I encourage my 50-and-older patients to get a bone density test every year. As this test tells me if they’re losing or maintaining their bone density and strength. The pelvis and femur bones of the hips and upper thighs are especially significant as we get older because they support our body walking and standing and, really, with any activity we do. If bones become weak through loss of density, they are at increased risk for serious fractures. Fortunately, there are safe, natural health options for maintaining the strength of your bones.
Maintaining Healthy Bones with pH Monitoring
Too much acid in our diets can eat away at our bones resulting in bone loss. Some of the ways I can tell if bone loss may be occurring is by looking at a patient’s mouth – are their gums receding? Are they breaking teeth? Or by looking at the caliber of their muscles – are they losing muscle mass? Too much acid can throw our general health out of whack as well contribute to inflammation, which sets the stage for serious diseases like cancer.
I like to test my patients for pH imbalances, and possible bone loss, by measuring the pH levels in their blood. This is done with a simple saliva or urine test which tells me what their level of acid is. A good range is about 7.0-7.5 which is just slightly on the more alkaline side. A patient can also do their own pH test at home if they want as they are available in some health food/supplement stores and online. However, I recommend having a healthcare professional perform the testing so you can receive the appropriate advice on the findings.
If a patient’s tests come in under 6.5, I ask how much sugar, or other simple carbohydrates are in their diet, as these are the main contributors to high acid blood levels. Did you know that just drinking a few sugary soft drinks a day increases your risk of bone loss and fracture? The good news, though, is cutting down on sugar intake and eating more alkaline based foods will help re-balance too much acidity and ward off possible bone damage.
On the opposite side is overly high alkalinity which can mean that “catabolism” is taking place; a breaking down of tissues, bone and muscle which the body does to obtain the minerals it needs to function. This is not a good situation either and needs to be balanced back to the middle range. Once I determine what a patient’s pH level is, too acid, or too alkaline, I can work with the patient through adjustment of their food intake and perhaps the addition of some specific vitamins and minerals to help re-balance their levels.
Most often, however, a patient’s pH levels will be “too acid”, mainly because the American diet often contains large amounts of sugar and animal products (red meat, dairy). Correcting high blood acid levels is fairly simple once I explain to the patient that they must reduce the amount of sugar in their diet and balance the acid foods they are eating with some alkaline ones. Ideally, the best pH balance ratio is 4 parts alkaline to 1 part acid if you’re active, as exercise increases acidity. Less active people may perhaps increase their acid food intake to a 2:1 ratio. However, I prefer my patients to be more active than inactive, to preserve general health and bone strength, so I prefer the 4:1 ratio.
Foods That Balance Acid-Alkali Levels
To normalize too high acid levels, I ask my patients to make some dietary changes first. A good acid/alkali food list book can help but here are some general guidelines:
- Limit sugar. Omit, or cut way down, simple sugars in your diet. This means no added table sugar in your coffee or tea, or on grapefruit, cereal, to sweeten. Try granulated Stevia instead. Cut down on processed, packaged foods which can contain a lot of sugar. Read labels. Aim for 5 grams or less per serving of sugar. Omit sugar-sweetened soft drinks. Soft drinks can wreak havoc with your bones even without the sugar because of the phosphorus they contain. Switch to iced tea or just plain water with some lemon.
- Limit these acid-base foods. Beer, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, wine, butter, beef, cheese, eggs, white flour, ham, fish, honey, pork, wheat, dairy cream, cottage cheese, syrups, jams, jellies (unless sugar-free), lentils, artificial sweeteners like aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet N Low), Splenda.
- Include these alkaline-base foods. Alfalfa, apples, apricots, bananas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cantaloupe, celery, citrus fruits, coconuts, dates, huckleberries, garlic, grapes, grapefruit, herbs, kelp, leeks, lemons, lettuce, lima beans, melon, Omega-3 fatty acids, onions, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, spices, vegetables (most), watermelon, watercress.
Other Acid Forming Things
Though food and drink intake is the primary source of imbalanced pH levels, other things can also contribute like stress which increases cortisol levels, toxin overload (being exposed to chemicals on the job), low oxygen intake (living in smog, pollution filled areas), not enough water intake or exercise.
As I tell my patients, balance is the key when trying to maintain good pH levels that help not only your bones stay strong, but your general health. Too high acid levels can contribute to serious diseases. However, you don’t have to omit all acid-base foods from your diet, in fact, that’s not advisable. Just add more alkaline foods to your diet to balance. Also, be sure you are drinking enough water, exercise frequently to up your oxygen intake and help control stress, and always try to get enough sleep, at least 6-7 hours a night.