We need to drink milk for healthy bones. Do you believe that? I did for many years. I was raised to believe it. Drinking little cartons of milk was mandatory in my school growing up. But how true is this deeply embedded, cultural-wide belief about milk? Just because everyone believes something, doesn’t make it true does it? After all, at one point in time, everyone thought the world was flat!
Let me address this belief that we need to consume cow’s milk for calcium content to protect our bones. It’s actually been repeatedly documented that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Dr. John McDougall couldn’t have said it better:
“The myth that osteoporosis is caused by calcium deficiency was created to sell dairy products and calcium supplements. There’s no truth to it. American women are among the biggest consumers of calcium in the world, and they still have one of the highest levels of osteoporosis in the world. And eating even more dairy products and calcium supplements is not going to change that fact.” ~ Dr. John McDougall
And what do mainstream doctors recommend to women who are experiencing a loss of bone mass – they recommend to increase their milk consumption! Think about that reinforcing cycle for a moment. But something is wrong here; the countries where milk consumption is the highest also see the highest fracture rates. Research found the cross-cultural relationship between hip fracture rates and dietary protein was positively related to animal protein intake and inversely related to vegetable protein intake. In another study, researchers at Yale University School of Medicine who authored a report in 1992 found that a whopping 70% of the fracture rate was attributable to animal protein consumption.
Is Drinking Dairy Milk Bad For Our Bones?
These researchers explained that animal protein, unlike plant protein, increases the acid-load in the body. An increased acid load means that our blood tissues become more acidic. Our bodies do not thrive in an acidic environment and needs to counter this over-acidity that the animal protein caused. Think of alkalinity as the opposing force to acidity. Our bodies need to neutralize the acidity with an alkaline base and calcium happens to be a very effective base. Where is calcium stored and where does our body get it from? You guessed it, our bones. When our body is overly acidic, our body’s extremely intelligent system to maintain homeostasis (balance in the body) leaches calcium from our bones to buffer the negative effects of too much acid in our body. This weakens our bones and makes us susceptible to bone loss and fractures.
Even some doctors are getting on board with this “new” way of thinking:
“I no longer recommend dairy products…there was a time when cow’s milk was considered very desirable. But research along with clinical experience has forced doctors and nutritionists to rethink this recommendation” – Dr. Benjamin Spock
Dairy Consumption & Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is no joke. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture. This is a debilitating disease that causes 1.5 million fractures annually with an annual cost of treatment totaling more than $10 billion!
Plant Based Sources of Calcium
The good news is, that this is totally preventable! And it begins with a plant-based diet that does not include dairy or the consumption of cow’s milk. There are lots of plant-based sources of calcium. Sesame seed milk has 4 times the amount of calcium as cow’s milk doe. And because it doesn’t have acidifying effects, the calcium is a more bio-available to your body. Other sources include Kale, broccoli, figs, almonds, cabbage and collard greens.
I’ll leave you with one more quote from Dr. Kradjian
“Inclusion of milk will only reduce your diet’s nutritional value and safety. Most of the people on the planet live very healthfully without cows milk. You can too.” Robert M.Kradjian M.D