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Alkaline Diet Foods And Osteoporosis... Hold The Carbs

Alkaline diet foods emphasizing fruit and vegetables can help us build strong bones... while eating too many grain-based carbohydrates can contribute to osteoporosis.

Once food has been digested and absorbed it leaves a residue or ash that is either alkaline, acid or neutral depending on the mix of minerals found in the food.

And there's a formula to calculate that.

There is increasing evidence that excessive consumption of acid-forming foods (such as meat and grain-based carbohydrates) can cause calcium to be leached from the bones.

Acid-forming foods are those that contain sulfur, phosphorus and iron which are found primarily in protein such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, grains, and most nuts. Soft drinks contain no protein but lots of phosphate and thus are very acid-forming.

Alkaline diet foods are those that contain potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium...which are found primarily in fruits and vegetables.

All of the minerals in a food item must be considered before determining if it is acid or alkaline-forming. Milk is a high protein food, rich in sulfur and phosphorus (so you would expect it to be acid-forming) but it contains enough calcium (alkaline) so that it balances out to about neutral. Simple sugars and fats don't contain minerals of either category.

One of the best books for explaining the benefits and strategies for building an alkaline diet is Building Bone Vitality.

The PRAL Formula

In 1995, Dr. Thomas Remer created a formula that calculates the acid or alkaline load of a specific food.

His PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load) calculation is described in "Dietary potential renal acid load and renal net acid excretion in healthy, free-living children and adolescents."

The PRAL formula relates five nutrients (protein, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium) to calculate to what extent a food is acid- or alkaline-forming:

This formula is not flawless as the mineral content of alkaline diet foods will vary with growing conditions, seasons and cooking method. Digestion also varies from person to person and at different times of day.

But if this accepted formula is used to analyze food listed in the USDA National Nutrient Database, grain-based carbohydrates are clearly acid-forming.

Foods popular in the North American diet such as bread, pasta, muffins, pancakes, cake, crackers, sweet rolls, and cornmeal are all acid-forming foods.

But not all carbohydrates are acid-forming. Potatoes (a vegetable rather than a grain) are alkaline-forming.

Alkaline Diet Foods

People concerned about osteoporosis should not feel they have to eliminate grains or other acid-forming foods from their diet.

A general rule of thumb is to have a diet consisting of 20% acid-forming foods (grains and protein) and 80% alkaline-forming foods (fruits and vegetables).

A healthy goal would be to include at least two vegetable or fruit servings at every meal and to eat no more than two daily servings of carbs such as bread, cereal and pasta.

Food substitutions that will create a more alkaline diet include the following:

  • More potatoes and less pasta
  • More water and fruit juice and less soda
  • More tofu and less meat and poultry
  • Wine rather than beer
  • Raisins rather than peanuts