Study: Diets High In Animal Protein Increase The Risk Of Heart Failure In Postmenopausal Women (Besides Causing Bone Loss) - Save Our Bones

Savers know that consumption of animal protein without balancing the pH with alkalizing foods acidifies the body and causes bone loss. This happens mainly because when the plasma pH becomes chronically acid, buffering elements are depleted, and alkalizing minerals, including calcium, are utilized to rectify the imbalance.

That’s reason enough to follow the 80/20 alkalizing/acidifying dietary plan explained in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. But there are more reasons: science has once again shown that when something is deleterious to your health, it can also damage other body systems for a multitude of reasons, in a multitude of ways – and a poorly balanced diet is no exception. Recent research now shows that a diet high in animal protein increases the risk of heart failure in postmenopausal women.

Risk Of Heart Failure Increased In Women Who Consumed The Most Animal Protein

According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in 2016, women older than 50 years old who consumed a diet high in protein from animal products — especially from meat — had an increased risk of heart failure,

From 1993 to 1998, researchers evaluated the self-reported daily diets of 103,878 women between the ages of 50 and 79. Over that time, 1,711 women developed heart failure. When the diets of the participants were compared, the women who consumed the most protein were the most likely to be among the 1,711 who suffered heart failure. Less likely to be in that group were the women who ate less protein, or got more of their protein from vegetables.1

The study subjects who ate more vegetable protein had less heart failure, although the association was not significant when adjusted for body mass.1

These findings held true regardless of race, age, level of education, and the presence of other ailments such as diabetes, anemia, or high blood pressure. This means that even if you already suffer from a condition that potentially impacts your heart health, your diet still plays a substantial role in your well being.

Study author Dr. Mohamad Firas Barbour, an internist at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School and Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in Pawtucket, explains that the risk factor comes from animal protein:

“Higher calibrated total dietary protein intake appears to be associated with substantially increased heart failure risk while vegetable protein intake appears to be protective.”1

The research didn’t delve into the underlying mechanisms behind the association, but Barbour suggests that the high animal-protein intake could lead some people to gain excess weight. He also predicts that the same research on men would yield similar results.

Meat and Longevity

This is not the first study to relate meat-eating to poor health. A series of experiments on fruit flies in the United Kingdom found that adjusting the mix of amino acids in the flies’ diets extended their lifespans. One particular amino acid, methionine, was identified as the crucial player in altering life expectancy.2

When methionine levels in the flies’ diets were reduced, their lives were extended. Prior research that showed ultra-low calorie diets extended lifespan are now understood to be the result of a reduction in methionine intake, not general caloric intake. So reducing consumption of this amino acid can have a positive impact on longevity.2

Not surprisingly, this amino acid is found mostly in meats and fish, though also in sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, and wheat germ. But this doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself foods you enjoy, in fact the researchers on this study insist that “it’s about getting the protein balance right.”2

Balance Your Diet, Balance Your Wellness

This focus on balance is absolutely aligned with the Save Institute’s advice. We have written about the importance of choosing a diet that provides a moderate intake of methionine as an important part of achieving an 80/20 pH balanced diet.

This dietary guideline concerns the alkalizing or acidifying effect that different foods have on the body. Rather than the pH of the food before it is consumed, this nutritional guideline considers the pH of the food after it goes through the digestive process, at which time it leaves an ash residue. For example, lemons have a pH of 2, which is extremely acidic, but once they’re ingested and digested, they’re highly alkalizing.

Typical Western diets are, unfortunately, made up mostly of acidifying foods. As mentioned earlier, this causes alkalizing minerals such as calcium to be pulled from the bones to neutralize the body’s acid pH. This acidification also leads to inflammation, reduced immune function, and other harmful health issues that may manifest in unexpected ways.3

When you balance the amount of meat you consume with alkalizing foods, such as vegetables and fruits, you’re automatically reducing your intake of methionine. This reduction is tied to increased longevity, as noted above, most likely related to studies that have shown that protein restriction decreases the production of free radicals, thus reducing oxidative damage to the liver and mitochondrial DNA.4

It’s important you remember that the goal of the 80/20 diet is not to eradicate an entire class of food, but rather to balance it properly. While it’s not healthy to get too much methionine, not getting enough can be a problem because it is an essential element for the production of cysteine, which your body utilizes to synthesize glutathione, the Master Antioxidant. This chain of events makes methionine essential for the fight against oxidative damage that can hurt your bones, liver, and kidneys.

