Part 1 of a 3-Part Series on Osteoporosis
We’ve been conditioned for a long time to believe we need some dairy every day to keep our bones strong. But if we look at world-wide data on who eats dairy and who gets osteoporosis, it looks like milk may not help bones as much as we thought. Research in epidemiology has shown repeatedly that there is almost no osteoporosis in countries where people don’t eat (or drink) dairy, such as China, Japan and many African countries. The research also shows that cultures where dairy is a popular food have a higher incidence of osteoporosis. This has puzzled me for some time, especially since we are so often told to drink milk to make strong bones.
I have learned how dairy weakens bones. This will be a short, easy science lesson, and it might help you avoid ever being diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Our bodies need to maintain a very narrow acid/alkaline balance. pH refers to the level of hydrogen in a solution. Measuring the pH in our blood, saliva, and urine shows us how acidic or alkaline we are. Lower pH scores indicate acidity and higher scores indicate alkalinity. Ideally, we are neutral, which is about 7 on the 0-14 pH scale. In our culture we tend to eat a lot of acid-producing foods. If you Google “alkalizing foods” you’ll find a list of foods we’re always told to eat, like fruits and vegetables. “Acid-producing foods” tend to be the “fun” ones, like meat, breads, pastries, and alcohol. So we eat the fun foods and drink the fun drinks, and we produce an abundance of acid in the body. Then the body takes care of itself by pulling calcium from the bones to neutralize all that acid.
It looks as if much of the osteoporosis in our culture may be due to taking in acid-producing foods and drinks. Even if we take in the calcium we should, we may be losing it from our bones by eating an acid-producing diet.
So what’s the problem with milk? It’s a source of calcium, right? The problem seems to be that dairy products are acid-producing. So even though you may be taking in calcium from milk, cheese, or yogurt, the acid it creates leads the body to pull calcium from the bones.
For a more thorough analysis of why dairy doesn’t help us maintain strong bones, go to
saveourbones.com, strongwomen.com, and wddty.com. They aren’t the only sources for this sort of information, but they’re good ones. In Parts 2 and 3 of this series, we’ll address how to prevent and reverse osteoporosis, and how osteoporosis medications may actually worsen the condition.