In the way so many half-truths get blown up by commercial interests, we have been led to believe that all men and women need for strong bones is to get lots of calcium—either by popping pills or drinking milk. Millions of pounds and dollars have been spent to propagate these fantasies. Bottom line? Both these beliefs are fiction. Meanwhile, after four generations of aggressive milk promotion, the incidence of osteoporosis has reached epidemic proportions in the West. In countries where milk is not drunk, osteoporosis hardly exists.
So negative an effect can milk and milk products like some cheeses exert on a man or woman's health that, if you would care to experiment by leaving all milk products out of your diet for three weeks, you are likely to find you look and feel better, as well as experiencing great boosts in vitality. Sometimes doing this can be more difficult than you expect, however. Why? Because, in one form or another, milk finds its way into most convenience foods, including breads, biscuits, and sauces. It is even in a lot of nutritional supplements. Why, I cannot imagine!
Milk is designed by nature for a very specific purpose—to feed young mammals until they can feed themselves. Cow’s milk was made for cows, and human milk for humans. As we grow up, our bodies lose the ability to produce lactase, the enzyme that digests the sugar in milk. This creates what is known as a lactose intolerance. Studies show that three out of every four adults in the United States have some degree of lactose intolerance and are therefore unable to digest milk properly. When they include dairy products in their diet they experience lower energy, their bodies produce more mucus in an immune reaction, and they experience food sensitivity reactions with symptoms that can include mood swings, depression, aches and pains and many other undermining issues, often with no sense of what has been causing them.
Milk is the most common food allergen in the western world. Wheat follows close behind. But you find milk in one form or another just about everywhere—in cheese, cream, foods with cream sauces, yogurt, ice cream, breads, and all sorts of other manufactured food products. There is also strong evidence that milk—the pure white food which we are continually told will give us good bones, strong hair and “a lot of bottle”—is toxic to many. Dr Daniel Cramer at Harvard Medical School discovered that using milk products increases the risk of ovarian cancer in lactose-intolerant women. After extensive analysis of lactose-intolerant women in 36 countries, as well as meticulous examination of human and animal studies, researchers concluded that galactose, one of the milk sugars, is toxic to the ovaries and interferes with fertility. It may even trigger birth defects.
According to Executive Director of The Dairy Education Board, Robert Cohen and many others, the consumption of milk and milk and milk products are in no small part to blame for a long list of health problems:
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REAL MILK IS DIFFERENT
Milk that comes from pastured cows containing all the natural fat, has not been processed and is not pasteurized or homogenized is the way to go, provided you are one of the lucky ones whose body can handle milk without any of the negative side effects. It is taken from healthy cows under sanitary conditions. Raw milk is full of natural components which kill pathogens in the human body and strengthen the immune system: Lacto-peroxidase and lactoferrin as well as anti-microbial components in blood, helpful carbohydrates (polysaccharides and oligosaccharides), healthy fats (medium chain fatty acids, phospholipids and spingolipids), and wonderful enzymes to aid digestion as well as growth factors, beneficial bacteria, bifidus factor and B12-binding protein. These natural ingredients in real raw milk are inactivated and destroyed when milk is pasteurized. Yet the huge dairy industry and governments continue to spread false information about the “dangers” of real milk and even to forbid its sale in some countries.
WHAT ABOUT CALCIUM?
Far from turning to milk as a source of calcium, most men and women who value wellbeing and good looks would be better off clearing out milk and milk products from their diet altogether. But hear this: If you are going to cut milk out of your diet, you need to get rid of anything that might contain milk products such as milk solids, sodium caseinate, sodium lactate, milk fats, whey, or lactose. So read labels carefully.
As for taking pills, a number of researchers have shown that calcium supplements do little to stop the loss of cortical bone tissue. They have virtually no effect at all on trabecular bone in the spine and the hip, where most osteoporotic fractures occur. Yet having been told it again and again, most people still believe that the best source of calcium is milk or milk products. Of course, the question which is rarely asked is: Where does the calcium in milk come from in the first place?
