Alkaline Diets, Animal Protein, and Calcium Loss

Alkaline Diets, Animal Protein, and Calcium Loss

“Alkaline Diets, Animal Protein, and Calcium Loss” For most of the last century,
a prevailing theory within the field of
nutrition was that by eating acid-forming
foods such as meat we were, in essence, at
risk of peeing our bones down the toilet. And no wonder! Experiments dating
back to 1920 showed over and over that if
you add meat to the diet you get a big spike in
the amount of calcium being lost in the urine. And so this made total sense. We had known since 1912 that meat was acid-
forming within the body, and how do you buffer acid? What are in antacid pills,
anti-acid pills like Tums? Calcium. Meat and eggs have a lot of
sulfur-containing amino acids, 2-5 times more than
grains and beans that are metabolized
into sulfuric acid, which the body buffers
with calcium. That’s why the antacids like
Tums are made out of calcium, calcium can buffer acid. And where is calcium
stored in the body? The skeleton. So the thinking was that
every time we ate a steak our body would pull
calcium from our bones, bit by bit, and over time
this could lead to osteoporosis. Based on 26 such studies
every 40 grams of protein we add to your daily diet we pee
out an extra 50mg of calcium. And look we only have about 2 pounds
of calcium in our skeleton, so the loss of 50
a day would mean losing close to 2% of
bone calcium every year. And so by the end
of the 20th century, there was little doubt
that acid-forming diets would dissolve our bones away. But if you actually
look at all the studies done on protein intake
and bone health, that’s not what you find. So, where’s the
flaw in our logic? Meat leads to acid,
which leads to calcium loss, which leads to bone loss, right? Well, it’s uncontroversial that protein
results in greater calcium excretion, but we’ve just been assuming
it’s coming from the bone— I mean where else
could the extra calcium dumped in our urine be coming
from but from our bones? This is the study that appeared
to solve the mystery. An intrepid group of researchers tried
feeding a bunch of volunteers radioactive calcium and then putting
them on a high protein diet. What happens when you put people
on a high protein diet? The amount of calcium in
their urine shoots up, and indeed that’s
just what happened. But here’s the big question: Was that extra calcium in their
urine radioactive or not? And to everyone’s surprise
it was radioactive. Meaning, that the excess
calcium in their urine was coming from their diet! Remember they were feeding
them radioactive calcium. So the excess calcium in their urine
wasn’t coming from their bones, but from what
they were eating. What seemed to be
happening is that excess protein consumption
boosted calcium absorption, from down around
19% up to 26%. So all of a sudden there was all
this extra calcium in the blood so presumably the kidneys are like, “Whoa what are we going
to do with it all?” So they dump it
in the urine. 90% of the extra calcium in the
urine after eating a steak doesn’t appear to be coming from
our bones but from our diet. We’re not sure why protein
boosts calcium absorption. Maybe the protein increases
the solubility of calcium by stimulating stomach
acid production? Whatever the reason,
yes, more calcium lost, but more calcium gained
such that in the end most of that extra
calcium is accounted for. So in effect more calcium is
lost in the urine stream, but may be compensated
by less loss of calcium through the fecal stream. This was repeated with
even more extreme diets— an acid-forming five burgers a day
worth of animal protein diet that limited fruits
and vegetables versus an alkaline diet emphasizing
fruits and vegetables. More calcium in the
urine on burgers, but significantly greater
calcium absorption such that at the end it
was pretty much a wash. Other studies have also since
supported this interpretation. Here’s an ingenious one: Feed people a high
animal protein diet, but with an alkali salt
to neutralize the acid. The old thinking would
predict that there would be no calcium loss since there
is no excess acid to buffer. But no! Even though the
acid load was neutralized there was still the
excess urinary calcium, consistent with the
radioactive isotope study, challenging this long-standing dogma
that animal protein consumption results in an acidosis that promotes
the excess excretion of calcium. So if our body isn’t buffering
the acid formed from our diet with our bones, how is
it neutralizing the acid? Maybe with our muscles–alkaline
diets may protect our muscle mass— all covered in
my next video, entitled “Testing Your Diet with
Pee and Purple Cabbage”. Stay tuned!

