Many people ask me where I get my calcium from, if I don’t consume dairy products then how do I get healthy strong bones? These questions can sometimes be hard to answer because there are not many people who are really open to hearing something different then what they have been taught their whole lives.
Well, of course I think about these things. I have the same concerns about my children like any other parent. I, like any other parent, want to provide the best for my children, so why did we eliminate dairy from our diet? Once we really looked at it closer, it wasn’t hard to decide that cutting out dairy would be beneficial to our health. Lets take out the consideration that there are countless reports of cruelty these animals have to endure, LIKE undergoing painful mutilations and being bred unnaturally fast and large for the purpose of maximizing production for the food industry, which are things we do not support. Let’s just put those things aside for a moment, even though they are serious issues and do need to be addressed, but they are not the only reasons why we chose to cut out dairy from our diet. The scientific research that has been released in the past few years about dairy and the effects it has on the body are really the determining factor as to why eliminating dairy from our diet was the best choice.
The average person consumes about 1 ton of dairy products each year. Even though the average milk consumption in the US has dropped by 8% in the past ten years, it’s still almost twice the volume of dairy consumption as our neighboring countries. Now, it has been stated for years that dairy is high in calcium, that it is good for bone health, and that it has necessary protein and vitamin D which our body needs. Well the reality is that new research is consistently being released which shows that what may have been effective, even necessary 100 years ago, does not work now due to changes in our bodies, the food industry as a whole, pasteurization, processing, etc. When we realize that we need to change our thinking as new ideas are presented to us, the better chance we have of evolving and being the absolute best version of ourselves. What research is now saying about calcium in milk is that not only do we barely absorb the calcium in cow’s milk (especially if pasteurized), but to make matters worse, it actually depletes calcium from the bones!
Milk and other animal proteins acidify the body. Many support the notion that having a highly acidic diet is the main cause of bone loss. When someone drinks a glass of milk, it actually makes the pH level in the body acidic, which then triggers a biological correction to neutralize the body and bring it into balance. Since calcium is actually an excellent neutralizer, the body will pull from it’s calcium stores, which are where? You guessed it…the bones. So, the very same calcium that bones need to stay strong is being used to neutralize the acidic effect that the milk has on the body, leaving you calcium deficient.
In addition to being acidic, research also shows that dairy has high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats, which have been known to increase the risk of stokes and heart attacks. The high amount of dairy consumption has also been linked to some cancers, especially cancers of the reproductive system, breasts and prostate.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, found that the protein that creates and promotes cancer is casein, which makes up about 87 percent of the protein in cow’s milk. According to Dr. Campbell, a diet that contains more than 10% protein, which is about 50 grams of protein if a person consumes 2,000 calories/day, can eventually lead to cancer. In reality, Americans eat way more than that. On average, the American diet contains 17% protein, and 12% of that is animal-based.
The necessity of Vitamin D is yet another reason we often hear, “Got Milk?”. Without Vitamin D, our bodies cannot absorb calcium. The main reason why calcium supplements often contain vitamin D is for that reason. If your body cannot absorb the calcium due to a Vitamin D deficiency, the result is usually weaker bones that are more likely to fracture or break. However, due to all the reasons previously mentioned, dairy is not the best way to get vitamin D. The best way to fill the body with vitamin D is simple! Get out in the beautiful sunshine 20 minutes, 3 times a week. Doesn’t that sound great?! For those who cannot be in the sun due to health reasons, or who live in areas where the sun doesn’t shine 60 minutes/week, you can easily obtain the vitamin D needed by taking well trusted supplements.
Now, for the BIG question…where does “good” calcium come from?!?! I love this question because it allows me to share good news, which is…nature’s best sources of calcium are dark leafy greens!!! This means kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, and…did I say kale? Yes, kale! The calcium from these foods absorb fast and don’t leave your body highly acidic and calcium deficient! My choice will be greens any day!!!
The only time I feel milk is essential for good health is when we are babies…but the milk should come from human mothers only. Human breast milk is nature’s perfect formula for human babies. It’s rich in good fats like DHA, but it’s relatively low in protein. Why? Because, that is what is needed for a human baby. Cow’s milk contains more than 3X as much protein as breast milk, because baby cows need a lot more protein. Why? Because, cows grow to be 1,500 to 2,000 pounds! Is that your desired adult weight? I think not! Going dairy-free doesn’t mean deprivation, though it took us some time to realize that. It just means trying new things! There are all kinds of dairy-free options out there. It’s about finding the right one for you. We started with store bought alternatives and now we like to create our own. There are tons of ways to make moo-less treats. Here are some of my favorites:
I’ve never met someone who didn’t feel better once they removed dairy from their diet. I would highly recommend trying it, especially if you experience sinus, inflammatory, and/or digestion issues. You don’t have to cut it out all at once either! Do it little by little. That’s what we did. Remember, the greatest wealth is health!