Leonardo da Vinci once said that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” This is true for the Osteoporosis Reversal Program as well. In fact, it's even simpler than some realize.
For example, here’s what Stephanie from Long Island, New York asked me:
“Should I try as much as possible to stay away from the acidifying foods? Am I missing something?”
Like Stephanie, some Save Our Bones community members may think that acidifying foods are bad and that they should be eliminated from their diets altogether. Fortunately, it’s not so.
I understand why some may think this. You see, the Osteoporosis Reversal Program advocates a diet that leans more toward alkalizing than acidifying foods. The emphasis is on the importance of maintaining proper alkaline levels in our body tissues. This makes it easy to fall into the trap of thinking negatively about all acidifying foods.
Again, this is a misconception, and I’d like to address it here.
You Can Continue to Enjoy Your Favorite Foods
The Osteoporosis Reversal Program is not about deprivation. Far from it, you can prepare delicious meals, dine out or enjoy a meal at a friend’s home, and even indulge your chocolate cravings. In fact, you’ll find a recipe for one of my favorite bone healthy chocolate treats in my recent Day in the Life article.
Aside from basic eating principles like avoiding chemical-laden synthetic and processed foods, as well as excessive sugar and all artificial sweeteners, all foods are allowed. It’s simply a matter of combining them in proportions that benefit your bone health.
An Easy to Follow Eating Plan
With the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you don’t have to worry about measurements – all you have to do is “eyeball” your meals and shoot for an 80/20 ratio of alkalizing to acidifying foods. In other words, the alkalizing foods should take up about four times more space than the acidifying foods. It’s not exact, but it doesn’t have to be!
So, for example, if you’re eating out with friends and order a chicken breast entree, just make sure you accompany it with lots of alkalizing side-dishes (perhaps you could start with a large salad, order an extra side of vegetables). Here’s something else a lot of you ask about…
Does Every Single Meal Have to be Acid/Alkaline Balanced?
Ideally, each meal should be balanced. But our schedules and commitments often put us in less than ideal situations. The beauty of this program is its flexibility. If you have a meal that’s a bit too heavy on the acidifying foods, then just have a 100% alkalizing snack or meal a few hours later.
Acidifying Foods Can be Bone Healthy
It’s not just alkalizing foods that help build bone density. In the Foundation Foods List, I give the highest food sources for several nutrients that are essential to bone health, and in each category there are acidifying as well as alkalizing foods. How simple is that?
As you probably know, I’ve written about a few of these foods in recent blog posts. You can find out more about walnuts in Eat This Nut, Build Your Bones and learn how to enjoy eggs as you regain your bone health in The Truth About Eggs and Your Bone Health. I even show you how you can continue to enjoy your morning cup of coffee in Drink This, Not That For Better Bone Health.
Black Beans, Another Acidifying Food with Bone Health Benefits
Black beans are another acidifying food that deserve mention. They are extremely healthy, rich in antioxidants that help bones, and they’re on the Foundation Foods list for their magnesium content.
Since Cinco de Mayo just passed, this is a good time to talk about black beans. Black beans (as well as pinto, kidney, and navy beans) were originally found in
Central and South America. Spanish explorers brought them to Europe in the 15th century. And those same explorers later introduced beans to Asia and Africa.
The versatility and health benefits of beans have made them a staple in many cultures. You might also know black beans as Mexican beans, Tampico beans, turtle beans, black Spanish beans, or Venezuelan beans.
In the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, I devote an entire chapter to antioxidants and refer to them as “undercover bone builders.” They truly are!
Antioxidants are molecules that protect cells from oxidative damage, and black beans are superstars in the antioxidant arena.
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s, Agricultural Research Service found that the level of antioxidants in black beans rivals that of some fruits.1
Anthocyanin, one of the antioxidants in black beans, is what gives the beans their rich black color, and black beans contain ten times the amount of anthocyanin as oranges! And they’re equal to cranberries, apples, and grapes in antioxidant power.
Black Beans… Beyond Antioxidants
Black beans are an excellent source of fiber, which is essential to digestive and overall health. A single serving of black beans provides 14.96 grams of dietary fiber, almost 60% of the daily recommended requirement (and more fiber than many people consume in an entire day!).
And the protein content of black beans makes them a great meat replacement. Black beans can be substituted for meat in almost any recipe.
Other bone health nutrients in black beans include:
- Magnesium, a Foundation Supplement that is involved in over 300 essential body reactions, including protein synthesis, and closely linked to calcium absorption.
- Folate, an important B vitamin that assists in converting homocysteine into other amino acids.
- Manganese, a trace mineral that’s necessary for the synthesis of connective tissue in cartilage and bone, involved in protein synthesis and fatty acid metabolism, blood clotting, and in many enzyme systems (this is another Foundation Supplement).
- Omega-3 fatty acids, which increase calcium absorption, helps reduce bone loss and maintains mineral density within bones. Black beans contain nearly three times the amount of omega-3 fats as other beans.
- Potassium, an essential electrolyte that plays a role in muscle growth and contractions, nerve cell function, and protein synthesis. It also helps regulate the water balance in and outside of the cells.
Selecting, Storing, and Cooking Tips
- If you purchase bulk dried beans, make sure the bins are covered and that you buy them from a store with reasonably quick turnover (this is true for all bulk food products).
- Check for moisture or insect damage, avoiding cracked beans as much as possible.
- Beans stored in a cool, dry area in airtight containers will keep for up to 12 months.
- Unlike most canned food products, canned beans are almost as nutritious as fresh or dried, so stocking some canned beans is a great way to keep them on hand. But try to keep canned beans as a back-up only because of the possibility of BPA used in the lining of the cans.
- Cooked beans can be kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Preparing Beans for Cooking
These tips apply to dried or fresh beans – canned beans are already pre-cooked.
Start by removing any damaged beans, as well as any debris or stones that might have gotten into the batch. You can easily do this by spreading the beans on a light-colored plate or cutting board and sifting through them.
Once you’ve cleaned out the “bad” stuff, put the beans in a colander or strainer and rinse them under running water.
There’s some controversy about whether beans need to be soaked prior to cooking. It’s not absolutely necessary, but soaking will reduce the flatulence-causing effects of beans. So if that’s an issue for you – soak! The easiest soaking method is to cover the beans with water and place them in the refrigerator overnight. Then, before you cook the beans, drain the liquid and once again rinse the beans under running water.
If you have a pressure cooker, that’s the fastest way to cook beans – it only takes about half an hour!
To cook them on the stove:
- Use three cups of water or broth for each cup of beans.
- Bring the pot to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer.
- Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar so the beans can breathe.
- Simmer until tender, usually about one to one and a half hours.
Cooking tip: Don’t add any salty or acidic seasonings until the beans are cooked. Otherwise, they’ll take longer to cook and the beans will be less tender.
A Few Tips for Incorporating Black Beans into Your Diet
- Create a healthy (and 80/20 balanced) layered dip with black beans, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, diced onions, olives, and cilantro.
- Use black beans instead of pinto beans in your next taco or burrito. To make it even more bone healthy, use lettuce as a wrap.
- Toss a handful of cooked black beans into just about any salad.
And here’s one of my favorite ways to eat black beans (and of course it’s a bone healthy balance of acidifying and alkalizing foods!):
Festive Black Bean Salad
2 Servings (can easily be doubled or tripled for more servings)
2 cups romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced (sprinkle with a little lemon juice right away to prevent browning)
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup canned or home cooked black beans
2 tablespoons green onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon lime zest, grated
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Place the beans, lettuce, tomato, green onion, avocado, and cilantro in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, salt, and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the salad.
Toss all the ingredients together and enjoy.