100 thoughts on “Alkaline Diets, Animal Protein, and Calcium Loss

  1. @Rob, yes yes…I eat purple cabbage almost as often as I eat my dino kale…I NEED to know the next sequence NOW!!!!! 🙂

  2. Well, reality shows that animal protein does cause bone calcium loss. Just look at the highest dairy and meat consuming countries, they're highest in osteoporosis.

  3. @aleksandra Correlation does not equal causation. Broad observations like that could have a myriad of other causes/contributing factors besides high animal protein. That is why scientifically controlled studies are performed like the ones Dr. Greger graciously puts into layman's terms for the masses to save time and more easily understand

    Btw guys donate to nutritionfactsorg before 2013 is over. Its a tax write off!!! and i cant think of a better organization to put my money towards.

  4. drmcdougall. com/health/education/health-science/hot-topics/nutrition-topics/calcium-dairy-products/

    facebook. com/PlantBasedEvidencePaleoDiet

  5. can't believe you get upvotes for such a comment. do you not know the difference between correlation and causation? seriously, how people cling to beliefs in spite of evidence… disheartening really. the only reason you believe higher protein consumption causes it in the first place is because someone proposed the hypothesis and people simply believed it–out of ignorance or politics. hypothesis ->research->conclusions… can't leave out middle step. also helps if you read the research

  6. For reasons unknown, some people have significantly more Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase, the enzyme that splits apart cholesterol and increase the absorption of calcium. Bottom line: some folks are meant to eat meat as part of their diet.

  7. Osteoporosis has a lot to do with inactivity… "rich" countries (i.e. those who are eating more animal products and processed foods) are also the laziest countries… it may not be the food, but the lack of weight-bearing exercise that contributes to poor bone health.

  8. Those countries also own more TV's per household, own more books, live in larger houses and have better education… correlation doesn't equal causation.

  9. Yup, it's unfortunate that we've been using that argument to hate on meat-eating… we need to find EVIDENCE BASED arguments, not this "dogma" and myths which have circulated the internet.

  10. Could it be that the high protein diet doesn't really reduce bone density but the higher potassium intake in a plant based diet promotes bone health, preventing osteopororis?

  11. I will stick with high animal protein cause osteoporosis. You can continue with your assumption. After 20 years we will know the result 🙂

  12. 1. I do know the difference between correlation and causation but when there's correlation one does often at least suspect causation.
    2. One scientific study can contradict another. A single study can never be sufficient. One should look at several studies.

  13. The body doesn't just buffer acid with calcium. There are other ways to keep the body in PH balance.

    Alkaline diets are a myth. The bodies PH isn't effected by diet, as long as you are healthy.

    And just eat calcium supplements, or eat plenty of foods high in calcium.

  14. Point being, put calcium into the system, put animal-source "foods" into the system, and presto, the calcium passes through, adding no net gain of calcium, entailing in fact gradual net loss from the system….

  15. The thyroid's function starts wane at older ages. This results in calcitonin not being produced like it used to at younger ages. Due to this reduction in calcitonin it cannot inhibit the osteoclasts (bone cell destroyer). Thus results in osteoclasts going ape shit on your bones.

  16. This makes SO much sense!! I love this. Thank you so much for your honest and (mostly) objective video content. I feared for a while you were mainly promoting veganism and sharing content that backed-up your believes on the benefits of a vegan lifestyle… however lately I've been pleasantly surprised with your topics and objective health approach! Thank you so much 🙂

  17. Do you have any citations to support your claim that osteoporosis is more common in countries that consume more protein?

