As women age and their oestrogen levels naturally drop, they are at risk of an increased bone loss which can eventually result in osteoporosis – brittle bone disease. An interesting study tested the effect of daily prune consumption on postmenopausal women’s bone health over a period of six months. They were otherwise healthy and not on hormone replacement therapy.
As more and more plant milks are popping up, you may be wondering about their health benefits and how they compare to cow's milk. Veronika Powell explores the milky landscape
Firstly, let's have a proper look at what any milk actually is - a very watery liquid, around 90 per cent is always water. Therefore, any amount of nutrients it contains is more or less diluted and any health effects depend on how much of it you drink.
Let’s face it, we all know we could eat healthier but we also want to be able to treat ourselves every now and then.
A healthy vegan diet is based on fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, pulses (lentils, beans, soya, chickpeas), nuts and seeds (with the obligate addition of vitamin B12 supplement).
The journal Osteoporosis International has recently published a review of studies on bone health and acid-alkali balance in the body. Everything we eat forms either acids or alkalis when digested and there has been much debate about whether acid-forming foods, such as meat, cheese, sugar and alcohol, can result in weaker bones.
Results of a long-term study showed that milk consumption during adolescence will not protect you from fractures and poor bone health later in life. We all know the dairy industry want us to believe we need milk and keep telling us it’ll help our bones but it’s simply a lie. In fact, the researchers found that men consuming high amounts of milk during adolescence had a higher risk of hip fracture in adulthood.
We’ve known for a long time that diets high in fruit and vegetables are good for you. A study examining the relationship between diet and hip fracture risk recently confirmed that they are also best for your bones. The Singapore Chinese Health Study is population-based and enrolled over 63,000 men and women aged 45-74 years between 1993 and 1998 in Singapore. Their diet has been repeatedly assessed over the years and two dietary patterns have been identified - the vegetable-fruit-soya pattern and the meat-dim-sum.
The results of a 19-year-long study of 61,433 women showed that consuming more than the recommended daily amount of calcium did not offer any protection from osteoporosis and hip fractures. Women who consumed at least 750mg calcium per day (recommended daily dose is 1,000mg) were not at a higher risk of osteoporosis or fractures than women consuming more. The rate of hip fracture was even increased in those with high dietary calcium intakes. The best plant sources of calcium include: nuts and seeds (especially sesame seeds), green leafy vegetables, beans, figs, apricots, molasses.
An article in the journal Nutrients reviewed more than 200 scientific papers on soya published in recent years with regard to specific soya bean constituents, especially isoflavones. The article highlighted the role that soya foods have in reducing risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and certain forms of cancer and concluded that concerns about adverse effects of soya consumption were not scientifically supported.
Previous studies show that high intakes of animal protein can lead to bone loss. This five-year study in the British Journal of Nutrition looked at the diets of 757 girls in Beijing, China. Some of the group were given cow’s milk for the first two years. Results showed that while calcium intake improved bone health, animal protein (especially from meat and eggs) reduced bone density. Plant protein did not have this harmful effect.
Some studies suggest that plant hormones found in soya foods (isoflavones) can help reduce bone loss and lower the risk of osteoporosis. However the evidence is somewhat inconsistent. New research that looks at the current research in its entirety concludes that soya isoflavones can significantly reduce bone loss in the spine. The effects were more significant when more than 90 mg a day of isoflavones were consumed. Tofu, tempeh, soya milk, meat substitutes and soya flour are all good sources of isoflavones.
Does a vegan diet alleviate the agony of rheumatoid arthritis? And even more controversially, does an animal-based diet promote this painful disease? Juliet Gellatley BSc, Dip CNM, founder of Viva! and nutritional therapist investigates and shares a fascinating case study.
Never mind the text books, what does rheumatoid arthritis really feel like? I found out through the Healing Well arthritis forum:
A team of scientists from Boston have published a study showing that cola drinks may cause bone loss in older women. The Framingham Osteoporosis Study took bone measurements in over 1,400 women. Their diets were assessed and results showed that the more cola they drank, the more bone was lost from the hip (but not the spine). Similar results were seen for diet-cola, but not for non-cola fizzy drinks. Scientists have suggested several possible reasons why this happens. The phosphoric acid in cola may be to blame, or it may be that cola is drunk in place of healthier