You need a healthy liver and kidney to keep your bones strong, your system detoxified and your pH balanced.

Balance Your Diet To Achieve Optimal Bone Health And Overall Health

All of this adds up to a simple conclusion: the restriction of animal protein, though not necessarily the complete removal of it, is the best course of action for your bones and your overall health.

The Osteoporosis Reversal Program offers a holistic approach to bone health, and the 80/20 pH-balanced nutritional plan is one example. The Program offers comprehensive, evidence-backed steps that show you how to achieve optimal health by modifying your diet, making easy lifestyle changes, and exercising to build your bones. If you didn’t get it yet, you can learn more about the Program here.

Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss

Join thousands of Savers from around the world who have reversed or prevented their bone loss naturally and scientifically with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.

Learn More Now →


1 Farhan Ashraf, M.D.; Mary B. Roberts, M.Sc.; Matthew Allison, M.D., M.P.H.; Lisa Martin, M.D.; Karen Johnson, M.D.; Carolina Valdiviezo, M.D.; and Charles B Eaton, M.D. “Mostly meat, high protein diet linked to heart failure in older women.” American Heart Association Meeting Report – Presentation: 627 – Session: EP.RFO.28. Nov. 14, 2016. Web:
2 Richard Alleyne. “Vegetarian low protein diet could be key to long life.” The Telegraph. Dec. 3, 2009. Web:
3 John A Kellum, Mingchen Song, and Jinyou Li. “Science review: Extracellular acidosis and the immune response: clinical and physiologic implications.” Crit Care. 2004; 8(5): 331–336. Web:
4 Lopex-Torres, M, and Barja, G. “Lowered methionine ingestion as responsible for the decrease in rodent mitochondrial oxidative stress in protein and dietary restriction possible implications for humans.” Biochimica et biophysica acta. November 2008. 1780(11): 1337-47. Doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2008.01.007. Web:

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Sherrine

    Vivian, I had to share my good news. I’ve been following your program to some extent. I do try to keep my body alkaline and I take calcium, vitamin D3, magnesium malate, potassium, and vitamin K2 to help with bone remodeling. My doctor has been promoting Prolia and has tried everything he could think of to get me to use the product. I refused. I told him that I was doing things to help myself and listed all that I do. He said if I wanted something that WORKED I would take the Prolia.

    I have two friends with osteoporosis. They both take osteoporosis medication. One broke her wrist and the other, who has been on Prolia since it came out, has broken her hip!

    I have been diagnosed with a moderate case of osteoporosis in both hips and my spine but refuse to take these medications.

    Well. I had my Dexa scan a few days ago. The technician could not believe it! I have had a noticible improvement in my bones! My left hip and my spine are now in the osteopenia range and my right hip is still in the osteoporosis range but nearly in the osteopenia area! This has happened in just two years. The technician asked me what I was doing since she knew I wouldn’t take the osteoporosis medications. I told her and she stood up and gave me a big hug. The main things I changed in the past two years is taking more potassium and adding vitamin K2.

    I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall when the doctor sees this. The technician said the change is very noticible. ? If I don’t hear from him, I’ll be seeing him in person in February. Trust me, I’ll be grinning g from ear to ear!

    Thank you, Vivian for all the good info you provide. Yes, we can have good bone remodeling without using the dangerous medications!

