Living in the "Acidic Lifestyles and Diet" age can definitely raise your blood pressure and set the stage for a stroke, heart attack or even cancer.
It turns out that there may be a very simple and very inexpensive way to reduce (often dramatically) your risk for a stroke, heart attack and cancer - and much more. Studies of potassium bicarbonate supplements, like pHour salts in humans report:
*Reduced Blood Pressure
*Increased Muscle Mass
*Decreased Bone Loss
*Reduced Risk of Stroke
*Improved Endothelial Protection
*Reduced Cancer Risk
As we all know, the risk of many troublesome-even deadly-health problems can be reduced with an alkaline lifestyle and diet and increased with an acidic lifestyle and diet.
Our lifestyle and diet has changed radically from what our ancestors ate 1000's of years ago, and not all of these changes have been for the good. Our modern lifestyle and diets are likely to contain far less sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium - less base forming nutrients than those enjoyed by our ancestors who lived up to 1000 years.
Fortunately, an inexpensive sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium bicarbonate dietary supplement called pHour salts can help you to eat more like our ancestors.
One of the most important differences in our ancestors living longer was that there was far more potassium (from fruits and vegetables) and no ingestion of acid-forming foods from animal flesh.
The change to a low potassium, high acid-forming content diet has had a profound impact on many aspects of wellness and aging, including those listed above.
According to one study,1 "the ancient human potassium intake averaged 400 ± 125 mEq/d [about 15 grams per day!], which exceeds the NHANES III [Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994] age-grouped averages (~60-85 mEq/d) [2.3-3.3 grams/d] by factors greater than 4."
This amount also "exceeds the 120 mEq/d set for adequate intake by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine in 2004 and 2006 and the same value, 120 mEq/d recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2005 [4.7 grams per day]."1
Note that the potassium content of the average American adult diet is only 50% to 70% of the amount recommended. This means that most American diets are officially deficient in alkaline mineral salts, especially potassium. Worse yet, the official RDA is too low.
The Institute of Medicine also reported that ". . . Fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens, vine fruit [aka, vegetable fruit, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, and pumpkin] and root vegetables, are good sources of potassium and bicarbonate precursors. Although meat, milk and cereal products contain potassium, they do not contain enough bicarbonate precursors to balance their acid-forming precursors, such as sulfur-containing amino acids."
The results of a high net-acid producing diet include1 increased urinary calcium excretion, increased bone resorption markers (indicative of bone loss), and increased urinary nitrogen excretion (negative nitrogen balance as occurs with loss of lean body mass).
Reduction of Stroke Risk by Potassium
What is worse then a heart attack? A stroke!
The British Medical Journal on Feb. 20th, 2009 stated, "Making simple changes to your lifestyle could dramatically decrease your risk of having a stroke, one of the leading causes of death and illness across the world." (2)
British researchers found people who lead unhealthy lifestyles are more than twice as likely to suffer a stroke than those who eat and drink sensibly, do not smoke and exercise regularly.
More than 20,000 men and women between the ages of 40 and 79 completed detailed health and lifestyle questionnaires and underwent a health examination by trained nurses. Participants scored one point for each of four healthy behaviors: not currently smoking, not physically inactive, moderate alcohol intake and blood vitamin C levels that indicated consuming at least five servings of fruits or vegetables a day (emphasis added).
Participants could have a score between zero and four, with a higher score indicating more protective behavior. They were then followed for an average of 11.5 years, and strokes were recorded using death certificates and hospital discharge data.
After adjusting for other factors that could have affected the results, the researchers said the risk of stroke was 2.3 times greater in those with a score of zero compared to those with a score of four. They also discovered that the risk of stroke increased with every point decrease in health behavior score. In other words, those with a score of two were 1.5 times more likely to have a stroke than those with a score of four.
The researchers said they hope their results will show people that small differences in lifestyle may have substantial potential impacts on stroke risk.
One paper reported on the potassium dietary intake (estimated from a 24 hour recall of dietary foods) versus occurrence of stroke during a 12-year follow-up of 356 men and 503 women who were 50 to 79 years old at baseline and without pre-existing history of heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. (3)
The results showed that the relative risks of stroke-associated mortality in the lowest tertile (third) of potassium intake, as compared with that in the top two tertiles combined, were 2.6 (p=0.16) in men and 4.8 (p=0.01) in women. The effect was partially independent of known cardiovascular risk factors, such as age, sex, blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, obesity, fasting blood glucose levels, and cigarette smoking.
