How does your alkaline diet work?

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  •  Twitter Foodie #47


    PRAL Alkaline-Acid Diet Topic Summary

    I use the PRAL calculation to provide scores for thousands of food items from the USDA database. Then I present groups of foods in various lists throughout Foodary.com. Because people who want an alkaline diet must avoid spurious lists of foods based on obsolete ash-based calculations. But the Internet (and many books) is overwhelmed by millions of pages that continue to promote incorrect alkaline food data.

    So this post is a collection of questions from people who want more information about how PRAL-based alkaline diet works.

    Original post continues…


    I’ve been trying to find how an alkaline diet works and I found a tweet about pH Spectrum diet at https://twitter.com/dra_lisette/status/529619792832241664/photo/1

    It looks much easier than your alkaline diet charts. Is this better than PRAL?


    PRAL Alkaline/Acid Chart Layout
    PRAL Alkaline/Acid Chart Layout
  •  Keith Taylor #401
    Ŧallars: Ŧ 1,163.18

    Sorry for the delay in replying.

    You are right that the diet looks easier. But, it isn’t an alkaline diet. That chart, and similar looking graphics, are all over the Internet, but they are fundamentally flawed.

    They are all based on a technique that was investigated many years ago. It involves incinerating food, then measuring the pH of the resulting ash. The data is still included in the USDA databases that I use. The difference is, I ignore it because it is meaningless as far as diets are concerned. In fact, it is worse than that – it is misleading.

    Coincidentally, there are many healthy foods in my PRAL tables that also produce alkaline ash. But this is not the basis for a healthy diet.

    PRAL estimates the effect of food on the kidneys. The alkaline affect happens due to how our bodies digest the nutrients that form the PRAL calculation. There are other factors that affect acid load at the kidneys, but those are the most significant food related items.

    This does not mean to say that you cannot eat healthily on an ash-based diet. However, you have no accurate way of planning or assessing your food intake if you rely on ash calculations.

    With PRAL, you can assess your total diet, and you can also use PRAL tables to improve your alkaline diet. By changing some of your food to a lower PRAL value, you will always reduce the acid load on your kidneys.

    Remember though, the objective is not to minimize your PRAL score. A healthy diet must include up to 25% acid forming foods, but the overall balance must always be alkaline. Your best approach is to achieve this with a wide range of different fruits and vegetables.

    I hope this makes it clear. If not, please log-in and ask further questions.

    If anyone has trouble logging in, you can ask questions, and share opinions via the red Help button. This will add a ticket to the Foodary Helpdesk, but please note that I give priority to forum discussions, and helpdesk responses may take several days.

  •  Foodary Helpdesk #403
    Ŧallars: Ŧ -11.15

    Your chart for alkaline baked foods shows (Leavening agents, baking soda) as 0.00 are you sure that’s right? I find it very Alkaline.

    Please explain.

    •  Keith Taylor #405
      Ŧallars: Ŧ 1,163.18

      Hi gwsheetmetal and thanks for your question about PRAL.

      I hope you can see from that PRAL is not directly associated with measuring pH. As I suggested above, you can reduce the average PRAL of your total food intake, and this should increase the pH of your urine – i.e. make it more alkaline.

      This happens due to the way you digest food, and is the result of a complex series of organic reactions. As I said, PRAL is an estimate of what will happen at your kidneys based on normal food digestion. It is designed to measure food intake.

      However, acid load at the kidneys (renal acid load) can also be changed by many other factors. Chemicals from food additives, supplements, medicines, and other sources can affect renal acid load. These chemicals do not occur in food in abundance, so they are ignored from the PRAL calculation.

      This is done to make PRAL useful for food analysis. There is another calculation for estimating renal acid load, called NEAP. This is often deemed to be more accurate, as it includes bicarbonates in the calculation. That might be true in the lab, but it is rarely relevant in the kitchen.

      In a healthy diet, baking soda should not form a significant part of your total food intake. Therefore, PRAL is accurate enough to guide us towards healthier eating. There is no doubt that bicarbonates in baking soda and other chemicals will reduce the acid load on your kidneys. However, this is not relevant to healthy diet.

      If you have a medical condition where alkalizing urine is important, such as certain kidney stones, then bicarbonate supplementation usually helps. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), potassium bicarbonate, and potassium citrate are all used medically for this purpose. However, they are usually irrelevant to PRAL calculations, and they are not food.

