milk and osteoporosisGot Milk? This popular slogan took off for the Dairy Industry back in 1993 when they launched their extensive campaign aimed at getting the consumer to drink more milk, particularly in California where milk sales were steadily dropping. We saw athletes of all shapes and sizes proudly wearing their milk moustaches with a smile urging us to drink milk too. But is milk all it claims to be? Will it make our bones strong enough to stand the test of time? Will it make them strong at all?

When we think of the benefits of milk, most people think about the bones and teeth. We’ve been trained (mostly by Dairy Industry advertisers) to believe that drinking milk is the number one way to ensure we have strong bones and teeth now and into the future. But is it true?

Get the Real Facts on Milk Consumption and Osteoporosis

It’s a fact not known by the mainstream population (but a fact nonetheless) that countries with the highest dairy consumption (most modernized, Western cultures) coincidently have the highest rate of osteoporosis. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, the United States and Europe account for 51% of all fractures from osteoporosis.

And according to the United States Department of Agriculture, countries in the European Union and the United States are the number one and two milk consumers in the entire world. Yes, it’s true. Europeans and Americans not only consume the most milk, we also suffer the most cases of osteoporosis across the globe.

Most people need to really let this statistic sink in for a moment. That’s because it’s the exact opposite that we’ve been trained to believe for our entire lives. When we finally do hear the truth, it’s a bit, well, shocking.

In fact, according to Dr. Michael Holick in his groundbreaking book, The Vitamin D Solution, a child who grows up in a country along the equator has a much less likely chance to ever get osteoporosis (amongst other lifestyle diseases) as the same aged child born and raised in the United States of America or Europe with all its medical advances and modern conveniences.

So what’s going on here? We encourage our children to drink milk, be sure that we ourselves are consuming enough of the creamy liquid so that we have strong healthy bones for life, but come to find that this is not helping keep our bones strong? At first, it’s a bit baffling.

I’m sure you, like myself and millions of others, trust what these athletes are saying with their milk moustaches and the ads by the Dairy Industry telling us to drink milk to be strong, bone strong no less.

We look at these athletes who are fit as fit can be and think, ‘hey, they’re drinking milk, they’re in unbelievable shape, it must be good for my kids and for me too.” We mistakenly think that milk will keep us healthy, especially that it will keep our bones strong. And now I’m telling you that the opposite is really happening, it’s surprising, even a bit scary.

Defining Milk: Raw vs. Processed

Now while you’re thinking about these somewhat shocking facts, it’s important to make the distinction between what most people consider milk and raw milk. When I mention milk, what most of us think of is the milk from the grocery store shelves: pasteurized, homogenized milk. Whether it’s whole, 2%, 1%, or skim the key is the processes it’s gone through before reaching those shelves. That’s the milk that I’m referring to in much of this article.

The other kind of milk that we’ll also talk about is raw milk. Raw milk is just that. Fresh, raw, unpasteurized, unhomogonized milk. This is what distinguishes raw milk from regular milk; the processes that it doesn’t go through. And this is what makes the difference in whether or not the milk you drink will help or hurt your bones.

It’s important to be clear that not all raw milk is the same. Raw milk that comes from healthy cows (that are fed organic grass, raised in humane conditions) and the milk that is properly obtained from the cow is the best raw milk to drink.

Milk in its all natural state, what we call ‘raw milk,’ is an alkaline food. Once it goes through the pasteurization and homogenization processes it becomes an acidic food. And this is one place where the problem lies.

Alkaline or Acidic: Which is Your Body?

The body must maintain a strict pH level of between 7.35 and 7.45 in order to live. This slightly alkaline pH level will be kept by the body regardless of all else. It’s essential. A pH below 6.8 or above 7.8 and our bodies become sick, cells die, and it leads to death. Our wise bodies won’t that let that happen – no matter what!

As we eat more and more processed, refined foods our bodies become more and more acidic. The foods we put into our bodies today are creating a body chemistry that’s acidic. Our systems have to constantly find ways to counteract this high acidity and keep our pH in check.

The body does this by leaching alkaline from other places in the body. One of these places is the bones. So the body does the only thing it knows to do (in order to keep us alive, remember): it takes the alkaline substances from the bones. Day after day, year after year this takes it toll on the bones. Bones that have had alkaline substances taken from them on a routine basis become frail, weak, and riddled with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis translated means porous bones. Wow, bones with holes, that can’t be good.

The more milk we drink (and acidic foods we eat), the more acid we bring into our bodies, and the more our bodies leach alkaline substances from our precious bones. It’s a cycle we just can’t afford to continue to overlook.

This high level of acid in the body is called acidosis. Osteoporosis is just one of the many chronic diseases linked to dangerous acidosis. One fact you’ll want to keep in mind is that tumors thrive in acidic conditions. Acidosis is a serious health problem we can’t turn away from any longer without suffering the sickly consequences.

Stopping Osteoporosis and Acidosis in their Tracks

Despite the prescriptions to help with osteoporosis and the awareness of the debilitating disease, the rates of osteoporosis climb and are predicted to continue to rise at unprecedented rates.

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation hip fractures will increase dramatically by the year 2050–in women by 240% and 310% increase for men. These are stats not to take lightly.

Not only does osteoporosis (usually from injuries such as fractures) compromise your quality of life, it takes an economic toll on us as well. Time missed from work due to osteoporosis related injuries is significant and growing.

There are simple, healthy ways to protect yourself from life-robbing osteoporosis (and problem-causing acidosis.) Now that you know that drinking processed milk is not one of them, it’s a good idea to begin to adjust your eating to incorporate not only high calcium foods but also more alkaline foods.

Generally speaking, the processed, refined foods we eat are acidic. Foods that come from nature which are not processed, refined, or altered in any way, are the best source of alkaline foods.

Foods like fresh, organic fruits and veggies and pure, alkaline water are great ways to balance your acid/alkaline levels without risking your bones.

Foods Producing a High Alkaline Effect on the Body:

  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Barley Grass
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • Beets
  • Lettuce
  • Zucchini
  • Grapes
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Blackcurrant
  • Dates
  • Dried Figs
  • Raisins

While this is by no means an all inclusive list, these are some of the foods that you want to start getting into your diet today. The best rule of thumb is to eat real foods not fake foods. If you make it a point to eat most of your meals and snacks filled with real foods (foods straight from nature) and limit fake foods (highly processed and refined foods) then you’ll be increasing your alkaline intake and combating the acid in your body.

Sadly we can’t always trust what the advertisers are telling us; after all they’re really just out to make a buck. But you can use your mind and make informed, wise decisions that will keep your body healthy and your bones strong – for life!

Osteoporosis and acidosis are both serious health problems that we all need to take seriously. Action now will save your body from pain and disease down the road!

Sources

International Osteoporosis Foundation (2009)

The pH Miracle (2008)

BusinessWeek (2008)

Department of Agriculture (2010)

Dr. Axe's Action Steps

Dr. Axe
  1. Begin to incorporate high alkaline foods like green leafy vegetables into your diet everyday.
  2. Using simple pH litmus paper, test your own pH levels. These strips are inexpensive, easy to find, and come with thorough directions.
  3. Exercise and cut down on stress and other acid producers like smoking and alcohol consumption.
  4. Take a look at your own diet. Do you drink processed milk or other dairy products? Try cutting out pasteurized dairy or opting for raw milk or dairy products made from raw milk.