EAT YOUR GREENS
Cows get calcium from eating green foods—grass, silage, herbs and plants. Only plants can take the calcium from the soil and turn it into a form available for absorption by animals. Beetroot tops, chinese leaves, roquette, lettuce, seaweeds, herbs and broad-leafed green vegetables are all excellent sources of calcium. A cup of any of these vegetables supplies as much calcium as a cup of milk. And vegetable-based calcium is easily assimilated, along with a collection of other important minerals and trace elements, without having to deal with possible negative side-effects of using milk products. Include plenty of leafy green vegetables in your meals and you’ll need never give calcium another thought. Incidentally, the reason why taking calcium supplements or drinking masses of milk has no effect in halting osteoporosis is this: The problem is not an absence of calcium in the body, but rather a disorder in calcium metabolism.
A DELICATE PROCESS
Calcium metabolism is a very complex process. In most people, absorption of calcium in general tends to be highly inefficient. Only somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the calcium you take in through your foods will actually be absorbed. The rest gets filtered through your blood and then excreted in urine and sweat, or eliminated through the feces. Many factors influence just how much calcium your body will absorb at any time. When you are growing rapidly or when you place stress on your bones doing weight bearing exercise, your absorption of calcium is increased. When your body is in great need of calcium it is also absorbed more effectively. In fact, the smaller the supply of calcium available from your foods and the greater the need your body has for this mineral, the more efficient calcium absorption becomes. The opposite is also true. When large quantities of calcium are available—say if someone has been drinking a lot of milk, or has taken masses of calcium supplements as many women do—then the absorption of calcium is markedly decreased. It is worth remembering that in the United States, where the consumption of calcium supplements and milk products is highest in the world, so too is the incidence of osteoporosis.
For calcium to function properly in relation to bone building, it has to be accompanied by phosphorus—but not too much—as well as magnesium, Vitamins A, B6, C, D, E and K. Zinc is also important, since zinc is a co-factor in the intra-cellular conversion of beta carotene to Vitamin A which in turn helps manufacture the collagen matrix of bone. Zinc has to be present in sufficient quantities for the body's enzymes to make the conversion. Even the trace elements boron and silicon, which are needed only in the most minute quantities, play important roles in bone strength.
ALL POWERFUL MAGNESIUM
What surprises most women—doctors too, for that matter—is that it is taking extra magnesium that can make the greatest difference to good calcium metabolism. Magnesium is another element essential for the proper metabolism of calcium. Magnesium probably acts as a catalyst for more enzymes in the body than any other mineral, in fact. Magnesium is plentiful in whole grains—brown rice, buckwheat, millet, whole wheat, whole rye and in legumes such as beans, lentils and peas, but low in highly processed foods. Adequate magnesium helps the body absorb calcium. Where there is a magnesium deficiency, not only can osteoporosis develop easily; so can joint and soft tissue calcification. Low intracellular magnesium undermines immune functions too, making women susceptible to infection and such hard-to-handle conditions as M.E. in which women with low intracellular magnesium have been found to have unnaturally shaped bone mineral crystals.
Magnesium deficiency is common in both men and women with osteoporosis. Milk is relatively deficient in magnesium—another reason why it is a poor food for protection against osteoporosis. Magnesium deficiencies are particularly widespread in women over 35 who have long been living on the standard diet of convenience foods. PMS expert Guy Abraham MD showed that giving women 600mg of magnesium a day could bring about a significant increase in bone mass in nine months, although the women he treated were also given other vitamins and minerals as well as HRT, so it is impossible to determine just how much of the improvement was due to the magnesium. In an Israeli study, however, where 31 post menopausal women were given between 250-750mg of magnesium a day for two years, bone density increased between 1-8 percent in 75 percent of the cases and remained unchanged in the remaining 25 percent, while women who refused magnesium supplements altogether experienced losses in bone density of 1-3 percent.
START EARLY IF YOU CAN
Osteoporosis prevention is best started early—preferably in the teens, twenties and thirties, while the density of bones is still increasing. This makes it easy to build good strong bones and to establish good habits that can carry you through the second half of your life with no trouble. If you are female and osteoporosis has already begun, you may want to make use of topically applied, natural progesterone cream to help restore normal bone density, then keep you permanently osteoporosis-free. Finally, just in case all this sounds like a tall order, take heart. The benefits an osteoporosis-protective lifestyle can bring to overall health and good looks are immense. Such a lifestyle helps keep your immune system functioning well, helping to protect you from illness, countering early aging and degeneration, and enhancing your energy all round. Such a program begun at any age can make you look and feel great.