Does Animal Protein Cause Osteoporosis?

Alkaline Diets, Meat, and Calcium Loss
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For most of the last century, a prevailing theory within the field of nutrition was that by eating acid-forming foods such as meat, we were, in essence, at risk of peeing our bones down the toilet. And no wonder! Experiments dating back to 1920 showed over and over that if we add meat to our diet we get a big spike in the amount of calcium being lost in the urine.

And this made total sense. We had known since 1912 that meat was acid-forming within the body, and how do we buffer acid? What are in antacid (anti-acid) pills like Tums? Calcium compounds.

Meat and eggs have a lot of sulphur-containing amino acids (two to five times more than grains and beans) that are metabolized into sulphuric acid, which the body buffers with calcium compounds. And where is calcium stored in the body? The skeleton. So the thinking was that every time we ate a steak, our body would pull calcium from our bones, bit by bit, and over time this could lead to osteoporosis. Based on 26 such studies, for every 40 grams of protein we add to our daily diet, we pee out an extra 50 mg of calcium. We only have about two pounds of calcium in our skeleton, so the loss of 50 milligrams a day would mean losing close to 2% of our bone calcium every year. By the end of the 20th century, there was little doubt that acid-forming diets would dissolve our bones away.

But if we actually look at the studies done on protein intake and bone health, that’s not what we find. So, where’s the flaw in the logic? Meat leads to acid, which leads to calcium loss, which leads to bone loss, right?

Well, it’s uncontroversial that protein results in greater calcium excretion, but we’ve just been assuming it’s coming from the bone—where else could the extra calcium dumped in our urine be coming from but our bones?

One study appeared to solve the mystery. An intrepid group of researchers tried feeding a group of volunteers radioactive calcium and then put them on a high protein diet. What happens when we put people on a high protein diet? The amount of calcium in their urine shoots up, and indeed that’s just what happened. But here’s the big question, was that extra calcium in their urine radioactive or not? To everyone’s surprise, it was radioactive. This meant that the excess calcium in their urine was coming from their diet, not from their bones.

What seemed to be happening is that the excess protein consumption boosted calcium absorption, from down around 19% up to 26%. All of a sudden there was all this extra calcium in the blood, so presumably the kidneys are like “whoa, what are we going to do with it all?” So they dump it into the urine. 90% of the extra calcium in the urine after eating a steak doesn’t appear to be coming from our bones but from our diet. We’re not sure why protein boosts calcium absorption. Maybe protein increases the solubility of calcium by stimulating stomach acid production? Whatever the reason, there was indeed more calcium lost, but also more calcium gained such that in the end, most of that extra calcium is accounted for. In effect, more calcium is lost in the urine stream, but it may be compensated by less loss of calcium through the fecal stream.

This was repeated with even more extreme diets—an acid-forming five-burgers-a-day-worth-of-animal protein diet that limited fruits and vegetables versus an alkaline diet emphasizing fruits and vegetables. More calcium in the urine on burgers, but significantly greater calcium absorption, such that at the end it was pretty much a wash.

Other studies have also since supported this interpretation. Here’s an ingenious one: Feed people a high animal protein diet but add in an alkali salt to neutralize the acid. The old thinking would predict that there would be no calcium loss since there is no excess acid to buffer, but no, even though the acid load was neutralized, there was still the excess urinary calcium, consistent with the radioactive isotope study, challenging the “long-standing dogma that animal protein consumption results in a mild acidosis promoting the increased excretion of calcium.”

So if our body isn’t buffering the acid formed from our diet with our bones, how is it neutralizing the acid? Maybe with our muscles. Alkaline diets may protect our muscle mass! I cover that in my video Testing Your Diet with Pee and Purple Cabbage.

Now the boost in calcium absorption can only compensate if we’re taking enough in. For example, dietary acid load may be associated with lower bone mineral density in those getting under 800mg a day. Plant Protein is Preferable to animal protein for a variety of reasons (tends to have less methionine, is less IGF-1 promoting, etc.), but it’s not clear how much of an advantage it has when it comes to bone health.

I previously touched on this topic in my video Is Protein Bad to the Bone? But I promised I’d take a deeper dive, hence my video Alkaline Diets, Meat & Calcium Loss.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

Note to chemistry geeks: Yes, I know it’s the calcium salt anions that actually do the buffering (carbonate in Tums and phosphate in bones), but I’m trying my best to simplify for a largely lay audience. I’ll make it up to you with some kitchen chemistry (actually bathroom chemistry!) in my  Testing Your Diet video.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 – 2015 presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day, From Table to Able, and Food as Medicine.

Image Credit: PD Art / Wikimedia Commons

  • Panchito

    How about the regulation of Ca serum with the hormone PTH and calcitonin? PTH releases calcium from the bone to restore the Ca to a 8.8 – 10.2 mg/dL
    level, and also increases Ca reabsorbtion from the intestines.Thus, if the blood loses Ca by peeing (from high protein), then PTH leeches it from the bones to restored it back to its normal level.

  • JoAnn Downey Ivey

    10 years ago I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. My doc told me to read the China Study (!), get off meat and dairy, and go to the gym and lift heavy weights. My next DEXA 3 years later showed reversal of osteoporosis to osteopenia, and 3 years after that my bone density was even better. I have no idea if it was the heavy resistance training/weight bearing exercises or the vegan diet, so I keep doing the same thing.

    • Thea

      JoAnn: re: the diet or the weight?
      While I don’t have enough expertise to have a rigorous debate on the topic, I would say: Both! If nothing else, the whole plant food diet keeps you healthy in every other way so that you are healthy enough to lift the weights.

      Just my thoughts on the matter. Thanks for posting on this topic again. Your story is important.

      • JoAnn Downey Ivey

        Thanks Thea. I repeat my story because what I did worked so well for me in many areas, and maybe just one person will be helped.

    • Coacervate

      Great! You deserve a prize! Hey lets send your Dr an award too! i wish mine thought like that.

    • bruxe

      What were you doing before that you stopped doing later … it could just as well be the stopping of bad habits as the starting of new proposed good habits. This is the problem with non-scientific anecdotal evidence. From your point of view, I think you are right to do what you are doing that has results … why worry about specifically what it is?

    • Laura

      JoAnn. I am a newby, cannot eat meat anyway as humans torture all living animls people eat. But I don’t know what to eat to fight osteopenia, which I have. As a newby, I’d like some simple things to eat. I’m not a cook, o simple is good. :)

      • Toxins

        Try eating green leafy vegetables such as collards or kale. Limiting sodium will lower calcium balance needs as well. Spinach is not an efficient source of Ca+ due to oxalates. See here for more.
        http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/

      • JoAnn Downey Ivey

        Laura, apart from avoiding all animal products which results in a more alkaline diet, and eating lots of vegetables, greens like kale and collards & legumes, increasing bone density requires resistance training/weight lifting/weight bearing exercises. We exercise the muscle, the tendon attached to that muscle pulls on the bone, and significant stress on the bone causes bone growth. Squats, which can be weighted, are the best exercise for increasing the bone density of the neck of the femur. Every muscle group needs to be worked – exercising the left leg does nothing for the right leg. The spine, hips and wrists are most vulnerable to fractures. I belong to a gym and use machines and free weights, but walking lunges, pushups, squats etc require no special equipment. Getting a trainer to show you the correct form for all the exercises can be valuable and help prevent injury. You could eat the perfect diet but the exercise is critical. Hope that’s of some help :)

        • Natasha

          JoAnn, what about an elderly person? Would these recommendations apply for them too? My grandma is 80 years old, she has osteoporosis and she was a very active person, until one day doing her group exercise routine broke her middle toe. She had to undergo surgery to fix her toe and now the doctors recommended her to decrease her activity load and start injections of “forte teriparatide”. This medicine seems to have a lot of secondary effects, even bone cancer. I would like to know your thoughts? Are there any safer alternatives?
          Thank you so much!

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            Natasha is your grandmother able to walk? Weight bearing is really important, and I question the advice to decrease activity. I’d get a second opinion. My 97yo MIL walks about an hour a day. Decreasing activity will hasten muscle atrophy as well.

