Similar topics: the power of hydrogen
The alkaline diet favors the "intake of" alkaline foods "- such as vegetables, fresh fruit, fruit juices, tubers, nuts and legumes - limiting" acidic foods ", such as cereals, meats and cheeses; alcohol and carbonated drinks are also not recommended like cola and very salty foods.
The alkaline diet is based on the consideration that a "diet rich in acidic foods ends up disturbing the acid-base balance of the body", promoting the loss of essential minerals, such as calcium and magnesium contained in the bones.
Such alterations would favor the appearance of a "chronic acidosis of a mild degree, which in turn would be a predisposing factor for some diseases and for a sense of general malaise.
The alkaline diet recommends consuming 70-80% of alkaline foods and 20-30% of acidic foods every day. This food model is clearly closer to that followed by man until the discovery of agriculture than the current one.
How to tell when an element is acidic?
The acidity of a food is not measured in the fresh state, but on the ashes (minerals) that remain after combustion. These inorganic substances, therefore not metabolisable, can behave as acids or bases, and as such participate in the maintenance of normal organic pH .
The lemon, for example, has a very low pH, linked to the abundant presence of citric acid; it is however considered an alkaline food because its acidic components are organic in nature and as such are easily metabolized by the body and eliminated by breathing. while the basic inorganic ones remain there longer.
The elements that give rise to the formation of acids, decreasing the urinary pH, are sulfur, phosphorus and chlorine, while foods rich in sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are considered alkaline.
A widely used index to evaluate the acidifying or alkalizing characteristics of a food is the so-called PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load).
From a practical point of view:
- foods with negative PRAL (PRAL -) are potentially alkalizing (e.g. vegetables and fruits)
- foods with positive PRAL (PRAL +) have an acidifying effect (eg meat, milk derivatives, fish and egg yolk).
In addition to the table below, we have prepared a practical online calculator to establish the PRAL of a diet
Acidity of the organism
Our blood is slightly alkaline and under normal conditions its pH varies between 7.35 and 7.45. The maintenance of these values is given by the subtle balance between production and excretion of alkaline and acid substances, in which the kidneys and lungs mainly participate. The respiratory mechanism eliminates or retains carbonic acid in the form of carbon dioxide, increasing or decreasing the blood pH, respectively, while the renal mechanism eliminates or retains H + and buffers.
Regardless of the diet, normal metabolism generates huge amounts of volatile (eliminated by breathing) and fixed (eliminated by the kidney) acids every day. In addition to the homeostatic systems already described, other biological mechanisms called buffer systems are involved, capable of effectively neutralizing part of the acids. Chief among them is the carbonic acid / sodium bicarbonate system. It is no coincidence that the latter is sometimes taken by athletes with the aim of buffering the acidosis induced by the anaerobic lactacid mechanism and prolonging the tolerance to fatigue.
Nor is it by chance that during this effort the organism increases lung ventilation with the aim of eliminating the excess of carbon dioxide, therefore indirectly of hydrogen ions given by the dissociation of carbonic acid.
Only under extraordinary circumstances can the production of acid metabolites grow to the point of causing acidosis; this happens, for example, during a severe anaerobiosis (for example following a cardiovascular collapse), which gives rise to such high quantities of lactic acid as to make normal homeostatic mechanisms insufficient.
Another cause of acidosis is the so-called ketosis, which occurs following an excessive catabolism of lipids and some amino acids; this condition is typical of decompensated diabetes mellitus (diabetic ketoacidosis), but also of prolonged fasting and a chronically diet based on the extreme reduction of carbohydrate intake in favor of fats and proteins (strongly ketogenic).
Symptoms of acute acidosis include lethargy, palpitations, nausea, vomiting, headache, stupor and coma; chronic acidosis is accompanied by an increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
More rare, but still possible, are the conditions of metabolic alkalosis, which are accompanied by cramps, muscle spasms, irritability and hyperexcitability. They are generally due to vomiting or excessive ingestion of alkanes.
Blood pH values below 6.8 and above 7.82 are not compatible with life.
Alkaline Diet and Health "