What acid is in lemon juice

Lemons: basic or sour? How weird nutrition tips come about

The alkaline diet is seen by some naturopaths as a panacea. A table with “basic” and “acidic” foods serves as a guide. But the name is misleading.

In the weekly column «Main thing, healthy», the authors take a personal look at topics from medicine, health, nutrition and fitness.

There is well-meaning advice that is so grotesquely wrong that it leaves me speechless. One of these tips is to eat lemons when you have heartburn. The first time I heard this I had to laugh, the second time I asked about it, the third time I got angry. The well-meaning people refer to a list that is casually referred to as the "acid-base" table. All vegetables and fruits, but also wine and coffee, are referred to as basic.

Incidentally, coffee with a pH value between 4.5 and 5 is only slightly acidic compared to stomach acid with a pH value between 1 and 1.5. The fact that many people with an acid-sensitive stomach have trouble with coffee is not due to the acid, but to other components of the coffee that stimulate acid production in the stomach.

Misleading term

But back to the so-called "acid-base" table. The problem is that it does not indicate the acidity of the food, rather it is an engineered value that relates to the components that a food is broken down into by digestion and metabolism. Lemons, for example, are clearly sour due to their high concentration of fruit acids and vitamin C, ascorbic acid. However, the fruit acids are quickly broken down in the body. After that, alkaline substances predominate, such as the minerals potassium and magnesium. If more basic than acidic products are left over after digestion and degradation of a food, they are classified as basic. On the other hand, there are protein-containing foods such as fish, eggs and meat, the breakdown of which produces a lot of sulfuric acid.

The list, incorrectly referred to as the "acid-base" table, is therefore completely unsuitable as a source of information for people with acid-sensitive stomachs. The basic diet is the product of an alternative medicine theory. Accordingly, the modern western diet is harmful to health because it leads to over-acidification. In the long term, chronic acidosis is said to favor the development of a number of diseases such as osteoarthritis, allergies, osteoporosis, muscle pain, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders and cancer.

An alkaline diet is recommended to keep the acid-base balance in balance. In addition, various manufacturers offer expensive base powder as a dietary supplement. But with a reasonably healthy diet, these powders are a waste of money.

The whole acid-base theory is also on shaky legs. Because the body itself has a very efficient system that keeps the acid-base balance in the body in balance: the kidneys. There is indeed a case of clinical over-acidosis (acidosis), but this has nothing to do with diet and is usually the result of a metabolic disorder or breathing problems.

Furthermore, there are no convincing studies that show that an alkaline diet is better for your health over a longer period of time than a normally healthy diet. So the usefulness of the table is questionable. In return, it makes a name for itself as a particularly rich source of bad advice for people with acid-sensitive stomachs.

Texts that have already been published under the heading «Main thing, healthy» can be found here.