As an alkaline acid dietary challenge for the month of May I tried giving up coffee to evaluate whether it is a good or bad thing for me. I have been trying to eat a high alkaline foods diet for pH balance since March. In a paper published in 1995 researching the acidifying and alkalizing effects of various foods upon the body, the authors classify it as an alkaline food. So is it a case of alkaline coffee or acidic coffee? Originally when I decided to quit I was under the impression that its classification fell under acid foods. Now I believe that this is not the case. Many charts list coffee as acidic.
Unfortunately I failed on my alkaline acid diet challenge as I only lasted 20 days before a sweet old lady gave me a cup of coffee and I felt it would have been too rude to decline. However even with the shorter time frame I gained valuable insight into its effects on my body as well as how it impacts my diet.
Regardless of whether coffee is acid or alkaline, I have decided that drinking it is okay for me so long as I do it in moderation. Too much and there is always a crash afterwards. Of possibly more concern is that drinking too much displaces other drinks from my diet, e.g. water and Japanese green tea. The alkaline diet and healthy diets in general stress the importance of consuming adequate amounts of water throughout the day. There are also notable health benefits attributed to green tea.
What I dis-like about the acid alkaline diet information available online is that the majority of it suggests that we should simply use the acid/alkaline food classifications as guidelines to help us make decisions on what to eat. In an attempt to alkalize the body we must not forget the importance of nutrition. By their very nature, alkaline foods are nutritious. However many acidic foods also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals and give other health benefits.
So is coffee alkaline or coffee acid? According to many of the alkaline acid diet food chart lists, coffee is acidic. However using the PRAL calculation, the acid/alkaline ash comes out as alkaline coffee rather than coffee = acid. The thing to remember with the acid alkaline diet is that making food choices to eat a high alkaline foods diet based solely on the ash pH may not be the only factor to take into consideration. Certainly if all you are worried about is the pH balance of your body, eating alkaline foods will alkalize your body. However nutritional values as well as pH balance is important too.
What seems to affect my body more than drinking coffee is consuming decent quantities of alkaline foods, namely fruit and vegetables each day. When I am eating over ten servings per day, the adverse effects of "bad foods" is diminished. I have always known that eating fruit and vegetables is a good thing. The acid alkaline diet literature has simply reminded me of that fact and made me excited to be doing so. Anyone trying to eat a high alkaline foods diet need not worry about acidifying effects of coffee.
For my next alkaline acid dietary challenge I am planning on completely giving up alcohol for the month of June. Drinking mildly alkaline coffee is something I will do on an occasional basis.
References: Remer T, Manz F. Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH. J Am Diet Assoc 1995;95:791