Lower Osteoporosis Risk With Proper Acid/Alkaline Balance

Filed Under: Osteoporosis, Bone & Joint Health

An acidic body pH weakens your bones and increases your risk

Maintaining a proper pH balance is essential for overall good health and particularly important for bone health and for the treatment of osteoporosis.

How an Acid pH Weakens Your Bones

Our bodies must maintain a pH very close to 7.4, which is just on the alkaline side of neutral. However, maintaining this slightly alkaline state is a constant challenge because of the acid-forming reactions that take place within the body and the overabundance of acid-producing foods we consume.

Organs such as the liver and pancreas produce and release alkaline enzymes to reduce excess acidity, and acids are eliminated from your body through urine, carbon dioxide, sweat, and feces. But even with these alkalinizing mechanisms at work, there are still times when pH drops below the required 7.4. This is crucial because when pH drops to just 7.38, the body begins to break down bone and muscle tissues to use their alkalizing ammonia, carbonates, and phosphates.

Few people know that bones serve as the body's storage facility for acid-neutralizing minerals. Earlier in history, our ancestors might have become over-acidic for temporary periods when only meat (which is acid-producing) was available, during periods of starvation, or when vegetables (which are alkalinizing) were in short supply. At such times, alkalizing minerals from their bones would be removed, but within a short period of time they would return to a more vegetable- and fruit-based diet, and the bone minerals would be replaced. Today this doesn’t occur, as most of our everyday diets contain too many acidifying foods and too few alkalinizing ones.

How to Achieve Acid/Alkaline Balance and Protect Your Bones


One of the primary ways to achieve balance in your body is to eat a diet that consists primarily of alkalinizing foods. Start planning your meals with these common acid-forming and alkalinizing foods.

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Fat Digestion

In addition to acid-producing diets, the improper digestion of fats can also cause an overly acidic body composition. When fats aren’t oxidized and metabolized, you lose their alkalizing properties. This, in turn, affects your body’s pH balance.

Fats are one of the more difficult things for your body to digest, and fat digestion is a fairly complex process. One of the primary components necessary to digest fats is bile. Bile consists of alkaline bile salts, bilirubin, cholesterol, fatty acids, lecithin, vitamins, and minerals. It is produced in the liver and passes into the gallbladder, where water and minerals are reabsorbed into the body, making the bile more concentrated. The gallbladder releases this concentrated bile when fat moves into your small intestine. Bile salts act much like soap, helping emulsify or break down fats into smaller particles for absorption into the bloodstream.

After the liver removes poisons, drugs, excess sex hormones, toxins, heavy metals, and so forth from the body, it gets rid of them by dumping them in bile. After aiding in the digestion of fats, the bile is reabsorbed from the small intestine, while toxins and other poisons continue through the intestinal tract, exiting the body in the stool.

If you've had your gallbladder removed, you should be taking bile salts with every meal for the rest of your life. Without your gallbladder, your body’s ability to store and concentrate bile becomes impaired. There are several bile salt products on the market. I personally take and recommend the product called Cholacol from Standard Process. (Unfortunately, Standard Process typically available only to health care professionals. If you would like a doctor referral in your area, visit Standard Process online.

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Sodium Bicarbonate/Potassium Bicarbonate

In a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was demonstrated that postmenopausal women could reduce bone loss simply by adding potassium bicarbonate to help neutralize acids in their diet. Small amounts were given daily to 18 postmenopausal women, ages 51 to 77, for just two and a half weeks. The women taking potassium bicarbonate had 27 percent less calcium in their urine than the control group, meaning less bone was being broken down to balance the acid in their diets.

To put this study in better perspective, the women taking the potassium bicarbonate were losing 55 mg less calcium each day than those not taking it. This may not seem like much of a savings, but over a 20-year period that adds up to about a pound—the amount of calcium in one of your legs. The potassium bicarbonate also had a sparing effect on the breakdown of muscle tissue.

Some studies suggest that substituting sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda—an alkaline compound that neutralizes acid—for sodium chloride (table salt) in the diet may also have a bone-sparing effect. But at this point, not many medical professionals are advocating the regular daily use of potassium bicarbonate or sodium bicarbonate. I believe it can be an effective addition to a properly balanced diet, but should not be used as a sole "solution" to an overly acidic condition. Also, I have some reservations about its daily use if taken at mealtime, because it could interfere with the digestion of foods that require stomach acid. However, that problem can be easily overcome by taking it at bedtime, between meals, or in enteric-coated capsules.

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More Dr. Williams Advice on Osteoporosis

DISCLAIMER: The content of DrDavidWilliams.com is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

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