Diane May Nutrition Blog

Alkaline Diets

June 4th, 2018

Alkaline diets are based on the theory that certain foods can impact the pH balance of out bodies. The pH of our blood is 7.4 and perfect neutral balance is 7.  The alkalinity of food is determined by PRAL. PRAL stands for the Potential Renal Acid Load, which can calculate the acidifying effects of foods based on the amount of Magnesium, Phosphorus, Protein, Calcium, and Potassium in the urine. Vegetables, fruits, beans, soy and nuts are recommended on an alkaline diet and animal proteins, processed foods, added sugar, alcohol, whole grains and dairy are restricted.  There is limited scientific research to support the benefit of an alkaline diet.  The Journal of  Environmental and Public Health  did show benefits associated with alkaline diets, most particularly benefiting cardiovascular health, cognition, bone health and improved muscle.  This in part, was due to just increasing plants and reducing animal proteins and processed foods-which is beneficial, but doesn’t necessarily impact pH balance. This could be accomplished by following a DASH diet-which encourages vegetables, fruits, whole grains , low fat dairy and lean proteins and limits sodium and processed foods.

The body, our lungs and kidneys in particular work very hard to keep our bodies as close to neutral as possible.  If we were not alkaline enough, we would know it, because we would be very sick. If you are going to attempt an Alkaline diet, make sure you pay attention to your protein intake-make sure you are getting adequate intake. Diets that are as highly restrictive as an Alkaline diet plan also reduce consumption of important nutrients found in whole grains and dairy, which can lead to malnutrition. 

Can this diet make us more alkaline? No, but I agree that a more plant based diet that reduces processed foods, sodium and added sugar isn’t a bad thing! Alkaline diets increase magnesium and potassium through higher plant intake, very similar to the DASH diet, which is a good thing.  But it is important to note that we cannot influence our pH balance significantly through diet alone.  Our lungs and kidneys take their job very seriously and do the hard lifting in the case of pH balance. Many of the claims an Alkaline diet makes are false. Although it may be refreshing, drinking lemon water does very little to impact the pH of our body! Eat whole, eat clean, eat plants-don’t be overly restrictive and reap the benefits.

Braised Green Beans & Summer Vegetables

From: EatingWell Magazine, May/June 2009

“When green beans, summer squash and cherry tomatoes are plentiful in backyard gardens and farmers’ markets, try this quick braise. We like the salty, nutty flavor of Parmesan, but you can use any flavorful cheese.”


    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 small onion, halved and sliced
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano , or 1 teaspoon dried
    • ½ cup white wine , or reduced-sodium chicken broth
    • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
    • 1 medium summer squash , or zucchini, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes , or grape tomatoes
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • ¼ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese


  • 1Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and oregano and cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add wine (or broth) and bring to a boil. Add green beans, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add summer squash (or zucchini) and tomatoes and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.



Nutrition information


  • Serving size: about 1 cup
  • Per serving: 92 calories; 4 g fat(1 g sat); 3 g fiber; 10 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 40 mcg folate; 2 mg cholesterol; 3 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 834 IU vitamin A; 17 mg vitamin C; 90 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 158 mg sodium; 291 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (28% daily value)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: ½
  • Exchanges: 2 vegetables, ½ fat