Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Homeostasis Can Be Influenced by Metabolic Acid Load

Nutrients. 2018 May 15;10(5):618. doi: 10.3390/nu10050618.


Recent epidemiological findings suggest that high levels of dietary acid load can affect insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Consumption of high protein diets results in the over-production of metabolic acids which has been associated with the development of chronic metabolic disturbances. Mild metabolic acidosis has been shown to impair peripheral insulin action and several epidemiological findings suggest that metabolic acid load markers are associated with insulin resistance and impaired glycemic control through an interference intracellular insulin signaling pathways and translocation. In addition, higher incidence of diabetes, insulin resistance, or impaired glucose control have been found in subjects with elevated metabolic acid load markers. Hence, lowering dietary acid load may be relevant for improving glucose homeostasis and prevention of type 2 diabetes development on a long-term basis. However, limitations related to patient acid load estimation, nutritional determinants, and metabolic status considerably flaws available findings, and the lack of solid data on the background physiopathology contributes to the questionability of results. Furthermore, evidence from interventional studies is very limited and the trials carried out report no beneficial results following alkali supplementation. Available literature suggests that poor acid load control may contribute to impaired insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis, but it is not sufficiently supportive to fully elucidate the issue and additional well-designed studies are clearly needed.

Keywords: acid–base; diabetes; dietary acid load; glucose homeostasis; insulin resistance; metabolic acidosis; metabolism; western diet.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium
  • Acidosis / blood*
  • Acidosis / complications
  • Acidosis / diet therapy
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Diet
  • Diet, High-Protein
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin