We were all raised to believe cow's milk was the next best thing for us after breast milk. There's a billion dollar industry hoping you still believe that. But science has shown that dairy can cause a host of problems that the dairy industry won't tell you about. This blog will just address one - osteoporosis.
Did you know that the U.S. ingests more dairy than most nations yet we have THE HIGHEST rate of osteoporosis on the planet (more than 20 million people suffer from it)? What's going on?
Most drink milk and give it to their kids because of the calcium. We all want strong bones and teeth, right? While cow's milk does contain plenty of calcium, it also contains a large amount of phosphorus (more than the perfect ratio of calcium to phosphorus found in human breast milk). This excess phosphorus binds with the calcium in our digestive tracts and makes the calcium in cow's milk mostly unabsorbable. Added to that, when cow's milk is pasteurized and homogenized, even less calcium is available.
Your body is pretty amazing. It is constantly trying to balance itself. Because cow's milk is acidic and much of our Western diets are acidic (and high in sodium), your body pulls the calcium from your bones to buffer the acid (and salt). For example, people take TUMS tablets for heartburn (acid). TUMS is calcium. The calcium neutralizes the acid. If you don't have enough available calcium in your blood and digestive tract to balance out all of the acid, your body will pull the calcium from your bones. This leads to osteoporosis.
Now what? You can get all of the calcium your body needs by eating leafy green vegetables, sea vegetables, tofu (calcium-set kind), nuts and seeds (especially unhulled sesame). Only 2 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses has more calcium than a glass of cow's milk. Calcium-fortified juices and milks (soy, almond, hemp, etc) also contain up to 30% of your RDA.
Next, cut out the extra salt and processed foods that are almost always high in sodium. Weight-bearing exercise is also important to build strong bones. This doesn't mean you need to become a body builder. Running, weights, resistance bands, even using your own body weight for exercises (think push ups, lunges, squats) works. These types of exercises cause the muscles to pull on the bones, which in turn stimulate bone cells to produce more bone.
We are humans, not cows. Human milk was made for humans and cow milk was made for cows. Small amounts of dairy can be fine, but if you're eating/drinking it thinking you're strengthening your bones, you may want to head to the produce aisle instead.