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Is cheese bad for my health

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    Posted: 30 Jun 2016 at 10:24pm
I read a book about acid and alkali forming foods. Milk and Cheese are supposed to make acid in the body and give brittle bones. Is this true? 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Admin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jul 2016 at 3:30pm
Your question is interesting and to answer it fully would require more time than I can spare and a detailed discussion of acid-base equilibrium and homeostasis. So a summary response.

Ecaterina Gore and her colleagues (Gore et al, 2016) have recently published research which goes part of the way to answering your query. The paper can be downloaded from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/09637486.2016.1166188 . I recommend that you read this authoritative, well written paper.

If you read Ecaterina Gore’s paper you will see that the predicted alkaline or acid effect of a food can be calculated by determining the PRAL (potential renal acid load) using equation 1.

Equation 1.   PRAL(mEq/100 g edible portion)= 0.49 x protein (g/100g) + 0.037 x P (mg/100g) + 0.027 x Cl (mg/100g) - 0.041 x Na(mg/100g) - 0.021 x K(mg/100g) - 0.026 x Mg(mg/100g) -0.013 x Ca(mg/100g)

Ingestion of foods with a positive PRAL value suggests that the body will be required to produce acid to neutralise the alkaline effects of food components whereas a negative value suggests that an alkaline response is required to maintain acid-base balance. Diets that result in excessive acid production over a sustained period could be detrimental to e.g. bone health. 

Examination of equation 1 indicates that the protein, phosphorus and chloride components of food have the potential to contribute to positive values (acid response) but that the cations sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium have the potential to contribute to an alkaline response.

So foods high in protein, in particular, would have the potential to generate positive values. However, this effect can be balanced depending on the concentration of cations e.g. potassium in the food.

I have always had reservations about whether the use of this equation has utility with fermented foods. There is no factor for the effect of organic acids such as citric, lactic, acetic and propionic that may be present in some products. These would be expected to mitigate the apparent high PRAL value. Note that Gore et al, 2016 have fully discussed this matter in their paper.

PRAL values for cheese range from  low virtually insignificant positive values to much higher values of 30 and above. However, as indicated above this apparent acid–producing response is likely to be moderated by the lactic and other acids present.

The PRAL value of normal bovine milk is close to zero.

Remember that you should not look at just one food. It is the sum of the PRAL values of all your foods consumed during the day that is important!

Moderate cheese consumption is recommended globally and if you have any concerns you should discuss these with your GP.

Please read the paper by Ecaterina Gore and her colleagues before responding further.
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