Alkaline vs. Acidic food – myth or science ?


More and more people every day are becoming aware of the need for eating healthy. Then again healthy diets have always been subject to fads, trends and fashion. Obviously everyone wants only the best for themselves and their health, but in today’s flood of different information on the web it’s hard to know fact from fiction. Healthy practice from urban myth.

So what is the status of all these alkaline foods versus acidic foods? Some websites have made entire lists of just about every possible fruit and vegetable plus nuts, types of meat and spices – all neatly assigned into acidic or alkaline groups.



Lemons contain acid but they are alkaline?

What makes this division even more confusing is when different authors state as a matter of fact that citrus fruits (lemons, grapefruits etc) taste acidic, do contain acids and do test as acids in a chemical pH test, but when they are eaten, they turn alkaline.

This is where many a skeptic and health enthusiast alike raises an eyebrow. Now it starts to sound shady. A doubtful question somehow automatically forms in our minds. Really? Lemon contains acid but turns alkaline in our bodies? Who came up with that and how do they know? And since we are at it, is this whole story with the alkaline vs acidic food based on science or is it just another in a long line of diet fads?

No need to go through dozens of pages of data. We did it for you.

Here are the hard, double-checked facts:

This is how food gets “alkaline” or “acidic” label

Alkaline diet is sometimes also known as the alkaline ash diet. Laboratory would take some type of food and burn it. Then they test the pH of the ash. That is how foods get labeled as acidic or alkaline and that is why citruses taste acidic but are labeled as alkaline- because when burned, their ash has an alkaline pH value.


What does science say?

Science can’t find any evidence for the validity of the claim that “acidic food” is bad for you just because it leaves acidic ash when burned.

Ever since the scientists defined the pH factor as a universally accepted test for acidity, medical doctors started testing human body to work out the normal ranges of pH factors in healthy humans. They found that blood has a very stable and narrow range of pH value and it ranges between 7.35 and 7.45. The pH of small intestine ranges from 7.0 to 8.5 and urine can rage in pH 4.5 to 8.

So the pH factor of your blood stays pretty much unaffected regardless of your diet. The pH value of the urine and intestine can change depending on the food but only temporary.

In fact, there are entire populations of people who ate and still eat nearly all-meat diet.

The Inuit in the Antarctic simply have no vegetables available to them. They live in eternal snow and ice so they eat fish, walrus, seal, and whale meat.

Gauchos in the South America are on the move most of the year and eat hardly anything except some bread and meat.

Masai and several other tribes in Africa eat only milk and meat. Similar is true of the nomads in Mongolia. According to the theory of acidic foods, they should have all gone extinct within a generation or two.

And yet, they are not affected by any of the illnesses that are ascribed to “acidic food”.

Long story short, science says: eat your veggies but meat, eggs and milk are not harmful just because their ash is acidic. This is supported not only by science but also by generations of people who eat diets rich in meat.

A balanced diet combined with enough physical activity is what science and experiences of populations around the world both support.

Finally, if you look at each of the cultures mentioned above, it seems that physical activity  has a decisive influence on the health despite the lifetime of eating predominantly meat based (acidic) diet.



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