Acid-base balance: irrelevant for nutrition

A while back, a subscriber was wondering about my article about acid-base balance (which I deleted and replaced with this more comprehensive one). He tells me that he has read the book Paleo Nutrition by Julien Venesson (which I read a few years ago by the way), in which the author explains to us that modern food is acidifying and causes bone and muscle wasting. In the words of the person who wrote to me:

“What I remember is that the tampon is done either with the minerals in the food or with the bones, causing problems with fractures and weakening of the bones. ”

When you read the book, it’s quite relevant to think of that. But it’s not based on reality, and I’ll explain why. And if it is good to share it with a subscriber, it would be even better to share it with everyone!

About the acid-base balance

Now my explanation:

According to the basifying diet gurus, to put it simply, it would be important to eat so-called “alkalizing / basifying” foods in order to counter the acidity of our body due to too much consumption of “acidifying products” Such as animal products or cereals.

Indeed, modern food is rich in meat, wheat, milk etc … and poor in fruits and vegetables, which would be alkalizing foods.

Too much body acidity is the cause of many ailments: migraines, bone and dental decalcification, skin problems etc. The reason is that if the body becomes acidic, tissues such as bones will release calcium in order to buffer this acidity: these tissues will then become fragile.

In order to know in detail the pH of each food, one should rely on the PRAL index, for “Potential Renal Acid Load”. Basically, it’s the acidity of the urine. Thanks to the PRAL index, we could know the acid load produced in the body by a given food.

There are several scientific errors in this reasoning . We need to understand the mechanisms involved in body acidification.

The body’s acidification is called “acidosis”. This is a serious disease . It may be due:

• to a leak of bicarbonates from the blood

• or / and poor elimination of CO2 from the lungs.

The problem is actually essentially internal , the power supply is not involved.

Next, you should know that the slightest variation in pH in our blood is very dangerous, and can lead to death. For this, the body uses buffers, so that acidification (or even “basification”) is impossible (except when, as you will understand, the body is failing).

To this, some respond that these tampon systems were created precisely to counter the harmful effects of food. But in fact, if the body has buffer systems, it is more to deal with the acidity that results from energy production . For example, you know that at the end of a cardio session, you have lactates in your blood. Rest assured, the buffer systems used for its elimination do not involve the degradation of bone tissue! And that’s not the food that comes into play either, but the respiration and excretion.

In fact, the stomach has such a high acidity that no matter the pH of food, it will all have the same pH when ingested.

“Yes, but we understand that it is not the pH of food itself that influences blood pH, but their minerals; and if there aren’t enough of these minerals then the body will nab them from the bones and we will get osteoporosis! “

Yes but no. Again, it is respiration and renal excretion that matters, regulating bicarbonates and CO2.

It is not possible to influence blood pH through food . The only possible variation is the urinary pH, hence the unreliability of the PRAL index which refers to the renal acid load to know the blood pH: well yes, that is not relevant because the urinary pH is not is NOT blood pH and nothing ever told us there was a connection between the two.

There is no evidence that minerals from food have an influence on blood pH. And then even if it were, the optimal pH would quickly be restored by the buffer systems (bicarbonates, carbonic acid) regulated by respiration and excretion via the kidneys and lungs. So if there was any influence (which studies deny, see the 2nd article shared above), it would be minimal and insignificant compared to real buffering systems.

To summarize simply: Buffer systems exist but only to restore the temporarily out of control pH, as during physical activity. And this pH recovery does not involve feeding.

The studies

Now I’m going to play the game of debunking the shared links from Paleo Nutrition . These are the answers I gave to the subscriber who had questions.

This study seeks to show that the paleo diet contains a better balance of the nutrient precursors of hydrogen and bicarbonate ions than modern diets.

To fully understand, I’m going to come back to the causes of metabolic acidosis (because that’s what this study is about).

Blood pH is regulated by, among other things, respiration, through which CO2 is released (causing an increase in pH) and urinary excretion, which allows the excretion of hydrogen ions. PH is in the balance of certain elements (such as bicarbonates and carbonic acid).

Food supplies the body with hydrogen ions and bicarbonates, of course. But given that the body itself regulates the level of buffer systems that provide good pH balance through respiration and / or excretion, why does diet matter? I will give an analogy to compare: if I put a clean plate in my dishwasher, when it comes out it will be clean; if I put a dirty plate in my dishwasher, beware of suspense, it will come out clean too.

However, according to some nutritionists, it is fashionable to say that if the diet does not have an optimal balance of buffers (if the diet does not provide enough bicarbonate precursors for example), then the organism will drool too much to restore a balanced pH (probably because respiration and urinary excretion alone are not efficient enough according to them, but that they fail to mention), and it will be necessary to look for buffer systems (bicarbonates for example ) in body tissues, such as bones and muscles…

But in fact, the body is not going to eat itself for that. Respiration and excretion are efficient enough to regulate the buffer systems on their own!