  18. Also remember that many of these countries have many other unhealthy habits, such as drinking a lot of soda, coffee, tea, (moderation is ok with coffee and tea but many have these in excess in these countries). Animal protein and dairy is only one piece to the big puzzle we call life.

  19. Was isotopic calcium the ONLY calcium in the urine? – all you are demonstrating is that the calcium loss is not as fast as some predict.

    BTW calcium is only on of the many elements that make up bone structure – you are being to reductionist as high calcium bones can still have high fracture rates.

    You are just attempting to confuse the issues.

  20. You have to factor in that many of the countries that consume more protein also have less hours of vitamin d producing sunlight, compared to low protein consuming countries.

  21. I am going to qoute myself:
    "You have to factor in that many of the countries that consume more protein also have less hours of vitamin d producing sunlight, compared to low protein consuming countries."

  22. And it COULD be that countries that consume more protein also have a higher risk of falling and a generally lower level of physical fitness in the elderly.
    So if people do not fall and break their bones, we do not see the osteoporosis.

  23. Gregg4, in 2009 a major study shows that the use of dairy in you diet, causes more broken bones in than non-dairy use. This is explained by the long term use of dairy, apparently affects or kills off the bodys bone forming cells.

  24. Alkaline diets are a myth ? That's why people have reversed cancer on a plant based diet by altering the level of PH in the blood.

  25. Doc, i'm a HUDGE fan of your videos, and since i study nutrition it has been very useafull for me.
    But How would you explain bodybuilders high-protein and high-calcium diets?
    Im not refearing to their super strong bones, but also the fact they don't show any signs of kidney problems even when they reach 20 years careers?

    Thanks a lot for the videos you make. I DO learn a lot from them, but even though, they just can't change my mind about plant base diet.

  26. It's a lie yes. The bloods PH can't be altered. It stays within a specific PH range. Too far one way or the other WILL lead to death. What you claim isn't at all backed by science in the least.

  27. Oh, there are a lot of "doctors" out there that use this protein – calcium loss argument as a basic reason not to eat meat at all?  Interesting.

  28. Readers should note that all current textbooks of nutrition tell us that the acidity or alkalinity of foods does NOT make any difference in how well we absorb any nutrients from the food. Our bodies, especially our kidneys, can keep the blood pH within VERY narrow limits no matter what we eat.
    The point: this video is totally wrong and just another uneducated crock of hooey.

  29. David Mosier, the study you are referring does not prove, it hypothesized and reproduced.  The excess calcium came from your muscles, not your bones.  I am both scientist and vegan.  I have it right. More importantly, the science of medicine is based on a cause and effect model. We can demonstrate an increase of calcium in our urine when consuming acid forming foods, such as animal based products.
    007Truth… You seem angry.  The video isn't incorrect.  Our bodies are affected by our dietary habits.  Our bodies do in fact neutralize acid-causing substances in the bloodstream to a narrow range of values (in the blood, 7.43 is neutral, higher is considered alkaline, lower, acidic with range of roughly 5 up to 8, acid to alkaline). Eating animal products is acid forming when it's digested by our stomachs. In fact, eating meat creates an acid response that increases our calcium excretion in our urine.  That has been scientifically proven for many years.  The point of the video is clear and you have not challenged the studies presented.  

  30. That does it.  I'm staying with BACON, Liverwurst and onion sammiches, and hotdogs.  Oh, with a steak thrown in when I can afford it.  Will you pass me some more butter for my mashed potatoes?  Thanks

  31. Ha ha ha   sometimes this good doctor is funny as hell.. This guy is pretty smart, which means he actually know that what he is telling you is nonsense. Therefore he is aware and actually  means to deceive you into a vegan diet….  I could accept some of this if were that he just didn't really know what he was saying…but crimmy I am just an engineer and I can see through this…

  32. Ok…So this video explains that increased urinary Ca2+ excretion with a high protein diet is caused by an excess absorption of Ca2+ in the intestines and therefore the increase in excreted Ca2+ is accounted for. So that means that meat does not in fact deplete Ca2+ from our bodies because it the influx/outflow is basically a wash. However, if someone were to eat a high animal protein diet without ample alkaline foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, then there would not be sufficient influx of Ca2+ to offset the acidity and the calcium will come from your muscles (not from your bones) to buffer the increased acidity. So whether you eat meat or not, getting in a large amount of vegetables every day is vitally important. 

