When it comes to bone health, what foods spring to mind? If you’re thinking of milk or dairy then you’re not alone. This is what we’re taught in school from a young age. Indeed many countries actually have a milk program which instills the knowledge that if we want strong teeth and bones, then we have to drink our milk.
However, there is an abundance of scientific literature that tells a different story. However, this is often hard to come by considering the power of the milk lobby which promotes dairy – and milk in particular – as the perfect source of calcium. I am certainly not claiming that milk doesn’t contain this mineral, we know it does. But what is less well known is that the animal proteins it also contains, effectively neutralize any positive benefit to our bones from drinking milk. This may come as a surprise – but it’s true.
This video shows just what can happen if we succumb to osteoporosis. One of the problems is that we simply do not know we are at risk until it is too late.
In an article about the alkaline diet, Heart Felt Foods write:
You may be wondering […] about […] milk. Doesn’t this have lots of calcium? As we know, it does. However, foods become acidic when they have high proportions of protein and phosphorus. This is why meat, fish and dairy are acidic foods.
So if milk isn’t the perfect food for strong bones, what should we be eating?
…fruits and vegetables are predominantly metabolized to alkaline bicarbonate, whereas proteins and cereal grains are metabolized to acids. The more protein people consume beyond the body’s true needs, the more acidic their blood can become and the more alkaline compounds are needed to neutralize the acid.
From New York Times article: Exploring a Low-Acid Diet for Bone Health
Picture taken from http://www.womenshealth.gov/
To avoid osteoporosis, it is important that we maintain a strong skeletal structure. But what specifically do we have to do? There are a number of steps that are beneficial, regular exercise, avoiding tabacco products, limiting alcohol consumption – and of course diet! The bottom line is that the more animal proteins and processed foods we consume, the more acidic our diet becomes. For strong bones, ideally we want to eat a high proportion of alkaline foods. The reason why acid foods are detrimental to our bone structure is outlined below.
The average American diet, which is high in protein and low in fruits and vegetables, generates a large amount of acid, mainly as sulfates and phosphates. The kidneys respond to this dietary acid challenge with net acid excretion, as well as ammonium and titratable acid excretion. Concurrently, the skeleton supplies buffer by active resorption of bone.
From the Journal of Nutrition: Excess Dietary Protein Can Adversely Affect Bone
Wikipedia tells us the definition of bone resorption:
Bone resorption is the process by which osteoclasts break down bone and release the minerals, resulting in a transfer of calcium from bone fluid to the blood.
The message is clear – eating fruits and vegetables is essential if we want to maintain strong teeth and bones. As long as we eat high quantities of plant based foods then we may well want to carry on drinking milk as well. In all honesty though, do you really want to? Think about what milk really is for a second. It is an excretion from an animal which is meant to be drunk by calves. But instead of going to their young, a cow’s milk is mixed with other cows’ milk, pasturized, bottled (or cartoned) and sold to humans – a completely different species than which it was meant for.
Knowing the negative health consequences that can result from consuming acid foods – which includes all animal products – isn’t it about time that we started to reduce our consumption of these (factory) farmed products?