Many experts believe that your overall health is strongly influenced by the acid-base balance in your body, and that most people eat a diet that creates too much body acidity.
Proponents of this model of health believe that consuming too much “acid-producing” food (such as sugar, the simple carbohydrates in grains, or meat) leaves your metabolism with excess acidic residue to deal with, whereas a diet rich in vegetables keeps you safely on the basic side.
An acidic diet has been linked to osteoporosis and other chronic conditions such as atherosclerosis, stroke, kidney stones, loss of lean muscle mass, and obesity.
Osteoporosis and dietary acidity
More women (and men, too!) are taking calcium supplements than ever before, yet the epidemic of osteoporosis shows no sign of slowing. Because of this seeming paradox, health practitioners are exploring other dietary strategies that might prevent bone loss, and restoring acid-base balance may be one of them.
Here’s one reason: to keep your metabolic machinery running smoothly, your body will go to any length to maintain the pH (the acidity level) of your blood within a narrow range. That means if your blood acidity starts to creep up, you’ll leach calcium out of your bones in order to buffer it.
Here’s a quote from “Diet-induced metabolic acidosis,” by Adeva and Souto, published in the journal Clinical Nutrition in 2011:
“Urinary calcium excretion is lower when the urine is more alkaline, whereas more acidic urine is associated with higher urinary calcium.”
You can avoid urinary calcium loss by consuming an alkaline-leaning diet.
Maintaining muscle mass
Research also shows the importance of an alkaline diet in maintaining healthy muscle tissue. Supplementing the diet with alkaline-producing minerals like potassium reduces the urinary excretion of nitrogen, the end-product of the breakdown of muscle protein.
Protect your kidneys
A diet too high in acid-forming foods places an undue load on the kidney, according to Nimrit Goraya, MD of the Texas A&M Health Center. Her research showed that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, or supplementation with acid-neutralizing sodium bicarbonate, protected patients at risk of kidney problems from further kidney damage.
Your diet tips
Here’s a quick list of some of the acid-forming foods to avoid:
- White flour in bread or pasta
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Dairy products
- Meats & Fish
Meanwhile, add these healthy alkaline-forming foods to your diet:
- Raw almonds
- Fresh fruit: apples, citrus (really!), watermelon, papaya, mango, grape, cantaloupe
- Leafy green vegetables: lettuce, spinach, kale
- Brussels sprouts
- Olive oil, grapeseed oil
- Herbs and spices includeing cinnamon, cumin, and ginger