      The whole point of PRAL is to use it as a guide towards healthy diet. However, it is not a target in itself. False alkalization using chemicals will not improve your health. Alkaline foods balanced with less acid foods is the only way to achieve good health. In the same way, you should ignore any processed supplements and drinks that claim to be healthy just because they are alkaline.

      Alkalizing is a product of a healthy diet. Alkalizing is not a goal in it’s own right.

  •  Keith Taylor #459
    Ŧallars: Ŧ 1,163.18

    I’ve just had a further thought about PRAL scores in different circumstances. Prompted by a comment on my alcoholic alkaline drinks page.

    That comment, and my response, are about the physical pH measurement of drinks, compared to the effects of drinks on alkalizing urine after digestion.
    I wonder if there are some illnesses where the physical pH matters? Please let me know your thoughts.

  •  N. Patricia #627

    PRAL Chart formats

    I have just discovered you websites, and the information is personally very useful, indeed invaluable and timely due to a number of serious health issues. THANK YOU.

    I have a few suggestion to improve three of the Charts, and will submit my observations/comments separately

    N. Patricia

    [sent via feedback form – additional responses below]

    Re: Breakfast Cereals Chart

    I have noted that:-

    1) The column headed “Very Alkaline” has both positive and negative entries.

    2) Various positive entries in the “Very Alkaline” column seem to be too low to indicate “very alkaline”

    Re: Vegetables and Vegetable Food Products Chart

    Various positive entries in the “Very Alkaline ” column seem to be too low to indicate “very alkaline”. It might be that I do not fully understand the concept. Please clarify

    Re: Baked Products

    Here also, various entries in the Very Alkaline” column seem too low to indicate “very alkaline”

    •  Keith Taylor #648
      Ŧallars: Ŧ 1,163.18

      I’m very sorry about the formatting issues on the pages you mention. As I’ve noted elsewhere, this is a transitional problem that I’m aware of. But unfortunately, I cannot find a quick fix. So, I’m going to rewrite the tables that you mention plus all the others in that series.

      At the same time, I want to make my PRAL food charts easier to use if I can. So if you have any suggestions for the type of layout and information that is best for you, I would love to know.

      In the meantime, please note that the PRAL values shown are correct. But, they are not aligned in columns. However, those columns never had any real meaning, and I dropped them in subsequent PRAL charts.

      In any event, it would help me enormously to learn how individuals are using my PRAL food charts in practice. That way, I can get insight that might help me improve future layouts.

  •  Foodary Feedback #691

    Acid-Alkaline Nut and Seed Products Food Chart
    I appreciate all your hard and detailed work for a great cause, but I don’t understand the meaning of the numbers, especially those with the negative signs.

    Very confusing, so the figures in this nuts chart was minimally helpful. I did find out that my beloved cashews are quite acidic 😔 but the numbers mean nothing.

    I was looking for an explanation or for captions, like those you’d find on two adjacent sides of a graph. The K cals column is confusing too.

    [Posted via Feedback Form. But note that form is designed for non-urgent suggestions about improving Foodary information. So if you need personal replies you should Start a new Healthy Eating Forum Topic.]

    •  Keith Taylor #693
      Ŧallars: Ŧ 1,163.18

      I also realized the importance of understanding PRAL table layouts. So I started each chart in that series with:

      Please see my explanation of the values for this acid-alkaline Nut and Seed Products food chart, and related charts, in my Basic Acid Alkaline Food Chart Introduction.

      Hopefully, that answers all your questions. But I understand that adding links to the table headings makes finding the information easier. So I started doing that in the second series of PRAL tables.

      Now, based on this type of feedback, I can see that I need to completely overhaul all the PRAL alkaline diet tables. So once I work out a better structure, I will do that.

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  •  Foodary Feedback #731

    Alkaline Food Lists Explanation
    Your PRAL score has no given range so it’s essentially useless!

    [Posted via Feedback Form. But note that form is designed for non-urgent suggestions about improving Foodary information. So if you need personal replies you should Start a new Healthy Eating Forum Topic.]

    •  Keith Taylor #736
      Ŧallars: Ŧ 1,163.18

      I don’t understand why having a range is helpful when planning a PRAL-based alkaline diet. More importantly, you don’t say if you need a range for your total PRAL target. Or a range of PRAL scores for individual food items.

      Typically, you would start your PRAL planning by measuring your historic score. So I find the easiest way to do this is to look at my food purchases. But others find that measuring each meal gives better information for them.

