Food myths uncovered
By Kalayaan Garcia De Vera
“ You need to drink milk for calcium to grow strong and healthy bones.”
False. Yes, calcium is needed to build strong bones and to prevent diseases like osteoporosis, and although we have been generally told that the best source of calcium is milk and dairy, it is actually the opposite. Cow’s milk does have a lot of calcium in it but it is not easily assimilated or used by the human body. There is a lot of phosphorous in dairy products, and it binds to the calcium in the digestive tract which makes most of the calcium impossible to absorb. And to make matters worse, dairy products are highly acidic to the body, and as the body strives to keep an alkaline environment, calcium which is an alkaline mineral, is stripped from the bones to neutralize acidity.
The problem with cow’s milk is that 87% of it is made up of casein, and among all animal proteins, casein is the one that is most consistently linked to promote cancer cell growth in all stages of the cancer process. And even though there is some casein present in human breast milk, there are 300% more found in cow’s milk for the simple reason that cows develop much larger bones than humans. Lactase is an enzyme needed to break down the protein in lactose, and by consuming cow’s milk without the necessary amount of lactase to break it down, it will create more havoc than health.
A great way to get your calcium is by consuming alkaline forming plant foods, which will synergistically provide the right amount of minerals and vitamins needed to absorb calcium without having it leached from your bones. The best sources of calcium are dark green leafy vegetables as well as sea vegetables, nuts and seeds. Below is a list of the best plant sources of calcium, quickly culled from my holistic nutrition research and lecture courses notes:
• Bok Choy
• Collard Greens
• Romaine Lettuce
• Sea Vegetables
• Sesame seeds
• Sunflower seeds
• Turnip Greens
Following are alternatives to dairy: Almond milk, Coconut milk, Hemp milk, Rice Milk, Rice Cheese, Seed cheese, Coconut yogurt, Kimchi, Saurkrout.
“ Yogurt is a good source of probiotics.”
False. There are countless benefits of probiotics: they are good bacteria that helps to restore an internal balance by improving digestive functions to eliminate bloating and heart burn and indigestion. It improves liver function for optimal detoxification. Probiotics help boost the immune system to aid in fighting viruses and illness as well as increasing resistance to allergies, and also improves vitamin synthesis ( specifically B Vitamins in the gut ) which will increase energy and vitality. For all these reasons, we can all benefit from including probiotics in our diet, but unfortunately yogurt is not a very good source of probiotics. First of all it is a dairy product which contains casein, secondly it is pasteurized, meaning that the probiotics that were present, have been killed off during the heating process. And last but not least it is mucus-forming, and too much mucus is dangerous as it engulfs toxins and builds up along the intestinal walls which will affect nutrient absorption as well as toxic elimination. Dairy really does put a huge burden on the body to try to get rid of the mucus, and it does it in many different ways, through phlegm, mucus or even pimples.
An excellent source of probiotics are fermented foods such as Kimchi, Sauerkraut and Miso just to name a few, although almost any vegetable can be fermented. Experiment with making your own fermented foods as the commercial ones are loaded with refined salt and pasteurized to high temperatures, which will destroy its important benefits.
Another option would be to take probiotic supplements, but keep in mind that there are numerous probiotics available in the market but many of them aren’t as effective as they should be. The benefits of the probiotics are only effective when live probiotic cells make it to the intestines, but the harsh environment of the stomach kills a good portion of these live cells before they reach the intestine. Choosing a good probiotic supplement can get tricky, so make sure you look for one that has a specialized delivery system which will support the safe transport of the live cells to the intestines.
Another aspect to look for is the high culture count of a variety of highly beneficial strains as the different strains have different benefits: lactobacillus and acidophilus is a common strain to help with candidiasis, and bifidobacterium bifidum promotes general immunity.
The next time you hear these myths on the benefits of milk and dairy products, you have a better argument on your side, and an open mind on other sources of calcium and probiotics. Have you ever thought it strange that humans are the only species on the planet that drink the milk from another animal, and if you haven’t then I suggest you contemplate that for a while. And yes, I do agree that milk is the perfect food for infants, that is milk from the same species of the infant, but let’s leave the cow’s milk for the calf.
(Disclaimer: Please note that this information is provided as a guideline only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own intuition, nutritionist, physician or trained professional.)
(Kalayaan Garcia de Vera is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who graduated at the top of her class with honours at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.. As a member of the Canadian Holistic Association of Nutritionists Professionals, she has conducted weight loss studies and detoxification workshops. Her website is www.yourholisticnutritionist.com)