Using Nutrition to Limit Osteoporosis: Alkalinization

In this “mini-series” of blog articles, we are discussing the role of nutrition in addressing osteoporosis.  Refer to previous posts for info on osteoblasts and osteoclasts and on improving nutrition by improving digestion.

Understand How pH Affects Your Bones

The first thing to understand is how body pH relates to your bones.  Without going deep into the chemistry, it's simply important to know a few reasons why understanding pH is critical to your health.  The key facts are that 1) most body processes produce acid, but 2) minerals are alkaline.  Digestion, exercise, immune responses, stress responses—all tend to produce acids in the tissues.  And these acids must be neutralized by alkaline minerals: calcium, magnesium, potassium, and others.

The good news is: the body has a huge reservoir of minerals to draw from.  The bad news is: that reservoir is your bones, and the supply isn’t endless.

Eat More Plants

This article from goes into more detail, but here's the bottom line: To avoid robbing your bones of minerals, you need to eat things that make your body more alkaline.  In other words, you need to be eating plenty of plants.

A “strict alkaline diet” recommends eating 80% alkaline-forming foods, and 20% acid-forming foods.  There are some valid criticisms of this type of diet, but even critics agree that “mostly plants” is a good rule of thumb.

This doesn’t mean an occasional surf-and-turf dinner is catastrophic for your health.  But it does mean that months or years of mostly acid-forming foods creates a state of chronic “acidosis,” which contributes to osteoporosis, cancer risk, and a host of other types of ill health.  For long-term good health, you need alkaline-forming foods as the majority of your diet.

Many charts (and cookbooks and programs) are available if you want details.  Here is just one basic graphic, found at HealthKinect:

It can get a bit complex, and it’s not as easy as “left bad; right good”—prunes, for instance, are in the “most acid” column, but are healthy in moderation, for a number of reasons.  Many items on the left-hand side, in fact, have a place in a healthy diet.  

But, fortunately, the 80/20 guideline means the details aren’t crucial.  Just basically eat a lot of plants.

And also: quality and sourcing matters.  Pastured beef may or may not be more “alkalinizing” for you than beef from a cow fed only corn, but you can trust that it will be a lot more healthy for you in a number of other ways.

Our next article will talk about some foods that are specifically good for osteoporosis, and for cancer.  You will notice a lot of overlap with the image above!

Talk to a Nutritionist

The takeaway here is: alkaline/acid balance matters for your bones, and a plant-based diet is a key asset in any fight against cancer and/or osteoporosis.  So do yourself a favor and eat more plants.

But that’s a pretty basic and general rule; whereas every person and situation is unique.  Some metabolisms, genomes, and drug regimens don’t pair well with certain foods.  So, when you need individualized advice, please contact our dietitian for a nutritional evaluation.  We are happy to help you on your cancer journey!  You can schedule an appointment by calling our office at (703) 789-0367.  For more information about our Nutrition Services, you can visit our website: