Book Review: Building Bone Vitality

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Author: Amy Joy Lanou and Michael Castleman
Publisher: McGraw Hill Publications
Publish Date: 2009

After seeing the results of my first bone mineral density test (BMD), my doctor suggested I increase my calcium intake. I followed her advice, but when I had my next BMD test the results were the same. If calcium wasn’t keeping my bones healthy, what would? I found the answer and much more in the absorbing and provocative Building Bone Vitality: A Revolutionary Diet Plan to Prevent Bone Loss and Reverse Osteoporosis. While this book places heavy emphasis on statistics from scientific studies, the authors have presented their case credibly in a reader-friendly manner.

The authors, Amy Joy Lanou, a university professor of health and wellness, and Michael Castleman, an award winning health writer, are adamant that the calcium theory in the form of milk, dairy products and calcium supplements (the conventional medical response to osteoporosis prevention) is not the answer to maintaining and improving bone vitality. Instead, Lanou and Castleman offer a solution that is simple, safe and inexpensive – low-acid eating (little or no animal protein and lots of fruits and vegetables) and daily walking.

The information and diet plan they provide has actually been around for a long time, but not readily available to the general public. Their exhaustive review of more than 1,200 scientific studies related to the causes and prevention of osteoporosis has finally made it so. Their work indicates that the majority of the best studies support the efficacy of low-acid eating. The phrase “best studies” is key. Chapter 2 features a detailed discussion about the various types of research studies that scientists perform with explanations as to the validity and relevancy of each type of research: prospective, retrospective and cross-section trials, bone mineral density studies and meta-analyses. We probably never think about how a research study was conducted when we blithely accept its conclusions. Fortunately, Building Bone Vitality does – concluding that some osteoporosis studies should be taken more seriously than others. Using these parameters, Lanou and Castleman have discovered that the weight of the evidence points to a diet high in protein (especially animal protein) and low in fruits and vegetables as the culprit in the osteoporosis crisis.

The numbers revealed in this book indicate we are in desperate need of finding better ways to prevent osteoporosis: “10 million Americans over age 50 have osteoporosis…osteoporotic fractures result annually in 800,000 emergency room visits, 500,000 hospitalizations, and 2.6 million doctor visits…and in 2002, in the United States alone, medical care for osteoporotic fractures cost $18 billion.”

The low-acid diet plan offers an amazingly simple solution to the very serious problem of osteoporosis and accompanying fractures – and is one that is supported by compelling evidence of its efficacy. It would be of great service to the hundreds of thousands of people who are at risk, or already have osteoporosis to have this book featured in health care facilities across North America.


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