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Does drinking milk actually strengthen your bones?

For years we have been brought up on drinking good ol' cow’s milk, often 3 times a day at every meal because we were told it’s healthy for us. "It promotes strong bones and teeth" they said. However many large research studies done in the last few years are hopefully going to change your mind on whether you should be avoiding milk all together.

Why drinking milk is not the key to bone health

Common causes and risk factors of osteoporosis include, inflammation, diet, stress and more but milk alone can increase your chance of bone fracture by a whopping 7% per glass! Now I’m not trying to blame it all on milk even though I myself have been dairy free for 2 decades so I may be a bit biased here Dairy is leaching calcium from your bones because of the acid content in milk. Our natural blood PH acidifies, which in turn triggers a biological response for the kidneys to kick in to stay protected. Because calcium is an alkaline mineral it is sacrificed from the bones to neutralise the rise in blood acidity. You then excrete it in your urine which results in a deficit. There are other reasons to avoid milk such as the sugar content and the protein content. Milk is a highly inflammatory food group. If you are doing your best to keep inflammation at bay in your gut as well as the rest of your body then this is something you will want to prioritize. It’s important to get your bone density tested at various ages especially if you're experiencing other health concerns or diseases. Leaky gut, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are also significant precursors to osteoporosis.

Well what do you drink now?

Lucky for you there are so many choices out there. Almond milk is my go to, the unsweetened one; and the chocolate one is a big favorite in my household with the kids. Oat milks have been all the rage in the past year and there are other options like rice and hemp milk. Fresh is best here so make sure to get the milk from the fridge section vs the aisle as extra ingredients are put into those ones that you just don’t need. However, I always carry a few tetra packs when on holidays because they are much easier then bringing a 2 litre container while travelling. Now to be fair, dairy isn’t the only thing that causes bone loss. Genetics, lack of physical activity, body weight, smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine, hormones and medication can all play a vital role. Some of my favorite Calcium sources are arugula, chia seeds in my smoothie (one serving is equivalent to the calcium in a glass of milk), and all the greens your heart can desire. Some other great sources that I’m not a fan of but you might enjoy are mackerel, and sardines. You only have one set of bones so do what you can to keep them strong and working for you.

Christine The Science Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H., and David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D, Milk and Health New England Journal of Medicine. Published online, Feb 13, 2020.

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