Cow’s Milk = Bone fractures
A large 20-year Swedish study has found that drinking milk is associated with higher mortality in the form of more bone fractures. The link is particularly strong for women who drink 3 or more glasses of milk a day. What is astounding is that death rate double and hip fractures increase by more than 60% in women in this study. Similar results were found for men but the results were not as stark.
Cow’s Milk not the Best Source of Calcium
It is possible that the milk sugars lactose and galactose may increase oxidative stress leading to greater chronic systemic inflammation and hence the shorter life expectancies confirmed in the study. Also milk is not just rich in calcium but it is also rich in phosphate and calcium and phosphate combine to form insoluble salts and make the calcium less bioavailable. These two reasons combined could explain the reason why milk is not the best source of calcium. This also explains the somewhat deleterious effects of high consumption of cow’s milk as systemic inflammation is associated with a plethora of medical conditions like obesity, diabetes, cancers and heart disease, just to name a few.
Cow’s Milk linked with Systemic Inflammation and Osteoporosis
Of late, more studies have emerged (from the British Medical Journal) that cement the link between chronic systemic inflammation and osteoporosis. When the 7-country study was conducted by Dr. Keys which highlighted the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, most of the milk consumed comprised of goat’s or sheep’s milk, not cow’s milk. Cow’s milk was in fact rarely ever drunk in the Mediterranean in the 1950s and 1960s. Also, dairy was commonly consumed as sheep or goat feta and yoghurt. And what is interesting is that the Mediterranean basin has been reported to have lower prevalence of osteoporosis than other parts of Europe.
Therefore it is possible to make a preliminary conclusion that the Mediterranean Diet is synonymous with less systemic inflammation possibly mediated by the gut microbiome (microbiome refers to the nearly 2.5kg of bacteria that resides in our gut that functions more like an organ within and organ and is responsible for our immunity. The more diverse and robust our microbiome the less allergies, intolerances and autoimmune diseases we have.). In summary, cheeses and yoghurt (from sheep and goat) and other non-dairy sources of calcium are better than plain cow’s milk for our bones.
Best Sourses of Calcium
In conclusion, if you are looking for better sources of calcium, I would suggest plant sources like sesame seeds, green leafy vegetables, legumes or soy products like tofu and seafoods like sardines (eaten with bones), yoghurt and cheeses like feta (from sheep or goat). As opposed to common believe, cow’s milk is not a good source of calcium and what’s even more astounding is it’s new frightening association with bone fractures.