Nutrition Today

Answers to common questions about nutrition

Alice G. Marsh,  M.S., Chairman, Community Education Committee, SDA Dietetic Association

Question: How can the acid-base balance of foods be taught to a lay class in nutrition?

Answer: Without a doubt, the best way to teach the acid-base balance to a lay group is to present a good plan for daily food selection, such as the Basic 7 (see THE MINISTRY, April, 1958). My students and I have calculated hun­dreds of daily menus consisting of good selec­tions of foods from the Basic 7, and each diet is well balanced, somewhat on the alkaline side in mineral acid-base reaction.

To understand the amount of acidity or alka­linity a given food contributes, its mineral-ash reaction must be determined by chemical anal­ysis and mathematical calculations. It is reas­suring to know that when a good diet plan is taught, emphasized, and practiced, the proper acid-base balance will automatically follow. The diet plan, not the acid-base balance, should be presented to a lay audience.

If the instructor of a lay group understands the buffering processes of the blood, he will have the following classification in mind:

Foods that are neutral (neither acid nor alkaline in reaction): (SEE PDF FOR TABLE)

The buffer systems of the body allow the blood to maintain a constant pH of narrow range that can be described as the alkaline side of neutrality. An advanced education in spe­cialized courses is required even to begin to understand the life-essential mechanism of buf­fers.

Acidosis does not involve a radical change in the reaction of the blood. Rather, the term in­dicates a lessened reserve of buffers. After the student of physiology understands something of the function of the buffer systems, it is then nec­essary to interpret the contributions the various foods make to these particular mineral reserves, or buffers. Then, in turn, he has studied only one phase involved in the broad terms, acidosis and alkalosis.

Fortunately, a complicated physiological process goes on smoothly by applying simple rules of good nutrition. When a balanced diet is eaten as determined by an approved plan, such as the Basic 7, the acid-base balance is maintained as well as the nutrient balance.

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Alice G. Marsh,  M.S., Chairman, Community Education Committee, SDA Dietetic Association

June 1958

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