The human body works hard to maintain a pH score of 7.4, which is moderately alkaline.
Many types of foods, beverages and physiological processes, however, push the body's pH downwards into the acidic range.
For example, table sugar, white bread, red meat, carbonated soft drinks and coffee are all acid-forming.
On the physiological side, the immune system produces acidic by-products during its war with invading viruses and bacteria.
But how might chronic acidity impact bones – and what can we do about it?
The Risk of High Body Acidity
The body produces acidic by-products during exercise, the digestive system produces acids to aid with the breakdown of food, etc. Your body, therefore, has its work cut out to keep its pH at that 7.2/7.4 ideal range.
To understand the risk of high body acidity to bone health, one should first grasp how the body proceeds to raise its pH to 7.4 when it is in the acid range.
There are certain minerals that are extremely effective in raising your body's alkaline levels, and they are the same minerals alkaline spring water collects from rocks and soil in nature. They include calcium, potassium, magnesium, boron, iron, manganese, nickel, sodium and zinc.
When your body pH is too low, it immediately looks for these minerals in your diet. If you are lucky, or rather health-conscious, informed and prudent, your body will find the necessary alkaline minerals in your diet blood plasma and use them to raise its pH.
If you do not consume enough alkaline minerals in your diet, however, your body must steal them from wherever it can find them.
Your bones are replete with calcium and magnesium, and your muscles with calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Your body will thus take them from its own bones and muscles until you increase your intake of alkaline minerals.
The consequences of the body's theft of minerals from its bones and muscles are predictable:
People with an acidic diet have lower bone density than those with an alkaline diet. This renders them vulnerable to fractures, osteoporosis, and other brittle bone disorders.
People with an acidic diet have lower muscle density than those with an alkaline diet. While strong muscles and good muscle tension enable people to lift heavy objects and maintain stability while climbing and running, low muscle density and muscle weakness render them vulnerable to falls.
Therefore, an acidic diet produces both the reduced muscle density that makes accidents more likely, and the reduced bone density that makes breakage as a result of accidents more likely. It is a double hazard.
What the Scientific Literature Says...
• In a major study at Tufts University, researchers discovered that people who consume a lot of soda and caffeine had a four per cent lower bone density and were more likely to suffer bone fractures.
This should not be surprising given that the pH score of a soda is 2.4, and of a caffeinated drink like coffee 4.0. These are some of the strongest acids around, meaning the body has to loot an enormous amount of alkaline minerals from its bones and muscles to elevate pH.
• For years, researchers were confused by two seemingly conflicting findings: firstly, adults in Western countries with the highest milk and calcium supplement intake also have the highest rates of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Secondly, even though adults in Japan consume very little milk and calcium supplements, they have a much lower rate of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
So how come people with high milk and calcium supplement intake have brittle bones and those with low milk and calcium supplement intake have stronger bones?
It is simple. Adults in developed Western countries eat an enormous amount of dairy, meat and processed foods, which are acidic, while adults in Japan eat substantially more fruit and vegetables, which are alkaline.
The alkaline Japanese diet causes the dietary intake of calcium supplements to be less important, since it already contains plenty of calcium found in vegetables.
The highly acidic Western diet, on the other hand, causes almost any amount of dietary calcium to be insufficient. The seemingly conflicting studies thus make perfect sense.
• This is also why researchers have never quite managed to agree on the role of milk to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Some think that it is beneficial because it contains so much calcium, others believe it is not.
The truth is that milk is quite acidic because much of the calcium it contains is lost through pasteurisation and because much of the calcium that remains is too mixed with fat for the body to metabolise.
This means that unpasteurised low-fat milk can be slightly useful for bone health, but the milk one buys in shops cannot.
This explains why unpasteurised low-fat milk has a neutral pH, while the milk one buys in shops is an acid. This does not mean you should never drink milk, but rather that you must balance milk with alkalis in your diet.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is the best understood of the brittle bone disorders. Throughout your life, your body constantly breaks down your old bone and replaces it with new bone cells. Osteoporosis results when your body cannot create new bone as fast as it breaks down the old bone.
The chief symptom is brittle bones. Bones can become so wasted that even bending over or coughing can break them.
The most common osteoporotic fractures are of the spine and hips.
Sufferers of osteoporosis who have strong muscles will suffer fewer injuries, as their muscles can take some of the strain of, for example, leaning over and coughing.
Sufferers with weak muscles, such as the ones on acidic diets whose bodies borrow calcium, magnesium and potassium from their muscles, will indeed be severely disabled.
Brittle bone diseases are potentially so disabling as to leave sufferers completely immobile. Alkaline bodies are less likely to suffer from these than acidic bodies.
Introducing an alkaline diet, alkaline water filter, and an alkaline supplement can all lower your chances of developing brittle bones.
To start your journey towards alkalinity, you could start by alkalising your water with our Alkaline Water Jug or obtain alkaline water on tap via our Energy Plus Water Filter System. Alternatively, you could use our alkalising tea bags.