Whoever does dairy’s PR has done a pretty great job. Who doesn’t associate a tall glass of milk with strong bones and a smiling white moustache? Dairy products have been touted for decades as excellent sources of calcium and the obvious choice for keeping bones strong for the long haul.
But in recent years, research has suggested that you might want to kick dairy products to the curb. What’s the right answer when it comes to this food group? You’ll have to decide for yourself.
The Case for Yay
The reasons to consume dairy aren’t all about your bones. Sure, it’s got calcium, which is important for bone health and to prevent fractures. But what’s more interesting to note is that dairy contains a good amount of potassium. Too little potassium in the body can result in high blood pressure, which can lead to a host of health hazards. Consuming dairy — especially milk — is often seen as non-negotiable staple in our diet because of this calcium-potassium one-two punch.
The Case for Nay
The thing is, there isn’t a ton of evidence supporting the fact that drinking milk or eating yogurt can prevent fractures. Dairy is often laden with hormones and preservatives, which can send our bodies into a tailspin when it comes to gut health, weight, skin, and, ironically, bone health. Some forms of dairy are even said to leech important nutrients from your bones, making them brittle and far from healthy.
Many people on our team still eat dairy, but we eat it sparingly and mindfully. If you consume dairy products, choose products that are free of hormones and preservatives, organic, and in the purest form possible (no low-fat milk, for example, as it’s been stripped of many of its nutrients and usually has added sugars and preservatives). Some diet experts believe that dairy products cause inflammation in the body.
If you’re going dairy free, consciously increase your intake of other calcium-rich foods: leafy greens, seafood, legumes, and fruit. (Check out this list of alternatives when you need a fix.)
And whether you’re going down the dairy route or opting out, a vitamin D supplement is a good idea — calcium cannot be absorbed by the body without it.