium
about the effect of other foods? Nuts, legumes, some grains
(such as rice, pasta, and corn flakes), hard cheeses, and
eggs increase acidity; milk and yogurt apparently do not.
Sodas, because of the phosphorus they contain, are also high
on the acid scale, which is why some studies have linked a
very high soda consumption to weaker bones.
is controversy, however, about how significant the effect
of an acid-boosting diet is on bones and the risk of osteoporosis,
especially in people who consume adequate amounts of calcium.
Since the kidneys help reduce acidity, and kidney function
does decline with age, some researchers believe that an acid-boosting
diet may help explain some of the bone loss in older people.
But so many factors affect bone health—including genetics,
physical activity, and many nutrients—that it’s
hard to tease out the effect of an acid-boosting diet.