By James Lemire, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
September 16, 2015
- Dairy doesn’t build stronger bones
- …But it does build weaker ones
- Here’s how you can “bone-up” to avoid breaks and fractures
When I was a kid, I always heard that drinking milk and eating cheese would give me strong bones.
Of course, at the same time I also saw television commercials that told me Wonder Bread would help me build a strong body in 12 ways.
These days, we all know the disastrous effects that processed white bread has on our bodies.
Most of my patients avoid it like the plague.
Yet, many of my patients still believe getting plenty of dairy products is going to save them from osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones. I don’t know if it’s just a holdover from our childhood beliefs, or if the true facts just haven’t been made public enough.
As it turns out, people who drink milk regularly are more likely to experience a hip fracture in their later years. Truth is, drinking one or two glasses daily is worse for your bone strength than if you drank less than a glass a week.
It just about doubles the risk of a hip fracture.
We’re the only species in the world who consumes milk after infancy. And it’s cow’s milk.
On top of that, it’s full of drugs, hormones and antibiotics.
It’s processed until void of nutrition, then it’s “fortified” to put the nutrients back in.
In reality, it’s not meant to be consumed by humans. It’s an allergen. It’s linked to cancer risk. It aggravates your stomach and contributes to irritable bowel syndrome.
In other words, milk is bad for you! Like white bread, it’s becoming obsolete.
While it’s true that dairy contains calcium, it won’t do a single bit of good for you. That’s because, like the majority of animal products, it’s an acid-forming food. When you eat or drink dairy, it causes the pH in your body to become acidified.
When this acidic state occurs after ingesting animal protein, guess what happens.
Calcium is drawn from your bones to neutralize it.
And this sets the stage for bone loss and osteoporosis. It’s a real catch-22, and one that most people aren’t aware of.
Another thing to consider is that calcium isn’t the only thing your bones need if you want them to remain strong over your lifetime. There are three more nutrients that work hand-in-hand with calcium to protect you from fractures, breaks and a shrinking skeletal frame.
So let’s take a look at the foods that will help you “bone-up” and slash your chance of brittle bones and accompanying fractures.
Broccoli, kale, turnip greens and arugula all have high calcium content. So do dates and figs. Alkaline-promoting almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds contain calcium, too.
If you feel the need for a milk substitute, try almond milk. It’s alkaline-forming and a great alternative to cow’s milk.
Now, your bones are continually breaking down and rebuilding themselves. So you need magnesium. It’s fundamental to the activity of bone-forming cells.
If you aren’t getting enough of it, your bones could be breaking down faster than they can rebuild themselves. This is when they become weak and fragile…vulnerable to breaks and fractures.
Carrots, peas, broccoli, asparagus, sunflower seeds, almonds and many other nuts are all high in magnesium.
Potassium is important, too, especially if acidity is leaching the calcium from your bones. This is because the potassium will neutralize the acid. It helps keep the calcium in your bones where it belongs.
Foods like avocado, cantaloupe, artichoke, mangoes and pears are all good sources of potassium.
The only place these foods won’t do the trick is when it comes to vitamin D.
Vitamin D works synergistically with these other nutrients to repair damaged bone. But it’s unlikely you’re getting enough of it from food sources.
During warm weather, boosting your levels of vitamin D is as easy as spending 15 or more minutes in the sun each day without sunscreen. (Sunscreen blocks the UV rays necessary for your body to produce vitamin D.)
In winter months, or whenever you are stuck indoors, try a Vitamin D3 supplement in the form of cholecalciferol. This is the type that’s most readily absorbed. I recommend 2,000 IU daily and up to 5,000 IU if you’ve been tested as deficient. People who are dark-skinned or overweight may need even more.
Don’t take your bone health for granted.
If you aren’t eating enough of these calcium, magnesium and potassium rich foods, you can always supplement. Your bones will thank you for it in your later years.
Feskanich D, et al. Milk consumption during teenage years and risk of hip fractures in older adults. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Jan;168(1):54-60.
Feskanich D, et al. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. Am J Public Health. 1997 Jun;87(6):992-7.
Aune D, et al. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jan;101(1):87-117.
Tucker KL, et al. Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater bone mineral density in elderly men and women. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Apr;69(4):727-36.
Feskanich D, et al. Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption, and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;77(2):504-11