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Eating for Energy

How Food Choices Affect Acid-Alkalinity Balance in the Body

Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN

It is well known that an acidic body is correlated with disease. Linus Pauling (2-time Nobel Prize winner) was the first to establish that cancer cells cannot grow in an alkaline environment, thus, proving that an acid terrain is a feeding ground for germ and disease proliferation.

Acid and alkalinity are measured using the pH scale. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14 with 0 being the most acidic, 14 the most alkaline, and 7 as neutral. Each of the body’s tissues has an optimal pH range it needs to maintain for normal cellular function. When this range is surpassed problems occur. For instance, muscle tissue needs a pH of 6.1, the liver 6.9, the stomach 1.2-3.0, the urine 4.5-8.0, the saliva 6.35-6.85, and the blood 7.35-7.45.

Blood is the largest tissue in the body and it is also the most important. It transports to our cells: oxygen (via red blood cells), nutrients, water, and much more. It also eliminates acidic waste that builds up during cellular processes. The blood is really our “river of life”. Since the blood needs to slightly alkaline (7.35-7.45), it is imperative that you make choices to ensure this need is met.

For optimal health and energy, the ideal diet should be 80% alkaline-forming and only 20% acid-forming. However, the western diet that many of us have adopted is the exact opposite. It’s no wonder we’re seeing so much lethargy and illness! The most recent diet trends have focused on high protein and low carbohydrate consumption with an associated decrease in nutrient-rich and alkalizing fruits and vegetables (1). The result - a very acid diet which is causing greater disease.

Conversely, diets high in fruits and vegetables are very alkalizing. The alkalinity of foods is measured using a method known as PRAL (potential acid renal load). A PRAL in the negatives represents a food that is alkaline-forming in the body, while a food that yields a positive number is one which is acid-forming in the body. Compare the following PRAL numbers from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association: fruits (-3.1), vegetables (-2.8), meat and meat products (9.5), and milk and dairy (1 to 23.6!) (2).

Based on these numbers it is evident that our high consumption of acid-forming animal products and low consumption of alkaline-forming fruits and vegetables is a big problem!

Good news however!
Studies have shown that foods rich in potassium (ie. Fruits and vegetables) have a tremendous ability to quickly alkalize the body. Potassium (alkaline-forming) is a vital mineral that the kidneys use to help regulate the acid-alkaline balance in the body. For instance, urine pH is a good indicator of renal acid load (acid in the body) and has been shown to reflect dietary changes in as little as 2 hours! This means that you can alkalize or acidify your blood’s pH very quickly through the foods you eat.

Therefore, choosing to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables can be tremendously fast acting and a potent solution to balancing your body’s pH level.



(1) Minich, D. & Bland, J. (2007). Acid-alkaline balance: role in chronic disease and detoxification. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 13 (4): 62-66.

(2) Remer, T. & Manz, F. (1995). Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 95 (7): 791-797.


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