Study Proves Low-Protein, High-Carb Diet Preserves Cognitive Function - Save Our Bones

A healthy brain is of the utmost importance as you get older. While, sadly, there is no cure for conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia, new research has identified ways to reduce their risk of occurring and delay their effects.

One of the most talked-about diets for preventing cognitive decline is a calorie-restricted diet. However, calorie-restriction damages bones, so it trades one devastating problem for another.

Today we'll look at a study that has identified a bone-healthy diet that is just as effective as calorie restriction for preserving cognitive function.

The Power Of A Low Protein, High Carbohydrate Diet

According to a study published in the journal Cell Reports, a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet offers the same– and sometimes better– cognitive health benefits as caloric restriction.1

Researchers from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia studied two groups of mice — one on a 20% calorie-restricted diet, and one on a low protein high carbohydrate diet. They compared the two groups' cognitive functioning using mazes and novel object recognition tests. Here is how study author Professor Le Couteur described the results:

“The hippocampus is usually the first part of the brain to deteriorate with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. However, the low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet appeared to promote hippocampus health and biology in the mice, on some measures to an even greater degree than those on the low-calorie diet.”1

This finding means that the healthier, more enjoyable, and less restrictive low-protein, high-carb diet is an equally beneficial option for maintaining bodily and cognitive health into old age.


A new study has found that low protein, high-carb diets provide the same (or better) cognitive health benefits as calorie-restricted diets. Previous research concluded that both diets offer cardiovascular and digestive benefits that extend longevity.

The Importance Of A pH-Balanced Diet For Bones

A low-protein, high-carb diet is consistent with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program's dietary guidelines, while a calorie-restricted diet is not.

Calorie-restricted diets make it nearly impossible to provide your bones with the nutrients they need to stay healthy. A two-year-long study of 218 adults in their 30s and 40s found that calorie restriction causes bone loss. The participants were divided into a group practicing 25% calorie restriction and a group that ate normally. The calorie-restricted group saw bone loss at all the measured points: lumbar spine, total hip, and femoral neck.2

Another study found conclusive evidence that participants who lost weight from a calorie-restricted diet also lost bone mineral density at common sites of fracture.3 The consistent loss of bone mass due to insufficient calorie intake likely coincides with a loss of bone quality. Both studies demonstrate the danger of calorie restriction.

You shouldn't be afraid of healthy carbs. In fact, to keep your bones strong and flexible, they must be part of your diet. Any pH-balanced diet will skew in favor of the healthy carbs in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and away from excessive consumption of animal products that raise your diet's protein content and cause acidosis.

In a study titled “The Effects Of Acid On Bone” researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine wrote:

“Initially metabolic acidosis stimulates physicochemical mineral dissolution and then cell-mediated bone resorption. Acidosis increases activity of the bone-resorbing cells, the osteoclasts, and decreases activity of the bone-forming cells, the osteoblasts.”4

Put more simply, when the body's pH-balance begins to grow too acidic and alkalizing bicarbonate reserves are depleted, it swiftly rectifies the imbalance by dissolving bones for their alkalizing minerals.

A study on chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis found that the condition occurs in normal adults eating modern-day diets.5 The severity of the acidosis varies depending on each person's dietary composition.

That's why a pH-balanced diet is a cornerstone of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. To prevent acidosis and resultant bone-loss, a diet high in alkalizing foods (about 80%) and low in acidifying ones is key– and is the basis of the ORP's 80/20 pH-balanced diet.

The low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet which the studies above found improve cognitive function, heart health, digestive health, and longevity fits neatly into a pH-balanced diet.


A low-protein, high carbohydrate diet fits into the pH-balanced diet recommended by the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, while a calorie-restricted diet is in direct opposition to the nutritional needs of your body and your bones. Calorie-restriction can contribute to acidosis, which causes bone loss. But a pH-balanced diet will naturally include fewer proteins from acidifying animal products, and more healthy carbs from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

What This Means To You

The research cited above confirms the accuracy and efficacy of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. Diet is a powerful tool for changing your body and improving your health.

Combined with bone-targeted exercise and simple lifestyle changes, you have everything you need to build healthy bones, maintain your cognitive acuity, and live the robust and active life you deserve.

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Janet Chemotti

    Vivian, I am confused. I read one study that showed results of bone building with subjects who had 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, while bone was maintained by the other group which had .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. So it seems that upping protein intake to build bone would be a good move. I don’t know if it was protein from plants or animals. Anyway, that ratio in my case at least would be equivalent to 180+ grams of protein per day, which is unreachable, at least for me. Can you please comment on this? Thanks for all you do!


    This is misleading. It simply shows that eating plenty of calories is better for cognition than eating too few calories. Your brain needs healthy fats and proteins to function. Neurotransmitters are made from amino acids. Hormones from fats.

  3. Andrea Cherkola

    Please send me a list of the Alkaline foods so I may begin to reverse my osteoporosis. Thank you.

    • Save Institute Customer Support

      Andrea, we’re glad to help you with this information, so please check your email inbox within the next day or two.