      Whichever way you do it, you end up with an average daily PRAL score. In the page you refer to, I explain that the average PRAL value for a 2000 calorie diet is -20. But you always want a more negative score than that. So for planning purposes, you might target a PRAL range of -20 to -50 per day. Then you can adjust your range as you progress with your healthier diet.

      On the other hand, you might be referring to a range of PRAL values for individual food items. In which case, that information is already included in each chart on the page you are asking about. Because all those charts start with the most alkaline PRAL score first. Then items are listed in PRAL order, ending with the most acidic. So all you have to do is click the arrow on the PRAL Score heading to reverse the sort order.

      For example on the Alkaline Vegetables List, it starts with raw spinach at the top with a PRAL score of -51 for a 435-gram serving. Then when you click the arrow next to the PRAL Score heading, the chart switches to most acidic at the top. Alternatively, you can scroll all the way to the bottom of the list. In either case, the most acidic vegetable is boiled frozen green peas with a PRAL score of 3 for a 128-gram serving. So the PRAL range for vegetables (alkaline to acid) is -51 to 3.

      Remember that these tables are just a selection of the most common foods. So in my example, you might find vegetables that are outside that range. Also, from your personal point of view, you have to adjust the PRAL score for your meals according to serving size.

      TL;DR – Forget about ranges and focus on healthier eating. All you need to do today is eat a more alkaline PRAL total than you did yesterday.

  •  Khalif Foster #761
    Ŧallars: Ŧ 5.54

    Upgrade to Grand PRAL Lists

    So, all PRAL that has 5 essentials nutrient. So, can include all food that you have for individual Pral, so combine into all PRAL list of food, so can click the arrow for the highest Nutrient list like for protein, and so on for other 4 nutrients, that is essential for the body.

    So, can add the tagline that says which essential is acid and which is alkaline, so can see the different. So, for protein, and other nutrients, it seems it has only high to lowest food for that list because that list is connected to only that nutrient, so can create a page for all PRAL list. So, the tagline that is grand PRAL, so you click the highest, it will show highest or lowest or medium for all other essential in the body. So, can include zero, so to make it customize like I want to see the highest acid nutrient, so it will show that and how high or low is PRAL? If it is low, then only need little and that essential for acid for 100 calories is different for both, so both do not have the same acid effect in the body.Same with Alkaline. So, all things is chemical reaction that cause build together or break apart, so each food has a ratio of Acid and Alkaline, so lower acid to alkaline is better for that food, it is better essential for the body.

  •  Khalif Foster #763
    Ŧallars: Ŧ 5.54

    Upgrade to more PRAL Understanding

    So, I know that PRAL do has 5 essential N, but those N is selective or absolutely, for example, M and C, which both is important for the bone, that mean you can pick one, or M and C, have other process beside bone, so all 5 N is different for the body and complete the body, right?

    If it doesn’t complete the body, then after the primary reaction, then secondary reaction as a ratio which cause third reaction to body or to cell. So, PRAL is primary, next line is secondary which cause higher acid or higher alkaline, or lower down of either both. So, it is 5 N that complete Al and Acid, which cause secondary process that complete the body process to live, so you have all energy, well, the baseline, not thrive line, the best you can be with all smooth from your face and body, until you get old and die, which it is beyond Al and Acid, so 5 N is best to keep you smooth and healthy until old age and death.

    If 5 N is not the most essential for whole body, then there is an extra, that cause co-primary reaction that is necessary for body. Alkaline is for build together and acid is for break apart, so it depend the ratio of the food, the more alkaline the more build together in the cell, after more break apart so it is small enough to be carry into cell-gate which can enter, so it is very small. That mean I need enough Acid to break down in my body so the food will get small enough to get into cell, because I eat potatoes and spinach with dressing and Avocados and next day I got bloat stomach, so there is not enough break down. So, high Alkaline without Acid is not good because it is not breaking apart into cell, even it break apart into urine so urine come out Alkaline which has different color. So, can add about color of waste that connect to Acid and Alkaline.

    So, old acid will not cause break down in body so it needs new acid to break down. So, need to have faith in my body will remove toxic by breaking down and the cell from the blood remove the body, which the cell from blood will remove toxic, right, not focus other stuff. It is about balance work for the worker in my body. Break down is good for organ since it needs to be small enough to be build which it is Alkaline, so same with muscle so to get stronger, same with house, you build up so that is Alkaline, or break down the house that is Acid.