      • Thea

        Laura: You have gotten two great replies already. I thought I would jump in with my own recommendation, which is to check out the book: “Building Bone Vitality, A Revolutionayry Diet Plan To Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporosis”. It’s a very compelling book and may help give you some confidence on which way to go with your diet.

        Also, the exercise is covered in the book, but they give some really great tips on which exercises help and which do not.

        http://www.amazon.com/Building-Bone-Vitality-Revolutionary-Osteoporosis–Without/dp/0071600191/ref=sr_1_1_twi_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416436068&sr=1-1&keywords=building+bone+vitality

  • Question- ” so the loss of 50 grams a day would mean losing close to 2% of our bone calcium every year.” Does this number incorporate the calcium we normally add? Or is this a stagnant number? I mean, does this mean “if we did nothing to increase our calcium stores”, or does this mean, “the average person consumes X amount o calcium and stores Z amount of calcium, so therefore, we would lose 2% of our bone calcium every year” ? Thanks!

    • Never mind! LOL… I see my answer.

  • KWD

    After reading that it’s possible the body might take calcium from muscles for buffering, I’m wondering if leg cramps occurring with increasing frequency (and that haven’t decreased in response to a magnesium supplement) could be a possible manifestation of too much protein. I have a friend who has dealt with painful leg cramps for years. The cramps are increasing in frequency and the medical advice he’s been given thus far hasn’t helped.

    • Thea

      KWD: Interesting thought. Couldn’t hurt your friend to try a whole plant food based diet. Like Dr. Greger is often pointing out when he discusses a study that is just a single study – well, if it doesn’t work, what are the side effects? Increased health in every other area of life. So, it really is worth a shot. You might point this info out to your friend.

      • KWD

        Most definitely.

    • Coacervate

      I THINK cramping in the calves during exercise is a symptom of atherosclerosis too.

  • Alistair Taylor

    I hate milk… I truly do. Which it’s hard to discuss with people without bias. However, they have produced a few pretty good studies from respected journals I would like to share. Now, even if milk was food for me, I wouldn’t drink it, but in the name of science I keep and open mind. Can someone help me critique these studies?http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07315724.2008.10719750#.U9d4TpSSxSE shows that protective affect of Milk compared to non drinkers
    http://jama.jamanetwork.com/Mobile/article.aspx?articleid=194858 IRS associated with milk consumption http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v29/n1/abs/0802838a.html and a nature journal article about prospective weight loss on full cream milk consumption

    • bruxe

      >> I hate milk… I truly do. Which it’s hard to discuss with people without bias.

      Who has the bias? Let me guess the people who drink milk, right? What is so hard about realizing you do not like milk, you just do not like it, why do you have to rationalize that EVERYONE must dislike it, and seek to cherry pick and interpret studies to agree with you. It’s fine not to like milk! Don’t drink milk, but why lobby people to hate milk too?

      • Alistair Taylor

        No no! That’s not what I meant. What I mean is, my bias gets in the way of researching this. I’m not trying to lobby anyone but myself. I want to know the scientific evidence behind consuming dairy products and if its beneficial or not. Now if it is I’m still not going to consume it, but at least I can say honestly whether it’s good or not.

        And yes people who drink milk have the biggest bias, but they can do what they like. I’ve been off dairy for 10 years and I couldn’t be happier.

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          I don’t think it’s biased to look at the fact, not opinion, that countries with the highest dairy consumption also have the highest rates of osteoporosis, and then make the decision to avoid dairy. I think that’s common sense.

          • Alistair Taylor

            Hey I agree! But there are also other factors that may influence osteoporosis rates Ie meat consumption, amount of vegetable consumption, tea consumption and junk consumption.

            But I agree there is no logic in drinking the excretion of another animal.

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            And perhaps the biggest factor : inactivity, lack of weight-bearing / resistance exercise. That’s my primary motivation for my daily exercise routines.

          • bruxe

            >> other factors that may influence osteoporosis rates Ie meat consumption,

            Dr. Gregor just published a video that contradicted the idea that eating meat took calcium away from bones.

