- Muscle mass is a major predictor of quality of life and longevity.
- Aging muscle loss begins around age 30 and accelerates after 50.
- Both men and women lose 30 to 40% or more of their muscle with age, and, with poor health, one loses even more.
- Aging muscle loss can lead to reduced functional capacity, fall injuries, frailty, and excess mortality.
- The high-mineral, whole-foods Alkaline Diet has been proven to reduce aging muscle loss.
- Key muscle-protective, alkalizing nutrients include magnesium, potassium, buffered ascorbate, the carotenoids, quercetin, and many plant antioxidants.
- At-home pH testing is simple and easy.
Coming to grips with aging muscle loss
Muscle mass is a major predictor of quality of life, particularly as we age, and aging muscle loss begins quite early in life. From the age of 30, one loses as much as 3% to 8% of muscle per decade. Most of those living the Western lifestyle will lose at least 30% to 40% or more of their muscle mass during their lifetime. (1, 2)
Less muscle equals less functional capacity, a greater chance of injury from falling, and potentially life-limiting frailty. Less muscle also means less energy production as muscles are a major site of energy production for the entire body. Even more, muscles contain most of our body’s insulin receptors, which are needed to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why anyone planning to live a long, active life would do well to pay attention to building and maintaining muscle mass over the years.
An alkaline diet preserves muscle mass
We all know that exercise builds muscle, and some of us realize that consuming adequate protein is important for muscle maintenance. Less well known, however, is the fact that an Alkaline Diet preserves muscle mass. Specifically, an Alkaline Diet sets the biochemical stage for muscle maintenance, as science has long documented. An abundance of research shows that diets high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices, moderate in protein, and low in processed and refined foods, grains, sugar, and alcohol favor the maintenance of lifelong muscle mass. (3) Indeed, population studies find higher alkaline load associated with greater skeletal muscle. (4)
As it turns out, the same low-mineral, acidic diet that drains calcium from our bones also depletes amino acids from our muscles. Specifically, when the body takes on even a slight acidic tilt, muscle is broken down liberating its amino acids for the synthesis of glutamine and then ammonia. Ammonia is a strong base which aids in the removal of excess acid. (5) By this action muscle is degraded to facilitate the kidney’s excretion of excess acids. All in all, muscle mass, just as bone mass, is sacrificed to maintain the all-critical system-wide pH balance. (6)
Alkalizing chemistry protects muscle
As early as 1997 noted scientist Dr. Lynda Frassetto documented that alkalizing the diet through mineral supplementation provided for the recovery of lost muscle mass and the prevention of further excessive loss in aging individuals. (7)
The past twenty-five years have witnessed a growing appreciation for the muscle-preserving power of the Alkaline Diet. Recently, a three-year study by Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes of Tufts University found that a diet rich in high potassium foods, such as fruits and vegetables, reduced acid load and resulted in preservation of muscle mass in older men and women. (5)
Dr. Dawson-Hughes has also conducted several laboratory studies documenting that supplementation with alkalizing forms of potassium, such as potassium citrate or potassium bicarbonate, preserves muscle mass. (6)
Potassium from foods is generally in the form of potassium citrate, which the body converts into bicarbonate, a strong alkalizing agent. This bicarbonate neutralizes acids and helps to preserve muscle mass. The goal, however, would not be to use high-dose potassium supplements, but rather to increase our intake of foods high in potassium. The RDA for potassium is 4,700 mg/day, while most of us consume half of that. If we consumed the full 4,700 mg of potassium from our food, we would likely alkalize enough to preserve both muscle and bone.
Additionally, the correction of acidosis may preserve muscle mass in those suffering medical conditions associated with muscle wasting such as diabetic ketosis, trauma, chronic obstructive lung disease, and kidney failure. (8)
At-home testing for acid-alkaline balance
At Alkaline for Life, we are proud to offer everyone the most comprehensive understanding of why and how to develop a life-supporting Alkaline Diet. Join our online course on The Alkaline Diet: Step by Step. We have also developed a simple at-home urine test which allows you to assess the degree to which you have successfully reduced your acid load using diet and alkalizing supplements.
- Keller, K., and M. Engelhardt. 2013. Strength and muscle loss with aging process: Age and strength loss. Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal 3(4):346-350.
- Volpi, E., et al. 2004. Muscle tissue changes with aging. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 7(4):405-410.
- Lauretani, F., et al. 2008. Low plasma carotenoids and skeletal muscle strength decline over 6 years. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A 63(4):376-383.
- Welch, A. A., et al. 2013. A higher alkaline dietary load is associated with greater indexes of skeletal muscle mass in women. Osteoporosis International 24:1899-1908.
- Dawson-Hughes, B., et al. 2008. Alkaline diets favor lean tissue mass in older adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 87(3):662-665.
- Dawson-Hughes, B. 2020. Acid-base balance of the diet—Implications for bone and muscle. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 74:7-13.
- Frassetto, L., et al. 1997. Potassium bicarbonate reduces urinary nitrogen excretion in postmenopausal women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 82(1):254-259.
- Garibotto, G., et al. 1996. Muscle protein turnover in chronic renal failure patients with metabolic acidosis or normal acid-base balance. Mineral and Electrolyte Metabolism 22(1-3):58-61.