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NYT: Exploring a Low-Acid Diet for Bone Health

November 7, 2011

Credit: New York Times Online
By JANE E. BRODY
Published: November 23, 2009

The science of osteoporosis and its resultant fractures has long been plagued by some vexing observations. Why, for example, are osteoporotic fractures relatively rare in Asian countries like Japan, where people live as long or longer than Americans and consume almost no calcium-rich dairy products? Why, in Western countries that consume the most dairy foods, are rates of osteoporotic fractures among the highest in the world? And why has no consistent link been found between the amount of calcium people consume and protection against osteoporosis?

An alternative theory of bone health may — or may not — explain these apparent contradictions. It is the theory of low-acid eating, a diet laden with fruits and vegetables but relatively low in acid-producing protein and moderate in cereal grains. Its proponents suggest that this menu plan could lead to stronger bones than the typical American diet rich in dairy products and animal protein, often enhanced by calcium supplements.

These dietary changes might even prevent or delay other chronic conditions that rob far too many people of a wholesome old age.

The low-acid theory was first fully promulgated in 1968 by two American doctors in the leading medical journal The Lancet and has since been the subject of much debate and confusion among bone specialists.

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