Although nutritionists and the food industry have cautioned that a diet devoid of dairy foods can lead to the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, scientists found that those who stick to raw food vegetarian diets (vegans) have surprisingly strong bones, even though they avoid meat and dairy products.
But how can raw food vegans, who believe in eating only plant-derived foods, have strong bones? The answer: Sunlight.
Vegans' Strong Bones
Scientists compared 18 patients (ages 33-85) who had maintained a strict raw food vegan diet (including unprepared foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and sprouted grains) for more than three years with people who ate an average diet. The study showed that raw food vegans had an average body mass index (BMI) of 20.5, compared to a BMI of 25 in the average diet group.
Additionally, the vegans had low levels of C-reactive protein (linked to diabetes and heart disease) and IGF-1 (connected to breast and prostate cancer). The most important finding, however, was that vitamin D levels among those in the raw food group were significantly higher than average.
Vitamin D is made by the skin when the body is exposed to sunlight and the key to keeping bones strong.
Scientists explained that the raw food vegans involved in the study were clever enough to expose themselves to sunlight in order to increase their vitamin D concentrations.
Archives of Internal Medicine March 28, 2005;165(6):684-689 http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/165/6/684?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Fontana&searchid=1112118954209_2199&stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0&journalcode=archinte
Reuters, March 28, 2005 (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7317449/).