Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why a Diet High in Animal Protein Leads to Osteoporosis & Calcium Loss

Have you ever wondered why an industrial nation such as the United States, has such a high rate of osteoporosis?  Osteoporosis, or bone loss resulting in an increased fracture risk, is occurring more and more frequently in even the youngest of men and women. 

What is the first food you think of when someone mentions to increase our calcium intake?  If you are like me, you will likely say "drink more milk, eat more dairy foods" right?  How about this question...What is the best way to increase our protein intake?  Again, like me, you may say "eat more meat".  Growing up in America, we have been conditioned to believe that drinking milk and eating meat with every meal, will build strong bones and healthy bodies, right?

While it is true that our bodies need calcium and protein, I have come to learn that dairy products and animal protein such as eggs & meat, are not such a great source of bone building, healthy body foods.  In addition, unless we are very selective about where we buy our dairy, eggs and meat products, we are ingesting without our knowledge, large quantities of hormones, antibiotics and steroids that are given to the animals while they are being raised.

That is why I always recommend purchasing "organic" dairy foods, cage-free or free range eggs, free-range chickens, grass-fed beef, etc.  These products at least come from animals that were not treated with antibiotics or hormones while being raised.  The less chemicals in our bodies, the better.

Understanding that the body is always trying to bring ourselves back to balance, let's consider what happens when we eat daily amounts of animal protein.  Eating meat, eggs and dairy foods causes our bodies to become acidic, a condition that is NOT favorable to good health.  Cancer LOVES to grow in an acidic environment.  When this condition occurs, our bodies signal a buffering system to occur to "neutralize" all that acid to prevent a condition known as "metabolic acidosis".

This buffering agent is called Calcium which is stored in our bones.  Calcium rushes out of the bones to buffer all the acid, leaving the bones deficient in calcium, thus leading to bone loss.  Wow!  How many of us knew that?  So why do we think we need to eat more dairy to increase our calcium intake?  It is what we learned from the media while growing up.  Think of the many times you have seen or heard those commercials, "Got Milk" with the familiar milk mustache.  "Milk, it does the body good."  "Beef, it's what's for dinner."  "Where's the Beef?"  See what I mean.  We have been conditioned to assume that this stuff is good for us.  While it may be, it is not good for us all of the time, at every meal.
If we want to increase our intake of calcium & protein for strong and healthy bones and bodies, we need to learn about the power of plants.  Our bodies are meant to ingest plants, lots of them, all of the time.  Plants are the only recognized "food" in the body and supply us with all the necessary nutrients we need, when we need them.  They offer the antioxidants needed to return to a more "alkaline" state of being.  Cancer does NOT like to grow in an alkaline environment so eating plants daily helps to prevent acidosis.

So, the next time we are trying to decide what to have for breakfast, or what to grill up on the barbie, we need to remember all the choices we have other than eggs, bacon, milk and create new ways of ingesting plants as many times per day as possible.  Plant-based protein shakes make great smoothies.  I like to add raw kale leaves or spinach to my morning smoothies or add an apple or frozen fruit to flavor it to my liking.
Grilled veggies and stir-frys are great without meat sometimes.  Create some new dishes for yourself and your family and know that you are doing the body good.

Taking a walk in the sunshine daily without sunscreen will also assist us in keeping a weight bearing load on our bones. keeping them strong...AND...provide us with the much needed Vitamin D from the sun on our skin in order to keep our bones strong and healthy. 

When given the opportunity, take a break from meat and animal products.  After all, animals are truly meant for "lovin" and not the "oven".