Good Acid-Base Balance Against Type 2 Diabetes

Good Acid-Base Balance Against Type 2 Diabetes

An acidifying diet is associated with a higher risk of diabetes.

Why it’s important

The Western diet, characterized by high consumption of animal foods, salt, and low consumption of fruits and vegetables, is linked to a higher risk of diabetes. This association is partly explained by the increasing share of processed foods, by the consumption of sugar and refined foods, but other mechanisms could be at work. For example, the western diet is acidogenic, in that it can lead to low-grade (low-grade ) metabolic acidosis, which manifests itself as low blood pH in the normal range (around 7.35). Indeed, animal proteins (meat, fish) are rich in sulfur amino acids (methionine, cysteine) that generate sulfates after oxidation, which lead to an acidic charge to which are added phosphorus and chlorine. When this acidic charge occurs in a context poor in fruits and vegetables, there are not enough alkaline compounds (potassium salts) to compensate for it.

What the researchers found

Several studies have examined the influence of an acidifying diet on the risk of type-2 diabetes. The study E3N-EPIC (2014) on women in their fifties, found that the acidic food load is associated with a higher risk. This association was not confirmed in a Swedish study on elderly people, and only partially in a Japanese study.

But in 2017, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health examined the association between acid body production (NEAP), the PRAL index (a measure of the acidifying or alkalizing character of food). and the ratio of animal protein / potassium (A: P) to the risk of diabetes in 3 cohorts with a total of 151743 women and 35743 men. Results: The risk of diabetes was increased by an average of 30% for the NEAP, PRAL and A: P values, the highest compared to the lowest values. This study confirms an association already highlighted between the acid load of the diet and the risk of diabetes.

A high acid load could promote insulin resistance and impair pancreatic function, according to several studies. For example, a decrease in extracellular pH decreases the response of pancreatic cells that synthesize insulin.

In practice

These data suggest that acid-base imbalance may favor the development of type-2 diabetes.



Fagherazzi G, Vilier A, Bonnet F, Lajous M, Balkau B, Boutron-Rualt MC, et al.Dietary acid load and risk of type 2 diabetes: the E3N-EPIC cohort study.Diabetologia. 2014; 57: 313-320.

Kiefte-de Jong JC, Li Y, Chen M, Curhan GC, Mattei J, VS Malik, JP Forman, Franco OH, Hu FB. Diet-dependent acid load and type 2 diabetes: pooled results from three prospective cohort studies. Diabetologia. 2017 Feb; 60 (2): 270-279.

Rebolledo OR, Hernandez RE, Zanetta AC, Gagliardino DD (1978) Insulin secretion during acid-base alterations. Am J Physiol 234: E426-E429

Williams RS, Heilbronn LK, DL Chen, Coster AC, JR Greenfield, Samocha-Bonet D (2016) Dietary acid load, metabolic acidosis and insulin resistance – Lessons from cross-sectional and overfeeding studies in humans. Clin Nutr 35: 1084-1090

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