Dairy, although rich in calcium, may not be the best way to maintain bone health. We need to understand that there are many components that are in play in building and maintaining strong bones.
Here are some reasons why dairy may not be your best answer:
- There are more fractures in regions that consume milk products (US, Great Britain, Canada, Northern Europe), than in those that don’t (traditional Africa, China).
- The extensive Nurses Study at Harvard, which followed 78,000 nurses for more than 12 years, found that those who drink two or more glasses of milk per day have twice the risk of hip fracture than those who drink a glass a week or less.
- Dairy causes blood pH to become acidic. When the body needs to balance blood pH, it will draw calcium from the bones, reducing bone density.
- Calcium in dairy may not be the most bio-available – meaning that the body may not be able to utilize the entire ingested amount.
- Many people are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack the enzymes to digest the sugar found in dairy. This makes dairy not a viable source of calcium for these people.
Nutrients for Health Bones
Calcium is not the only thing you need for strong bones. In fact, if you supplement calcium without taking all the other nutrients into account, you may be making your bones more brittle and increase the chances of having a fracture.
Understanding the structure and function of bones will help us figure out why calcium alone is not the answer.
- Bones are composed of calcium phosphate salts (65%) for hardness, and a collagen matrix (35%) for flexibility.
- When all the calcium from a bone is removed, leaving the collagen matrix, the bone will bend, not break, when subjected to stress.
- When the collagen matrix is removed and the calcium salts remain, the bone will break when stress is applied.
For strong bones that can withstand stress, we need many synergistic nutrients besides calcium: magnesium, phosphorus, boron, copper, manganese, zinc, plus the vitamins C, D, K, B6, and folic acid.
- We also need sufficient amounts of protein for the collagen matrix, and healthful fats for Vitamin D absorption and protection against bone-destroying free radicals.
- To get sufficient Vitamin D, we need 30 minutes or more of sunlight, or at least daylight, every day, without sunscreen. An SPF of 8 blocks 95% of the production of Vitamin D on the skin and anything higher blocks it all.
Dietary Approach to Strong Bones
Follow these simple recommendations, and you can be sure that you are giving your bones the best chances to stay healthy and strong:
- Eat plenty of vegetables, especially leafy greens (which are rich in calcium). Five to seven portions daily and include parsley, roots, and cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage. They are rich in magnesium, which are essential in bone formation and calcium utilization.
- Cook with stocks made with vegetables and a stick of kombu seaweed, or with fish, chicken or beef bones and a tablespoon of vinegar to liberate the minerals.
- Eat a moderate amount of sunflower and pumpkin seeds for the minerals and natural fats
- Include a modest amount of whole grains for the fiber and complex carbohydrates
- Eat beans and naturally raised animal foods for protein
- Use butter, extra virgin olive, flaxseed, and unrefined sesame oils for essential fatty acids.
- Avoid foods that create acidic blood pH – such as dairy, meat, sugar, and caffeine. When the body needs to balance blood pH, it will draw calcium from the bones – this can reduce bone density.
- Avoid soda – phosphorous from soda compete with calcium for absorption.
Additional info: http://thebizzybuzz.com/bizzy-buzz/fab-life/skip-the-milk/
Bone Broth Recipe
Bone broth is a great source of bio-available calcium – which means that it can be easily absorbed, assimilated and utilized by our body. Use this broth to make soup, stew and chili; or use it to cook beans and rice.
This is the “Gut Healing Bone Broth” recipe is from Dr. Liz Lipski, the author of many books on digestive wellness:
- Bones from poultry, fish, beef, lamb, shellfish or whole chicken or whole carcass (remove
- meat when cooked – about 1 hour)
- 8-10 cups of water
- 1–2 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar
- 1–2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 Carrots
- 1 onion
- 2 stalks celery
- ½ c. fresh Parsley chopped or 2 tbsp dried parsley
- 1-2 tsp sage
- 1-2 tsp rosemary
- 1-2 tsp thyme
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar or 1 lemon
- Put all ingredients into pot. Bring to boil.
- Let simmer on low for several hours (4–24) or in crock pot on low.
- Remove bones and skim off fat.
Uses for broth:
- Use as stock for soup.
- Drink as a warm beverage.
- Use as the cooking liquid for vegetables and grains.
- Make gravy from the fats.
Exercise and Bone Health
Weight-bearing exercises are important in maintaining bone health. Increased physical activity is helpful in building bone during the phases of mineral acquisition and bone consolidation.
Weight-bearing exercise is any activity you do while on your feet and legs that works your muscles and bones against gravity. During weight-bearing exercise, bone adapts to the impact of weight and the pull of muscle by building more bone cells. Consequently, bone becomes stronger and more dense. The risk of fracture, osteopenia, and osteoporosis decreases.
Weight-bearing exercise includes:
- step aerobics
- tennis, racquetball
Load bearing exercise, such as weight lifting, can also help build strong bones. Introduce varying intensity, and vary the types of exercises to help keep you routine interesting.