Last month, there was another ridiculous headline floating around the media, which was based on a recent study. It was: “Vegetarian Diet Weakens Bones.”
This is exactly the kind of “study” I have learned to ignore through the years. Why? Because you can’t quantify the results of it. In fact, this one was particularly diluted. The researchers basically summarized 9 out of 922 “peer-reviewed” articles/studies that “met the criteria.” But what was the criteria? What were the studies they used? How were those studies conducted? And who paid for them? If we can’t verify the validity of each individual study, then we can’t verify any summary of them.
That’s why I’ve always looked to real world situations to verify info…the lifestyle particulars of real cultures who have achieved optimal results which, in this case, means healthy bones. And what we find is that it has less to do with the total amount or source of calcium or protein in the diet, as this study suggests. Actually, the opposite is true. As I believe we’ve talked about here on this blog, too much calcium or protein creates acidic conditions in the blood, which causes the body to leach more calcium from the bones. That’s why – as one example – rural Chinese women, who eat lots of rice and veggies and whose calcium intake is about 1/3 or even 1/4 that of American women, have so radically fewer cases of osteoporosis. (It turns out that the sedentary lifestyle is MUCH more of a factor than diet.)
Ironic case in point: If you go to the actual web site of the institute, then click on the particular division who conducted this study, scroll down and look at the study they did just before this one. It says:
Vegan Buddhist nuns have same bone density as non-vegetarians.
And by the way, the reason it was the same for the nuns as non-veggies only proves my point that it’s less about diet and more about overall lifestyle. In fact, another ironic point was that they didn’t compare the nuns to western veggies because they thought that the lacto-veggie westerners increased calcium intake would give them an advantage over the vegan women.
They said: “We didn’t study vegetarians from the West because many are lacto-vegetarians, so could have considerable calcium in their diets. It would have compromised the results,” Nguyen explained.
I say, “No…go ahead and test them! See what all the extra animal-based calcium and protein does.”
If only you knew the number of fucked-up, misleading examples of bogus studies I’ve seen like this through the years of researching my health/nutrition book. But what does the public hear? Only the headline: “Vegetarian Diet Weakens Bones.”
All the more reason to keep putting this info out there…