Need more reasons to grow- and eat- lots of fruits and vegetables? How about keeping your bones strong? In an article in the November 2010 issue of Nutrition Action Health Letter, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Bess Dawson-Hughes, director of the Bone Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, explained that as we age, our bodies become less efficient at handling the acid load generated by our diets. And this increased acidity can lead to increased bone loss.
The foods that increase acidity the most are grains- in foods like bread, rice and pasta- and proteins because they release sulfuric and other acids into the bloodstream as they're metabolized. Foods that help neutralize acidity are ones that break down into bicarbonate as they are digested. The top foods for combating excess acidity are fruits and vegetables. Spinach, zucchini and carrots, raisins, apricots and kiwi are all great choices for improving the acid-base balance of your diet. (And she notes that acidic fruits like citrus do not contribute to excess body acidity- they're bone-protective as well.) In fact Dr. Dawson-Hughes recommends eating at least 11 servings a day of fruits and vegetables as one of the best ways to neutralize excess acid in our bodies and keep our bones strong.
She also notes that weight-bearing exercise like walking is helpful in keeping bones strong. While she doesn't mention gardening specifically, all the walking, lifting and digging that gardening entails certainly won't hurt our bone health either!
For more information about Nutrition Action Health Letter, go to: Center for Science in the Public Interest.