Summer is a great time to alkalize and build bone

Whether you realize it or not, you excrete calcium in your urine each day — and some amount of calcium loss is perfectly normal. It’s part of the process by which the kidneys neutralize and excrete metabolic acids.

What’s not normal is what happens when you lose excessive calcium. It weakens bone — and almost 20% of women with osteoporosis have this problem. The good news is that comprehensive research has documented that regaining a healthy, slightly alkaline pH balance reduces both urinary calcium losses and unwanted bone breakdown.

Excessive calcium loss has been shown by a meta-analysis of 14 scientific studies to be related to a high acid load. Noted researcher Dr. Lynda Frassetto and colleagues recently reported that metabolic acids can be neutralized with either potassium citrate or potassium bicarbonate to conserve calcium and reduced unwanted bone breakdown.

Alkalize with delicious summer fruits and vegetables

While the researchers used high-dose potassium, I encourage everyone to develop a life-supporting Alkaline for Life® eating program based on potassium-rich vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and fruits. Summer is a great time to take advantage of in-season veggies and fruit, and here is my list of the top alkalizing choices:

Taster dishes of assorted autumn berries viewed from above arranged on a wooden board on a rustic, kitchen table including whole fresh blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries

Fruits

Blackberries
Nectarines
Strawberries
Persimmon
Raspberries
Tangerines
Limes and lemons
Papaya
Pineapple
Watermelon
Cantaloupe/Honeydew

Veggies

Broccoli
Asparagus
Onions
Greens: kale, collards, mustard, endive, arugula, lettuce
Summer squash
Cauliflower
Eggplant

It’s my experience, however, that most of us can’t achieve the ideal pH with diet alone. So many acid-producing activities in our modern lifestyles mean that most of us need to complement our diets with high-quality alkalizing mineral compounds. Luckily, alkalizing is not as difficult as you might think. You can start rebalancing your pH with my Alkaline for Life pH Test Kit.

 

References:

Lambert, H, Frassetto, L et al.  the effect of supplementation with alkaline potassium salts on bone metabolism—a meta-analysis. Osteoporosis International, published online 9 January 2015. DOI 10.1007/s00198-014-3006-9

Giannini, S, et al. Hypercalciuria is a common an important finding in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.  European Journal of Endocrinology, September 2003;149:209-213.

1 minute with Dr. Brown: Does the alkaline diet really work?

Got a minute? Every week I receive dozens of questions from women like you with concerns about their bone health. In my new series, “1 Minute with Dr. Brown,” I will try to answer your most pressing questions. If you have a question, send it in to us at center@betterbones.com

Question: Does the alkaline diet really work? I have heard a lot of naysayers lately.

New research on alkalizing foods

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes of Tufts University, one of the world’s most respected bone health researchers who has now turned her attention to the importance of pH balance for bone.

In this video interview, Dr. Dawson-Hughes discusses her new research on acid-base balance and bone, including:

  • The concept of “acid load”
  • The frequency of low-grade metabolic acidosis
  • How we aggravate changes in our pH balance due to aging
  • Tips on how you can change your diet to protect yourself from a heavy acid load

Why not take just seven minutes to watch my conversation with Dr. Dawson-Hughes? What you learn could help protect your bones for a lifetime.

Watch now:

Natural bone health with the Alkaline for Life® diet

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 health.

Is your diet acid-forming or alkaline-forming?

foodclockEating “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 foods).

  • 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 foods.

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?

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, and seeds.

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 osteoporosis.

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

How tpeppero 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.

Breakfast:

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.

Snack:

1 pear
Handful (1 oz.) toasted pumpkin seeds.

Lunch:

Lentil soup served with 2 cups of steamed vegetables (broccoli, kale, carrots, onions). Drizzle olive oil salad dressing on lightly steamed vegetables.

or

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.
Lemon-dill vinaigrette.

Snack:

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 snack option.

Dinner:

4 oz. serving of fish, chicken, turkey or other meat served with a baked yam or sweet potato and a mixed garden salad.

or

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:

10 tips for an alkaline diet

Lemon_iStock_000006006690SmallEating an alkaline diet can produce tremendous results —and I would like to add that it’s not just the latest Hollywood fad like many ways of eating!  Eating alkaline as a long-term approach is simple and something everyone can do.  Here are 10 simple tips to get started:

10 simple tips for eating alkaline

1. Eat more veggies and fruits. Even if you don’t go any further down this list, taking this one step can instantly make a huge difference.

