Since the Daily Mail failed to respond to my email pointing out what I believe are inaccuracies in their article ‘How too much meat and cheese can make your body dangerously acidic‘, I sent a follow up email threatening to lodge an official complaint with the PCC.
The inaccuracies in question were:
- The outrageously nonsensical title
- The assertion that carbon dioxide is one of the body’s main sources of alkaline material
The Daily Mail responded by sticking to their guns:
Thank you for your email – I note your additional comments including your acknowledgement that the article does, in fact, make ‘sensible statements’.
As well as the studies previously cited, for further evidence that dietary intake can have a profound effect on acid-base balance, see the work of Professor Anthony Sebastian from the University of California. In addition to this, Professor Lanham-New has also published reviews of the scientific evidence linking acid-base balance to diet and bone, see:
- Lanham-New SA. The balance of bone health: tipping the scales in favour of the potassium case. J Nutr 2008. 138:172S-177S.
- New SA. Do vegetarians have a normal bone mass? Osteoporos Int. 2004 Sep;15(9):679-88.
- New SA. Intake of fruit and vegetables: implications for bone health. Proc Nutr Soc 2003 Nov 62(4):889-899
Our article also makes it clear that Professor Lanham-New ‘does not advocate the strict regimen of the hyperacidity diet’.
We did not say that carbon dioxide is the main source of alkaline material, but ‘one of the main sources’; while carbon dioxide itself is clearly not alkaline (and we don’t in fact even say this in the article), during acid-based homeostasis it is a main source of bicarbonate, which is a base. Carbon dioxide is also, as you point out, a source of carbonic acid.
Thank you again.
Needless to say, I am not happy with this response but have decided that to complain to the PCC would not be a sensible use of my time.
This is how I replied:
Thank you for taking the time to look into my complaint and for sending information regarding diet and acid-base balance. Although I am not entirely satisfied with the overall response to my complaint I have decided not to take things any further.
I do not believe that Professor Lanham-New’s work provides evidence that (as stated in the title of the piece), too much cheese and meat can make your body ‘dangerously acidic’. Acidosis does not happen as a result of eating a lot of cheese or meat. Furthermore, I feel it is misleading to suggest that eating a lot of cheese can be bad for the bones – since cheese is a good source of calcium.
As I have said in my previous email, the pH of the body is tightly regulated by well understood mechanisms. The bicarbonate buffering system you have alluded to is an important part of acid-base homeostasis. Carbon dioxide reacts with water to give carbonic acid, which dissociates into bicarbonate and hydrogen ions. To neglect to mention the hydrogen ions and state that carbon dioxide is a source of alkaline material amounts to a misunderstanding of this process.
I still believe the article was not only misleading but also inaccurate. I realise however, based on your emails, that you dispute these points and have decided that to pursue a PCC complaint at this point would not be a worthwhile use of my time. As I suggested in my original email, I think this would have been an ideal opportunity to publish a sensible follow up article about alkaline diets (or fad diets in general) by a suitably qualified medical professional (such as a GP).