I’m starting to write a book that discusses health and the alkaline diet. This is a first draft which will be expanded and turned into the first section of the book which deals with the theory of the alkaline diet. The second section will take a closer look at what sorts of foods are good to eat for better acid/alkaline balance and better overall health. If you have any feedback, it would be great to hear which parts you like, as well as those you don’t!
Alkaline Diet Definition
When I talk about the “alkaline diet”, I am using an objective assessment of the acid/alkaline effect foods have upon our bodies. The calculation that I refer to involves calculating the PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load) of foods that I eat. To be honest, I don’t often sit down and calculate the PRAL values of every food I consume. However, I have found it useful to clarify, when I have been in doubt, the acid/alkaline effect of various foods.
Positive PRAL values mean that a food has an acidifying effect on the body. The bigger the number, the stronger the effect. Negative numbers indicate that foods have an alkalizing effect, again, the more negative the number, the stronger the effect. You may have guessed that a PRAL score of zero means a food is neither acidifying or alkalizing.
You can read more about the PRAL calculation in the paper Dietary potential renal acid load and renal net acid excretion in healthy, free-living children and adolescents 
Many of the acid/alkaline food charts available on the internet use a subjective classification of foods into acid/alkaline categories based on their sugar content. While there are many areas of agreement between this categorization and the PRAL method, according to the PRAL calculation, the sugar content of foods has no direct bearing on their acid/alkaline status.
The complete lack of nutrition and high sugar content of sparkling soft drinks, for example, is more than enough reason not to drink them. They provide huge amounts of “empty calories” and can play a role in both obesity and diabetes.
There is a distinct likelihood that the increased consumption of [high fructose corn syrup] in beverages may be linked to the increase in obesity. 
[O]ur findings suggest that frequent consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages may be associated with larger weight gain and increased risk of type 2 diabetes 
We should be careful to avoid trying to fit everything into an acid/alkaline paradigm. Of course, acid/alkaline classifications of foods are important. But they are not the only factor. Overall health requires a more holistic approach.
Why is Alkalizing Important?
The reason why alkalizing is now so important is simply because the Standard American Diet (SAD) now has such an acidifying effect upon our bodies. Animal products and processed foods make up such a large proportion of the SAD while fruits and vegetables are consumed in such low quantities. This is why we are having to alkalize. If plant foods already made up a significant percentage of our diet then there would be very little need to “alkalize” further.
Alkaline Diet Caution
There is much more to health than purely thinking in terms of acid/alkaline balance. There are plenty of “acid foods” that I continue to eat (e.g. brown rice, wholewheat bread, lentils). Since starting my investigation into the alkaline diet, I have discovered that certain acid foods have an adverse effect upon my health. For instance, all animal products (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) are acidic foods. I probably wouldn’t have looked into their health effects so deeply if it hadn’t been for their “acid” label. However, there are many more reasons, other than simply acidity, why I now choose to avoid these foods. Dietary cholesterol only comes from animal products. We don’t need any cholesterol in our diet. The body is capable of producing all the cholesterol we need.
Fats and oils have very little acid/alkaline effect. But does this make them good just because they’re not acidifying? As I mentioned above, I still consume plenty of acid forming foods. Although I’m sure you can see that these are plant based, whole foods. This is what makes them beneficial for my overall health.
Acid and Alkaline Foods
As you may already know, alkalizing foods are fruits and vegetables, while acid foods are literally everything else. This is simplifying the data presented by Remer and Manz in their paper Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH  a little bit. However, I find that with simplicity comes clarity.
Of particular interest is the fact that all animal products (meat, fish and dairy) are consistently acidifying. Grains (e.g. rice, rye, oats) are acidic. As are pulses, or legumes (e.g. lentils). Also, sugars and fats provide an almost neutral acid/alkaline effect.
So if alkalizing is your only priority, you’d be better off eating butter and drinking sodas rather than feasting on brown rice and lentil soup. I hope you can see that there is more to health than simply becoming alkaline.
What’s Wrong with the Standard American Diet?
We know that because of the high quantities of meats and dairy products along with all the processed foods – as well as the low levels of fresh fruits and vegetables that are consumed in the West that the Standard American Diet (or Standard Western Diet) produces an acid load on those people who eat this way.
Increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables and reducing the quantities of animal products and junk foods will certainly alkalize your body. However, the important point is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Just drinking some baking soda mixed with water would produce an alkalizing effect but is no where near as beneficial for us as eating more plant based foods. This is where the health benefit of the Alkaline Diet is really coming from. Alkalizing our bodies is a by product of consuming a whole foods, plant based diet. This is where I now focus my attention.
Reducing your meat consumption does contribute to alkalizing your body. But more than this, less meat means less fat and less cholesterol in your diet. This leads to weight loss and improved cardiovascular performance. Which can in turn reduce our risk factors for diseases including diabetes and heart disease.
Obesity is considered as the most important risk factor for type 2 diabetes. 
the higher the serum total cholesterol level, the greater the risk of an atherosclerotic event [e.g. – a heart attack or stroke]. 
Dietary potential renal acid load and renal net acid excretion in healthy, free-living children and adolescents
Thomas Remer, Triantafillia Dimitriou and Friedrich Manz
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 77, No. 5, 1255-1260, May 2003
Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity
George A Bray, Samara Joy Nielsen and Barry M Popkin
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 79, No. 4, 537-543, April 2004
Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Weight Gain, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Young and Middle-Aged Women
Matthias B. Schulze, DrPH; JoAnn E. Manson, MD; David S. Ludwig, MD; Graham A. Colditz, MD; Meir J. Stampfer, MD; Walter C. Willett, MD; Frank B. Hu, MD
Journal of American Medical Association, 2004;292(8):927-934.
Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH
Thomas Remer, PhD; and Friedrich Manz, MD
J Am Diet Assoc. 1995 Jul;95(7):791-7.
From obesity to diabetes: why, when and who?
Acta Clinica Belgica. 2000 Jan-Feb;55(1):9-15.
Atherosclerotic risk factors, are there ten or is there only one?
ROBERTS W. C.
American Journal of Cardiology. 1989 Sep 1;64(8):552-4.