Coming to metabolic acidosis, this is a disease in which respiration and excretion are obsolete to establish a good pH, due to an accumulation of acid (which has no nothing to do with diet, I specify), or an excessive loss of bicarbonates (all this may be due to a disorder of the organs of respiration and excretion themselves). And these disorders are often themselves linked to pathologies (renal failure, cancer, etc.) or to poisoning (basically if you are not having fun drinking the coolant in your car, everything should be fine).

Coming back to the study: of course, it highlights the fact that the paleo diet has a different balance of precursors of hydrogen and bicarbonate ions than the modern diet. So what ? Unless there is a disease that increases the chances of developing metabolic acidosis, the lungs and kidneys will always be there to keep the blood at the optimum pH, without the need to steal into its bones and muscles. In addition, this study at no time shows the link between this balance of precursors of hydrogen and bicarbonate ions with metabolic acidosis. It presupposes this link without giving the foundations or the proofs. So to summarize: this study does not teach us anything. And as soon as we look at the real causes of metabolic acidosis, we see that it can only be bullshit anyway. Also, I would like to see a study that shows me the effects of a paleo diet for someone already in metabolic acidosis … that promises to be fun!

This study, which claims to show that basifying your diet prevents bone loss that is caused by the modern “acidogenic diet” – study which in fact only shows that the administration of a basic solution allows a better retention of calcium – admits herself that she does not know whether the retention of calcium is due to the reduction in acidity or to the administration of potassium present in the basic solution. So she doesn’t prove anything.

This study, titled “Correction of Metabolic Acidosis Improves Thyroid and Growth Hormone Axes in Haemodialysis Patients”, proves that curing metabolic acidosis improves thyroid and growth hormone in patients with kidney disease requiring dialysis (a process that cleans the blood with a machine because the kidneys are no longer functional). There is NO relationship with the role of food on blood pH since here the treatment administered is sodium citrate, and then we are talking about sick people so the body does not allow to balance the blood pH optimally, in short I do not understand the relevance of this study in relation to the statements of Venesson, and knowing the animal he surely had to distort the words to make them say that a basifying diet is good for the thyroid and the growth hormone.

This study shows that taking bicarbonates reduces acidosis and increases endurance. In fact any endurance sport (using the aerobic lactic pathway) produces metabolic waste including lactates (which causes the sensation of muscle burning), the body is therefore temporarily more acidic, which is nothing new, and the pH returns to normal very quickly after exercise: it is therefore not a chronic acidosis, it is not a disease, just a momentary state of the body. The study shows that taking bicarbonate does not increase metabolic waste production as much and therefore increases endurance (yes, since there is no muscle burn, you can continue for longer). This is the point of isotonic sports drinks.

This study shows the effects of metabolic alkalosis (it doesn’t seem relevant to me to stay on it because it doesn’t – again – deal with our subject).

This study concludes that taking potassium bicarbonate may reduce postprandial metabolic stress (after eating) and therefore reduce protein breakdown so may reduce catabolism in the long term. Apart from the fact that the metabolic stress, the catabolic and anabolic states, the acidity, vary throughout the day and that it is the average of these variations which is significant (so what to define the reduction in catabolism over the long term? term following the drop in postprandial catabolism alone does not seem relevant to me if it does not take the other daily variations into account), we are talking here about the consumption of potassium bicarbonate, used here as a drug therefore, it is not question of the effect of food on the body.

Seeks to show the relevance of the formulas developed to estimate the net excretion of acid depending on the diet (therefore urinary pH). Relevance in our case?


After the insulin theory (alias Sheitan) which makes you obese, the one on fructose (also knows as Baphomet) which makes you look like a 6 months pregnant woman, Venesson was able to show again its flaws. Starting from cherry picking (in other words, choosing only the information that suits him), he shows here his ability to make studies say what they have not said. Too bad, the book is still quite expensive.

The last word : don’t worry about your acid-base balance. Instead, follow these tips: Avoid grains, but because they contain too many antinutrients. Do not avoid meat, but choose quality, eat organ meats, super rich in iron, retinol, amino acids, etc., and eat beef bourguignon because it is rich in collagen (and because Burgundy is the best region in the world). Eat vegetables but cook them. But prefer fruits because they have a greater impact on metabolic health (they are friends of the thyroid), and don’t forget to remove the skin. Eat dairy products, they are rich in calcium and amino acids, and do not cause cancer. Consume fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, etc. Add garlic and parsley to your dishes. Eat eggs every day (cooked white, liquid yolk). Eat carbs before bed (and we don’t care about the GI). Cook in butter (preferably clarified), and use olive oil for your salads. Remember, the fish and seafood are awesome. The potatoes are filling even well cooked. Don’t run away from lactose, gluten, casein, saturated fatty acids, fructose, high GI carbohydrates; they are not the big bad guys we are describing! And above all, don’t forget to treat yourself, even if it’s not Paleo.

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