High Potassium Foods, Falls and Osteoporosis – Anecdote

This post will be different than the usual posts. Up till now we have tried to keep it scientific, based on the literature. But my wife has had a recent anecdotal experience to confirm the value of the high potassium diet. The past year she has incorporated high potassium foods into her diet and has reversed her osteoporosis.

My wife and I have very different approaches to diet. I eat almost solely from a nutrition viewpoint, although if something tastes truly awful I will find a substitute. Whereas she actually bases her food choices on whether the food tastes good. Hard for me to understand. She also liked to eat out a fair amount in the past, which made it difficult to get a meal of high potassium foods, since so many restaurant foods are loaded with sodium.

A little over a year ago her DEXA scan showed she had a rapid bone loss over the preceding year and had osteoporosis. She began to change her diet to a high potassium foods diet. However it was still quite different from mine since she wanted it to be varied and taste good to her. I also want it to taste good, but I enjoy the taste of raw fruits and vegetables.

She learned which foods were high in potassium and low in sodium and began to use those foods in her diet, avoiding the high sodium foods. She got her intake up to 4700 gm a day of potassium and less than 1500 sodium after a few days. After several days of measuring the potassium content of her foods, she was able to estimate well enough not to measure any more. She also is an excellent cook, so she could prepare high potassium foods that tasted good to her. It became a habit for the past year.

She just finished a recent DEXA scan and it showed almost complete reversal of the osteoporosis in her spine, and improvement in her hips to values almost normal. That's right, it did not slow or stop the osteoporosis, it REVERSED it. She also had two recent falls prior to the scan. One fall was down a flight of stairs and the other off two steps onto concrete. And she broke …nothing, although she was very sore for a few weeks. A friend of hers recently slipped on her kitchen floor and broke her ankle requiring surgery. Yes, we and our friends are at the age where osteoporosis is common and falls often lead to broken bones. Senility has not set in, but it's just around the corner.

At any rate, since my wife fell on her backside on both her falls, I suspect she would have had a fracture if her osteoporosis had continued to progress. But she is now working to improve her bone density even more and is stressing it with weight bearing, which should lead to even more density if she continues with the high potassium foods. The potassium in the foods counters the calcium loss, allowing the bone to respond to weight bearing in a more natural way. With excess sodium promoting the continued dissolution of the bone, the weight bearing exercises would probably be of little use.

I'll be trying to encourage her to give up some of her recipes for future articles since most people like a greater variety of foods and taste than I do. My basic diet consists of raw vegetables and fruit, raw nuts, intact grain, a bit of dairy, and a bit of fish or poultry. I occasionally add cinnamon, or cocoa, or various high potassium spices for poultry or fish, but mostly just enjoy the natural taste of a food. She on the other hand is a true cook who makes tasty meals. Wish me luck in convincing her.

Tables of various foods with their potassium and sodium values can be found here. Or find a small post about osteoporosis and hypertension here.