Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How acidic is your diet?

I've heard people (especially yogis) talk about wanting to eat a low-acid diet but never really paid much attention until recently. Then this article piqued my interest, about how a low-acid diet might help prevent osteoporosis.

How could a low-acid diet prevent osteoporosis? Our blood needs to stay within a neutral pH of 7.35-7.45. When the blood gets too acidic, calcium is leached from the bones in order to neutralize it. Too much calcium loss from the bones leads to osteoporosis. Different foods produce different amounts of alkalinity or acidity in the body.

Acid-producing foods include meats, beans, fish, cheeses, and grains. Foods with a high protein content leads to more acid production (especially animal proteins because of sulfurous amino acids). Coffee, tea, beer, wine, sugary foods (things we crave and become addicted to) all acid producing.

Alkali producing foods include fruits and vegetables. Even though lemons and other citrus fruits have acidic juice, when they are ingested they actually have an alkaline effect (result of the potassium and magnesium present).

The typical American diet is highly acidic: meat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and coffee, while low in fruits and vegetables. A low-acid diet is high in fruits and vegetables, and low in animal protein.

Some are beginning to suggest that it may actually be the consumption of too much meat and animal protein (including dairy) that explains the high rates of osteoporosis in America. Even though dairy products contain calcium, they may actually end up weakening our bones because of their acid-producing effect. Research like this is surfacing, showing that there is insufficient evidence to recommend dairy to children for bone health.

My own doctors have always recommended dairy products to make sure I get enough calcium, but have never talked about the effects of a low or high acid diet on my bones. Have yours? I'm wondering if/how this might start to change over the next few decades.


  1. Thank you thank you thank you for posting this, soooo useful to know! :-)

    I am also very curious about weather it is true that most of us walk around dehydrated most of the time and if regular water is enough or if we really need good quality water like evian, or even coconut water... I know, the nerve of me... requesting topics! ;-)

    And by the way, loving the new design :-)

  2. Hi Claudia! Good question about dehydration! If you sweat a lot (like a lot of us do in these east coast summers), then we need to replace that water loss. Otherwise yes, we will be walking around dehydrated.

    I'm not sure about the regular water vs higher quality water question. I stick to regular water - buying bottled water seems like a waste of money and waste of a plastic bottle. But I am curious about possible benefits of drinking higher quality water - are you aware of any? I'll let you know if I can find out anything :)

    I don't routinely drink coconut water but probably would if I had more disposable income... it's great because it has a lot of electrolytes (similar to sports drinks but without all the added sugar). If we eat healthy meals and drink regular water, we'll end up replacing these electrolytes at some point anyway!