Saturday, June 03, 2017 by Bridgette Wilcox
Raw vegan bloggers have taken their health agenda a step too far, saying that losing their period as a consequence of switching to a raw vegan diet is not unhealthy at all, even claiming that amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation) for raw vegans is an indicator of a clean body and stable, well-balanced hormones. Freelee the Banana Girl, 36, and Miliany Bonet, 19, both run popular platforms that advocate the raw vegan lifestyle, and Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, says their advice is “Ignorant, irresponsible and dangerous to women.”
Freelee ran her raw vegan YouTube channel for almost decade, gaining over 750,000 subscribers. There, she posted a video in which she talks about how she lost her period within the first month of switching to a raw vegan diet. Instead of responding with alarm, Freelee said that she was “so excited to get rid of it” after having experienced heavy, painful periods in the past. She had amenorrhea for nine months.
“It felt good, it felt right,” she shared, saying that after cutting out meat and dairy, her body had more energy to balance out her hormones, causing the lost period. She also said that she believed she was still ovulating despite not having menstruation. “I just instinctively felt like I was still ovulating because I felt so good.”
“I still believe that largely menstruation is toxicity leaving the body so a lot of women are having painful periods because they have a toxic body or a toxic diet and the body is trying to eliminate that toxicity and get it out,” she said. “If you’re having a high fat diet, then your menstruation is definitely going to be heavier and more painful.”
Bonet, who runs Raw Vegan Living, shared Freelee’s beliefs, claiming that “a healthy women [sic] doesn’t need her period in order to be healthy and fertile.” She cited self-proclaimed health expert Markus Rothkranz, who described menstruation as a process of cleaning up.
“If there is nothing to clean, there’s no reason to menstruate,” she wrote. “And since a raw food diet IS clean, your period naturally becomes lighter and/or disappears altogether.”
Both women seemed to be of the idea that menstruation is a process that women can naturally opt out of. However, medical and diet experts were quick to counter the two bloggers’ beliefs.
“The raw food community has a tendency to embrace and spread a lot of misinformation because it sounds hip and cool,” warned Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, a former vegan and present-day food scientist and author of Food Forensics. “The reason menstruation disappears in some women who pursue a raw, vegan diet is because their diets are so far out of balance that their normal hormonal cycles are shutting down. These women are doing serious damage to their own bodies,” warned Adams, “and that’s something I’ve seen very frequently in the raw food community. Many raw foodies, for example, consume large quantities of toxic zeolites on a daily basis… they’re made out of brain damaging aluminum and are heavily contaminated with lead, a toxic heavy metal. Yet raw food companies like HealthForce promoted toxic zeolites as a daily supplement year after year, convincing raw food vegans to consume alarming quantities of aluminum and lead.”
“Periods are not bad or filled with toxins. This trend is alarming because it comes from someone who clearly has not understanding of periods or even biology in general and is just another form of body shaming,” gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter said in a story on DailyMail.co.uk. “Dieting to get rid of your period is unhealthy and anyone promoting this should be ashamed of themselves and take a first year biology course.”
In the same story, Vesanto Melina discouraged raw vegan diets, saying they lack nutrition. “These diets are low in protein and zinc. It’s not an ideal vegan diet because the nutrient intake is very insufficient,” she said. “These women believed it was a good thing. They made a mythology out of it. But it’s not a normal thing. You need different food groups.”
The raw vegan diet is limited to plant-based foods eaten raw. It follows the belief that cooking kills most nutrients and makes food more toxic. The extreme diet has gained popularity after being espoused by celebrities and social media influencers who claimed that the diet has given them more energy, better skin, and allowed them to lose weight.
However, there are real dangers to eating raw. According to LiveStrong.com, raw vegans are at risk for potentially harmful nutrient deficiencies, because certain vitamins can only be found in food they are forbidden to eat. For instance, vitamin B12, which contributes to brain function and red blood cell production, can only be found in dairy, meat, and fish. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to fatigue, constipation, depression, and poor memory.
Surprisingly, raw vegans are also at risk for heart problems, with a study finding that their diet leads to low levels of the good cholesterol HDL, thereby increasing their risk for heart disease. Healthy HDL levels can be promoted by fish and seafood, which are not allowed in raw vegan diets.
Bone health is also a problem that raw vegans are vulnerable to. Not eating enough calories and having enough calcium and vitamin D puts people at risk for osteoporosis, which causes brittle bones. Because the raw vegan diet is made up mostly of low-calorie foods, and does not include dairy, meat, or eggs which are great sources of calcium and vitamin D, those who follow it are in danger of having weaker bones.
Clearly, eating only raw fruits and vegetables is not as healthy as it sounds.
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