Let’s Get Real…
A recent TV commercial for a calcium supplement produced by a large pharmaceutical company really got me going. The ad begins by asserting that “1 in 4 women will develop osteoporosis.” It goes on to tell you to take their calcium pill and they make it sound like your worries will be over! They don’t, however, tell you the truth at all…
The pharmaceutical and dairy industries have been telling us for decades that we need lots of calcium and we can get it in supplements and dairy. In fact the dairy industry is so good at promoting itself that it is difficult NOT to automatically associate a glass of milk with a healthy choice for bones, right?
Americans (I’ll use Americans because the data is readily available and we all know that Canadians are on the same path as our neighbors) have been consuming lots of dairy products. In fact the U.S. is among the top three countries in the world for dairy consumption. It would be logical then to expect that we have very healthy bones, but the opposite is true! The United States is also among the top three countries in the world for rates of hip fractures (an indicator of bone health) and osteoporosis. So what gives?
Our society turns to pills and dairy for healthy bones, but NONE of the research or statistics back that up. One study compared a group of women taking supplements, one group exercising, a group doing both, and a control group doing neither. Which group had the best bone density at the end of the trial? The group that exercised! Only weight-bearing exercise made a difference on bone health! The supplements had no effect at all!
The main problem with dairy foods is that they have an acidic effect in our bodies, so a diet high in dairy and other acid producing foods like coffee, alcohol and all processed foods results in an acidic body. The body naturally works to balance this by trying to neutralize the acid… with what? Calcium. From where? Right out of your bones – Calcium is leached out of your bones! — Clearly not what you want to happen.
I have heard from a surprising number of people who tell me they have consumed dairy their whole lives and yet they have been diagnosed with pre-osteoporosis. Their doctor’s answer? Supplements! Well, we know that doesn’t work very well, so what can we do?
- EXERCISE! Ok this part is easy. Regular weight-bearing movements like walking, running, and everything we do at Monkey Bar Gym will improve your bone health.
- EAT PLANTS! This is easy too! Sweet! Plants have an alkaline effect in the body, an environment that has been proven to fight disease, reduce tumor growth, and strengthen the immune system, etc. It will also help you absorb and keep the calcium you consume.
Some examples of Calcium-strong plants are: kale, collard greens, bok choy, broccoli, butternut squash, spinach, dates, oranges, pomegranates, almonds and nuts in general, quinoa, and cornmeal. It should be noted that molasses pack a calcium super-punch too!
The TV ads are very convincing, but don’t be fooled by the lobby groups. Regular exercise and eating a plant-strong diet are big factors leading to bone health! (and health in general) The statistic that the TV ad quotes (1 in 4 women will get osteoporosis) is only true if you continue to follow their advice. The problem is that neither the pharmaceutical industry nor the dairy industry will make money telling you the truth!