Recently Randy brought me the following question:
What’s the importance of acid/base balance when eating a Paleo diet?
(Randy, forgive me if I paraphrased that terribly…)
Sean touched on this subject waaaaay back in January 2010. He explained that per Loren Cordain (author of The Paleo Diet book), our goal should be to avoid a net-acid load on the body. The reasoning for this is that the body will seek to equalize by pulling from the body’s own alkaline stores, primarily calcium stored in the bones. Since the time of Sean’s post, Dr. Cordain has updated his site and changed the link for the acid-base article. It still features a list of the Acid/Base values for 114 foods.
Idle curiosity aside, does one need to worry about acid-base balance? The likelihood is no — if you’re eating Paleo properly. By properly, I mean consuming a good portion of vegetables with your meals as well as some fruit. From Dr. Cordain’s post:
The highest acid-producing foods are hard cheeses, cereal grains, salted foods, meats, and legumes, whereas the only alkaline, base-producing foods are fruits and vegetables.
Under a Paleo diet, your cereal grains, legumes, hard cheeses and highly salted (read: processed/preserved) foods are largely gone. This only leaves meat, but if you’re balancing that with fruits and veggies, guess what? Your acid-base will be in balance as well. Please note, if your diet consists of a protein style burger from In-n-Out, that lettuce wrapper and slice of tomato aren’t going to cut it. You need a decent serving of veggies, not the equivalent of a ketchup packet.
So don’t get too spun up about this topic. As Robb Wolf has said, “The acid base issue is…very overhyped.” For those of you that like to geek out on the science behind such things, check out Robb’s podcasts, particularly Episode 99 and especially Episode 123 (links are to the transcripts). He goes into some of the other factors why worrying about the acid load has more underlying factors that you might see at other sites (urinary pH is only one facet, etc.)
Randy, I hope this helped you out… and to all of you, eat your veggies!
Then, AMRAP 15: