Fueled by celebrity endorsements and massive amounts of money, the dairy industry pushes a relentless campaign to convince you that unless you meet your skim-milk quota, you’ll never get adequate amounts of calcium.
You’d never know from those ads, but you can get all your calcium without ever touching a glass of milk. In fact, the dairy industry’s dirty little secret is that milk can negatively impact your calcium balance.
Researchers estimate about 75% of us are lactose intolerant, and dairy made my list of 7 highly reactive foods in The Virgin Diet. About 70% of my clients test positive, in fact, for dairy sensitivities.
Dairy and other food intolerances can stall fat loss, trigger inflammation, and provoke symptoms like bloating, fatigue, and headaches. Most infamously, dairy can exacerbate acne and other skin conditions.
Even more disturbing, studies connect dairy consumption with increased risk of ovarian and other cancers.
I mentioned milk can make you fat, and skim milk ironically is the worst: its higher lactose content raises blood sugar levels and can contribute to insulin resistance.
Perhaps most shockingly, dairy can be bad for your bones. Because of its acidity, dairy might actually contribute to osteoporosis. That’s a big price to pay for a little calcium.
Maintaining strong bones requires a host of nutrients, not just calcium. I’m telling you to skip the milk, but I also don’t want you swallowing a bunch of cheap tablets to get your calcium intake.
So how can you maintain strong bones and prevent osteoporosis?
For one, take a high-quality bone-support supplement. Combined with these nutrient-rich foods, you’ll have a powerful bone-support strategy no matter what your age:
- More greens. People tend to overlook leafy green veggies as an excellent calcium source. A cup of cooked broccoli rabe, for instance, offers over half your RDA for calcium. Collard greens, kale, and spinach also provide good amounts of calcium. Combine these green leafy veggies with some good fat like olive or coconut oil so your body absorbs the bone-healthy vitamins D and K.
- Create balance. Just as with life itself, balance is crucial for your bones. Your body tightly regulates acid and alkaline balance, so if you eat a heavily acidic food – say, five-grain bread or a parmesan-encrusted sirloin – your body must buffer blood pH back to normal. Alkalizing minerals bring pH back into balance, and your biggest source of these minerals lies within your bones. When you over-consume acidifying foods, including dairy, caffeine, and sugar, you increase your risk for bone loss. For example, the phosphoric acid in soft drinks can leech calcium from your bones.
- Get some sunshine. Vitamin D helps your body absorb and maintain calcium. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that exposing yourself to about 10 minutes of sun, 2 – 3 times a week, coupled with a vitamin D supplement can create healthy bones and optimal immunity. If you avoid the sun or live in a sun-limited climate, you’re probably not making adequate amounts of vitamin D, so supplementation becomes even more crucial. Get a 25-hydroxy test and work with an integrative physician to get your D levels to 60 – 80 ng/ ml.
- Eat fish. The omega 3 fatty acids in wild salmon and other fish reduce inflammation, normalize lipid levels, and boost your mood. These essential fatty acids can also improve bone health. Worth noting too: salmon and other fish provide one of the few food sources of vitamin D. Remember your bones are constantly breaking down and remodeling, and omega 3s assist that process. If you don’t eat wild-caught fish at least 3 times each week, supplement with a professional-quality essential fatty acids formula. I also toss omega-3 rich flaxseed and chia seeds into my morning smoothie.
- Go nuts. Along with protein and fiber, raw almonds and other nuts pack a synergistic blend of crucial bone-building nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, and manganese. Zinc, for instance, helps your body form optimal bone structure and strength. Likewise, magnesium improves bone mineral density. Insufficient magnesium, in fact, can interfere with your body’s ability to process calcium.
© 2013 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food allergies. She is the bestselling author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, a Huffington Post blogger, creator of the 4X4 Burst Training Workout & co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters. Her latest book, New York Times Bestseller The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, is out now. Learn more here!