2. Reduce soda intake, or eliminate it altogether.

3. Replace refined carbs with roots and gourds.

4. Add fresh lemon and lime to your water. Though we typically think of citrus fruits as acidic, they’re highly alkalizing in the body (limes especially).

5. Consider cooking with sea vegetables. For some of you, I know this is “out of the question!” But if you’re willing to try new ingredients, why not experiment with packaged sea veggies available in the health-food or Asian section of your supermarket?

6. Drink 64 ounces of high-mineral spring water daily.

7. Limit animal protein. Try to limit your animal protein sources (beef, chicken, pork, eggs, and dairy products) to 1 serving or less per day and increase plant-based protein sources.

8. Add cinnamon, ginger, and other herbs and spices.

9. Monitor your urinary pH. Track your first morning urine pH (after at least 6 hours of sleep) to know how your nutritional changes are affecting your body. When this number is between 6.5 (slightly acidic) and 7.5 (slightly alkaline), it suggests that your overall cellular pH is where it should be — slightly alkaline.

10. Supplement your diet with a high-quality multivitamin–mineral complex.No matter how attentive we are to what we eat, where it’s from, and how we dish it up, we can’t always have a perfectly balanced diet. Gain peace of mind with a top-notch bone-healthy supplement.

To learn more about Alkaline for Life products, including my food guide and pH paper,take a look here.

How to test your body pH: a pathway to alkaline balance

Alkaline for Life®

susanIt’s not easy to tell what condition your bones are in at any given time. The only real outward signals that your bones may be weakening are receding gums, weak or broken teeth, and muscle loss—and even those signs don’t necessarily indicate how much bone you’ve lost, if any.

That’s why a pH test is so important for bone health. Testing your body pH will give you a sense of whether your body is tending toward metabolic acidity, or is in the balanced, slightly alkaline state that’s necessary for healthy bones. This test is relatively simple and can be done in your own home.

Want to read more about alkaline balance and your bones?

What is your pH?

The first step in establishing an alkaline diet is to assess your current pH. A good approximation of tissue pH is easily obtained by testing the pH of your saliva or first-morning urine.

These tests are available here or through other online resources. Complete instructions on how to use them come with the test, but these are the simple steps to follow to test your pH at home.

Woman shopping for alkaline dietSteps to test your pH

1. Obtain pH test paper. This paper measures the acid-alkaline state of any liquid. Readings at the low end of the scale indicate an acidic state, and those on the higher end a more alkaline state.

2. Test in the morning — two options. First thing in the morning, if possible after 6 hours of sleep without getting up to urinate, get a test strip or tear off a three-inch piece of paper from the roll.

  • Testing with urine: Either urinate directly on the paper or collect urine in a cup and dip the paper into the urine in the cup. Please note that first morning urine is the most valuable pH reading according to our research. If you can’t go 6 hours without getting up to urinate, then just test the first urine in the morning when you get up for the day.
  • Testing with saliva (this is a second, less-ideal measurement): Rinse your mouth with water, spit it out into the sink, and spit again. Now, collect some saliva in a spoon and moisten the paper in the saliva. Do not eat, drink or brush your teeth before the test.

3. Read the result color. As the test paper is moistened, it will take on a color. The color relates to the acid or alkaline state of your urine or saliva and ranges from yellow to dark blue. Match the color of your test strip with the chart provided on the back of your test kit.

  • A number below 7 means that your urine is on the acid side. The lower the number, the more acidic the condition.
  • The ideal urine reading should be between 6.5- 7.5, and saliva readings should be between 7.0- 7.5.

Tips if your reading is not in the ideal zone

Readings below 6.5:

At first, most people will have low pH readings due to the acid-forming tendency of the standard American diet. In this case, increase your intake of vegetables, fruits, root crops, nuts, seeds and spices, striving to get 80% of your nutrition from these alkalizing foods. You can find more details on the acid or alkaline forming nature of the various foods in The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide (see below for details).

 

Readings above 7.5

ad-alkalineforlifeA highly alkaline reading is likely due to catabolism, the process of breakdown of body tissue which triggers excess nitrogen in the urine. If you are consistently getting readings at 8.0, contact your health professional about how to stimulate the repair state to reverse this catabolic cycle.

Be patient and persistent. Remember, your pH indicates your reserve of alkaline minerals. It can take time to build up these reserves. Do not be discouraged with a slow movement towards the ideal alkaline measurement. It may have taken decades to get where you are; a few months to sustained repair and renewal are well worth the effort and attention.

