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Excerpts from the book, "Mormon Wisdom and Health" by Kenneth E. Johnson, M.D.

    Dr. Johnson graduated from the Minnesota Medical School.  With post-doctoral education he was certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in 1954, and practiced in the subspecialty of Nephrology for 30 years in Phoenix, Arizona.

Osteoporosis:  Our Love Affair With Meat, Eggs, and Milk
    Osteoporosis is perhaps the most misunderstood and serious medical problem you're likely to face.  It has nothing to do with cholesterol or fat.  And it's not prevented by drinking plenty of milk.  Its sinister presence lies in the realm of protein metabolism -- and its prevention lies in a plant-centered diet.
    For me, the end of a love affair with meat, eggs and milk began while reading the chapter on Osteoporosis in Harrison's 1977 edition of Principles of Internal Medicine.  Harrison stated that, another factor which some have implicated in bone loss is the possibility that excessive acid intake, particularly in the form of high-protein diets, results in "dissolution" of bone in an attempt to buffer the extra acid.  1
    We now know that Harrison's succinctly stated theory is true; it's been documented by 20 years of scientific medical evidence.  2
    Osteoporosis is the term used to describe a variety of diseases characterized by a reduction in the mass of bone to a level below that required for adequate mechanical support of the body.
    Rarely, heredity disorders, an overactive thyroid, excess adrenal hormone, calcium and phosphorus disorders, and kidney disease can cause osteoporosis.  Even caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and the phosphoric acids in soft drinks have some tendency to promote osteoporosis.
    However, the common cause of this devastating disease is an improper diet and poor exercise.
    Osteoporosis is common, widespread, debilitating, and expensive.  It's estimated that more than 25 million Americans have osteoporosis, resulting in more than 1.3 million fractures each year, including 250,000 hip fractures.  Half of all people with hip fractures require institutional care, and one in seven die shortly after the fracture from its complications.  The annual cost of medical care associated with osteoporosis nationwide exceeds $10 billion.
    The common form of osteoporosis is caused by the excessive loss of calcium.  It is the result of long-standing ingestion of excess animal protein and lack of exercise.  1   Let me explain.  Eating too much protein with its high amino acid content will load the body excessively with acids.  The body, in order to maintain a critical level of acid-alkaline balance for thousands of orderly functions, must neutralize this excess acid, and does so by buffering (neutralizing) with calcium from the bones.  But in this process, calcium is mobilized out of bone and excreted in the urine.  It is a disease of calcium loss, not a calcium deficiency.  As Harrison's book states, "There is no difference in the calcium intake of the osteoporotic compared with control subjects of similar age and sex."  2
    A plant centered diet, with its high complex-carbohydrate content, its high fiber content, its minerals (adequate calcium) and vitamins and especially its low but essential protein content is necessary for the body and is the preventative diet against the misery of osteoporosis…
    …While this disease is widespread in our affluent Western Society, osteoporosis is virtually nonexistent in billions of people in Africa and Asia where animal products are rarely eaten and milk products are virtually unknown.  For example, the Chinese eat mainly rice, potatoes, beans, corn, wheat, barley, oats, fruit and vegetables.  Their babies are breast fed and then weaned to this diet.  The bones and teeth of children and adults are strong and healthy.
    The average American eats 2-5 times as much protein as he or she needs.  The daily protein intake of Americans is 90 -120 grams and represents about 25% of total calories.  The ideal protein intake is 20 - 40 grams per day, representing about 10% of total calories.  The World Health Organization recommends 37 grams of protein per day and good scientific evidence data shows that 20 grams will maintain positive nitrogen balance -- a measure of adequate protein.  1
    We need to reduce our intake of protein.  Knowing the cause of osteoporosis enables us to design a lifelong program of prevention centered on truths taught in the Word of Wisdom food plan.
End of excerpt
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