  33. Calcium is a very Alkaline mineral, meat is very acidic. Red meat isn't even digested
    it goes through a rotting process, which would leach alkaline minerals from the body/bones. Our bodies would go into its mineral stores especially the bone (been so alkaline) in an attempt to rid it self of the toxicity that meats create within our bodies. I'll prove that his theory is wrong. Milk is known as liquid meat high in protein as well, and the countries with the highest cases of osteoporosis,(A condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss calcium) are found to be the countries where the consumption of milk is most prevalent. Think about that Doc. and re-access your theory.  

  34. +David Mosier "the ingestion of animal protein does not come from the persons bones…Vegans need to get the science right."
    This video is a living example of 'Vegans getting the science right'.

  35. Ok so according to this study animal protein gets the calcium from your diet, not your bones. My question is if you primarily eat only meat along with little or no calcium in the diet, where is your body going get that calcium from to make your body alkaline and not acidic? Also, please explain why the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are also the highest in meat consumption?

  36. Why do bodybuilders and powerlifters has much stronger bones than the general population?  These people eat more protein that people can imagine, yet their bone strength and structure is way stronger and resilient than regular people.  What you do with your body is just as important as what you eat.

  37. Why are the countries with the highest dairy intake also the ones with the worst bone health? What about the links to breast cancer also? Where is the vegan comparison for control additionally, you have not used that information either to make this a fair test. All of these examples didn't include what happens if you dont drink cows milk. Additionally what about babies on mothers milk do they secrete it in their urine also? I prefer calcium from a plant base such as guava, my teeth are far stronger now then the problems i was having before being a cow milk drinker.

  38. Most people eating a standard western diet (Milk, dairy, eggs and fish; high fat high protein) don't get sufficient calcium in their diets. The people in the study were GIVEN calcium; with all that calcium in their system why would the body resort to leaching calcium out of your bones when it has that extra calcium running through your body?

    Again, most people don't get sufficient calcium from their diets when they are on a typical western diet, i.e they leach calcium out of their bones to alkalize the body.

  39. so confused with some of the videos you put out i literally don't get them… I wish you could empathize a little more on a verdict. It's like you leave it open for us to make our own decision but you're the doctor, we need your interpretation not our own.

  40. Just a guess here… but maybe the calcium lost means that the skeleton is not being regenerated with dietary calcium, rather than leeching it. So that is why dairy and meat diets cause osteoporosis? Please let us know soon Dr Greger.

  41. The major flaw here is that the calcium being lost is coming from BOTH the bones and the food, which is why the urine contains radioactive elements. Animal products like meat DO CAUSE OSTEOPOROSIS via calcium leeching.

  42. Why would nature design milk to be acidic if it's meant for baby mammals to grow and develop. If it has a negative impact on bone health, surely this is the opposite of what you'd want for a creature in its developmental stages.

    Or is this something that is OK for cows and only has an adverse affect on humans? I.e, is women's breast milk also acidic?