Another study(4) of 5,600 men and women older than 65 years and who were free of strokes, followed for 4 to 8 years, reported that a lower serum potassium level was associated with an increased relative risk of stroke (RR:1.5, p<0.005); a lower serum potassium level in those taking diuretics (presumably for high blood pressure) was associated with an even greater increased risk of stroke (RR:2.5, p<0.0001).
In fact, "for each SD [standard deviation] decrease in serum potassium in a diuretic user, there was a 38% increase in the RR (relative risk] for stroke. For each SD decrease in dietary potassium in a nondiuretic user, there was an 18% increase in the RR for stroke." (4)
The pH Miracle alkaline diet favors "Lean Tissue Mass" in Older Adult Humans
Chronic metabolic acidosis can result from eating a diet whose metabolism yields acids (such as uric, phosphoric, nitric and sulfuric acid) in excess of bases (e.g., bicarbonate).
In fact, this type of diet is typically consumed by populations of industrially developed (Westernized) countries, where animal foods rich in acid (enzymes) precursors are consumed disproportionally to that of plant foods rich in base precursors. (6)
One result of chronic metabolic acidosis is an acceleration in the protein degradation of skeletal muscle; moreover, diet-dependent metabolic acidosis tends to increase in severity with age. (6)
One recent study (7) reported that increased potassium urinary excretion (derived from alkaline potassium salts found in dietary fruits and vegetables) was associated with increased lean body mass in 384 men and women 65 or older who participated in a calcium and vitamin D versus placebo study of osteoporosis.
The authors concluded that ". . . subjects with a potassium intake of 134 mmol/d [5.2 grams/d] can expect to have 1.64 kg [3.6 lbs] more lean tissue mass than subjects with half that potassium intake." (7)
In a separate paper,(7) researchers studying the effect of an oral potassium bicarbonate supplement (60-120 mmol/day for 18 days) in 14 healthy postmenopausal women found that the supplements reduced urinary nitrogen excretion, an indicator of preserved lean body mass.
The authors concluded that "[t]he magnitude of the KHCO3 [potassium bicarbonate]-induced nitrogen sparing effect is potentially sufficient to both prevent continuing age-related loss of muscle mass and restore previously accrued deficits."
The amount of potassium bicarbonate supplement used in this study was 6 to 12 grams per day, which supplied 2.34 to 4.68 grams of potassium per day.
Decreased Calcium Excretion Helps Protect Bones
In another paper, (8) the effect of potassium bicarbonate on calcium excretion in postmenopausal women was reported.
The authors note that potassium bicarbonate has been shown to potently reduce urine calcium excretion in adult humans, including patients with hypertension or calcium urolithiasis, and postmenopausal women.
As the authors note, "[t]he [Western] diet-induced low-grade metabolic acidosis that persists further contributes to the external losses of calcium by direct impairment of renal [kidney] calcium reabsorptive efficiency, a characteristic of metabolic acidosis."
They, therefore, studied the effect of 30, 60, or 90 mmol/d potassium bicarbonate treatment in 170 postmenopausal women for up to 36 months. (3, 6, or 9 grams per day of potassium bicarbonate supplying 1.17, 2.34, or 3.51 grams per day of potassium, respectively.)
All doses of potassium bicarbonate reduced urinary calcium excretion throughout the study. Interestingly, in the 28% of the subjects that had high baseline urinary calcium excretion, 60 mmol/day of potassium bicarbonate decreased the urinary calcium excretion by an amount that, over a 36 month period, would accumulate up to 55,845 mg of calcium or nearly 5% of bone calcium content.(8)
Potassium is Vasoactive, Increasing Blood Flow, Helping Regulate Blood Pressure
It has been reported that potassium depletion in normal humans increases blood pressure, as well as reducing the ability to deal with an acute sodium load and sodium retention. (9)
In borderline hypertensives (140/90), "a low-potassium diet (16 mmol/day) for 10 days increases systolic and diastolic pressures by 7 and 6 mmHg, respectively, relative to 10 days on a high-potassium diet (96 mmol/day)."8 Indeed, potassium supplementation lowers blood pressure in established hypertension.
"Potassium is vasoactive; when infused into the arterial supply of a vascular bed, blood flow increases." (9) Potassium release is regulated by the Na+-K+-ATPase [sodium-potassium-ATPase) enzyme in the plasma membrane.
