When you quit using dairy products your friends may ask you how you will we keep your bones from deteriorating. There is actually evidence that if we consume milk we increase our risk of osteoporosis. If we look around the world we can see that there are more hip fractures and more osteoporosis in countries where more dairy is consumed. It is exactly opposite of what you would expect so we can’t fault our friends… they just don’t have enough information. In the Harvard Women’s Study the women who drank the most milk received no protection from bone breaks compared to women who drank very little or no milk.
So what does matter? If milk isn’t helping what is it that will make a difference? The answer is that what we need is a balance between calcium coming into our body and the calcium going out of our body… that makes the difference. Obviously we want to increase whatever brings calcium into the body and decrease whatever pulls calcium from the body. But… what are those things?
In general, calcium is depleted by animal protein, foods rich in sodium, excess caffeine and smoking. To keep calcium in the bones we can exercise, get enough sunlight (vitamin D helps keep calcium in bones) and eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (fruits and vegetables balance out the effect of acid producing foods). The best place to get calcium is from plant sources: dark leafy greens, beans, tofu, and calcium fortified plant based milk.
You don’t have to have be perfect to be healthier. You just have to have enough information to understand what you re choosing every time you put something in your mouth. Every bite matters so make every bite count.