Published On: Thu, Oct 19th, 2017

Beware: ‘Clean Eating’ Could Put You on the Road to Osteoporosis

It often seems that it’s only a matter of time — decades, years, and sometimes even months — before something that was widely cheered as a healthy choice, upon closer scientific scrutiny turns out to be markedly less beneficial; or in some cases, flat-out dangerous. Unfortunately, the latest addition to this list seems to be the “clean eating” movement. Well, at least partially.

In case you aren’t familiar with the concept (or you don’t have Gen Z’er at home suddenly demanding that you shop exclusively at Whole Foods), clean eating is not necessarily about choosing food or beverage items based on their calorie amounts, fat content or other factors, and more about selecting items that are minimally processed — i.e. that undergo the fewest touch points between Mother Nature and the kitchen table.

Obviously, with an inspiring label like “clean eating” the belief behind this approach is that the earth does a pretty good job of creating the foods and drinks we need to thrive, and cutting out the artificial middleman is a healthy strategy. But is it?

As with a lot of answers in the murky intersection between nutrition and fads, the answer is: maybe (or if you prefer, “it depends”). Here’s why: some people who embrace clean eating — or rather, what they think clean eating is — have decided to wipe out milk and cheese from their diet, which according to some experts is putting them on the fast-track towards osteoporosis.

If that sounds alarming, then it’s supposed to: because osteoporosis is a scary disease that leads to increased bone fragility and risk of painful fractures. To make things even worse (sorry), most people who have an active case of osteoporosis don’t consult an orthopedic surgeon until a worried doctor — either their GP or one at the emergency room in the hospital — tells them to, because their bone mass levels have plummeted well below safe levels. In other words: osteoporosis’ nickname “the silent disease” is well earned.

Yet considering this, the advice here isn’t necessarily to abandon clean eating. There are certainly many benefits of avoiding added or sugars and processed foods. However, just like any other major lifestyle change, you shouldn’t base your decision on what a glowing, happy celebrity is doing (if for no other reason then it’s usually only a matter of time before they show up on a talk show with zero glow and no happiness).

The smartest and safest way forward is to speak with your doctor and other members of your care team — such as a nutritionist or dietician — to ensure that you get the nutrients you need, and that don’t find yourself trapped in an 80-year old’s body well before you reach your 50th birthday.

Author: Chans Weber

Taylor Farms Hearts of Romaine Image/FDA

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