"Potassium increases the uptake of norepinephrine [aka noradrenaline] into the sympathetic nerve terminals, leaving less in the [synaptic] cleft. This also promotes relaxation of the vascular smooth muscle and increases blood flow." In this way, potassium acts importantly to regulate the excitatory effects of norepinephrine.
In one study,(10) reduced dietary potassium reversibly enhanced vasopressor (vascular contraction, which induces increased blood pressure) response to stress in African Americans. As noted in the paper, the blood pressure of normotensive blacks is much more likely to be salt sensitive than that of normotensive whites:
"In normotensive [but salt sensitive] blacks but not whites [normotensive and not salt sensitive], a marginally reduced dietary intake of potassium reversibly enhances adrenergically mediated vasopressor responsiveness to stress."
How to Take Mineral Salts Including Potassium Bicarbonate
You can easily eat more like Adam and Eve by taking 1 scoop (approximately 1500 mg potassium) or two to three capsules, each capsule containing 1.35 grams of potassium bicarbonate (13.5 meq or 527 mg potassium) three to four times per day.
If you are an adult eating a typical American diet, you will need approximately 3 to 4 scoops or 12 capsules per day of pHour salts, containing potassium bicarbonate to increase your total potassium intake for increased alkalinity. Your increased alkalinity can be measured by peeing on a strip of pHydrion paper. The pH of your urine should be at least 7.2 for ideal health and energy. I suggest starting with one scoop or one capsule per day, and in a week work up to 3 to 4 scoops or 12 capsules per day.
IMPORTANT: Take the capsule(s) by themselves on an empty stomach and wash them down with at least a full glass (8-10 oz) of warm electron-rich alkaline body temperature water. (If you take it with food, the increased alkalinity will interact with the stomach acid and neutralize the toxic hydrochloric acid. This is a good thing but may result in some burping.)
Our intestines and brains are designed to handle situations of emergency stress with a "fight or flight" mechanism that pumps out lots of electrons (with an acidic waste product of noradrenaline - the brain's version of adrenaline which), so you have the energy and alertness to either spear the saber-tooth tiger or run up a tree away from it.
Continuous stress is having the flight or flight system always on, continually pumping out excess electrons and increased acidic noradrenaline, leading to hypertension and possible stroke. Potassium, in sufficient amounts, will pump the acidic waste product of noradrenaline back into the vesicles where it can be eliminated through urination.
Interestingly, the more stress you are under, the more sensitive you tend to be to potassium's blood pressure-lowering effects. And aren't we all under continual acidic stress these days?
In response to these highly acidic times, I developed several alkalizing formulas, including Doc Broc, pHour salts, pHlavor salts, puripHy salts and pHlush salts as a way to de-stress oneself and help maintain the electron-rich alkaline design of the body.
To order your stroke and stress prevention starter pack go to:
1. Sebastian et al. The evolution-informed optimal dietary potassium intake of human beings greatly exceeds current and recommended intakes. Semin Nephrol 26:447-53 (2006).
2. Published on the British Medical Journal's Web site on Feb. 20, 2009
3. Khaw et al. Dietary potassium and stroke-associated mortality. N Engl J Med 316:235-40 (1987).
4. Green et al. Serum potassium level and dietary potassium intake as risk factors for stroke. Neurology 59:314-20 (2002).
5. Xiong et al. Neuroprotection in ischemia: blocking calcium-permeable acid-sensing ion channels. Cell 118:687-96 (2004).
6. Dawson-Hughes et al. Alkaline diets favor lean tissue mass in older adults. Am J Clin Nutr 87:662-5 (2008).
7. Frassetto et al. Potassium bicarbonate reduces urinary nitrogen excretion in postmenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 82:254-59 (1997).
8. Frassetto et al. Long-term persistence of the urine calcium-lowering effect of potassium bicarbonate in postmenopausal women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 90:831-4 (2005).
9. Haddy et al. Role of potassium in regulating blood flow and blood pressure. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 290:R546-52 (2006).
10. Sudhir et al. Reduced dietary potassium reversibly enhances vasopressor response to stress in African Americans. Hypertension 29:1083-90 (1997).
11. Alaimo et al. Daily Intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber of persons aged two months and over in the United States: Third National Health And Nutrition Survey, Phase 1, 1988-91. Adv Data 258:1-28 (1994).