Four worldwide epidemiological surveys conducted by different research teams over twenty years agree that the countries that consume the most calcium (the U.S., Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand) have the highest rates of hip fracture. Meanwhile, countries that consume little or no milk, dairy, and calcium supplements (much of Asia and Africa) have fracture rates 50 to 70 percent lower than those in the U.S. "
One of my readers emailed me that he had heard Dr. Amy Lanou speak this summer and he was very impressed with her message. Long story short--he forwarded me a synopsis of her book--I was impressed and wanted to share it with you. I emailed Dr. Lanou and she gave me permission to post excerpts of the synopsis--and if you're interested--just go directly to this link & read it all.
Full Disclosure: When I first heard the evidence about milk, meat, cheese, and yes, too many cereal grains having a negative effect on bones, I thought, "No way. Couldn't be." The research and the evidence has since changed my mind. See what you think.
- Lanou and Castleman have taken a researcher's careful review of over 1200 studies from respected medical & scientific journals to sort through what causes bone loss, and what can prevent it. They make a fair & balanced presentation of the evidence--including what supports their position & what doesn't! As a medical librarian--I approve! Does Lanou have the credentials to make her case? I think so. To read her bio click here
- I was already aware of some of the research that explains how animal protein (meat & dairy) causes calcium to be removed from bones--but the Lanou/Castleman book took my understanding to a new level. Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes, the Director of the Bone Metabolism Lab at Tufts University and a past president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, published an article supporting this claim in 2009. My first inkling of the negative effects of animal protein--including dairy--upon bones was in 2008 through Dr. T. Colin Campbell's China Study and Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn's research.
- The authors present an elegant case for eating a wide-ranging plant-based low-acid diet and include tables showing the best & worst foods for osteoporosis prevention.
- Lanou & Castleman present a balanced analysis of the research, the evidence, and the pros & cons of all the current osteoporosis drugs. They support their use for people with substantial bone loss or fractures.
- The authors present a thorough research-supported explanation of the less publicized risk factors for osteoporosis and what you can do about them. This includes diabetes, salt, caffeine, alcohol, prescription drugs, and smoking.
- This is not a meat-bashing vegan book with no options for omnivores. "They advise eating six to nine daily servings
of fruits and vegetables and avoiding or limiting (to no more than one or two servings)
high-protein foods such as meat, dairy and eggs daily. Why? Because
protein is composed of amino acids. As the body digests high-protein
foods, the blood becomes more acidic, leaching calcium from the bones. It's all about balance.
The Worst: Corned beef, hard cheeses, salami, egg yolks & egg noodles (the most acidic)
Amy J. Lanou, PhD. University of North Carolina at Asheville Read more about Dr. Lanou here & here
The Countries with the Highest Animal Protein Intake Had the Highest Fracture Rates
Everyone knows how to prevent osteoporosis, right? Drink milk. Eat cheese and yogurt. And take a calcium supplement. This is the familiar “calcium theory of osteoporosis”—endorsed by the nation’s leading health experts.
Only it’s simply not true.
That’s right. Amy Lanou, Ph.D., an assistant professor of health and wellness at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, and noted medical journalist Michael Castleman reviewed 1,200 studies dealing with risk factors for osteoporosis to write Building Bone Vitality, a book that proves the calcium theory wrong and presents a more sensible, scientifically credible explanation of what causes osteoporosis and how to prevent it.
MILK, DAIRY FOODS, AND CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS
BY THEMSELVES OR IN ANY COMBINATION
DO NOT PREVENT FRACTURES
In addition to the four epidemiological surveys, the human experimental studies (clinical trials) also show that the calcium theory is wrong. Since 1975, when the medical literature became easily searchable by computer, 140 clinical trials have explored calcium’s effects on osteoporotic fracture risk. One-third of these studies (47 trials) show that as calcium consumption increases, hip fracture risk decreases. But two-thirds (93 trials) show no benefit from high calcium intake (even with added vitamin D). Several of the negative studies are huge—40,000 to 60,000 women followed for 10 to 20 years. If calcium prevents osteoporosis, shouldn’t such enormous, extended trials show at least some benefit? But they don’t. Overall, the clinical trials dealing with fracture prevention run two-to-one against calcium.