          • bruxe

            But there are a lot of other things that those countries have in common as well as milk consumption. Correlation does not imply cause, and that is what we still see here over and over. We do not understand all these things, so going around and looking for two graphs that have roughly the same shape and them conflating them together is the order of the day for selling paper and generating views and clicks, and that is the problem – how the economic world works. That is what brings us bad food and bad data.

          • Ron

            Be careful, because two processes are correlated does not mean one causes the other. But at least it does mean that dairy is not protecting these populations.

          • JoAnn Downey Ivey

            At this stage Ron, all I personally need to know is that getting off meat and dairy and beginning resistance training actually reversed my osteoporosis and over the last 10 years, my bone density has been improving on this regimen.

        • bruxe

          >> people who drink milk have the biggest bias,

          :-) … funny, have you done any poll or have you any information as to the biases of people who drink milk or eat dairy products?

          People have been doing that for thousands of years more or less. Don’t you think it would shake out if people who drank milk got sick or died earlier than others in all that time.

          If you call doing what everyone else has been doing for ages a bias … but to me your statement seemed biased in such an oblivious way you don’t even see it … such a holier than thou attitude. At least that is how it sounds as I read it.

          Personally i don’t drink much milk. I used to as a kid, and I don’t seek it out or avoid it. I grew up on it and I have good bones my doctors says.

          • Alistair Taylor

            I said I had a bias, but I couldn’t give a hoot what you put in your mouth. I continue to question what goes into my diet. But how about stop attacking and offer something useful.

          • bruxe

            You just see anything that questions of threatened your faith as not useful … it might be the most useful thing you need to consider.

  • Ernest Mayberry

    Color me unconvinced that animal protein is not the culprit in osteoporosis.

    From ‘The China Study’, Chart 10.2: Association of Animal vs. Plant Protein Intake and Bone Fracture Rates for Different Countries shows that when Vegetable-to-Animal Protein Intake Ratio drops below 1.0 the hip fracture rate (incidence per 100,000 person-years) zooms up over 75 to 200. When the ratio is 2.0 or greater, the hip fracture rate is for the most part less than 25. Also, the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group at the U. of California at San Francisco published another study of over 1,000 women aged sixty-five and up. Like the multi-country study, researchers characterized women’s diets by the proportions of animal and plant protein. After seven years of observations, the women with the highest ratio of animal protein to plant protein had 3.7 times more bone fractures than the women with the lowest ratio. Also during this time the women with the high ratio lost bone almost four times as fast as the women with the lowest ratio.

    These are actual epidemiological observations, not theoretical lab results which must then be interpreted to fit the thesis.

    In the radioactive study, no surprise to find radioactive calcium in the urine. But how could you possibly sort out the non-radioactive calcium as it would be contaminated from the radioactive calcium, especially if it is supposedly a much smaller concentration level.

    Quoting from Dr. Greger’s report above “90% of the extra calcium in the urine after eating a steak doesn’t appear to be coming from our bones but from our diet.” So where does the other 10% come from…duh, perhaps our bones!

    I am not sure why Dr. Greger isn’t asking the hard questions about the contradictions between actual population observations and these studies. And why doesn’t he ask the question about the missing 10%?

    • Veganrunner

      He isn’t saying that meat eaters don’t have more osteoporosis he is saying that the calcium is coming from the meal and is peed out and not the bones. He isn’t questioning the observation from the China Study. The mechanism is just different than we thought.

      • Ernest Mayberry

        Maybe the mechanism is different, maybe not. It is not unexpected that the more calcium you intake the more you excrete. There is still the matter of the missing 10%. Its possible that the mechanism is analogous to losing water using a diuretic. You lose most of what you intake and a percentage already in the body.

    • Ron

      Perhaps the dairy industry has gotten to the Dr.

  • Terri

    Perhaps it’s key to look at the muscle mass / bone density relationship. So if animal protein does not directly affect calcium loss on bones that was once thought, but directly and adversely affects muscle mass, that in turn would affect overall bone health.

