I just read a study that makes me proud I received my Masters in nutrition from Tufts. (I don't care for their Nutrition Newsletter, so sometimes I'm not nearly as proud).
This particular study was lead by my old professor Katie Tucker (oh my gosh, I know her!), and really throws the supplement, pharmaceutical and dairy industries for a loop, so you know I'm happy. It was also published in the Journal of Nutrition (Oct. 2008) if you want to read it yourself online.
They followed elderly men and women age 75 and older for four years, assessing bone loss and vitamin C intake. It was found that elderly men who consumed the most vitamin C in their diet had no bone loss, even though they had low calcium intake.
This makes sense since vitamin C plays a huge role in calcium absorption and metabolism. But who knew what a strong role this vitamin plays even when calcium levels are low?
Vitamin C didn't seem to protect women from bone loss in this study, believed to be due to the estrogen and calcium supplements which women take which "can complicate vitamin C interactions" (Tucker).
Ironically, taking the hormones and supplements industries push on us can actually counteract the beneficial effects of nutrients from our diet. In other words, taking pills can exacerbate bone loss, not necessarily prevent it.
So folks, if osteoporosis is on your mind, forget the pills: eat the fruit and veggies. And remember, locally-grown, seasonal, and organic produce has significantly more vitamin C, so you're getting your money's worth spending the extra penny.
After writing almost two hundred posts on this blog, I sometimes wonder if it's worth it. My highest hope is to help people prevent disease, gain energy, heal, and lose weight. I can't hear enough success stories - they're almost miraculous - and inspire me to continue sharing what I know with others.
A few days ago, I heard from an old acquaintance of mine, Kim. When I last saw her about a year ago, she was struggling with chronic fatigue, mood disturbances and tingling/numbness of her ligaments due to Lyme disease. I encouraged her that a plant-based diet can help heal even the most unlikely diseases (because it boosts the immune system and circulation), and I guess I convinced her, because she immediately changed her diet - and quickly noticed the relief from her symptoms.
Here's Kim's story in her own words"
"I began completely avoiding refined sugar, increased fruit, vegetable and fiber intake tremendously, drinking green tea daily, with a minimal amount of meat. Within 1 month, my energy level increased tremendously and leveled off my intense mood disturbances. Not "cured" from lyme or babesia but, holding steady today and definitely much, much more functional than ever, since my first onset of symptoms."
Kim also wrote that she's feels "90% herself" energy-wise, no longer needs an afternoon nap, and has lost 15 pounds.
Of course, Kim's doctor never told her nutrition could help, because he doesn't know. I mean, who would possibly think that a plant-based diet could have such power over a prognosis like Lyme disease - or any other auto-immune disease?
The good news is the same as the bad: What we put in our bodies is SO powerful.
Can I just say how tired I am of telling people that animal protein causes bone loss? It's tiresome because this is NOT a subject of scientific controversy - it's something everyone should learn in kindergarden. There is so much evidence for this, and it's so important... why am I one of a only a few nutritionists talking about it?
Here's some more research for you:
In a recent study done by my alma mater (Tufts University, published in Journal of Renal Nutrition, Sept. 2008), they measured the acidity in the urine of vegans, lacto-ovo vegetarians and omnivores. They found mean estimated Net Acid Excretion (NAE) values were significantly different: 17.3 +/- 14.5 mEq/day for vegans, 31.3 +/- 8.5 mEq/day for lacto-ovo vegetarians, and 42.6 +/- 13.2 mEq/day for omnivores (analysis of variance, P = .01).
Net Acid Excretion (NAE) is a measurement of blood acidity which is largely due to dietary factors. Many studies have shown an strong positive "inverse" relationship between NAE and bone density. In other words, people with the highest blood acidity have less dense bones. This recent study shows what a powerful role diet plays in sparing bone loss: meat-eaters had 2&1/2 times the NAE than vegans, and almost half that of lacto-ovo vegetarians!
So next time someone asks you how you "get your calcium" when they hear you don't consume dairy products or calcium supplments, ask them what their Net Acid Excretion is!
Labels: bone loss
I usually don't use my personal experience to convey nutrition anecdotes, but I think I just might have to.
When I used to give blood regularly, the nurses would ALWAYS ask if I was an athlete because my blood pressure was so low (not dangerously low, however). One time a nurse even told me the man before me had incredibly low blood pressure because he was a mountain climber. Then she told me my blood pressure was even lower, and asked if I climbed mountains too.
I would always answer by telling them that I was somewhat of an athlete, but not that serious, and my low blood pressure was due primarily to my diet, as I was a vegan. They never really seemed to believe me.
When I was pregnant and my midwives constantly took my blood pressure, they would also comment that I had "the arteries of an athlete". I didn't bother telling them it was my diet. It was interesting though, that even at nine months pregnant, my blood pressure was not quite 120 over 80.
But I'm no super-athlete. It's my diet. I'll prove it.
In a study published in Public Health Nutrition (Oct. 2002), researchers looked at the blood pressures of people from four groups: meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. They found mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures were significantly different between the four diet groups, with meat eaters having the highest values and vegans the lowest values. Vegans had blood pressures 1/2 to 1/3 lower than meat-eaters.
A lower blood pressure means increased circulation, more oxygen delivered to cells - including heart, brain and immune cells. Lower blood pressure means not only will you live longer, but feel better, be less sick and have tons more energy (oxygen will do that, you know). Oh yes, and you will age more slowly.