    There is a helper without Essential of 5 or more, the helper will not do as much, but do more with Essential of 5 or more, and it is better than 5 E or more, alone, so the helper will increase the acid or alkaline, so sugar is acid, but sugar in fruit is not acid because there is other helper in sugar that balance the acid in sugar, so it is alkaline. It is all about chemical reaction in everything.

    And also can use higher understand so can create a product to increase the Alkaline of food or decrease the acid of food. If someone create it, can put a link. And you can explain how it works. The more science we learn, the more easily to pick the food and combine food with other stuff to increase the Alkaline after the break down. So, build up is more important than break down.

    •  Keith Taylor #811
      Ŧallars: Ŧ 1,163.18

      I think you are missing the point of PRAL food charts. Because they are an estimate of the acid load on your kidneys. So Remer and Manz identified the nutrients that have the most significant effect on urine pH. But that should not replace full nutritional assessment of diet for health purposes.

      You have to see PRAL charts as a tool that can help you make better food choices. But “better” depends on how you use the charts and what you are trying to achieve.

      First and foremost, your total diet must include a variety of different foods from each food group. Now that differs depending on your eating style. But a healthy diet has a wide variety of whole foods. Then, from that foundation, you can swap certain foods for equivalents with a lower PRAL value if you want to reduce kidney acid load further.

      Note that in situations where specific nutrients are important then PRAL is not the right tool to use.

      If you explain exactly what your situation is and what you are trying to achieve, I can help you better. So start a new topic explaining those things. Then we can see if PRAL analysis is suitable for your situation.

  •  Foodary Feedback #802

    Is there a page where the PRAL food charts are consolidated on ONE chart rather than the many different ones listed on Alkaline Food Charts: Your Introduction to PRAL?

    •  Keith Taylor #812
      Ŧallars: Ŧ 1,163.18

      I tried to do this once. But the chart soon got so big it was very slow to load. Also, quite hard to find things.

      Really, I need some feedback on how you want to use the PRAL food chart. Then I might think of a practical way to combine food groups into a more useful chart.

      So far, I’ve got two ideas:
      1) I could make a spreadsheet available with good lookup and filter features. Because that would give you access to all PRAL data. But the filtering and lookup features would stop the huge list of food items being overwhelming. Also, because it’s a spreadsheet, it’s a lot faster than a webpage.

      2)Instead of lists of all foods, I might present a healthy weekly diet. Then, I could give you PRAL values on the diet plan. Perhaps also with PRAL values for food items that could be substituted.

      Perhaps it’s best to start a new topic explaining how you use PRAL charts now. Also include comments on why it would be easier to have all PRAL food values in one place. Then we can work together to find better tools. Because I see different formats depending on if you use PRAL food charts for analyzing historic food intake, monitoring current diet, or planning future menus.

  •  Gil Oliveira #816

    Hey, there. PRAL Alkalinity Calculation for Acid-Alkaline Foods is a great article. ; )

    Could you clarify something to me, please? i couldn’t find the formula you used in Remer’s paper….could you help me know where i can find it ?

    Regards !

    [Posted via Feedback Form. But note that form is mainly for non-urgent suggestions about improving Foodary information. So if you need personal replies you should Start a new Healthy Eating Forum Topic. Or join an existing discussion that matches your question.]

  •  Foodary Feedback #817

    I’m so very confused about PRAL Alkaline Snacks Food Chart and I’ve been reading for days!

    If we were to follow an 80/20 alkaline diet according to the charts we could eat 80% junk food (well some junk food) and be healthy?!?!

  •  Foodary Feedback #818

    Help! Can you explain your Acid-Alkaline Legumes and Legume Products Food Chart?

    What does a negative number in the Slightly Alkaline field suggest? If there are #s in the Slightly/Very Acid fields that is bad right?

    I am trying to eat a diet avoiding acidity right now for certain reasons. I see here you have lentils as acidic and from my knowledge and understanding they are the one legume that is not acidic?

    A lot of contradicting and confusing info on here. Also, I don’t see Fava beans on here. Is falafel ok for avoiding acidity?

    Basically, I can’t eat anything. Lima beans and fava beans should be in same category as acidic but on your chart lima beans are on the more alkaline side?Kcals being energy?

    There is no explanation really on this chart and it has me quite confused.

    Thank you for sharing and i would appreciate any reply.

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