  4. Paulette Hutcheon

    This research does not reflect the recent work (Dr. Breseden, Dr. Perlmutter, etc.) on the essential need for good fats (like orgainic extra virgin olive oil and MCT oil) in the diet for brain and general good health, bones and all. Thanks to the sugar industry paying off some Harvard nutritionists in 1967 (see New York Times article below), the low fat high carb fallacy created the poisonous high carb/low fat processed food industry of today.

  5. Ginette

    What about Keto Diet or Paleo?

  6. Joan

    Thank you for this.
    I can also recommend the New York Times best seller: THE END OF ALZHEIMERS’S: THE FIRST PROGRAM TO PREVENT AND REVERSE COGNITIVE DECLINE, by Dale E. Bredesen, MD, Professor and Founding President, Buck Institute (for studies of Aging), Professor, UCLA. He reveals that Alzheimer’s is not one condition as it is currently treated, but several. They are all dramatically influenced by imbalances in 36 metabolic factors that can trigger “downsizing” in the brain. He then explains his research-based protocol, which addresses ways to rebalance theses mechanisms by adjusting LIFESTYLE FACTORS including MICRONUTRIENTS, HORMONE LEVELS, STRESS and SLEEP QUALITY, INCLUDING AN OVERNIGHT FAST. Results have been impressive. Of the first ten patients on the protocol, nine displayed significant improvement within 3 to 6 months since then the protocol has yielded similar results with hundreds more. Thanks to each of you for your large valuable contributions toward making the world a better place to live.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      This is further proof that health conditions can be greatly improved by applying natural protocols. I thank you for chiming in on this very relevant topic, Joan, and appreciate your kind words!

  7. Ellen stockman

    My PH is 8 yet I have switched to a vegetarian diet no Soda or alcohol no added sugar where am I going wrong ?

    • Save Institute Customer Support

      Ellen, please check your email inbox in the next day or two. You’ll find an answer from one of our team members. We’re happy to help!

      • Ginette

        What do you think about Keto Diet ?

  8. Susan

    Yeah, this study is puzzling. As prediabetic too, would never go high carb, but many alkalizing vegetables on the plate and moderate amount of protein and prob one carb. Viv’s diet can conflict with the diet u also have to follow for other medical conditions. With high carbs, sugar is sugar no matter fruit or candy. Too many carbs spells disaster for diabetics

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re absolutely right, Susan. We recommend consuming complex carbohydrates, and to minimize simple, refined sugars.

  9. Carol

    Can you give us an amount of protein needed daily? I try to get 50-60 grams, but some days it is tough. I have a sensitive tummy & don’t eat a lot of meat (perhaps 1x/week) so it mainly eggs, nuts & nut butters, collagen added to my coffee, tuna 1x/week. Thanks in advance for any info.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Carol, at the Save Institute we don’t measure the consumption of macronutrients, but rather, focus on a pH-balanced diet based on a ratio of 80/20 alkalizing to acidifying foods.

  10. Suzanne

    I am surprised at this because Alzheimer’s is often called Type 3 Diabetes (but only with the nutritionally knowledgeable set of doctors). Please explain.

    • Nancy

      I am also interested in an explanation here. High carb diet is exactly what those with diabetes or pre-diabetes are to avoid. And to increase protein. Please explain this.

      • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

        Suzanne and Nancy, the topic is controversial. First of all, we need to make the distinction between simple, refined carbs and complex carbs. Also, studies have shown that when too much protein is consumed, it gets converted into glucose to be used as an energy source or, if not used, stored as fat. No less relevant is that a high protein diet (when protein is derived mainly from animal sources) is highly acidifying, so it causes bone loss.

  11. Roberta Kahn-Zuniga

    Thanks for the interesting article. I became a vegan 2 years ago for two reasons: first because I was osteopenia with a touch of osteoporosis and I wanted to make my diet less acidic (I am a Saver & follow your program) and secondly because I had very high cholesterol and wanted to try reducing my cholesterol through plant-based diet. I was able to drop my cholesterol from 248 to 175 and avoid going on statins. I also think going vegan has prevented my bone loss from getting any worse. I do yoga 4-5 times a week but I need to start working with weights more. My biggest problem is that my sugar has gone up and I am now pre-diabetic and the doctors are recommending I cut out carbs (I don’t eat sugar). Carbs turn into sugar in the body. The carbs that I eat are in whole grains and vegetables and legumes. I don’t know what to do? That’s my dilemma. I’d appreciate any feedback.

    • Save Institute Customer Support

      We’ll be happy to provide you with a personalized answer sent directly to your email inbox, so please check it within the next 24-48 hours.

  12. Denise Abdale

    Thank you for this article on high carb low protein diet and bone loss. I always suspected the doctors were wrong having on a low carb diet. Ever since I have been on it my joints have been hurting more and more. Also I’ve noticed my memory is failing me – I can’t remember names, how to spell words, can’t think of a word when I’m speaking – it’s like my mind is a blank slate. I’m going back to my multigrain bread!!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with our community, Denise!

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