Are you confused about the alkaline diet?
Your friend told you it can fight cancer but you’re not sure if it will help or hurt you?
If so, you need to read this article.
We explain what alkaline foods are, what the research says about acid foods, and if they should be a concern for cancer patients.
We also provide a list of alkaline foods pdf so you can see what’s what.
To find out the truth about the alkaline diet, and why it should matter to you, read on!
What Are Acids, Bases, and pH?
Acids and bases sit at different ends of the pH scale. That is, below 7 is acidic, at 7 is neutral, and above 7 is basic.
Vinegar, for example, is acidic with a pH of around 3.
Some bases are further called alkali, which is where the name alkaline diet comes from.
How is Blood pH Kept at Normal?
Normal blood pH ranges from 7.35 to 7.45 with the sweet spot as close to 7.4 as possible.
And you better believe your body works hard to keep it close to normal.
Consequently, if your blood pH veers off normal, your lungs and kidneys start to compensate to bring it back to 7.4.
However, if it can’t be reset to normal, it can become life-threatening.
What is the Alkaline Diet?
The popularized alkaline diet, or the alkaline acid diet, is based on the idea that certain foods create acids or bases when they’re metabolized.
Because of that, some proponents of the diet suggest that you eat a plant-based diet without meats, sugars, and processed foods.
Others encourage an 80/20 alkaline/acid mix and a 10-level system that is increasingly restrictive.
Thus, at its most restrictive form, it could result in deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, and calcium.
The problem is that even if the science behind the diet is sound, the implementation isn’t.
Furthermore, we don’t know whether it’s safe and effective, or who would benefit from it, and who wouldn’t.
In short, we do know that individual foods have acidifying effects that contribute to your body’s acid load.
What Is Dietary Acid Load and PRAL?
DAL, or Dietary Acid Load, is basically the concept behind the alkaline diet and measures the acid-forming capacity of foods.
In other words, it’s the amount of acid that’s produced in the body when foods are metabolized.
Furthermore, to estimate DAL, researchers often use PRAL or Potential Renal Acid Load.
PRAL takes into account the protein, potassium, magnesium, and phosphate content of foods.
Foods with a negative PRAL produce bases, while those with a positive PRAL produce acids.
What Can Acid Production Result in?
Acid production can cause something called chronic low-grade acidosis in the blood.
Acidosis happens when the blood pH stays very close to the lower limit of 7.35.
Consequently, similar to low-grade chronic inflammation, acidosis might increase the risk of cancer.
Dietary Acid and Cancer – What Does the Evidence Say?
The fact that dietary acid can affect blood pH and cancer risk is receiving increased attention.
However, there’s no evidence to say that a high acid load causes cancer while a low acid load doesn’t.
But there’s definitely a link between acid-forming foods and cancer.
Several studies looked at this association within the last two years:
- Positive PRAL foods were linked to an increased risk of breast and colon cancer.
- While negative PRAL foods were associated with protection against breast cancer.
However, these studies are observational and simply say that there is an association between two factors.
That is, they don’t state cause-and-effect, meaning, we don’t know if acid load causes cancer.
We need further research to figure that out.
List of Alkaline Foods PDF
To help visualize which foods are acid-producing, we added a list of alkaline foods pdf, with their respective PRAL scores.
To recap, PRAL is measured in positive and negative numbers:
- Foods that create the most acid have a high positive number, for instance parmesan cheese=34.2.
- While the most base-forming foods have a high negative number (raisins=-21).
- Lastly, neutral foods hover around zero.
Although no cut-offs are established, the goal would be to eat fewer foods with a high positive score.
Plain Processed Cheese
| 9.9 |
Whole Wheat Flour
|NUTS & LEGUMES |
| 8.3 |
| 5.5 |
| -1.2 |
Simple Alkaline Foods Chart
A simpler way to look at how to implement this in practice may be to focus on food groups.
When you look at the food chart, your aim would be to eat:
- Mostly negative, neutral, and moderate foods (alkaline foods)
- Fewer positive foods (acidic foods)
|Beef||Grains||Fats & Oils||Fruits|
|Chicken & Turkey||Fish||Milk Products|
All and All, What Should You Do?
Cancer prevention has been researched and documented over the years by the likes of the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Above all, it’s been clearly established that a healthy diet and physical activity protect against cancer.
But, since there isn’t enough evidence to connect a specific PRAL score to lower risk of cancer, the Mediterranean diet can be a great substitute.
More so since the Mediterranean diet is well researched and has a low PRAL score.
Ultimately, it comes down to:
- Enjoying a variety of colorful fresh fruits and greens
- Including beans, lentils, nuts & seeds, herbs & spices, whole grains, low-fat milk, and olive oil
- Choosing mainly plant-based proteins and fish
The alkaline diet is based on the idea that foods create acids or bases when they’re metabolized.
Thus, the alkaline foods list categorizes foods according to having a positive, neutral, or negative acid load.
Furthermore, a high acid load can cause chronic low-grade acidosis in the blood which is linked to cancer.
However, the alkaline diet hasn’t been proven to be safe and effective.
Because of that, it’s better to follow established guidelines by trusted institutions such as the American Institute for Cancer Research.
The Mediterranean diet is another trusted diet that incidentally also has a low PRAL score.