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Acid-Alkaline Balance: Role in Chronic Disease and Detoxification

Deanna M. Minich, PhD, FACN, CNS; Jeffrey S. Bland, PhD, FACN

Several researchers have noted that the contemporary Western diet has increased in net acid load relative to diets of the ancestral pre-agricultural Homo sapiens.1-3 Quite possibly, this shift occurred because of the agricultural revolution and the ubiquity of processed grains and shelf-stable food products devoid of essential nutritional components. In addition to this underlying foundational change in diet, there is the overlay of various nutritional fads that have risen and fallen over the past few decades. Most recently, the latest diet trend has been an interest in high-protein foods accompanied by a compensatory decrease in the phytochemical load from fresh fruits and vegetables. Indeed, high-protein diets increase net dietary acid load and acidify the urine pH.2-5 Conversely, diets high in fruits and vegetables have been proposed to be associated with a greater degree of alkalinity.4,6 Remer and Manz calculated the potential renal acid loads of certain food groups and reported that alkaline-forming foods were primarily vegetable and fruits, whereas acid-forming foods were derived from cheese, meat, fish, and grain products (Table 1).

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