Ash

Foods contain ‘ash’, which depending on its mineral contents may be acid-forming or base-forming, having an impact on the acid-base balance in the body.

Ash is the total amount of inorganic material (minerals) left after organic material and water has been removed from food by a breakdown in the body’s digestive system (or in the laboratory environment). In other words, it is the particles left after burning all organic material and removing water. The ash content of food is normally below 5%. However, some products such as dry meats may contain more.

Ions are atoms or groups of atoms with a different number of electrons and protons.

If ash contains more positive ions called cations, it is called base-ash (or alkaline-ash) and is base-forming (alkaline). Cations have more protons. Examples of some more common base–ash particles: potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium.

If ash contains more negative ions called anions, it is called acid-ash and is acid-forming. Anions have more electrons. Some examples of more common acid-ash particles are: phosphate, chlorine and sulfur. (1)Fenton TR, Tough SC, Lyon A, Eliasziw M, Hanley DA. Meta-Analysis of the Effect of the Acid-Ash Hypothesis of Osteoporosis on Calcium Balance. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Volume 24, Issue 11, pages 1835–1840, November 2009. Available here. (2)Fenton TR, Tough SC, Lyon A, Eliasziw M, Hanley DA. Meta-analysis of the quantity of calcium excretion associated with the net acid excretion of the modern diet under the acid-ash diet hypothesis. Am J Clin Nutr October 2008 vol. 88 no. 4 1159-1166 . Available here. (3)Analysis of Ash and Minerals. Available here.

References   [ + ]

1. Fenton TR, Tough SC, Lyon A, Eliasziw M, Hanley DA. Meta-Analysis of the Effect of the Acid-Ash Hypothesis of Osteoporosis on Calcium Balance. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Volume 24, Issue 11, pages 1835–1840, November 2009. Available here.
2. Fenton TR, Tough SC, Lyon A, Eliasziw M, Hanley DA. Meta-analysis of the quantity of calcium excretion associated with the net acid excretion of the modern diet under the acid-ash diet hypothesis. Am J Clin Nutr October 2008 vol. 88 no. 4 1159-1166 . Available here.
3. Analysis of Ash and Minerals. Available here.

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