A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism has suggested that increasing the alkalinity of the diet by eating more fruits and vegetables could improve bone health, by reducing the excretion of calcium from the body.
We already know the importance of maintaining a slightly alkaline pH balance in our bloodstream for overall health, and this new research provides further evidence for the benefits of alkalizing our body through food intake.
Researchers found that a diet high in protein and cereal grain produce an excess of acid in the body, which may increase calcium excretion. The lead author Bess Dawson-Hughes said:
"When it comes to dietary concerns regarding bone health, calcium and vitamin D have received the most attention, but there is increasing evidence that the acid/base balance of the diet is also important."
As a person ages, they become less able to excrete the acid produced via dietary metabolism. The author explained that by reacting to the increasing acid levels, the body counters this by bone resorption, a process by which bones are broken down, releasing minerals such as calcium, phosphates, and alkaline (basic) salts into the blood. Bone resorption weakens the bones and increases the risk of fracture.
"When fruits and vegetables are metabolized they add bicarbonate, an alkaline compound, to the body,"
"Our study found that bicarbonate had a favorable effect on bone resorption and calcium excretion. This suggests that increasing the alkali content of the diet may attenuate bone loss in healthy older adults."
Dawson-Hughes B et al Treatment with potassium Bicarbonate Lowers calcium Excretion and Bone Resorption in Older Men and Women J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab., Jan 2009; 94: 96 - 102.
Fruits and vegetables, generally speaking, are alkalizing. The only exceptions include corn, lentils, olives, blueberries, cranberries, currants, plums, prunes and canned fruit, which are acidic.