As many of my readers know, I’m on a low carb diet. Some have asked how I can be eating acidic meat and be alkaline. Cassie discovered a very good answer at author Dana Carpender’s blog.
Here it is:
“I’ve read a bit about the acid/alkaline theory of health, and I really have no idea how true it is or isn’t. There are parts of it that make terrific sense to me, especially the part about cancer not growing in an alkaline environment because of the increased oxygenation of tissues. And it seems to me that that increased oxygenation would also make for greater energy over-all. The rest of it, I don’t know.
I have also had it thrown at me once or twice that quite clearly a low carb diet was “bad” because we all know that meat is acid-forming, and vegetarian diets are alkaline-forming, soobviously we’re all killing ourselves. Having long since learned that much of what the general public finds “obvious” about healthful living is not only wrong but dangerous, I wanted to find out.
I should insert here that many people scorn the pH theory of health because, as they point out, the body holds the blood within a very narrow range of pH. Indeed, if our blood goes outside of that very narrow balance between acid and base, we would quickly die. This is one of the reasons why it is important to get enough calcium, magnesium, and other minerals — because blood pH is so important that if you don’t get enough of them, your body will draw minerals from your bones and other tissues to buffer your blood, with dire long-term results.
However, the narrow pH range of the blood does not mean that other body fluids don’t have a wider range. People interested in their pH status generally test their saliva, urine, or both.
So I bought some pH paper at my local health food store (Hi, Sahara Mart!) and started randomly testing my own saliva. I was unsurprised but gratified to know that after years and years of an animal protein-and-fat based diet, it was right in the optimal range — right at 7.25, mildly alkaline. Interestingly, the only time I have found it to be outside this range was when I had Lyme disease this past summer, when it dropped to 6.75, very slightly acidic.
(I got my father to humor me and let me test his saliva once. He was the Poster Boy for Bad Nutrition, and had a slow-growing cancer at the time, and sure enough, he was acidic, around 6.)
But here’s where it gets sticky: A cursory web search turns up the annoying fact that various “authorities” cannot seem to agree on what foods are “acid forming” versus what foods are “alkaline forming.” (Understand: We are not talking about the pH of the food when you put it in your mouth. We are talking about the effect of the food on your system, which can be quite different.) All of them seem to agree that meat is acid — yet here I am, stubbornly alkaline, and stubbornly healthy.
On other things they do not agree. Interestingly, some say that grains and beans are alkaline-forming, while others insist that no, grains and beans are acid-forming. If, indeed, grains and beans are acid-forming, then a low carb diet, which eliminates most, if not all, grains, would knock out a big whack of “acidity.” All the charts agree that sugar is acid-forming, too, so chalk up another one for us.
Another thing they agree on is soda pop, which is strongly acid-forming (and just plain strongly acid; why do you think it’s so bad for teeth?) This would seem to indicate that my total avoidance of all soda pop, including diet pop, would work in my favor; those of you who depend on diet soda might not do as well.
The charts all agree that the vast majority of vegetables are alkaline-forming, so our tendency to eat main-dish salads instead of sandwiches, steamed vegetables in place of the baked potato, and cauliflower in place of, well, most everything, works in our favor.
Too, I take supplements, including calcium and magnesium, which are alkalizing; I imagine this is a strong influence.
In short, I don’t know whether the acid/alkaline theory of health is accurate, but I do know that I test mildly alkaline, and am healthy. I do not know know for certain — nor, apparently, does anyone else (!), which foods are acid- or alkaline-forming, but I do know that 14 years of basing my diet on animal protein and fat, plus vegetables, nuts and seeds, with very little grain and almost no sugar, has left me with what the “authorities” recognize as an ideal pH.
More than that I cannot tell you. Hope this much helps.”
~And here’s the link to Dana’s excellent blog.