Americans drink more cow’s milk than nearly any other country. We are also nearing first place in rates of hip fractures in women over 50. Which countries are surpassing us you ask? Ironically the ones that consume more dairy than us Americans. This can seem ironic since a key reason most Americans consume milk is for the calcium, which promotes bone health.
So what the heck is going on here?
Milk does indeed have calcium and calcium does indeed promote bone health, BUT unfortunately it’s not that simple. Animal protein (the protein in dairy, meat, poultry, eggs) is rich in sulfur-containing amino acids. Those types of amino acids make our bodies more acidic when we eat them. Our bodies are very particular about pH so when that pH starts to creep down and become more acidic, our impressively adaptable bodies find a way to bring that pH back up. How do they do this? By leaching calcium from our bones to neutralize the acid.
Basically: The more animal protein you consume, the more calcium is leached out of your bones to neutralize the acid, weakening your bones.
Dairy has a few other unfortunate health components. Its high saturated fat and cholesterol content results in increased blood cholesterol levels, which leads to a higher risk of heart disease. The high sodium content in cheese can contribute to increased blood pressure, once again increasing heart disease risk. Dairy is also lacking in nutrients and heavy in calories. To give some perspective, it scores only a 31 out of 1000 on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. This index scores food based on how many healthy nutrients there are per calorie.
Wanting to learn more about dairy? Check out The Cheese Trap!