Monitor your pH over time

You do not have to measure your pH every day, but it is an excellent idea to keep some record of your pH test results over time. At the Center for Better Bones we use a Monthly pH Testing Record. You might want to use this chart yourself. As you incorporate our Alkaline for Life® Eating Program, and as you use supplements like ours which alkalize, you will see your pH reading move into the desired range.

The importance of pH balance in healthy bones

Alkaline balance is very important for bone health. We evolved in an alkaline ocean environment, and even today our body’s internal environment remains alkaline, with a pH just above 7.0. Our enzymatic, immunologic, and repair mechanisms all function their best in an alkaline environment. Despite this, our biochemical functioning, the metabolism of food, and many other fundamental life processes, all produce a great deal of acid.

When we exercise or move, for example, we produce lactic acid and carbon dioxide. Lactic acid is by its nature acidic, and the exhalation of carbon dioxide represents an excretion of acids. Further, our immune responses (manifested as allergies and hypersensitivity) and stress responses generate substantial amounts of acidic by-products. Finally, we generate acids when we eat and digest food. For example, sulfuric acid can be produced from the metabolism of sulfur-containing amino acids, and we consume phosphoric acid as a food additive. Long-chain fatty acids also produce acids when metabolized.

There are countless chemical reactions necessary for life that can only occur within a very specific pH range, so the body has many checks and balances to maintain pH within a narrow range. To regain the alkaline state necessary for our health and survival, metabolic acids from all sources must be buffered or neutralized.

Through various mechanisms, alkaline mineral salts of organic anions are drawn upon to buffer acids. Many of these can be obtained by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Potassium citrate and potassium malate, for example, are commonly found in vegetables and fruits. The organic anions of these compounds, when metabolized, have the ability to accept hydrogen ions and thus reduce the acid load and restore alkaline balance. When dietary consumption patterns provide insufficient buffering capacity, body buffering mineral pools can be depleted and the intracellular environment becomes acidotic.

An underlying metabolic acidity is a common denominator among — and a likely contributing factor to — all degenerative and autoimmune diseases. An acid condition has several adverse effects on cell metabolism, including impaired energy production, fluid accumulation and edema, and a likely increase in free radical production. Interesting enough, kidney specialists working with acid-base balance now recognize that most Americans, as they age, live in chronic, low–grade metabolic acidosis. This condition contributes to a series of health problems, including loss of bone mineral, loss of muscle mass, a reduction in growth hormone, and the development of kidney stones.

The restoration of the health-promoting alkaline state is essential to the regeneration of bone health, immune competence, and overall well-being.

Our most popular resources on alkaline balance

 

  • anyageTesting your pH: a pathway to alkaline balance
    One tool used at the Center for Better Bones is pH testing, which helps us learn when our acid-alkaline balance is out of the range required for bone health.Learn about pH testing and how it can help you monitor your bone health in this article. One tool used at the Center for Better Bones is pH testing, which helps us learn when our acid-alkaline balance is out of the range required for bone health.Learn about pH testing and how it can help you monitor your bone health in this article.
  • brokenfootAcid-forming foods
    A table of foods that help make the body more acidic.
  • calciumAlkaline-forming foods
    A table of foods that help make the body more alkaline.A table of foods that help make the body more alkaline.

Alkaline-forming foods

Alkaline for Life®

LOWMEDIUMHIGH

Fruits

Coconuts
Raisins
Grapes
Blueberries
Oranges
Apples
Cherries
Apricots
Grapefruit
Avocado
Olives, green
Banana
Pears/Peaches
Lemons
Blackberries
Nectarines
Strawberries
Persimmon
Raspberries
Tangerines
Limes
Papaya
Pineapple
Watermelon
Cantaloupe/Honeydew

Vegetables

Snow peas
Carrots, organic
Cucumbers
Brussels sprouts
Cauliflower
Mushrooms
Artichokes
Eggplant
Beets
Summer squash
Baked potato
Zucchini
Bell peppers
Okra
Broccoli
Cabbage
Stringbeans without formed beans
Asparagus
Onions
Celery
Kohlrabi
Collard greens
Parsnips
Endive
Mustard greens
Kale
Winter squash
Sweet potatoes/Yams

Meats/Fish

Dairy/Eggs

Clarified butter (Ghee)

