Alkalising and bone health
The health of our bones is often something we only consider later in life when they start to deteriorate. However, studies have shown bone density begins to decline from age 40 and continues with the aging process6, so it’s never too early to start protecting your bones!
An acidic diet can have a significant impact upon bone health. Even a small decline in extracellular pH towards a more acidic state has been found to dramatically increase bone resorption1,2 (the process in which osteoclasts break down bone). As the body tries to balance this excess acidity, valuable minerals such as calcium are leached from the bone3.
So what can we do to protect our bones? The typical Western diet is very acidic4. Examples of acid forming sources include meats, grains/cereals and most dairy products. These foods do contribute nutritionally to our body’s needs therefore it’s not necessary to avoid them completely. Achieving a ratio where alkaline-forming foods make up the larger proportion of each meal provides a more balanced approach. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake has been shown to have a positive impact on bone health5. In particular, green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and silverbeet or cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and bok choy are some of the best food choices for supporting bones as they are high in alkalising minerals.
So if you’re aiming for stronger bones, the next time you plate up your lunch or dinner be sure to pile the vegetables high and add the meat and grains as a small side serving. Try a green smoothie for breakfast and snack on fruit and vegetables to further top up your alkaline food intake throughout the day. These small changes could make a huge difference to the health of your bones and ultimately your body’s ability to stay strong, active and healthy!
1. Arnett, T, Spowage, M 1996, ‘Modulation of the resorptive activity of rat osteoclasts by small changes in extracellular pH near the physiological range’, Bone, vol.18, pp.277–9.
2. Bushinsky, D 1996, ‘Metabolic alkalosis decreases bone calcium efflux by suppressing osteoclasts and stimulating osteoblasts’, American Journal of Physiology, vol.271, pp.216–22.
3. Buclin, T, Cosma, M, Appenzeller, M, Jacquet, A et al 2008, ‘Diet acids and alkalis influence calcium retention in bone’, Osteoporosis Int, vol.12 pp.493–9.
4. Lanham-New, S 2008, ‘The Balance of Bone Health: Tipping the Scales in Favour of Potassium-Rich, Bicarbonate-Rich Foods’, The Journal of Nutrition, vol.8, pp.172-177.
5. Appel, L, Moore, T, Obarzanek, E, Vallmer, W et al 1997, ‘A clinical trial of the effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure’, New England Journal of Medicine, vol.336, pp.1117–24.
6. Agnusdei, D, Civitelli, R, Camporeale, A, Parisi, G et al 1998, ‘Age-related decline of bone mass and intestinal calcium absorption in normal males’, Calcification Tissue International, vol.63, no.2, pp.197-201.