Dear Daily Mail, I don’t think cheese and meat are making our bodies dangerously acidic

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UPDATE (17/07/11) I have not yet received a reply to the email below so I have just sent the following:

I am disappointed that I have still had no reply to the attached email (regarding How too much cheese and meat can make your body dangerously acidic published on 28th June).

As I have outlined below, I believe the article in question contained a number of inaccuracies. I therefore believe it was in breach of the Press Complaints Commission Editors’ Code (with respect to Accuracy). I plan to lodge an official complaint with the PCC if the matter is not resolved shortly.

I look forward to a reply from you over the next week or so.

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Following my complaint about the Daily Mail’s recent alkaline diet article and her unsatisfactory reply, I have just (08/07/11) emailed the Daily Mail’s Good Health Editor with the following…

Thank you for your reply. I think there have perhaps been some misunderstandings. I will attempt to make myself more clear by pointing out specific places where I believe the article was either inaccurate or misleading.

The title of the piece is How too much cheese and meat can make your body dangerously acidic. As Catherine Collins and myself have pointed out, the pH of the body is tightly regulated by well understood mechanisms. Cheese and meat do not make your body ‘dangerously acidic’. The title is therefore inaccurate.

It is not merely a simplification to state that carbon dioxide is the main source of alkaline material. It is a mistake. Carbon dioxide is in fact a source of acidic material (carbonic acid). To say the opposite is an inaccuracy.

As the article states, excess acidity or alkalinity is ‘flushed out’ in the urine. As you have pointed out, different foods have different PRAL figures. Consumption of certain foods may affect the pH of the urine. It would not be correct to infer from this that they would affect the pH of the ‘body’ – since there are homeostatic mechanisms at work. The article also correctly states, major fluctuations in pH balance occur only when there is a serious illness, such as kidney failure, that has been brought on by chronic health problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Unfortunately, these sensible statements were contradicted by Professor Lanham-New when she said The foods that produce acids are meats, hard cheese, bread and pasta, while the foods that create alkali are fruit and vegetables (surprisingly, even citrus fruits have an alkaline effect on the body). While this doesn’t mean any foods should be avoided, as recommended in the hyperacidity diet, it does mean that balance in the diet is crucial, otherwise our bones could pay the price.

It is not merely Professor Lanham-New’s view that dietary imbalance may affect bone health; it is a well established fact. It is essential that we have enough calcium in our diet to maintain healthy bones. Dairy products are the best source of calcium. To suggest that eating a lot of cheese can be bad for the bones is inaccurate.

The article also states A large amount of meat creates acid and so the body needs to create alkali to restore the balance. Recent research has shown one source of alkali in the body is alkali salts found in the bones. Specialised cells ‘munch away at our bones’, says Professor Lanham-New, to remove these alkali compounds, but this leaves our bones weaker. Minerals from the bones can in fact be involved in regulating the pH of the blood (for example in extreme cases such as kidney failure). I think this article is implying that the ‘average person’ could be damaging their bones by eating too much meat. I think that is misleading.

I look forward to your reply.

4 responses to “Dear Daily Mail, I don’t think cheese and meat are making our bodies dangerously acidic

  1. You won’t get a satisfactory response to your complaint. The Mail will only admit fault if it is forced to by the courts or the PCC (ha!). Even then, it will do so begrudgingly and in the least conspicuous way possible.

    They’re not concerned with accuracy, but with selling newspapers or advertising space.

  2. Pingback: Daily Mail adamant cheese & meat make us dangerously acidic and carbon dioxide is source of alkaline material. I give up. | Josephine Jones

  3. Jon – Unsurprisingly, you were right (see pingback).

  4. Pingback: British Airways put snakes on a plane! | Josephine Jones

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