||Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM
A new study funded in part by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
suggests that neutralizing an acid-producing diet may be an important
key to reducing bone breakdown, or "turnover," while aging. The study
comes on the heels of several ARS-reported studies suggesting that
consuming more-than-recommended amounts of calcium may not be the main
answer to protecting bone.
The study was led by physician and nutrition specialist Bess
Dawson-Hughes at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on
Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Mass. ARS is the principal
intramural scientific research agency in the U.S. Department of
Fruits and vegetables are metabolized to bicarbonate and thus are
alkali-producing. But the typical American diet is rich in protein and
cereal grains that are metabolized to acid, and thus are
acid-producing. With aging, such diets lead to a mild but slowly
increasing metabolic "acidosis."
The researchers conducted a placebo-controlled study involving healthy
male and female volunteers aged 50 or older. Key measurements were
taken at the beginning and end of the intervention, which lasted three
A group of 78 volunteers had been provided either of two
bicarbonates--potassium or sodium--along with their usual diet and
exercise regimes. Key bone mineral nutrients were controlled to reduce
variation in study outcomes. The bicarbonate groups consumed an amount
of bicarbonate equivalent to about 9 servings of fruits and vegetables
daily. This allowed the researchers to look at possible
acid-neutralizing effects from an adequate, not high, alkali load.
The results showed that the 78 volunteers in the bicarbonate groups had
significant reductions in biomarkers that are associated with bone loss
and fracture than the 84 in the no-bicarbonate, or control, group.
The authors concluded that increasing the alkali content of the diet,
for example by consuming more fruits and vegetables, merits further
study as a safe and low-cost approach to improving skeletal health in
older men and women.
The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Rosalie Marion Bliss, (301) 504-4318, [email protected]
January 30, 2009
--View this report online, plus photos and related stories, at www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr
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