How Does Your Brain Score? Take the Staying Sharp Brain Health Assessment






AARP Games - Play Now!
AARP Auto Buying Program


most popular


Ask Sid

Produce Builds Healthier Bones

Healthy bones need fiber, muscle-building protein and a generous dose of fruits and vegetables.

Your gut may benefit from that morning bowl of high-fiber cereal, but your bones could pay the price. That’s because eating lots of grains, as well as protein, causes the body to produce excess acid, which leaches calcium from bones.

So how can you get your fiber and muscle-building protein and still maintain bone strength? Eat more produce, according to a new study.

“When fruits and vegetables are metabolized, they add bicarbonate, an alkaline compound that helps offset the potential damage of acid-rich foods,” explains lead researcher Bess Dawson-Hughes, M.D., of Tufts University. In her study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the January issue of theJournal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 171 older men and women were given either a bicarbonate pill or a pill with no bicarbonate. Those getting bicarbonate pills for three months increased their bone health while losing less calcium than the placebo-takers did. “This suggests that increasing the alkali content of the diet may attenuate bone loss,” says Dawson-Hughes.

Instead of taking pricey bicarbonate pills, which most doctors don’t advise, she recommends getting the damage-preventing compound by eating 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, while skipping at least one daily serving of grains, such as bread or rice. Among the best choices for added fruit: traditional cereal toppings. “Raisins, dried fruit such as apricots, and bananas have the most alkaline,” she says.

Lynda Frassetto, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, says the new study demonstrates the importance of acid/base balance in maintaining skeletal health. “The typical American diet is acid-producing,” she says, “so neutralizing acid intake reduces bone breakdown.”

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

denny's restaurant member discount membership

Members save 15% all day, every day when dining at participating Denny’s restaurants.

Carrabba's Italian Grill Chicken Plate, Member Benefits

Members save 15% on lunch and dinner every day at Carrabba's Italian Grill.

Bonefish Pan Asian

Members save 15% on lunch and dinner every day at Bonefish Grill.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points