Making up your own alkaline diet plan needn’t be a difficult process. Lots of the information available online may actually hinder more than it helps. The only thing that you really have to think about is that fruits and vegetables are alkalizing foods. Pretty much everything else causes an acid load upon our bodies. What’s confusing about all the charts and lists that we can find on the Internet are that they often contradict each other. Secondly, they often try and say that some fruits and vegetables aren’t alkalizing. This has been known for a long time.
A report written almost 100 years ago published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry titled Studies of Urinary Tract Acidity states:
Practically every one now understands that most of the various organic acids present in the fruits are completely oxidized within the body. The contained acids, therefore, do not exhibit any ultimate acid effect but, on the contrary, fruits cause the production of less acid urines because of the alkaline ash which they yield. Prunes, plums, and cranberries are an exception to this general truth [...]
Alkaline Forming Foods aren’t Everthing
The thing is being alkalizing isn’t the only thing to consider. If we lump all acid foods together, we’re saying that cranberry juice is just as bad for us as a can of soda. This is clearly not the case. That’s what I don’t like about acid/aklaline food charts. Consuming high alkaline foods is one thing – avoiding certain fruits because they are acidifying, is another.
What I’m suggesting is that we shouldn’t avoid fruits, even if they exert an acid load on our bodies. For sure, eating a diet of just prunes, plums, and cranberries is not advisable. I just don’t think we should go out of our way to avoid these fruits.
As another example of taking the alkaline diet to extremes, consider hazelnuts. According to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory, they are just over 60% fat. However, their PRAL score of -2.8 makes them an alkalizing food. Sure, eating a few hazelnuts here and there is going to be good for us but their high fat content means that even though they are alkalizing, we don’t want to eat too many. The ideal is to be getting the majority of our calories from carbohydrates.
Another, perhaps more extreme example would be to compare ice cream with rye bread. Which do you think is more acidifying to our bodies? If you guessed ice cream, you would be wrong! This is just another reason why we have to think about more than just the acid/alkaline divide. The PRAL score of ice cream is ever so slightly acidifying while the rye bread puts a greater acid load on our bodies.
Following the alkaline diet dogmatically is not going to be good for your health. It’s sure good to know which foods are alkalizing and which are acidifying. But we also have to take into consideration which ones have more fat, which ones are more processed, which ones have more additives, and so on.
Perhaps the safest option is to simply eat as many of our calories from fresh fruits and vegetable sources as we can. This ensures we’re eating a high alkaline diet as well as a high carb diet and let’s face it, fruits and vegetables have the best nutrient profiles of anything we could eat.
Objectifying Alkaline Foods
Whenever you see a list of acid and alkaline foods, take a time out and try to find what definition is being used. Is it just someone’s imagination, feeling or gut instinct? Or is there an objective assessment of acidity and alkalinity? This is of vital importance. When talking about this divide, I use the scientifically accepted definition of PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load) devised by Remer and Manz in their seminal paper Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH. These are two of the leading researchers in this area who have been published in peer reviewed journals.
It would be wrong to view all alkaline foods as good and all acid foods as bad. The safest option is to eat a diet high in whole food plant based nutrition. In other words, avoid processed foods and eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible – this is an alkaline diet!