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Press Contact: Staci Shands




Everyone knows how to prevent osteoporosis, right? Drink milk. Eat cheese and yogurt. And take a calcium supplement. This is the familiar "calcium theory" endorsed by the nation's leading health experts. Only thing is, it is wrong-and the provocative new book, BUILDING BONE VITALITY: A Revolutionary Diet Plan to Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporosis (McGraw-Hill, June 2009), explains why.

BUILDING BONE VITALITY is co-authored by a distinguished bone health researcher and a leading medical journalist. The researcher is Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., an assistant professor of health and wellness at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. The journalist is Michael Castleman, author of more than a dozen consumer health guides. They conducted an exhaustive review of 1,200 studies dealing with dietary risk factors for osteoporosis. Their conclusion: The scientific evidence refutes the calcium theory and supports a much different approach to osteoporosis prevention-low-acid eating, a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in high-protein foods: meats, poultry, fish, milk, and dairy.

The Calcium Theory Is Just Plain Wrong

If milk, dairy foods, and calcium supplements prevent osteoporosis and it's most catastrophic result, hip fracture, the countries that consume the most calcium should have the lowest hip fracture rates. But they don't. According to four worldwide epidemiological surveys, they have the world's highest rates. In addition, the human studies (clinical trials) also refute the calcium theory. Since 1975, 140 clinical trials have explored calcium's effects on osteoporotic fracture risk. Two-thirds of these studies (93 trials) show no benefit from high calcium intake (even with added vitamin D). Overall, the clinical trials dealing with fracture prevention run two-to-one against calcium.

Unfortunately, the minority of studies showing fracture reductions with calcium have garnered just about all of the publicity. That's a big reason why the calcium theory is still accepted.

Low-Acid Eating:
The Dietary Key to Osteoporosis Prevention

If calcium doesn't prevent fractures, what does? Low-acid eating, six to nine daily servings of fruits and vegetables and no more than one or two servings of high-protein foods: meats, poultry, fish, milk, and dairy.
Why? Because strange as this may sound, bone health begins in the bloodstream. For good health, the blood must maintain its pH (relative acidity or alkalinity) within a very narrow range. Protein is composed of amino acids. As the body digests high-protein foods, amino acids flood the bloodstream. The blood becomes more acidic. People who eat a Western diet - lots of meats, poultry, fish, milk, and dairy foods - have blood that's chronically too acidic. The excess acid must be neutralized quickly to avoid life-threatening problems.

Have you ever taken Tums for acid indigestion? Its active ingredient neutralizes stomach acid because it's highly alkaline. The alkaline ingredient in Tums is calcium carbonate. To neutralize excess acid in the bloodstream, the body draws the same compound, calcium carbonate, out of the bones. A high-protein diet - a typical American diet - sucks calcium out of the bones and eventually causes osteoporosis.

Fruits and vegetables also contain protein - but much less than animal food, so they introduce much less acid into the bloodstream. In addition, fruits and vegetables also contain a great deal of alkaline material. When you eat fruits and vegetables, a small amount of acid enters the bloodstream along with a great deal of alkaline material, which neutralizes the acid. The body does not have to draw calcium compounds out of bone.

But meats, fish, poultry, milk, yogurt, and cheese are high-protein but low-alkaline. High-protein foods greatly acidify the blood but contain very little alkaline material to buffer all the acid. To neutralize the acid, the body must draw calcium out of the bones. The low-acid theory neatly explains why the countries that consume the most calcium have the highest fracture rates. They also consume the most protein.

Our health experts tell us that osteoporosis is caused by calcium deficiency-hence their exhortations to consume more of the mineral. In fact, osteoporosis is caused by a calcium imbalance. The typical Western diet is too high in animal protein and too low in fruits and vegetables. As a result, the blood becomes chronically acidic, and the body draws calcium out of the bones to neutralize it, which eventually weakens the bones and causes osteoporosis.

Hiding In Plain Sight for 40 Years

This low-acid theory may sound new, but it was first articulated more than 40 years ago in a 1968 article in the medical journal, Lancet. The low-acid explanation intrigued many researchers, who, over the past four decades, have conducted the studies demonstrating that the acid-alkaline approach explains osteoporosis much better than the calcium theory. But none of these researchers seemed interested in explaining the low-acid theory to the general public. Lanou and Castleman got tired of waiting.

A Wealth of Bone-Health Information


Explains why the low-acid approach has not been well publicized.

Lists more than 100 common foods and rates how acid-forming or alkaline they are. (The most alkaline foods? Raisins and other dried fruits.)

Suggests easy ways to evolve your diet toward low-acid eating.

Offers quick, tasty recipes to make the transition.

Shows the importance of daily weight-bearing exercise to bone health.

Explains how diabetes, salt, caffeine, alcohol, smoking, depression, and prescription drugs affect osteoporosis risk.

Discusses why the osteoporosis drugs are not the best approach to fracture prevention.

And explains how low-acid eating helps stop global warming and contributes to the health of the planet.

Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of health and wellness at the University of North Carolina. She is the author of Healthy Eating for Life for Children and has appeared in Time and Newsweek and on national Public Radio.

Michael Castleman has been called "one of the nation's top health writers" by Library Journal. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Healing Herbs and Before You Call the Doctor, and his science journalism has been nominated twice for the national Magazine Awards.

BUILDING BONE VITALITY: A Revolutionary Diet Plan to Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporosis by Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D. and Michael Castleman; McGraw-Hill; June 2009; ISBN: 10: 0-07-160019-1; 13: 978-0-07-160019-4; Original Trade Paperback; $16.95.

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Press Contact: Staci Shands