Watermelon ranks as a low-acid food

Stephanie S. Cordle, McClatchy-Tribune
Watermelon ranks as a low-acid food.

Just when you think you've heard them all, another diet trend hits the market. This time it's the "low-acid" diet, which purports that there are health benefits to restricting the intake of foods and beverages that are high-acid, and thus have a low pH (the lower the pH, the higher a food's acidity).

All foods and beverages have acidity levels on a pH scale of 0 to 14, with distilled water falling in the neutral range at a pH of 7. In general, low-acid foods include beans, nuts, olive oil, fruits such as watermelon and grapefruit, and vegetables including lettuce, broccoli and celery. Foods that are high-acid include processed foods, coffee, alcohol and animal proteins, including dairy products, chicken, fish and red meat.

Claims have been made about the potential health advantages of a low-acid diet, including lowered disease-causing inflammation and improved overall health, as well as treating conditions like acid reflux and osteoporosis.

Still, there's not much proof that healthy people need to worry about their dietary acid intake, but the low-acid diet follows the general principles for health outlined by most health organizations, including theU.S. Department of Agriculturedietary guidelines: Eat more fruits and vegetables, fewer processed foods, and replace some animal proteins with plant proteins.

Health experts report that there's no good evidence that you need to regulate the acidity of your diet, because your body does a good job of this on its own: Your blood pH is maintained tightly at 7.35 to 7.45. However, there is some science linking low-acid diets with bone health, because high-animal protein diets essentially high-acid diets appear to boost mineral loss from bones.

Also, the diet may be useful for treating laryngopharyngeal reflux. A 2011 study of 20 subjects with reflux reported a 95 percent improvement in symptoms when they followed a strict low-acid diet, but more research is needed. Eat more plant foods and less animal proteins: simple health advice everyone can benefit from.

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