Ask just about anyone where is the best (or only) source for calcium, and the answer will almost always be, “Dairy, of course!” That’s because the Dairy Council’s $50 million marketing budget has done such a great job of marketing dairy’s calcium content, they’ve created the belief that dairy is the only reliable source for getting this very important mineral.
But what about those who have dairy sensitivities? And what about the growing controversy about dairy products in general? Today I want to set the record straight on dairy products. Because there is so much conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to know who to believe. So let me preface this information with this disclaimer/promise: I have very strong opinions regarding food and nutrition. Some of what I believe can be completely backed up with science, and some of it is based on my own observations (ie: When I eat a brownie, I experience a blood sugar crash; When I drink a green smoothie, I experience amazing energy and vitality. Conclusion: green smoothies are better for my body than brownies.;) )
But for this article, I only included facts that have been proven by multiple sources and/or are supported in medical studies, peer-reviewed medical journals, and in several of my textbooks from nutrition school)
The Truth About Dairy and Calcium
- Dairy products contain calcium.
- Dairy products have an acidifying effect within your body (because of the animal fat content)
- Because your body strives to maintain a constant state of pH balance (not too acidic), calcium is leached out of your bones to counteract the acidity from consuming dairy
- The U.S. consumes more dairy than any other nation, and has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world. (The other highest dairy-consuming nations have the other highest rates of osteoporosis).
- When you consume dairy, only about 32% of the calcium is able to be absorbed and used by your body.
- Your body isn’t designed to break down dairy proteins and calcium, so your body’s reaction is to produce mucous to help flush it out of your system.
- Milk, cheese and yogurt are pasteurized to kill bacteria, which also kills all the helpful enzymes that were once in the milk, and that pasteurization can also kill your friendly gut flora.
- Dairy products contain growth hormones and really disgusting bodily fluid like blood and pus.
- Regarding all this mucous I’m talking about: mucous is what your body creates to rid the body of dirt and debris. Eating certain foods causes mucous overgrowth, and milk is one of the biggest culprits. Mucous overgrowth can cause allergies, hay fever, asthma and eczema. In most cases, those with these conditions who eliminate dairy completely experience a drastic improvement, or a complete reversal of the disease.
- An exception to many of these problems is to buy raw, organic milk (if you can, legally) and make kefir or yogurt from it. The fermenting process breaks the proteins down so that your body doesn’t need to create mucous.
- I started writing out a list and then I realized that everything on my list boils down to one piece of fiction:
milk: it does a body good.
So how are we all going to get our calcium?
I don’t want to beat a dead horse with the leafy greens, but the fact of the matter is that they are so incredibly powerful in so many areas of health. The calcium in leafy greens is over 60% absorbable (usable) by your body. And the darker the leafy green, the more calcium it has. Here are the worlds most calcium-rich foods (surprised dairy isn’t on the list? I was too, a couple of years ago.)
− Sesame seeds (27%/ounce)
− Chia seeds (18%/ounce)
− Almonds (7% per ounce)
− Leafy Greens (kale: 10%/cup, collards: 5%/cup)
− Seaweed (kelp: 21%/cup; dulse: 6%/cup)
The best ways to get calcium in your diet (most important for children ages 1-18 and all women, especially during pregnancy):
- Start a daily green smoothie habit (they’re SO much more delicious than you are imagining right now)
- Sprinkle chia seeds and sesame seeds in your green smoothie, over cereal, and on your kids’ peanut butter sandwiches (they won’t know they’re there)
- Experiment with some fun seaweed recipes. Homemade sushi, anyone?
- Get plenty of direct sunshine. If you live in an area that doesn’t have year-round sun, or you burn easily, take a vitamin D3 supplement, getting the proper dosage from your healthcare practitioner.
The One Good Dairy Product
Some of us need to completely eliminate dairy from our diet in order to be healthy. Some of us can consume small amounts on occasion and still experience optimum health. My family doesn’t drink milk, but we occasionally use white cheeses such as fresh parm, feta and gorgonzola. But the only dairy product that I feel okay about on a regular basis is organic, homemade kefir. During the fermentation process, the complex proteins in milk are broken down and more digestible by the body, and kefir is incredibly high in beneficial bacteria, which is a huge key to your immune system health.
Yogurt also contains probiotics, but don’t believe GoGurt, Yoplait or even Activia (their entire campaign is based on probiotic and digestive support) when they tell you their product is helpful. Sugar and artificial sweeteners rapidly KILL gut bacteria. Who knows what the net-effect is, after they add-in and simultaneously kill-off your healthy bacteria? Make your own kefir (or at the very least, choose unsweetened and unflavored store bought yogurt or kefir), then stir in berries, nuts, and raw honey to make it taste even better than Yoplait.
I want to hear from you:
What’s your opinion? Do you love the taste and can’t seem to cut it out? Have you successfully eliminated dairy from your diet? Do you have asthma, skin disorders or allergies that have been alleviated by eliminating dairy?