HomeENGLISH MAGAZINEAlkaline diet: how does it modify the bone structure?

Alkaline diet: how does it modify the bone structure?

Bodily pH and general homeostasis

The pH in our body can vary considerably from one area to another with the highest acidity in the stomach (pH 1.35-3.5) to aid in digestion and protect against opportunistic microbial organisms. The skin is acidic enough (pH 4-6.5) to provide an acid coat as a protective barrier for the environment against microbial proliferation. There is a gradient from the external stratum corneum (pH 4) to the basal layer (pH 6.9). This is also seen in the vagina where a pH of less than 4.7 protects against microbial growth. The urine can have a pH varying from acid to alkaline depending on the need to balance the internal environment. Most of the normal urinary pH values ​​are between 5.5-6.5; higher acid values ​​come from urinary infections, either from bacteria or fungi.

When the pH and the net acid load in the human diet arrive, there has been a considerable change from the status of hunter to the present civilization. With the agricultural revolution (last 10,000 years) and even more recently with industrialization (last 200 years), there has been a decrease in potassium (K) compared to sodium (Na) and an increase in chloride compared to bicarbonate present in the diet. The relationship between potassium and sodium was reversed, K / Na was previously 10 to 1 while the modern diet has a ratio of 1 to 3. Compared to the pre-agricultural period, it is clear that agriculture today has a poor diet magnesium, potassium as well as fiber and rich in saturated fats, simple sugars and cooking salt. This results in a diet that can induce metabolic acidosis, which does not correspond to genetically determined nutritional requirements. However, this would turn into a manifestation of health problems or manifest illness.

pH, bone structure and brain functions

Calcium in the form of phosphates and carbonates represents a large reservoir of base in our body. In response to an acidic load such as the modern diet, these salts are released into the systemic circulation to determine pH homeostasis. It has been found that bicarbonate, which increases the alkalinity of a diet’s content, but not potassium can attenuate bone loss in healthy older adults. Bone minerals that are wasted in the urine may not have complete compensation through intestinal absorption, which is believed to lead to osteoporosis. There is online information that promotes an alkaline bone health diet and several searchable books. However, a recent systematic review of the literature, looking for evidence to support the alkaline diet for bone health, did not find any protective role of the food acid load in osteoporosis.

Another element of the modern diet is sodium excess in the diet. It is shown that in healthy humans the increase in sodium in the diet can predict the degree of hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis when an acidic diet is consumed. Furthermore, there is evidence that there are adverse effects of sodium chloride in the elderly population. A sodium-rich diet will aggravate the disordered induced bone and muscle loss during immobilization, increasing bone resorption and protein decay. Excess food proteins with high acidic renal load may reduce bone density if they are not buffered by ingesting supplements or alkali-rich foods. However, adequate proteins are necessary for the prevention of osteoporosis and sarcopenia; therefore, increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables may be necessary rather than reducing protein. A clear example is chronic renal failure, in which chronic metabolic acidosis results in an accelerated loss of skeletal muscle.

Acidosis correction can preserve muscle mass in conditions where muscle loss is common, such as diabetic ketosis, trauma, sepsis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and renal failure. It has long been known that severe forms of metabolic acidosis in children, such as renal tubular acidosis (congenital), are associated with low levels of growth hormone (GH) resulting in short stature. Correction of acidosis with bicarbonate or potassium citrate, significantly increases GH and improves growth. The use of enough potassium bicarbonate in the diet, to neutralize the daily acid load in post-menopausal women, resulted in a significant increase in the growth hormone and the resulting osteocalcin. Improving GH levels can improve quality of life, reduce cardiovascular risk factors, improve body composition and even improve cognition and memory, as recently reported (see here “Memory news: an unsuspected hormone, a hidden mediator “).

The components of the body are all connected: just a small factor such as the pH is enough for a grown man to become small.

  • edited by Dr. Gianfrancesco Cormaci, PhD, specialist in Clinical Biochemistry.

Recensioni e libri

Passey C. J Ren Nutr. 2017 May; 27(3):151-160. 

Fenton TR, Huang T. BMJ Open. 2016 Jun 13; 6(6):e010438.

Williams RS et al. Biochimie. 2016 May; 124:171-177.

Hanley DA, Whiting SJ. J Clin Densitom. 2013 Oct-Dec; 16(4):420-25.

Schwalfenberg GK. J Environ Public Health 2012; 2012:727630.

Minich DM, Bland JS. Altern Ther Health Med. 2007 Jul-Aug; 13(4):62-65. 

Dott. Gianfrancesco Cormaci
- Laurea in Medicina e Chirurgia nel 1998 (MD Degree in 1998) - Specialista in Biochimica Clinica nel 2002 (Clinical Biochemistry residency in 2002) - Dottorato in Neurobiologia nel 2006 (Neurobiology PhD in 2006) - Ha soggiornato negli Stati Uniti, Baltimora (MD) come ricercatore alle dipendenze del National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH) e poi alla Johns Hopkins University, dal 2004 al 2008. - Dal 2009 si occupa di Medicina personalizzata. - Guardia medica presso strutture private dal 2010 - Detentore di due brevetti sulla preparazione di prodotti gluten-free a partire da regolare farina di frumento immunologicamente neutralizzata (owner of patents concerning the production of bakery gluten-free products, starting from regular wheat flour). - Responsabile del reparto Ricerca e Sviluppo per la società CoFood s.r.l. (leader of the R&D for the partnership CoFood s.r.l.) - Autore di un libro riguardante la salute e l'alimentazione, con approfondimenti su come questa condizioni tutti i sistemi corporei. - Autore di articoli su informazione medica e salute sui siti web salutesicilia.com, medicomunicare.it e in lingua inglese sul sito www.medicomunicare.com
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