In the glow of youth, we often don’t worry about what our health will be like as we grow older. With more women dying from heart disease than ever before, and now half of the entire female population being diagnosed with osteoporosis (loss of bone density) by the time they reach age 60, it’s time to do something. Like, now.
What’s even more worrisome is that 1 in 5 women will suffer a fall by the time they are 60, and break their hip. Due to osteoporosis, it could mean that the bones don’t heal, and they never walk again.
Moreover, women as young as 20 are testing with low bone density.
There’s an incredibly simple solution though, and it just so happens to affect heart disease risk, too.
Become Vegetarian or Vegan
It may sound shocking and completely unrelated, but here are some interesting facts about why becoming a vegetarian could dramatically reduce your risk for this disease:
The excessive consumption of meat is causing bone density loss.
In one study it was discovered that the renal acid load from meats, cheese, and other animal products could be contributing to bone loss. The study states,
“One of the most hotly debated controversies in clinical nutrition today is whether a diet higher in protein has a positive or negative effective on bone strength and bone mineral density (BMD).
Those who are against protein point to the fact that vegetarians tend to have stronger bones than people who eat more meat and the clinical trials showing increased loss of calcium in the urine when meat or protein intake is increased.
On the other hand, those who believe more protein is beneficial to bone strength point to clinical trials in which children who consume more protein tend to build stronger bones than those who consume less.
In some studies of older Americans who consumed more protein, the risk of bone fracture was reduced. . .
If we look at this problem from an evolutionary perspective, two things are clear.
First, from the fossils of our ancient ancestors, it is clear that their bones were far stronger on average than those of Americans today.
Second, our ancient ancestors were for the most part hunter-gatherers and ate a diet that was likely considerably higher in protein than the diet of most Americans.”
But here is the caveat – our ancient ancestors didn’t eat as much highly processed, acid forming, antibiotic-laden, unethically slaughtered meat as we do today. The meat we eat now is highly acid-forming in the body, which leads to yet another study.
Any activities which cause low-grade chronic inflammation also contribute to osteoporosis. Though eating meat is not the sole culprit – a sedentary lifestyle, refined sugar, refined fats, etc. also add to acidity – meat eating does indeed cause inflammation.
An overly acidic diet is a key cause of chronic inflammation. In a healthy body, the natural biochemical balance is four parts alkaline to one part acid. To achieve this balance, a person needs to consume roughly 80 percent alkaline foods and 20 percent acidic foods.
Meat eating, particularly of red meat, has also been linked to higher incidences of heart disease, by Harvard researchers, and is an acid-creating food.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, sprouts, seeds, and healthy fats like those found in hemp and flax seed, etc. are alkaline-supporting foods. They are also more easily digested by our bodies and lower chronic inflammation.
Eskimos Have Lower Bone Density
Yet another study looked at the bone mineral content of Eskimos, who are famous for eating a primarily meat-based diet to their harsh climate.
The study reports,
“Direct photon absorptiometry was used to measure the bone mineral content of forearm bones in Eskimo natives of the north coast of Alaska. The sample consisted of 217 children, 89 adults, and 107 elderly (over 50 years).
Eskimo children had a lower bone mineral content than United States whites by 5 to 10% but this was consistent with their smaller body and bone size.
Young Eskimo adults (20 to 39 years) of both sexes were similar to whites, but after age 40 the Eskimos of both sexes had a deficit of from 10 to 15% relative to white standards. Aging bone loss, which occurs in many populations, has an earlier onset and greater intensity in the Eskimos.
Nutritional factors of high protein, high nitrogen, high phosphorus, and low calcium intakes may be implicated.”
Though it is common knowledge that our soil is not as rich with vital minerals as it was before industrial agriculture, plant based foods still provide minerals, in their correct balance, to prevent or greatly slow osteoporosis.
Vegetarian and Vegan Foods to Build Strong Bones
Moreover, cheese and milk products (animal based proteins) are not the only source of calcium.
Spinach, collards, kale, Swiss chard, lettuces, rhubarb, mustard and turnip greens, and even broccoli all contain calcium.
Pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, Adzuki, lentils, chickpeas, pinto, Kidney beans and squash all have high levels of phosphate.
A word to the wise though – skip soy altogether. The reason so many more woman than men suffer from Osteoporosis is that estrogen interferes with mineral uptake. Soy, especially GMO soy, and other estrogen mimicking foods can make it hard for your body to build strong bones.
You can reduce inflammation overall by cutting back on refined sugars, and getting to the gym ore often. But, it seems that simply by reducing your animal protein consumption, you’ll likely still walk after the age of 60.
(Featured image: Shuttershock)