  43. Calcium absorption goes up when eating lots of animal protein because animal protein usually contains more Menaquinone, which helps calcium absorption from the blood stream via osteocalcin, but absorption can only rise up to a certain point, beyond which will just result in calcium loss from the bones via Parathyroid hormone, which tries to increase calcium content in the blood to raise the pH, since the blood stream wants to stay in homeostasis, which is also why parathyroid hormone has such a short half-life. This in turn causes the C-cells, produced by the thyroid, to produce calcitonin, which decreases calcium in the blood stream by taking it to the kidneys, which then comes out with the urine. In addition, when the body has inflammation, Osteoblasts and T cells (from the Thymus gland) produce Interleukin-6, which in turn stimulates Osteoclast formation, which are responsible for breaking bone down. In addition Retinol, mostly found in animals, also stimulates osteoclast activity. Retinol is still useful in the reformation of deformed bones however. Vitamin D3 stimulates osteoblast formation for the building of bones. Osteoblasts produce Osteocalcin which needs Menaquinone to become carboxylated/active. Its all a big balancing act between Menaquinone (Vitamin K2), Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), Retinol (Vitamin A1) , and Protein intake. BTW Menaquinone is barely detectable in factory farmed animal products, so you have to stick with grass fed everything if your going to get any Menaquinone in your diet, otherwise take a pill.

    MILK is the worst offender, there is no menaquinone, its a liquid and easily shocks the blood stream in terms of "trying" to lower pH since its not hard to digest in a liquid state, its fortified vitamin D content is too low to make a difference, and its high in protein, especially when you eat bacon, eggs, and ham with a glass of it in the morning, only then to have a steak at lunch, and hot dogs at dinner, just adding that much more protein to a diet that is already too high in protein.

  44. this is why I like Dr. Greger, he's honest even when it would be inconvenient for veganism. Its a sign you could trust him

  45. So, where does the osteoporosis in dairy consumers come from if it's not from the acid level of animal products?

  46. you know noting, a simple amino acid test can easily break your conslusion. a lot of people have low amino acid in blood.
    the problem with protien is the phosphate which it contains.that breaks the bones. however. daily excerice of hours!the use of muscles can break the phosphate from the bones. sport is the soloution.

  47. i.would be interested to know, if the results are same if a wild animal was fed. perhaps factory meat was given which has all sort of problems, including this.

  48. I thought the last study implied what our body is doing is NOT buffering the acid, rather than drawing calcium from our muscles in order to buffer?

  49. excuse me, would anyone clarify?…. so id he saying that actually animal protein is PREVENTING bone loss?… I'm not sure I followed the whole logic trail…

  50. Dr. Greger: two questions: how is the calcium adsorption calculated? Also can we have experiments where there is no calcium introduced when these foods are introduced? Like if you eat only meat and no calcium at all, what will happen in the urine?

  51. "This is the study that appeared to solve the mystery"

    And he goes to show how it doesn't solve anything, the mystery is in greger's head…

    He uses this type of analysis way to many times and it becomes obvious what he is trying to do.

    Ask a question then take some stupidly unrelated bad study and use it as proof of his argument ….

    Remember what his argument is ,….."as a vegan meat is bad"

    You can't call yourself a scientist when you have this kind of bias it always skews your thinking…..

    It is like studying the universe while believing the earth is flat.
    Or studying evolution while believing creationism

  52. Wait so can someone clarify that isnt biased. 90% of the calcium you eat gets pissed out when whatever your eating makes your blood acidic, but the remaining 10% comes from your body? If so where does it come from, the skeleton or the muscles? And what if what you're eating makes your blood acidic but doesnt provide enough calcium to counteract that acidicy, does the amount of calcium your body provides go up? Pls answer

  53. Wait I don't understand how the pee also containing the radioactive calcium led to concluding the calcium was being pulled from the blood and not the bones…

  54. I have spent a long time studying Alkaline diet course and discovered an awesome website at Alkali Insider Tactic (google it if you're interested)

  55. If a high-protein diet boosts calcium absorption and renal elimination, wouldn't a lack of protein such as in malnourished processed diets of the modern world essentially create a calcium deficiency which will ultimately affect bone resorption to raise serum calcium levels?

    And that can't be done without inducing acidosis so it'll lead to muscle wasting, which is what usually happens. Wow, so protein not only protects the muscles but also the bones. Now guess which easily available food source is rich in protein AND calcium? That's right, dairy ofcourse.

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