Unfortunately, the minority of studies showing fracture reductions with calcium have garnered just about all of the publicity. That’s a big reason why the calcium theory is still accepted. Only one study showing no benefit from calcium has ever made headlines—a 2006 Harvard trial. As a result, most of the news about osteoporosis prevention supports calcium even though the weight of the evidence runs two-to-one against it.
THE DIETARY KEY TO OSTEOPOROSIS PREVENTION:
Why? Strange as this may sound, osteoporosis prevention begins in the bloodstream. Blood chemistry is very complicated. But for good health, the blood must maintain its pH (relative acidity or alkalinity) within a very narrow range.
Protein is composed of amino acids. As the body digests high-protein foods, amino acids flood the bloodstream, and the blood becomes more acidic. People who eat a high-protein Western diet—lots of meats, poultry, fish, milk, and dairy foods—have blood that’s too acidic for the body to function properly. The excess acid must be neutralized quickly to avoid life-threatening problems.
Have you ever taken Tums for acid indigestion? Its active ingredient is highly alkaline, which neutralizes excess stomach acid. The alkaline ingredient in Tums is calcium carbonate.
The body does something similar to neutralize excess acid in the bloodstream. It draws on the body’s reservoir of alkaline material, the calcium compounds in bone. Neutralizing excess blood acidity releases calcium, which eventually leaves the body in urine. Dozens of studies show that as protein in the diet increases, so does the amount of calcium in urine. A high-protein Western diet draws so much calcium from bone that a diet high in milk, dairy foods, and calcium supplements can't replace it. In other words, a high-protein diet—a typical American diet—sucks calcium from bone and eventually causes osteoporosis.
In the words of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center:
“The high incidence of hip fracture in Western countries is caused by the cumulative effects on bone of the body’s chronic high acid load. This high acid load is the result of disproportionate consumption of animal (acid) foods relative to vegetable (alkaline) foods. The body adapts through dissolution of bone. Over decades, blood that is chronically too acidic induces osteoporosis.”
THE BEST WAY TO IMPROVE BONE MINERAL DENSITY:
A DIET HIGH IN FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
By a margin of two-to-one, the fracture studies show that a diet high in calcium does not prevent fractures. But fracture studies are very expensive. It’s cheaper to study bone mineral density (BMD), the amount of calcium and other minerals in bone.
Since 1975, there have been more than 300 studies of calcium’s impact on BMD. Fifty-two percent show that calcium improves BMD. Many of these studies have been publicized, reinforcing belief in the calcium theory. But we already know that two-thirds of studies show that calcium does not reduce fracture risk. How can a majority of studies—albeit a slim majority—show that calcium improves BMD while two-thirds of trials show that it doesn’t reduce fractures?
Because bones are composed of much more than calcium. Strong, healthy, fracture-resistant bones require 17 nutrients. Consuming lots of calcium without enough of the other 16 nutrients is like building a brick wall with no mortar. Where are these other 16 nutrients found? The richest sources are fruits and vegetables. While calcium improves BMD in 52 percent of studies, fruits and vegetables improve BMD in 85 percent of trials. In other words, the best way to improve bone mineral density is to eat a diet based on fruits and vegetables—which makes sense because the same diet is the key to preventing fractures.
Bottom line: The calcium theory is bankrupt. It just doesn’t explain what causes—and prevents—osteoporosis. The best approach to osteoporosis prevention, the only one that makes scientific sense, is a diet low in animal foods and high in fruits and vegetables, combined with walking or equivalent exercise for 30 to 60 minutes a day, every day. That’s the safe, simple, scientific prescription for osteoporosis prevention—and for optimal health and longevity.
I've just included excerpts from the synopsis of "Building Bone Vitality". Click here to read the full synopsis. Better yet, get a copy of the book!