“Under scientific scrutiny, the support for the milk myth crumbles.”
~ Dr. Amy Lanou, Rethink Food
The amount of misinformation surrounding calcium and strong bones and joints, is a
catastrophe. Touted as a ‘superfood’ for human health, we consume milk, cheese and its byproducts on a massive scale based on the assumption that we are feeding our body the most perfect food for growth and development. In fact, Harvard University declared that “Got Milk” does not translate to “Got Strong bones?”1 While this information goes against the core principles of nutritional information in the market, science continues to evidence that dairy products are not components for healthy strong bones.
Cow’s milk is a wonderful growth food- for a baby cow. Past the point of weaning, our bodies are simply not made to process milk, and especially that of another species, evidenced in the growing number of lactose intolerance rates around the world. Dairy products rich in saturated fat, hormones, toxins, industrial pollutants and both natural and artificial growth hormones are linked to an impressive list of serious diseases including heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, arthritis, allergies, acne, eczema, ear infections, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, and Parkinson’s disease among many others.
As osteoporosis has increased, the constant dietary advice has been to flood our bodies with calcium from dairy. This is one of the most damaging milk myths or what we have come to know as the calcium paradox. Interestingly, 4 worldwide epidemiological surveys conducted by different research teams over 20 years agree that the countries that consume the most calcium (i.e. The United States, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand) have the highest rates of osteoporosis. By contrast, the countries that consume little to no milk, dairy and calcium supplements (i.e. much of Africa and Asia) have fracture rates 50% to 70% lower than those in the United States.
Our bones do need calcium to be strong but it needs to come from the right sources. Doctors in Rethink Food agree that these are 4 rules to keep in mind to promote strong, health bones.
1. Skip the dairy. Milk, dairy and calcium supplements do not prevent fractures. So the question then is where do we get our calcium? Plant foods such as broccoli and kale are superior calcium sources to dairy because they have high calcium absorption and are alkaline forming. Think about this: 1 cup of cooked kale has the same amount of absorbable calcium as a cup of cow’s milk, without all the calories!
2. Taking meat and dairy off the table is key to preventing osteoporosis. As Dr. Lanou states in Rethink Food, “Osteoporosis is caused by an imbalance of calcium and other nutrients, NOT a calcium deficiency. In order to prevent osteoporosis, the body must maintain its optimal alkaline pH balance. When this balance is disrupted by putting acidic foods into the blood, like meat and dairy products, the body must neutralize the acid and uses calcium drawn from the bones- weakening the bones and over time leading to osteoporosis.
3. Fruits, vegetables and legumes provide the essential building blocks for strong bones. Strong bones need 17 nutrients with calcium being only one of them. For example, our bones need magnesium, B6, and zinc, which are provided in black, red, and pinto beans. Additionally our bones need Vitamin D and the best source is the sun.
4. Exercise regularly to build your bone strength. In 86 studies on exercise and fracture risk, 87% show exercise as a positive benefit. No need to be at the gym for hours. As little as 30-60 minutes of exercise can do wonders for your bone strength and body!
There is a scientific prescription for osteoporosis prevention and the basis of strong bones- it starts with us throwing out the calcium theory about milk.
Amy-Lee & Shushana