Oils

Olive oil
Flax oil
Coconut oil
Avocado oil
Cod Liver oil

Nuts/Seeds/Legumes/Herbs/Spices

Almonds
Bay leaf
Cayenne pepper
Sesame/Sunflower seeds
Black pepper
Lentils
Cashews
Basil
Garlic
Cilantro
Cinnamon
Soy sauce
Chestnuts
Sea salt
Ginger root
Pumpkin seeds
Parsley

Breads/Grains/Desserts

Granola (unsweetened) Oatmeal
Quinoa
Wild rice
Baked apples (unsweetened)

Sweeteners/Vinegars

Rice syrup
Sucanat
Apple cider vinegar
Molasses
Umeboshi vinegar

Beverages

Apple juice
Grape juice
Orange juice
Green/Herbal tea
Grapefruit juice
Pineapple juice
Mineral water
Ginger tea

Acid-forming foods

Alkaline for Life®

LOWMEDIUMHIGH

Fruits

Figs
Dates
Guava
Plums/Prunes
Cranberries
Pomegranates
Olives, ripe

Vegetables

Tomatoes
Swiss chard
Green peas
Rhubarb
Spinach
Lima beans
Carrots, commercial
Stringbeans with formed beans
Corn, fresh

Meats/Fish

Clams
Gelatin
Salmon
Haddock
Duck
Tuna
Chicken
Scallops
Liver
Mackerel
Buffalo
Catfish
Shrimp
Mussels
Lobster
Steak
Bacon
Sausage
Hamburgers
Beef

Dairy/Eggs

Butter
Yogurt
Curd cheese
Eggs, whites
Cream
Cottage cheese
Cream cheese
Eggs, whole
Camembert cheese
American cheese
Ice cream

Oils

Sesame oil
Safflower oil
Canola oil
Almond oil
Sunflower oil
Soybean oil
Peanut oil
Cottonseed oil

Nuts/Seeds/Legumes/Herbs/Spices

Baked beans
Green peas
Kidney beans
Split peas
White beans
Curry powder
Garbanzo beans
Chickpeas
PeanutsWalnuts
Hazelnuts
Soybeans
White sugar
Iodized table salt

Breads/Grains/Desserts

Brown rice
Buckwheat flour
Kasha
Whole wheat bread (100%)
Rye bread (100%)
Corn tortillas
Cornmeal
Barley
White rice
White flour
Bagels
Croissants
Saltine crackers

Sweeteners/Vinegars

Mayonnaise
Maple syrup
Stevia
Balsamic/Rice vinegar
Red wine/White vinegar
Sugar, brown or white
Corn syrup

Beverages

Milk
Black tea
Tomato juice
Wine
Dark beer
Coffee
Rice milk
Pale beer
Espresso
Colas/Soft drinks
Soy milk
Milkshakes

Top alkalizing foods for the holidays

Happy woman having dinner at a restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If it’s usually “all or nothing” for you when it comes to healthy holiday eating, then this blog is for you! That’s because for Thanksgiving celebrations and beyond, you have plenty of choices to include delicious and alkalizing foods.  Here are some of my top alkalizing options to include in your holiday menus:

Let’s start with some basics.Try to find a way to include any of the following alkalizing foods in your favorite holiday recipes:

•    Any greens
•    Root crops
•    Nuts
•    Spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom

You can add many of these basics to traditional favorites.

Next, with a few substitutions — and a little experimentation — you can boost the alkalizing power of everything from soup to dessert.  Here are just a few ideas.
•    Ginger-Pumpkin Soup
•    Wild Rice and Almond Stuffing
•    Sweet Potatoes without added sweeteners
•    Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”
•    Avocado-Chocolate Mousse
•    Pumpkin Pie without Crust

Above everything else, enjoy your pasture-raised free-range turkey, tofu turkey or any other delight you have planned.  Don’t worry about the eating, just enjoy and join me in sprinkling everything with a big dose of gratitude for all that we have.

I hope you all have a healthy and happy holiday season!

 

You can try Dr. Brown’s comprehensive supplements in her at-home bone health program, developed with Women’s Health Network. Get her exclusive formulations along with her detailed lifestyle and diet guidance, plus telephone support whenever you need it. Learn more about the Better Bones Health Program.

We created the Better Bones blog as our forum to express opinions and educate the public about natural means of supporting and improving bone health and overall wellness. As part of this forum, we sometimes discuss medical issues and medications, and their effects on bone health in general. However, we cannot advise readers about specific medical issues in this forum. If you wish to obtain advice from Susan E. Brown, PhD, about your specific bone health and nutritional concerns, please visit ourConsultations page. Other specific medical questions should be referred to your healthcare provider.