Where Do You Get Your Calcium? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Dairy Products

As a woman 47+ year old woman approaching menopause, I’m obviously concerned with strength of my bones and preventing osteoporosis.

Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is important for everybody, but especially critical growing children and for women in the first few years after menopause, when bone mass is lost more rapidly.

The recommended daily intake of calcium for an adult between the ages of 19 and 50 is 1,000 mg a day. (Adolescents, the elderly and pregnant women need varying amounts).

And what is the most often recommended source of calcium that we hear about in the media and from various health practitioners?

Dairy products. Cow’s milk, yogurt, cheese.

Well. I’m here to tell you today that dairy is nasty food.

You may be thinking “Huh, dairy… nasty? What is she talking about?! It’s so good for you. Without milk, where am I going to get my calcium?”

I hear you. I grew up on lots of dairy, too.

But think of the fact that the Chinese and Japanese, as well as many other peoples in the history of mankind, have never included milk or cheese in their diets. It’s only in the very recent past that dairy has been introduced as a daily food, and with it has come a fast increase in various health problems, such as obesity, breast cancer and also osteoporosis.

And that’s not surprising, because dairy products have been linked to a long list of health problems, including osteoporosis, heart disease, some types of cancer, and many childhood illnesses! If you are shocked to hear this, keep reading. This information can transform your health (and life).

The Bad: How Does Eating Dairy Jeopardize Human Health?

Calcium is used in balancing pH in the body. Our North American diet is full of acid-forming foods. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is loaded with meat, dairy, processed foods, coffee, table salt, sodas, white bread, and junk food – all of which force the body to secrete big amounts of digestive acid. Strong stomach acids are needed to break down animal foods like beef, chicken and pork. Calcium is required to neutralize strong stomach acids. Our blood can function only at a specific pH level and if the blood acid level moves up or down, calcium is secreted to alkalize strong digestive acids when they enter the bloodstream.

The body is designed for survival, so it sacrifices bone density to protect the kidneys and urinary tract because the latter are essential to survival. And the most readily available source of acid neutralizer is in the bones. So even though milk contains calcium, it ends up sapping your bones of that crucial mineral.

Many studies have demonstrated that over-consumption of animal protein has been identified to have the greatest impact on calcium depletion of the bones, even greater than the level of calcium intake through diet. Drinking more milk is not the answer, but increasing whole foods like green vegetables and reducing animal foods will plug the holes in the bucket, something our children are not being taught.

Our bodies are not meant to drink any milk except our own mother’s milk, and only when we are babies. The fact is that many people cannot drink milk from other animals. In the U.S. as many as 80% of African Americans, 90 percent of Asian Americans, and 60 percent of Hispanics are lactose-intolerant to some degree. And yet the message children hear all through school is to drink their milk for strong bones and teeth,  and we want all school children to drink their milk – how crazy is that!

Some diseases associated with high dairy consumption include heart disease, osteoporosis, various cancer (including breast, ovarian and prostate cancer), as well as diabetes and asthma.

We look at nations where they drink milk, we find these diseases are common. We look at nations nations where the consumption of dairy is low, and they are rare.

The Ugly: How Are Cows on Dairy Farms Abused?

The dairy industry is, in a word, cruel.

The ugly fact that most people don’t want to know about is that cows on dairy farms are treated like milk-producing machines, which of course they aren’t – they are living, breeding and FEELING beings.

Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do: to nourish their offspring. In order to force the animals to continue providing milk, factory farm operators impregnate every year them using artificial insemination. Their babies are torn away from them right after birth, when they are still very weak, while mothers cry for days and weeks because they miss their babies. Cows have been known to escape their farms and go searching for their offspring. These cows are genetically manipulated to produce about 10 times as much milk as they would naturally, spending their lives constantly bloated and in pain. They spend their entire lives being pregnant and producing huge amounts of milk.

Male calves are destined to be killed at very young age to become veal or beef and female calves destined to suffer the same fate as their mothers.

And cows on organic farms can suffer even more because when the animals’ udders become infected, farmers do not administer medicine, since that would not allow them to label the cows’ milk as organic.

An average cow on dairy farm lives for about 4-5 years, whereas under less stressful conditions, they would live for approximately 25 years! Stress and fear plague these cows on a daily basis, and it’s no wonder that at the end of their short lives, they are completely spent and often lame.

Even if you drink milk from cows that spend their day in pastures, you still contribute to unnecessary suffering of animals. Even small dairy farms repeatedly impregnate their cows using artificial insemination. Their babies are still torn away from them at birth, with male calves destined to become veal or beef and female calves destined to suffer the same fate as their mothers. 🙁

But, if I stop consuming dairy products, won’t that put me at greater risk for osteoporosis?

Animal-protein foods, such as meat, eggs, and dairy products, are highly acidic and produce poisonous byproducts when they are broken down so the body buffers the toxins with calcium before they are eliminated. This depletes calcium reserves in the body, including the bones, so the benefit of dietary intake of calcium from animal products is cancelled.

In countries where dairy products are not generally consumed, osteoporosis is much less common than in countries with high dairy consumption.

The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study followed 78,000 women for 12 years and found that milk did not protect them against bone fractures. In fact, those who drank three glasses of milk per day had more fractures than those who rarely drank milk. Visit PCRM.org for more information.

The Good: How Many Alternatives to Milk Are There?

If this is the first time you are hearing this information, it can come as a shock to you.  By no means, you don’t have to believe me. Do your own research.

But be sure to check the source of the information, to check if there are no vested interests.

The good news is we don’t need dairy to be healthy, have strong teeth and bones and prevent osteoporosis!

When you first decide to cut milk from your diet, making the transition may seem daunting. I loved dairy products – especially yogurts and ice-creams – just as much as the next person. How could I live without milk? I thought that it would be impossible.

But once I opened my mind to the idea of change, I realized that many tasty and convenient alternatives are available. If you’re thinking about making a change, just go to your local grocery store and check it out! You can drink soy, almond, coconut, rice, oat, or hemp milk, to just name a few. Many of these alternatives even come in different flavors, such as sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla, or chocolate! There are so many options, and it’s fun to taste-test a few in order to determine which one you like best.

Plus, there are many more non-dairy, cruelty-free sources of calcium – check them out here.

Vegan milk

Please use only non dairy milk in your smoothies! Even this doctor and doctors at PCRM.org will tell you so!

Resources:

Health Concerns about Dairy Products:  http://www.pcrm.org/search/?cid=252

Meet Your Meat: http://www.meat.org/

Mercy For Animals: http://www.mercyforanimals.org/

The Dairy Industry: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/dairy-industry.aspx

Environmental Impact: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/environment.html

Got Osteoporosis? Maybe all that milk you’ve been drinking is to blame.

Milk Myths

Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

If you have a favorite recipe, why not submit it here in the comment section of this smoothie recipes blog for others to enjoy too!

I also welcome any comments, questions and suggestions. Thanks!


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