Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

About The Buzz: Eat Fruits and Veggies to Strengthen Your Bones?

About the Buzz: Eat Fruits and Veggies to Strengthen Your Bones? Fruits And Veggies More Matters.org

TheBUZZ Eat Fruits and Veggies to Strengthen Your Bones?


WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

A diet rich in fruits and veggies helps to maintain the blood’s pH balance, which is important because higher acidity causes bones to become weak. Strong, healthy bones are less prone to fracture.

WHAT THIS MEANS

The foods you eat are either acid-forming or alkaline-forming. Foods that have a negative acid load are considered alkaline, and include mainly fruits and vegetables, such as lentils, raspberries, garlic, grapes and cabbage. Acid-forming foods include meats, breads, pastas, sugary beverages, dairy products and alcohol. If you eat a meal consisting of meat, pasta and vegetables, the acidity formed from the meat and pasta would be balanced by the alkaline-forming vegetables. The pH of human blood is strictly 7.4, as the consequences of a change in blood pH would be life-threatening. Your body works very hard to keep your blood’s pH at 7.4.

It is thought that higher acid-forming diets are detrimental to bone health because when the blood becomes too acidic over a prolonged period of time, the kidneys give the body the go ahead to draw from the bone’s alkaline reservoir of calcium and magnesium. This process helps to maintain your body’s pH level of 7.4, but at the expense of your bone’s wellbeing. A chronic pattern of this “reservoir depletion” means the bones are being sapped of important minerals that help combat weakened bones and osteoporosis. If a person consumes a chronically high acid-forming diet, they are forcing the body to work unnecessarily hard to maintain its pH.

THE STUDY

The study at hand included 231 children ages 6-18. To measure systemic acid-base balance, the researchers measured the children’s urinary citrate (or calcium) excretion via urine samples collected over the course of a 4-year observation period. After the initial observation period, the participants completed follow-up surveys for the next 15 years to measure the incidence of bone fracture.

RESULTS OF THE STUDY

The study determined that higher urinary citrate concentrations was predictive of greater bone strength in childhood and adolescence. In addition, girls with higher urinary citrate concentrations in childhood experienced a lower long-term risk of fracture as women during adulthood.

This is one more study in support of the acid-base balance on bone health, though a full review of the literature on this topic shows that it is not yet confirmed.2 The beneficial effect of fruits and vegetables on bone health could be due to other bioactive compounds that they contain.

WHY THIS MATTERS

The standard American diet is typically very high in protein and relatively low in fruits and vegetables. As noted above, meats, pastas, dairy products and breads are acid-forming and over time, a steady diet of highly acid-forming foods and not enough fruits and vegetables could take a toll on bone health, which ultimately leads to weakened bones that are susceptible to fracture. Chronic depletion of calcium from a highly acid-forming diet could result in osteoporosis in adulthood, a condition that results when a person loses too much bone mass (“osteoporosis” literally means “porous bone”). In the United States, approximately 30% of all postmenopausal women have osteoporosis, and 2 in 3 women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures.3

OUR ADVICE

Whether due to an alkaline-forming diet or other beneficial compounds they contain, fruits and vegetables play an important role in bone strength. The key is to eat more of them! Check out our Quick, 30 minutes or less recipe database for easy, nutritious meals filled with fruits and veggies.

9 Ways to Add Alkaline-Forming Foods to Your Meals

  1. Pizza: add veggie toppings and a side salad
  2. Pasta: toss in broccoli, sautéed onions, peppers, olives and olive oil (all very alkaline!)
  3. Smoothies: blend in bananas, pineapples, watermelon, honeydew or pears
  4. Cereal & Yogurt: top your wheat or dairy with your favorite berry: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries
  5. Toast: smother with avocados and nutritional yeast or try toast kebabs!
  6. Sandwiches: layer in pieces of lettuce, apple, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, onions. arugula or shredded carrots
  7. Sides: eat sweet potatoes, wild rice, quinoa, roasted pumpkin, asparagus,
  8. Spreads & Dips: enjoy hummus & guacamole
  9. Spices: incorporate cinnamon, curry, ginger, and mustard

 

1 J Esche et al. Urinary citrate, an index of acid-base status, predicts bone strength in youths and fracture risk in adult females. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (2016), 1-8. View

2 Fenton TR et al. Causal assessment of dietary acid load and bone diseases: a systematic review & meta-analysis applying Hill’s epidemiologic criteria for causality. Nutr J 2011; 10:41 doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-41. View

3 Epidemiology. International Osteoporosis Foundation (2015). View

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