  • Edith

    JoAnn Downey Ivey’s experience is identical to mine–except I eat fish for B12. It unfathomable for me to contemplate returning to dairy and red meat for it would mean a return of flatulence and lower energy. So, color me green. ;)

  • bruxe

    Fascinating … and yet Dr. Neil Barnard and others who gives these vegan lectures and interviews includes the eat eat protein, lose calcium meme in his talks. One of the things that knocked me out of taking these lectures so immediately seriously was the insistence that if you drank milk that because of the protein you would actually lose calcium. That could not be true, and yet some people really bought into this. Now milk is not looking so bad except to fanatics that would eschew milk if it was found to be the the most healthful drink in nature.

    What looks … untenable …. is the hanging on every study or one single doctor’s interpretation of studies (present company excepted, of course) and trying to engineer one’s diet to optimization. There are a few cases where severe veganism is certainly indicated, such as massive arterial blockage, strokes, etc. I continue to speculate that the chemicals we put in our bodies to such a huge extent and grow plants in a monoculture and animals in factory farms nothing good can come from it.

  • William Dwyer

    See the following studies showing that the alkaline mineral potassium bicarbonate (KHCO3) attenuates bone loss. Potassium citrate, found in abundance in fruits and vegetables, converts to potassium bicarbonate in the body; therefore fruits and vegetables should have the same effect as KHCO3 if they’re consumed in sufficient quantities vis-a-vis acid-forming foods, such as meat, legumes and grains.

    IMPROVED MINERAL BALANCE AND SKELETAL METABOLISM IN POSTMENOPAUSAL WOMEN TREATED WITH POTASSIUM BICARBONATE

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu

    TREATMENT WITH POTASSIUM BICARBONATE LOWERS CALCIUM EXCRETION AND BONE RESORPTION IN OLDER MEN AND WOMEN

    http://press.endocrine.org/doi

    LONG-TERM PERSISTENCE OF THE URINE CALCIUM-LOWERING EFFECT OF POTASSIUM BICARBONATE IN POSTMENOPAUSAL WOMEN

    http://press.endocrine.org/doi

    I’ve improved my own bone mineral density over a two-year period as demonstrated via dexascan by supplementing my diet with KHCO3 along with ensuring that my urinary pH is kept sufficiently alkaline.

  • jerrylamos

    Journal of Gerontology 55 (2000) “A high ratio of plant to animal protein was impressively associated with a virtual disappearance of bone fractures (in elderly women)”. Amazing how many so-called osteoporosis specialists don’t read. Also, in a plant-based diet, 500 mg of calcium per day has been shown to be adequate. Of course, weight bearing exercise etc.

  • Karl

    Why countries with highest consumption of meat and dairy have the highest level of osteoporosis?

  • Zuppkko

    Parathyroid is responsible for calcium utilization. As you back up your lymph system with meat and (even easier) with dairy (and/or other toxins) the tissue around this blockage will start to collapse. I think this is #1 reason for calcium loss (havent found any others). As you move the lymph (and have working kidneys) toxins flow away and tissues regenerate.

  • chef

    Can you cover the studies on whey protein? I’ve seen a great benefit in cancer protection in recent studies.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hi chef. I think any of these isolates and concentrates are unnecessary, as whole foods are preferred. Oncology populations differ, as survivors may not be able to eat by mouth or need additional nutrients to supplement their diet. Some studies suggest whey and leucine-rich foods (meat and milk) stimulate the TOR pathway, which Dr. Greger addresses in this video. Whey protein is a highly concentrated source of animal protein, which can stimulate IGF-1 production. Similarly, concentrated/isolated soy protein supplements can also increase IGF-1. Animal proteins are linked to increased risk of bone degeneration and kidney diseases. It may be that the ratio of animal to plant protein intake is important. In a paper I wrote about cancer prevention, Applying the precautionary principle to nutrition and cancer I reference a study pointed out to me by Dr. David Jenkins about the overabbundance of amino acids (Reference 46). For more studies on whey and cancer.

  • cj

    So I’m confused. I was dx with osteoporosis 3 years ago. I have always walked and lifted moderate weights, so I went vegan. No change in the osteoporosis 3 years later. I’m postmenopausal 5 years, and 5ft and 100 lbs. What do I do now?

