Today we'll take a deep dive into a recent study on low-grade metabolic acidosis and how it impacts bone strength, fracture risk, and overall health.
Low-grade metabolic acidosis is a condition characterized by a slightly too acidic blood pH. This study is particularly compelling because it's a review that compiles and compares previously published studies about low-grade metabolic acidosis and its effects. It collects findings that date back to the first investigations of the condition in the early 1980s.
Savers won't be surprised to learn that this review fully corroborates the Save Institute's dietary recommendations to prevent and reverse osteoporosis and osteopenia. Read on to find out how acidifying dietary choices can damage your bones and lead to several undesirable health conditions.
An In-Depth Review Of Studies On Acidosis
The title of the study, published in 2017, is “Diet-Induced Low-Grade Metabolic Acidosis and Clinical Outcomes: A Review.” For their report, the authors analyzed nearly one hundred sources to provide a comprehensive look at how diet-induced acidosis impacts health.1
Your blood needs to maintain a consistent pH between 7.35–7.45 pH units. Dropping below this range causes acidaemia and above this range causes alkalosis– either extreme is dangerous. Low-grade metabolic acidosis describes a pH that hovers at the very bottom of that range.
Since the 1980s, researchers have been studying the causes and effects of low-grade metabolic acidosis. One of the clearest findings is the relationship between diet and pH.
Certain foods, mostly animal products and other protein-rich foods cause a decrease in serum pH. In other words, they are acidifying. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are alkalizing, so they increase the body's pH.1
Researchers compiled the findings of nearly 100 studies about the relationship between diet, blood pH, and medical outcomes. They found consensus that animal products and protein-rich foods tend to cause a decrease in the pH (acidifying), while fruits and vegetables increase the pH (alkalizing).
The Effects Of Low-Grade Metabolic Acidosis
The study authors devote an entire section of their review to the relationship between low-grade metabolic acidosis and bone loss. They analyzed studies that found multiple ways that acidosis disrupts the natural bone remodeling cycle— both suppressing new bone formation and increasing bone loss. Here's a quote from the report:
“The slight reduction of the extracellular fluid pH suppresses the activity of osteoblasts and decreases the gene expression of specific matrix proteins and alkaline phosphatase activity. In addition, low-grade metabolic acidosis has been associated with osteoclast activity and increased urinary calcium excretion without increased intestinal calcium absorption, resulting in the depletion of bone calcium.”1
Osteoblasts are the cells that produce new bone tissue. Suppressing their activity prevents new bone formation. Furthermore, the decrease in gene expression of matrix proteins indicates that an acidifying diet turns off the genes that instruct your body to begin the process of building the matrix that comprises bone.
Osteoclasts are the cells that break down old or damaged bone tissue. By increasing osteoclast activity, acidosis accelerates the rate at which bones are depleted of their minerals. That's why the studies found increased calcium excretion in people with low-grade metabolic acidosis.
It's no surprise that several studies reviewed by the authors linked low-grade metabolic acidosis to an increased incidence of bone fracture.1
An acidifying diet reduced mineralization and bone mass, leading to bone loss and an increased risk of fracture.
Other Health Impacts Of Low-Grade Metabolic Acidosis
In addition to its impact on bone quality and fracture risk, low-grade metabolic acidosis has been linked to a number of non-communicable diseases. They include:
- Kidney Stones – In response to diet-induced low-grade metabolic acidosis, the kidneys attempt to restore the body's pH balance by increasing the excretion of calcium and other minerals. Studies found that this resulted in an increased risk of kidney stones.1
- Chronic Kidney Disease – An acidifying diet has been linked to increased risk of chronic kidney disease. Shifting to a more alkalizing diet was found to reduce the risk of negative outcomes among people with chronic kidney disease, including a reduced risk of dialysis, worsening renal function, and death.1
- Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus – While the mechanism that drives the relationship between diabetes mellitus and acidosis has not been definitely proven, studies have concluded that diet-induced low-grade metabolic acidosis increases the risk of the condition, regardless of family history and other dietary factors like carbohydrate intake.1
- Hypertension – Studies have found a link between dietary acid load and the risk of hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. This may be related to increases in hormones caused by acidosis– such as aldosterone and the stress hormone cortisol.1
- Loss Of Muscle Mass – A high intake of alkalizing potassium has been linked to better preservation of muscle mass in older adults. Muscle mass is essential for stimulating the production of new bone mass.1
- Mortality – Studies have found a relationship between all-cause mortality and acidosis. While the mechanisms of this relationship are complex and difficult to prove, the association isn't unexpected, given the wide range of health issues that low-grade metabolic acidosis can cause or worsen.1
Diet-induced low-grade metabolic acidosis has been linked to a number of health problems and outcomes, including kidney stones, chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, loss of muscle mass, and premature death.
What This Means To You
Your diet has a direct and powerful impact on your body and your health. This study reinforces the Save Institute's recommendation to follow a pH-balanced diet to build strong bones and live a long and healthy life.
The Osteoporosis Reversal Program further explains the science behind this recommendation and lays out a simple path to balancing your dietary pH and building stronger bones so you can live your life to the fullest.
The Save Institute has focused on maintaining the appropriate dietary pH from the get-go, almost 10 years before this review study was published. As usual, Savers are ahead of the curve! By avoiding diet-induced low-grade metabolic acidosis, you prevent bone loss while simultaneously improving your overall health. It's a win-win that forms the foundation of a bone-healthy life.