I didn’t really like milk when I was little. As a gymnast, calcium was necessary for my body so I could have strong bones and perform well. So my dad decided that the only way he could get me to drink milk was bribe me by putting m&m’s at the bottom of the cup. I found out quickly, the only way to get to the m&m’s was actually drinking the whole glass of milk because those little treats didn’t float on top. I didn’t want to put my hand in it because then my hand would be all wet and cold! (it’s like rain on a freezing day…it’s the worst!) Oh dad, you’re too smart for me, you know my weaknesses. And I’ll admit, the m&m’s were better once they soaked in the milk a little bit; cold chocolate with a smooth consistency because the candy shell had dissolved. The milk even looked kind of cool with a swirling rainbow!
Until today, I’ve always thought that dairy products were the smartest way to get my calcium. However, as I read Eat to Live, by Joel Fuhrman (One of the best books I’ve come across about nutrition and health/weightloss), I’ve come to realize that dairy may not be the wisest source of calcium in an American Diet. Fuhrman states that dairy is linked with many diseases and the dairy fat is highly exposed to a toxin called dioxin, especially in butter and cheese (a toxic compound produced as a byproduct in paper bleaching and herbicide production). Cheese is one of the worst choices for obtaining calcium because it is a powerful inducer of acid load, which increases calcium loss. In addition to calcium loss, the fat content in cheese is a major source of dioxin exposure in our diets.
Only one third of calcium ingested is absorbed in the body system. The calcium absorbed from vegetables is 50% versus calcium from is only 32%. This is because animal protein induces calcium excretion in the urine and calcium retention from vegetable is higher. Furthermore, Fuhrman focuses in on the dietary factors that induce calcium loss through urine. Animal protein, refined sugar, antibiotics, and alcohol are just a few to name. Because the American diet incorporates so many of the these products, calcium often has a negative balance in the body.
So how should we fix this? Drink twice as many glasses of milk a day? No, that action would make us consume unnecessary calories. The best way to receive good calcium absorption is to eat more fruits and vegetables. This is because one; they have a higher calcium absorption rate, and two; fruits contain less calories and fat with more nutrients. Those leafy greens aren’t so bad if you add a little taste to them, and they definitely will build stronger bones with their calcium rate, so eat up 🙂
Maybe that’s why I never became an Olympian gymnast. My bones weren’t strong enough, and my dad should have put an apple out for me instead of candies and milk when I was younger… just kidding dad, I began to look forward to my morning m&m milk after a while! 🙂