Modern Western diets, with higher amounts of grains, meat and dairy, compared to fruits and vegetables, have a greater content of acid precursors vs. base precursors, which results in a net acid load to the body. To prevent the accumulation of acid in the body and progressively increasing degrees of metabolic acidosis, the body has multiple systems to buffer and adjust the balance of acid, including bone which contains large quantities of alkaline salts of calcium.
But what does this mean for us women? If we decide to eat a mostly acidic diet, our clever bodies will draw calcium from our bones to reduce the acidic load on the body. This ultimately results in a depletion of bone mass!
Do the foods you eat form an acid (load) or base (relief) in your body? The PRAL food table can help serve as a guide.
The PRAL food table provides information about the acid load of the foods you eat. All fish, meat, nuts, grains, dairy and legumes, once broken down in the body create an acidic load. But that’s everything you eat right? Almost. Turn the page and you will find the long list of alkaline foods which includes all your beautiful fruits and vegetables.
Using the PRAL food chart, let’s do an easy example of how to balance acid-alkaline on your plate. Let’s say you eat a 200g piece of delicious wild salmon for dinner, so good for you, but has a potential renal acid load of almost 19. So now you want to balance that acidic load by filling the rest of your plate with beautiful alkaline foods. Something I hear in practice often is, “but I have some broccoli with my steak”. So let’s use that as our example. 100g of broccoli is roughly 2/3 of a cup, a few florets, the average serve? This 100g has a PRAL load of -1.2! Just eating broccoli alone with your gorgeous piece of salmon would mean you would need to eat almost 2kgs to balance the acid-alkaline balance of your plate! No one loves broccoli that much. But if you take a closer look at the table, 100g of spinach provides a PRAL of -14. Huge! Carrots – 4.9, fennel – 7.9 and kale – 7.8 which make them all great choices.
Ultimately, you never want to have to count anything on your plate (and that includes calories) but you can start to see the quantity of vegetables and fruits one needs to be eating at each meal to ensure a good balance and ultimately stronger bones. The easiest way? Aim to fill half to two thirds of your plate with different vegetables and some fruit at every meal and you will be pretty close. Maybe even do one or two vegetarian days a week! On those days where you struggle to get enough vegetables and fruits on your plate, try this alkalising juice.
Download your PRAL food chart here. The information refers to 100g of food.