1) Osteoporosis is caused by a lack of calcium
Osteoporosis indicates a mineral deficiency and the necessity of taking a combination of minerals to improve your bone health. It also indicates that you are too acidic. Osteoporosis means you need to change your diet, increase your mineral and nutrient intake, hydrate, alkalise, get out in the sunshine, and do weight-bearing exercises.
To understand how bones constantly break down and build back up, watch this YouTube on Bone Remodelling:
Osteoporosis is not a calcium deficiency. Dr. Thompson explains how overconsumption of calcium (i.e. consuming more than your daily requirement of calcium) creates other mineral deficiencies and imbalances that will increase your risk of heart disease, kidney stones, gallstones, osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, obesity and type 2 diabetes in his book The Calcium Lie.
Calcium calcifies. If your calcium supplement is being turned into “little rocks” that are being deposited in your soft tissues and arteries, you can begin to understand how this could be increasing your risk for a heart attack, stroke or other health conditions11. Remember, calcium calcifies.
It is also worth considering that doctors prescribe calcium carbonate for osteoporosis, the cheapest and most bio-unavailable form of calcium. What does your body do with all the unabsorbed calcium? It shunts it to other parts of your body where it is deposited (your heart, joints, kidneys etc.). Whilst it is beneficial to consume 275-780mg of calcium daily from dietary sources for men and 250-650mg for women, too much calcium increases your risk of developing osteoporosis1 as well as auto-immune diseases. Why? Because calcium calcifies (Dr. Thompson)! Bone is made out of at least 12 minerals, not just calcium. If you take an excess of one mineral, guess what, you put all the others out of balance!
2) I should consume more dairy to avoid osteoporosis
If you look at the rates of osteoporosis globally, studies indicate that countries with low dairy intake (Japan) have lower levels of osteoporosis. Conversely, countries in which milk consumption increased (Greece 1961-1977 and Hong Kong 1977-19855) found levels of osteoporosis doubled and tripled respectively in this same period6,7. When Hong Kong’s milk consumption rose to equal Europe’s so did their levels of osteoporosis. Do the maths – Osteoporosis and calcium deficiencies are unheard of in countries where milk consumption is low, and most frequent in those where milk consumption is highest.
Why should this be, as for years the Milk Marketing Board has been telling us how beneficial it is for us to drink cow’s milk. It turns out this was simply a marketing ploy since studies show that drinking too much milk increases your risk of bone fractures and may lead to premature death9. The researchers say milk is not the healthiest source of calcium because its fat content cancels out any positive effects of calcium, and instead causes inflammation and increases the risk of heart attack9. Low fat milk is not a good alternative as it increases your likelihood of heart disease, causes severe acne in teens, prostate cancer in men and infertility and ovarian cancer in women11.
Do you know that milk contains all of the following unless it is raw, i.e. milk that has not been homogenized and pasteurised, or organic:
- Hormones and growth factors10
- Pus. UK cows suffer from a range of infectious diseases, including brucellosis, bovine tuberculosis, foot-and-mouth disease, viral pneumonia and Johne’s disease, all of which cause pus to form. Milk containing up to 400 million pus cells/L can be legally sold for human consumption10.
- Antibiotics. Sickly cows also mean a constant supply of antibiotics. One study found antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella as a result of antibiotic use in cattle
- Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST). In 1994, the US Food and Drug10 Administration (FDA) approved the use of this genetically engineered hormone in cows to increase milk production. Milk from cows treated with rBST contains elevated levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which is linked to certain cancers (Int J Health Serv, 1996; 26: 173–85). What’s more, rBST-treated cows have more infections and so are given more antibiotics—and higher amounts of these drugs, as well as pus and bacteria, are found in their milk10.
Another consideration is that milk is high in protein. Too much protein in the diet, whether from calcium supplements, milk products or any other source, such as meat, fish or eggs, means that the body has to get rid of the excess. To do this, the kidneys work to clear the excess and lose calcium in a process known as ‘protein-induced hypercalciuria’10. Furthermore, dairy is acid forming, and acidity causes osteoporosis.