    • Kathleen

      Sherrine – CONGRATULATIONS!!! I know you are beyond thrilled with your wonderful results. I too, have had a significant improvement in my Dexa scan since being on the Save Our Bones program. I take a product called Pro Bono which I receive through my chiropractor which shows a K2 component of 25 mcgs. I am wondering how much you actually take and also how much is adequate to do the job. My doctor’s response was “WOW!!!!” – 🙂

      Thanks for your (and Vivian’s 🙂 ) help.

      • Sherrine

        I take a Vitamin K complex. It has 200 mcg of K1 and 200 mcg of K2. It’s one gel cap a day. I’ve taken it for about a year.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      What an inspiring story, Sherrine! We thank you for sharing it with us and congratulate you for the excellent results. Let us know about the meeting with your doctor in February. Keep up the good work!

      • Sherrine

        My doctor left a comment in my patient portal. He said my osteoporosis had a modest improvement. His second sentence said to let him know when I was willing to accept osteoporosis treatment! ?That’s it! No “Keep up the good work” or “Nice job”. Guess the pharmaceutical rep has him snowed. ?

        I hope my next scan in two years shows NO osteoporosis. He always asks if I’m taking anything for my osteoporosis. Next time I will say yes and rattle off the five supplements I use plus keeping myself as alkaline as possible. He will love that answer. ?

      • Kristy Patterson

        It was the K2 that gave you the improvement. I had so much improvement in bone density after taking K2 for three years and doing nothing else that the dexa technician threw out my scores, thinking that their machine was broken. I now have osteopenia.

        • Perina

          Hi Kristy. How much K2 do you take?

  2. Maria

    You write that between 1993 and 1998 a group of 103,878 women were followed about the heart failure due to animal diet protein, and found only 1711 developed heart failure some self reported to have an animal protein diet, so what about the other who didn’t, does that mean that the whole report assumes too much and is not accurate?, after all the number1711 from 103,878 is not high if only “SOME” hate animal protein. Vegetarian diet is not for everybody, we are all different, I was given to have that diet by a doctor and I blew up like a balloon. Went back to my way of eating, and I got back to normal. So lets not promote things when each and every human being is a different entity from the next.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Maria, each of us is different… that’s undeniable. And I’d like to clarify that we are not promoting a vegetarian diet. The point here is to realize that nutritional balance, including balancing the pH, which automatically reduces the amount of animal protein, benefits more than bone density, based on the evidence available.

  3. Jan

    Hi Vivian, I was just wandering your thoughts on organic gelatin. I have been to workshops with nutritionist and there has been a strong push to included it in smoothies or add to food as it is good for your gut, cartilage, hair, tendons, nails etc. Is this a good a addition to my diet as I am trying to rebuild my bones and prove to my doctor that I don’t need meds to do it? I would love to hear your thoughts. Jan

    • Perina

      Hi Jan. I took collagen (don’t know if that’s the same as gelatin but gelatin has collagen in it) in an organic whey protein powder smoothie every day and ended up with chronic gas, bloated stomach, and felt sick! As Vivian says, perhaps it is so denatured that it can cause problems with some people. As soon as I switched to another whey protein without collagen all the symptoms went away. Perhaps organic homemade bone broth would be a better way of consuming collagen. That doesn’t upset me and it is completely natural.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Gelatin is a collagen-rich, dehydrated protein made from the skin, bones, and tissue of animals. It is extracted by using acid solutions and hot water to hydrolyze the collagen, and then it is filtrated, clarified, sterilized and dried into a powder. Gelatin is a highly processed product. While it is a good source of calcium, magnesium and silicon, there are many other unprocessed foods that contain those minerals to boost bone health and collagen.

      You can read more about this topic here:

  4. Faith R

    I am so glad this was put out there. I haven’t eaten a bite of animal flesh in 48 years. I am healthy overall and feel so fortunate to have had an intense ethical sense for the animals before I ever knew the deleterious effects of animal products. More and more people are recognizing that plant based is the most healthy way to eat and hopefully this trend will continue and keep everyone healthy.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Indeed, the vegetarian and vegan way of life is becoming much more popular lately!

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