Alkaline for Life®
Natural bone health with the Alkaline for Life® diet
By Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD
When it comes to improving bone health, very little you do matters more than improving
your acid-alkaline balance with an alkaline eating plan. Even if you exercise and
limit toxins, if your acid-alkaline balance is off-kilter, you’ll still have unnecessary
bone loss in the long run. An alkaline diet is an essential part of natural bone
Is your diet acid-forming or alkaline-forming?
Eating “alkaline” means that you’re trying to keep your body’s acid base (pH) between
6.5 (slightly acidic) and 7.5 (slightly alkaline). Most of the food we eat has the
potential to alter our pH. When digested, some foods leave acidic by-products in
the body (acid-forming foods); others leave alkaline by-products (alkaline-forming
- Acid-forming foods include most high-protein foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, and
most legumes (beans and peas, except lentils, which are alkaline-forming). Sugar,
coffee, alcohol, and most grains are also acid-forming.
See a chart of acid-forming foods.
- Alkaline-forming foods include nearly all vegetables and fruits, many nuts and seeds,
and spices. See our chart of alkaline-forming
Our Stone Age ancestors ate hundreds of different types of natural whole foods.
Seeds, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and roots were supplemented with game animals and
fish, providing on average a pH-balanced diet. Our organs and body systems evolved
in adaptation to this diet. It’s as if Nature said, “You can eat acid-forming meat,
beans, and other high-protein foods, but you must balance these with an abundance
of the alkaline-forming vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices.” And for thousands
of years, that’s exactly what we did.
What are problems with an acid-forming diet?
Do you have signs of an “acidic” diet?
- Weight gain
- Nonspecific aches and pains, especially in the bones and joints
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Poor digestion, irritable bowel, intestinal cramping
- Fatigue, feeling of being “run down”
- Muscle weakness/loss of muscle
- Urinary tract problems
- Receding gums
- Kidney stones
- Bone loss
- Skin problems
Unfortunately, we’ve strayed from the acid-alkaline balanced diet that our ancestors
achieved. We favor meat, sugars, grains, low-mineral processed foods, and other
acid-forming foods and get far too few alkaline-forming vegetables, fruits, nuts,
The net result is that our eating patterns create a condition known as “chronic
low-grade metabolic acidosis.” While our bodies can easily handle an occasional
acid load, long-term acid build-up can exhaust our available alkalizing reserves.
Unless we take steps to neutralize these acids, they can damage our health in many
ways — and this is the underlying cause of many of our modern health problems, including
How to start an alkaline diet plan
If you have three or more symptoms of acid imbalance (see box above), eat 80% of
your foods from the alkaline-forming group. The other 20% can be high protein items
and other acid-forming foods.
Later, when your pH balance has improved (which you can tell by urine testing or by the
fact that your symptoms have resolved), you can lower the alkaline-forming part
of your diet to around 65%.
Here are some general guidelines for eating alkaline:
- Focus on eating whole foods, like vegetables, root crops, fruits, nuts, seeds, spices,
whole grains and beans (especially lentils).
- Drink alkalizing beverages such as spring water and ginger root or green tea, water
with the juice of a whole lemon or lime.
- Eat smaller amounts of essential fats, meat, fish, pasta and other grains.
- Eliminate processed and artificial foods, caffeine, white sugar, and white flour.
- Don’t be afraid to use real butter and full-fat milk (if you use dairy).
- Dress salads or cook with high-quality fats such as cold-pressed virgin olive oil,
coconut oil, and avocado oil.
Sample day: Alkaline diet plan
We’ve put together a sample menu from our Alkaline for Life® meal plan to give you
a sense of what you might eat if you’re trying to achieve an 80% alkaline diet.
This “diet” doesn’t restrict calories or eliminate certain foods altogether (although
you’ll have greater success if you avoid sugary foods and limit how much processed
foods you eat). Calorie-counting isn’t part of this — you can eat as many alkalizing
fruits and vegetables as you want, but you should limit things like meat, grains
and highly processed foods to avoid boosting your acidity.
Veggie scramble: 1–2 eggs per person, scrambled with green onions, tomatoes, chopped
bok choy or other leafy green, and bell peppers.
Cup of ginger tea.
Handful (1 oz.) toasted pumpkin seeds.
Lentil soup served with 2 cups of steamed vegetables (broccoli, kale, carrots, onions).
Drizzle olive oil salad dressing on lightly steamed vegetables.
4 oz. cold or hot salmon (or chicken, tuna, or tofu), served over 2–3 cups mixed
greens, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, or other fresh vegetables.
Hard-boiled egg, sliced and sprinkled with sea salt and chopped flat-leaf parsley.
Red bell pepper strips, celery or carrot sticks. A handful of almonds is also a
4 oz. serving of fish, chicken, turkey or other meat served with a baked yam or
sweet potato and a mixed garden salad.
Pasta (made from buckwheat, rice, amaranth, or quinoa rather than wheat) topped
with bitter greens — such as broccoli rabe or arugula—plus chopped zucchini,
pine nuts or slivered almonds, garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper. Side
dish of steamed zucchini with dash of garlic and olive oil.
Add a grating of pecorino Romano or fresh Parmesan, if desired.
Seasonal fruits: In summer, try nectarines and cherries, or grapes and melon; in
winter, try roasted pears or baked apples.
Read more about alkalizing with Dr. Brown’s blog:
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Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD
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Original Publication Date: 01/01/2009
Principal Author: Dr. Susan E. Brown, PhD