    • JoAnn Downey Ivey

      When you say you lift moderate weights, are you really putting significant strain on the muscles which then transfers to the tendon pulling on the bone enough to stimulate bone growth? At 5’2″ and 110lb, I do weighted squats with 50 lb. for example. Walking every day for a half hour, or even better an hour, is something I do in addition to the resistance training, but I use the walking as an extra, not the main exercise for prevention and reversal. I found it was a job in itself to be consistent in the daily exercise.

      • cj

        I shall increase the weight, I’m lifting 30 lbs now. Briefly, what weight bearing ex. do you do for hip and back? Agree on the walking, I do 3 miles of hills, tried a weighted vest for a month, but hurt my shoulders too much. Scared people around me, sadly they thought it was an ammo vest!! Thank you for your help.

        • JoAnn Downey Ivey

          Squats are touted as the #1 exercise for increasing bone density of the neck of the femur. Also do walking lunges, one leg squats holding TRX, sled press, leg extensions, leg curls. For back…cable row, TRX, low back hyperextension, lat pulldown, assisted chin-ups, rear delt flys. Also do pushups, mountain climbers. That is a hoot about the vest – I get a few second glances :)

          • cj

            Thank you, I have added those!

  • Allison Farr

    I am wondering now why there are studies( or at least I’ve seen videos of people saying there are studies) that say the countries/people/cultures that consume the most dairy have the highest rates of osteoporosis and bone fractuires?

  • Neil

    Dr. Greger,

    Is Dr. McDougall on board with your analysis? I know he has been (still is?) saying that animal protein increases the acidity of our blood, resulting in calcium being leached out, which leads to osteoporosis. See around minute 36:30, for example:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJvrlwnEqbs

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hmm. I am not sure Dr. McDougall’s stance on this research. Sorry, Neil. At any rate — I think Dr. McDougall promotes a healthful diet as a physician.

  • Josh

    “90% of the extra calcium in the urine after eating a steak doesn’t appear to be coming from our bones but from our diet.” There’s enough calcium in steak to significantly increase calcium in the urine?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      I think it has to do with the protein in the steak apparently increasing calcium absorption rather than the calcium in steak. You’re thinking right, no calcium in steak. Well, about 6mg in a top round steak.

  • Theodore

    Dr Greger / Joseph Gonzalez, are you not concerned that the second radioactive study was funded by the USDA and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. And whilst the first radioactive study was funded by the NIH, most of the lead researcher’s funding in the past has come from the USDA and the meat/dairy industries. It would also be good to get your response to Ernest Mayberry’s questions below, copied herein for your convenience:

    “From ‘The China Study’, Chart 10.2: Association of Animal vs. Plant Protein Intake and Bone Fracture Rates for Different Countries shows that when Vegetable-to-Animal Protein Intake Ratio drops below 1.0 the hip fracture rate (incidence per 100,000 person-years) zooms up over 75 to 200. When the ratio is 2.0 or greater, the hip fracture rate is for the most part less than 25. Also, the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group at the U. of California at San Francisco published another study of over 1,000 women aged sixty-five and up. Like the multi-country study, researchers characterized women’s diets by the proportions of animal and plant protein. After seven years of observations, the women with the highest ratio of animal protein to plant protein had 3.7 times more bone fractures than the women with the lowest ratio. Also during this time the women with the high ratio lost bone almost four times as fast as the women with the lowest ratio.

    These are actual epidemiological observations, not theoretical lab results which must then be interpreted to fit the thesis.

    In the radioactive study, no surprise to find radioactive calcium in the urine. But how could you possibly sort out the non-radioactive calcium as it would be contaminated from the radioactive calcium, especially if it is supposedly a much smaller concentration level.

    Quoting from Dr. Greger’s report above “90% of the extra calcium in the urine after eating a steak doesn’t appear to be coming from our bones but from our diet.” So where does the other 10% come from…duh, perhaps our bones!

    I am not sure why Dr. Greger isn’t asking the hard questions about the contradictions between actual population observations and these studies. And why doesn’t he ask the question about the missing 10%?”