Many people are dairy intolerant nowadays. Those who are lactose (the sugar in dairy) intolerant can often still consume hard, fermented cheeses, milk kefir, butter and whey protein powders. In hard cheeses the lactose has been converted to lactic acid in the fermentation process, and in protein powders and butter the percentage of lactose is so low it is usually tolerated. Often those who are lactose intolerant can also tolerate goat’s and sheep’s produce. This may be because the molecules are shorter than in cow’s milk.
However, if you are casein (the protein in dairy) intolerant, or if you are allergic to dairy, you won’t be able to tolerate any dairy produce and are best avoiding this.
If you obtain your calcium from plant sources rather than from dairy you are least likely to develop osteoporosis.1
3) Let’s look at just a few calcium-rich foods
So let’s clarify this. About a third of calcium in milk is absorbed. You absorb a significantly higher proportion of calcium from vegetables such as kale, mustard and turnip greens, bok choy and broccoli. If you are consuming healthy amounts of whole plant foods, including fruits, greens, beans and other vegetables on a daily basis, you don’t need to be concerned about your calcium intake. The great news is that consuming healthy calcium sources such as green vegetables, beans, sardines and fruit are healthy not only for your bones, but also for your heart, digestion, gut microbiome, kidneys, bowels and every organ in your body.
4) Osteoporosis is an inevitable consequence of aging
While it’s true that bone density issues increase as we age, particularly in women due to the decrease in oestrogen around the menopause and the role oestrogen plays in maintaining a healthy bone mass, we can take steps to avoid osteoporosis and we can reverse osteoporosis12. Osteoporosis in old age means (unless we have untreated thyroid problems) we have been neglecting our health and need to start taking care of ourselves.
So, how do I avoid or reverse osteopenia or osteoporosis?
- Exercise builds healthy bones, especially weight-bearing exercise12. You want to include regular exercise, including weight-bearing exercises into your life.
- Adequate sunlight (around 15 minutes a day) increases your levels of Vitamin D, essential for the absorption of calcium.
- Improve your diet. Eliminate calcium drainers (caffeine, nightshades, spinach, alcohol, sugar, fruit juices) and foods you may be sensitive to (wheat, oats, barley, rye, corn, dairy). Focus on a healthy whole-food balanced diet, eating organic whenever possible. Go gluten-free (buckwheat, rice and millet), include fish, organic meats, a few fruits and vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetables12. Green leafy vegetables contain bio-available calcium as well as vitamin K, an essential factor in bone metabolism10
- Hydrate. Your bones need water. If you dry out, so do your bones.
- Do a hair mineral analysis through a reputable lab (Analytical Research Labs Inc.) to find out if your mineral levels are balanced and if you have deficiencies
- Reduce stress. Stress makes you acidic, which steals calcium from your bones. Stress destroys your gut health and causes subsequent malabsorption and malnutrition. Stress raises cortisone and causes inflammation in your body. Stress destroys your quality of life. Stress kills.
- Increase the amount of joy in your life. Unhappiness leads to ill health.
- Lanou AJ, Berkow SE, Barnard ND. Calcium, dairy products, and bone health in children and young adults: a reevaluation of the evidence. Pediatrics 2005;115:736-43.
- FAO database on the internet ; www.fao.org/ Statistical Database / Food Balance Sheet Reports. Hong Kong has been removed from the database since the unification with China.
- Paspati, I. et al, Hip fracture epidemiology in Greece during 1977-1992. Calcif. Tissue Int. 1998 / 62 (6) / 542-547.
- Lau, E.M. & C. Cooper, Epidemiology and prevention of osteoporosis in urbanized Asian populations. Osteoporosis 1993 / 3 / suppl. 1 : 23-26.
- Ho SC, et al, The prevalence of osteoporosis in the Hong Kong Chinese female population. Maturitas 1999 Aug 16;32(3):171-8.
- British Medical Journal, 2014; 349: g6015