Your Bone Density and Raw Foods
1. Bone Density Test for Raw Vegans
Recently I received the following question:
Q: It would be helpful if you could discuss bone density and raw diets. Despite gym work and my best efforts on a raw diet for many years, I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. I am 66 and very slim.
Let’s consider osteoporosis. There’s only one way to diagnose early onset of osteoporosis: a bone density test. It’s also called a bone mass measurement test. A special machine, called Central DXL, is used to measure the bone density in your hip, spine or some other bones. The results of your test will be given using T-scores. A T-score shows how much higher or lower your bone density is than what is considered a “normal” T-score.
Your doctor will be using the following correlation: the lower your bone density, the greater your risk of fracture. But if you are on all-raw or high-raw food lifestyle, that is when things get interesting.
Here’s what I learned at a Calorie Restriction conference where I met Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, research instructor in medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science at the School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis.
In his research, Dr. Fontana compared and contrasted people on raw vegan diets with those on conventional diets. He noticed that if you take a typical frail, post-menopausal woman with osteoporosis, she has low bone mass and high risk of fracture. She also has, Dr. Fontana noted, high circulating levels of cytokines, a kind of inflammatory molecule. This is a quite different sort of condition from what he saw in raw-food vegans.
True, Dr. Fontana found that the raw vegans do have lower bone mass, but he also found that they didn’t necessarily have increased risk of fracture. Rather, Dr. Fontanta believes that lower bone mass in the raw food vegan is likely the result of simply taking in fewer calories.
Typically, too, an average raw vegan has low inflammation and higher than normal vitamin D levels—the latter likely resulting from deliberate exposure to sunlight. Short version: What looks superficially like osteoporosis may well be, for the raw vegan woman, not disease at all. Dr. Fontana’s conclusion: more research is needed.
One more thing to consider: your doctor will compare your T-score against the “normal” —the bone mass of an average 30-year-old healthy adult. But a 30-year-old raw vegan will look and feel no more than 20 years old. So, you see the discrepancy right there: You cannot truly compare a raw vegan with a person who eats a standard diet.
This is not to say raw vegans cannot get into serious trouble, nutritionally. They can, and some do. The main reason raw vegans get sick: B12 deficiency. Read this article as if your life depends on it: Vitamin B-12 Controversy.
What’s more, being too slim is a big risk factor for osteoporosis. Natural eating must go together with natural moving. This means climbing, crawling, bending, squatting. If you’re not doing these daily in your work and play, make sure you try to mimic all these movements at the gym!
My book Quantum Eating repeatedly emphasizes how an all-raw diet will make you an enigma in the medical community’s eyes. Keep in mind - the tests the medical community runs on the general public might not be applicable to you. The book gives an example. You, now very healthy thanks to your raw food lifestyle, undergo a blood test. Your doctor suspects cancer. Why? Your test has shown a low white blood cell count. Please read Quantum Eating to inform yourself. You’ll save yourself the fright and grief of a possible misdiagnosis.
2. Osteoporosis and Raw Foods
Now let us get to the second part of the email:
Despite gym work and my best efforts on a raw diet for many years, I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. I am 66 and very slim.
I well understand your exasperation. There are people who carry extra weight and have unhealthy eating habits who don’t develop osteoporosis. And here you are, eating the best diet possible, and yet, your doctor says you have it. It just doesn’t seem right.
Bones respond to the demands our body puts on them. To carry extra weight, they must be strong. You are slim—there is not much demand on your bones. This is why, if you follow a raw food lifestyle, you must incorporate a serious exercise routine into your day.
Here's what strikes me in your email: the phrases “gym work” and “very slim.” Those two don’t go well together. It shows that what are you doing in terms of “gym work” is not enough.
I know there are days when I go to the gym on my own, and even when I spend an hour there, I get very little in the way of results. In the last two weeks, just to prove my point, I’ve been especially dedicated. No looking around. No chatting. 100% concentration. And guess what? I’ve gained 3 pounds of pure muscle. Weights, it’s well known, are the best way to reverse and prevent osteoporosis.
The body uses its built-in systems to reverse brittle bone disease. Stress your bones and your body will build up bone density in response. Nothing increases your bone density like strength training. More information in Osteoporosis and Raw Foods.
3. Answering Your Questions...
Q: I am trying to figure out which facial masque to order. How are your three facial masks different? Which do you recommend for mature skin and for dealing with wrinkles?
A: I started developing my first facial masque in 2007. I wanted a masque gentle enough I could use it every day. That’s how our Green Clay Masque was born.
It’s survived the test of time—12 years, now. This creamy masque will greatly improve your complexion with no irritation. If you’ve never used a facial masque before, this is the one to start with.
After several years of daily use, my Green Clay Masque continued to work well, but I wanted something even better. I came across an article about Canadian Marine Mineral Clay. I was so impressed with the benefits it holds for our skin that I just had to try it out in masque form. Then there was turmeric—a big buzzword these days. Turmeric’s anti-bacterial properties are hard to match. As a result, our GlaciClear Masque combines the best of both worlds: the high mineral content of Canadian Marine Mineral Clay and the skin-clarifying and purifying properties of turmeric. Now, there’s a combination you just can’t beat!
Charcoal Acti-Mask is the latest addition to our line of masques. The best feature of charcoal is its potent detoxifying effect. It drinks impurities from your skin and delivers an intense skin stimulation. Though my skin is very accustomed to masques, it still reddens slightly after using this particular masque. However, 5 minutes later my skin looks smooth and poreless. This more advanced masque is not for the beginner: Get some basic experience with clay masques before using it. I like to alternate facial masques in my beauty routine.
Which mask is better for you will depend on where you are now in your masqueing practice. Each mask has a slightly different consistency. As always, experiment cautiously… note results carefully… and find out what works best for you.
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