  • James Eyre

    So the amount of calcium lost from the body was less than originally thought. This does not mean that calcium was not lost from the body. By your own reckoning 10% of the calcium in the urine is leeched from the body’s reserved. ‘Most of the extra calcium is accounted for’, yes, but what is germane to the issue is that which isn’t,

  • Madeleine

    “So if our body isn’t buffering the acid formed from our diet with our bones, how is it neutralizing the acid?”

    Isn’t it just peed out?

  • Απόστολος Στάβλος

    Doctor, please let me ask something that i find to be quite disturbing. Why is there such a big GAP and so many insanely different answers, about the same topic, from scientists who are all, well, scientists? A simple person who doesn’t have a clue, does not know whom to believe! How am i supposed to inform myself if for the same question doctor A says black and doctor B says white? This article, for example [http://drbenkim.com/ph-body-blood-foods-acid-alkaline.htm] as well as many other similar ones i found, explains in details that animal protein does not have any significant, dangerous side-effect on the body, while at the same time nutritionfacts.org and others, say the exact opposite.

    • Thea

      Att…: Perhaps this will help: I clicked on your link and noticed that that site has a whole shop for selling supplements and some food. For Dr. Greger, all proceeds from this website, his books, and his speaking engagements all go to charity. Dr. Greger makes no money off of educating people. I think that makes a difference, and I’m more inclined to listen to someone who isn’t trying to make a profit off of educating people.
      .
      Also, I find the information on this site and in the Book How Not To Die to simply be more credible. But I understand your frustration. You are not alone. In the end, you will have to decide what is most credible to you.

      • Απόστολος Στάβλος

        I see your point. It makes sense that some professionals are trying to make a profit (although, if you google “is meat bad for human”, you will find hundreds of sources with no e-shops or something to sell whatsoever that totally disagree with each other).

        The point is that, whenever i try to talk to someone about the benefits of a plant-based diet, they will of course go online to inform themselves and come back to say “but, look! look what these doctors say!”, and there is no possible way for a non-vegan to figure out who’s telling the truth.

        • Thea

          Att…: I agree that it is extremely hard for most people to figure out who’s telling the truth. I do think a smart person can make some headway, though. For example, the people who are not trying to sell you something are typically people who have no qualifications to be commenting on the subject in the first place. Even doctors who post information on the web are often enough just repeating on a blog what they hope to be true. They haven’t actually done the research or they have been taken in by bad research. If someone is a critical thinker, I think the truth can be figured out eventually. But it requires some work.

          You are right that it is very, very, very hard for most people. We have some *amazing* lay people on this site who have done a ton of research and have the skills to evaluate studies who act as backup/watch dogs for the information on this site. It’s great to have that kind of resources here. And of course, those people feel pretty confident that they have a good handle on “the truth”.

          But what do you do with the average person who thinks that doing a google search or even a google scholar search is a way to figure out nutritional science? What do you do when the vast majority of doctors are never trained in nutrition and rely on those same google searches and the media? What do you do when the media is not interested in people’s health, but in making profit selling entertaining controversy? And when the government’s committees for making nutritional recommendations are made up of people with giant conflicts of interest/ties to food industries?

          I think the answer is that we have to chip away at all of those things in as many ways as possible over time. We are making some headway. More and more people are going plant based all the time. And as individuals, we can make a difference by being role models, educating ourselves, helping others when they want help, supporting legal action to fix problems with our system, supporting plant based doctors, work to put healthy food in schools, etc.

    • Thea

      Att…: Going back to your original post, you wrote, “There are scientific reports to suggest eating fish and meat, and other to suggest eating zero of these. So what’s the deal?” Here’s another reply/thought: Dr. Greger has several videos on this site talking about how studies are designed to mislead people (or if not specifcally designed to do so through intent, are still invalid). The point is: You can find those studies which are pro-meat, dairy and eggs, but that doesn’t mean that they are valid studies. That’s why we need an expert to evaluate those studies.

      Some examples of how published studies are invalid:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eggs-and-cholesterol-patently-false-and-misleading-claims/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-the-egg-board-designs-misleading-studies/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-saturated-fat-studies-set-up-to-fail/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/bold-indeed-beef-lowers-cholesterol/