I started my pH balance diet scoring system with Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL). This is a relatively simple way to estimate how healthy your diet is.
Let me explain why PRAL, and simpler alternatives, are important to planning a healthy pH balance diet. Along the way I will also warn you of the dangers of older methods. We have known about weaknesses of these older methods for over 30 years. Yet, they are still used to promote expensive drinks, supplements, books and diet plans.
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Magnesium is the second alkaline component of the PRAL calculation for pH Balance Diet Score. That PRAL calculation has links to top food lists for other nutrients.
We need magnesium for over 300 processes in our body. These cover many vital functions, including nerves, muscles, immune system, bones, and heart.
Magnesium is found in many foods, including:
- Spinach, bananas, dried apricots, avocados, and many other vegetables and fruits
- Almonds, cashews, and other nuts
- Peas, beans, and other legumes and seeds
- Tofu, soy flour, and other soy products
- Brown rice, millet, and other whole grains
Excess magnesium is rare, as our kidneys remove any we do not use. Despite this, the Department of Health magnesium fact sheet for health professionals reports:
Dietary surveys of people in the United States consistently show that intakes of magnesium are lower than recommended amounts.
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Potassium is one of three alkaline components of the PRAL calculation for pH Balance Diet Score.
We need potassium for several functions in our bodies, and it is also important for balancing the effects of too much sodium. The risks of average diets in America are important, and so I turn to Harvard School of Public health once again to share modern nutrition thinking about potassium:
Most Americans consume far too much sodium and far too little potassium, an eating pattern that puts them at higher risk of heart disease and death. Making a few changes in food choices can help shift the balance. Potassium levels are naturally high in vegetables and fruits, and sodium levels are naturally low. Large amounts of sodium are often added to foods during processing. So choosing produce that is fresh or frozen, or choosing foods that have not had salt added in processing, can help curb dietary sodium and boost potassium.
Potassium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, abnormal heartbeat, and slightly elevated blood pressure. On the other hand, too much potassium can also be bad for the heart, and kidney patients might need lower than normal intake. So what is normal potassium intake?
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Phosphorus is the secondary acidic component of the PRAL calculation for pH Balance. We need phosphorus mainly for strong teeth and bones. However, it is also essential for many other body functions.
Phosphorus affects how our bodies use carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It helps our bodies store energy, and it works with B vitamins. Other important functions that need phosphorus are:
- Kidney functions
- Muscle contraction
- Normal heartbeat
- Nerve signals
Fortunately, phosphorus is available from most foods, and there is never usually a shortage in a typical balanced diet. Our kidney’s readily dispose of excess, which leads to one important aspect of phosphorus in nutrition. Most people never need worry about it, but sufferers from kidney disease are often advised to reduce phosphorus intake.
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Protein is the main acidic component of the PRAL calculation for pH Balance Diet Score. We need protein to build body tissues, and also for enzymes that allow our bodies to function.
Here is a list of the most protein rich foods from the USDA list of key foods. Like all the current Foodary food charts, the high protein list simply tells you the numbers. The list will tell you how much protein you are eating. It will help you choose more protein or less protein according to your personal dietary needs.
However, your protein choices, like most dietary choices should be governed more by quality than by quantity. At the moment, my nutrition data is taken from the USDA database. This allows me to list quantities, but quality scores need more work. I am committed to improving the data. There is an established scoring system for protein quality, and I will explain more about this soon. Please subscribe to Foodary Food Facts Update Service if you want to be informed when that is available.
In the meantime, a little common sense goes a long way. That, and a few simple pointers on protein quality.
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Calcium is one of the 5 elements of the PRAL calculation for pH Balance Diet Scores.
There is some interesting science behind that, but I like to provide easy to use tables so you can focus on food, not formulas. I only mention the science so you understand that PRAL is a proven method for estimating alkaline diets. Others rely on science fantasy, Foodary uses science fact.
Speaking of facts, always remember that, despite it’s precision, PRAL is really an estimate to guide you towards pH balance. It’s a great tool for checking the important things relating to alkaline diet:
- Is my total diet is alkaline?
- Do I eat sufficient acidic foods?
- Which food changes will improve my alkaline diet?
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PRAL Nutrients are those substances in food and drink that are used in the Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL) calculation.
The PRAL score is the best indicator for how we can improve an alkaline diet. Though PRAL scores are calculated as absolute numbers, in practice, they should only be used as a general guide. Seasonal variations, different varieties, and cooking methods will all affect the PRAL score. Despite this variation, the numbers are useful in making better food choices. Ultimately, the proof of your alkaline diet comes when you test the pH of urine. The alkaline food lists will help point you in the direction of foods with lower PRAL scores if you need to raise the pH of your urine. There is more information in PRAL pH Balance Calculation.
The key to alkaline diets is that 20-30% of foods should be acidic, with the rest being alkaline or neutral. Overall, your total pH balance diet score should be alkaline. There is no target for PRAL. The target pH for urine in healthy individuals is 6.5 to 7 in the morning, rising to 7.5 through the day. The target should be higher if you are fighting ill health, though there are complications to this that I will consider when I explain various diseases in future articles.
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