lemons on tree

What do limes, kale, and sweet potatoes have in common? They’re all fantastic choices for alkalizing your body and strengthening your bones.

But unfortunately, the diet that most people in the US eat (heavy in animal products, grains, refined foods, and sugars) produces as much as 100 mEq of acid per day — almost twice what the body can handle. This means that on a daily basis our bodies have to use the mineral compounds that make up our bones to neutralize the overabundance of acids in our bodies.

So help your body out with these ten simple dietary tips for shifting your body back into its alkaline comfort zone.

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 to your bones. Plant foods contain abundant “basic” or alkaline particles that combine with “acidic” particles when your body breaks them down, reducing our total urinary acid load and naturally creating alkaline balance in the body. If you want better bones, I suggest more than the standard “five-a-day” servings of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds — nine to ten is better, and focus on the veggies.

2. Reduce soda intake, or eliminate it altogether. Aside from its overwhelming amount of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame, or other chemicals with no nutritive value, soda makes your urine too acidic to pass safely out of your body. Its high phosphoric acid content requires your body to sacrifice a great deal of alkaline buffering salts (meaning the minerals in your bones) so it can excrete the acid without damaging your urinary tract.

3. Replace refined carbs with roots and gourds. Most grains are somewhat acid-forming — particularly when they are ground, bleached, and otherwise refined. Root crops like sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, parsnips, beets, carrots, squash and potatoes are rich in minerals that will alkalize your blood, plus they’re loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. So instead of eating pasta, pizza, pastry, rice or bread, try substituting with a dish made from root crops several days a week.

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). Help balance your acid load by squeezing a wedge of fresh lemon or lime into your water throughout the day. For that matter, get into the habit of giving your food a squirt just before serving: lime is delicious on papaya, melons, salads, and Mexican and Asian dishes.

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? While delicious seaweed dishes are still regularly enjoyed throughout much of Asia, we’ve lost this practice in the US. It wasn’t long ago that people on both sides of the Atlantic were enjoying dulse, agar agar, and other mineral-rich seaweeds in soups, stews, and puddings.

6. Drink 64 ounces of high-mineral spring water daily. So often our public drinking supply is processed and stripped of the minerals that water naturally picks up from the earth as it percolates through the ground. It’s also doctored with substances like chlorine and fluoride at levels that many scientists feel are not healthy for teeth and bones. Natural mineral water contains varying dissolved minerals and trace elements that have emerged from their sources in the ground. These include calcium, magnesium, and potassium salts, so drinking mineral water is an easy way to replenish your alkaline reserves. We like brands such as Sanfaustino and San Pellegrino. I’d encourage you to sample a few and find your own favorites.

7. Limit animal protein. Animal proteins are high in sulfur-containing amino acids and are particularly acid-producing as you metabolize them. Protein is absolutely required for your bones and just about every other body tissue, but you can limit your animal protein sources (beef, chicken, pork, eggs, and dairy products) to 40 grams or less per day and increase plant-based protein sources. Lentils in particular have a super alkalizing effect on the body compared to other protein sources — plus they cook more quickly than most other dried beans, they’re versatile, and they’re also more digestible for many people. Soy is another high-protein option you can try that’s high in calcium and good for the bones.

Better Bones Builder

Our Better Bones Builder is specifically designed to support your bones and help to keep your pH in balance. A pH Test Kit is part of our Better Bones Program.

8. Add cinnamon, ginger, and other herbs and spices. Cinnamon is a wonderful alkalizing spice that you can add to just about anything. It’s great with sweet potatoes, apples, or sprinkled in hot tea. Ginger root is also a great alkalizer and detoxifier that spices up many dishes and makes a tasty, warming winter tea. Experiment with the spices in your cabinet — herbs and spices don’t just make things taste better, in most cases they’re good for your health.

9. Monitor your urinary pH. Tracking your first morning urine pH (after at least 6 hours of sleep) is a simple and convenient way 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. Results in an acid range can suggest that your bones are being depleted of minerals to offset the excess acid in your system. Our own pH Test Kit is super-sensitive, highly accurate and designed to test either saliva or urine. A pH Test Kit is part of our Better Bones Program.

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, like the ones we offer in our Better Bones Program. These formulations are designed to enhance pH balance through an alkalizing nutrient base, plus they provide potent dosages of the key nutrients required for deep bone nourishment.

Food is nature’s best medicine

The direct relationship between pH balance and your bones reminds us that our bodies were meant to eat mineral-rich foods straight from the earth and sea. As we’ve moved away from a whole foods diet, we’ve seen increases in not just osteoporosis, but cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Though many still believe that the food equation can be simply broken down to calories-in and calories-out, the micronutrients in our food speak actively with every cell in the body — including those that build and maintain our bones. Try these simple suggestions and you’ll preserve bone and feel better all around.

References

1 Brown, S., & Jaffe, R. 2000. Acid–alkaline balance and its effect on bone health. Int. J. Integr. Med., 2 (6), 7–15. URL (PDF): http://www.ionizers.org/pdf/bjaffe.pdf (accessed 01.20.2009).

2 Tucker, K., et al. 1999. Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater bone mineral density in elderly men and women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 69 (4), 727–736. URL: http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/69/4/727 (accessed 01.20.2009).

New, S., et al. 2000. Dietary influences on bone mass and bone metabolism: Further evidence of a positive link between fruit and vegetable consumption and bone health? Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 71 (1), 142–151. URL: http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/71/1/142 (accessed 01.20.2009).

3 Barsel, U., & Massey, L. 1998. Excess dietary protein can adversely affect bone. J. Nutr., 128 (6), 1051–1053. URL: http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/128/6/1051 (accessed 01.20.2009).

4 Halperin M., & Goldstein, M. 1999. Fluid, Electrolyte and Acid-Base Physiology: A Problem-Based Approach, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders.

5 USDHHS/USDA. 2005. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. URL: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/document/pdf/DGA2005.pdf (accessed 08.13.2008).

National Cancer Institute. 2008. Cancer Trends Progress Report: Fruit and vegetable consumption. URL: http://progressreport.cancer.gov/doc_detail.asp?pid=1&did=2007&chid=71&coid=707&mid= (accesessed 08.13.2008).

Schweitzer, C., et al. Dietary intake of carotenoids, fruits and vegetables in the US: CSFII 1994-1996, a national survey. Proceedings from the 12th International Carotenoid Symposium, July 18–23, 1999, Cairns, Australia.

6 Appel, L., et al. 1997. A clinical trial of the effect of dietary patterns on blood pressure. DASH Collaborative Research Group. NEJM, 336 (16), 1117–1124. URL: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/336/16/1117 (accessed 08.13.2008).

Vormann, J., & Remer, T. 2008. Dietary, metabolic, physiologic, and disease-related aspects of acid-base balance: Foreword to the contributions of the second International Acid–Base Symposium. J. Nutr., 138 (2), S413–S414. URL (abstract): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18203912 (accessed 08.22.2008).

7 White, S., & Keleshian, M. 1994. A field guide to economically important seaweeds of northern New England. University of Maine/University of New Hampshire Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. MSG-E-93-16. URL: http://www.noamkelp.com/technical/handbook.html (accessed 08.13.2008).

8 Garzon, P., & Eisenberg, M. 1998. Variation in the mineral content of commercially available bottled waters: Implications for health and disease. Am. J. Med., 105, 125–130. URL (abstract): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9727819 (accessed 08.13.2008).

Brown & Jaffe, 2000.

9 Remer, T., & Manz, F. 1995. Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH. J. Am. Diet. Assoc., 95 (7), 791–797. URL (abstract): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7797810 (accessed 08.13.2008).