Edited by Carol Schneider
“In fact, the scientific literature states clearly that a “calcium deficiency disease” due to a low calcium intake from natural diets simply does not exist. In other words, all diets provide adequate calcium to meet our health needs…” John A. McDougall, McDougall’s Medicine.
Our entire body chemistry changes according to the type of food we eat and that has consequences to our health. Because of our change in diet during the last century, American bodies have become very acidic and virtually all degenerative diseases ranging from cancers to tooth decay are associated with excess acidity in our bodies.
Blood acid levels are measured on a pH scale from 1 to 14. Ideally, the blood should be slightly alkaline at 7.4. A soda (which is almost entirely carbonated sugar water) with a pH of 2 is highly acidic, whereas tap water has a pH of 8.4, which is very alkaline.
There are three ways to make your blood less acidic: First, eat more plant foods because plant foods are alkaline and have a higher percentage of water than other foods. Second, drink more water—generally not containing anything else, just plain, simple water—although, Edgar Cayce said water is better as chamomile tea. Third, eliminate foods from your diet that make the blood acidic.
The major acid-forming foods in our diets include animal proteins, soft drinks, sugar, salt (i.e. sodium chloride…sea salt is fine), caffeine and alcohol. Americans consume too much of all these. In the case of sodium, we get most of it not from table salt, but indirectly in packaged and processed foods. In fact, dairy products and processed meat are the biggest sources of sodium in the American diet.
High acidity is bad for a number of reasons. First, high acid levels make our bodies more cancer friendly by reducing the delivery of oxygen to cells. In addition, cancer cells love highly acidic environments and do not do well in healthy, alkaline surroundings. Second, a highly acidic environment disrupts the function of enzymes and the digestion of food. Undigested food gets passed into the colon and sits there, rotting, and this can lead to toxic buildup and a number of health problems. The average American stores 4 to 22 pounds, of (sometimes decades old), fecal matter in their colons. Elvis had over 20 lbs; John Wayne had 44! Third, when blood becomes too acidic, our bodies pull calcium from our bones and teeth to neutralize the acid, contributing to bone loss, or osteoporosis. The body also removes water from our cells to neutralize high acid levels, and this leads to cell dehydration, which is believed to be the main cause of premature aging.
The way Americans consume antacids is a reflection of just how acidic our diet has become; but taking a calcium pill to neutralize high acid levels is treating a symptom. If you want to eliminate the problem, you will have to radically cut back on acidic foods.
By continually eating foods which cause high blood acid levels, we put our bodies in a state of constantly having to neutralize this acid by using the calcium stored up in our bones. Animal proteins are one of the most acid-forming foods in existence and because of our high-protein diets, the biggest cause of high acid levels. One reason dairy products are poor choices fro calcium is because they contain excessively high amounts of protein. Cow’s milk has over three times more protein than human mother’s milk. It was designed for a calf that will weigh over 300 pounds within a year of its birth.
When you consume dairy products, the calcium simply passes through your body and ends up in the toilet—and your blood is even more acidic because of the protein. Low-fat dairy products are highest in protein, so you may lower your fat intake, but will raise your blood acid level, thereby contributing to bone loss. Skim milk contains almost twice the protein as whole milk, and due to the high sodium content of dairy products, they are a double whammy to acid levels.
The cause of osteoporosis is not a lack of calcium in the diet, contrary to what the dairy industry would have you believe. Populations consuming the most calcium have the highest level of osteoporosis. In fact, the more calcium they consume, the higher the rate of osteoporosis. Conversely, countries with the least amount of calcium consumption have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. Something else must be going on here, because it’s not a lack of calcium that’s causing osteoporosis.
How can we explain this? Although Americans are swimming in calcium, the World Health Organization has yet to document a single case of calcium deficiency anywhere in the world. In fact, there has not been a single recorded case of calcium deficiency of a dietary origin in the history of the entire planet. Yet, the dairy industry tells Americans they have a calcium deficiency.
The problem, of course, is that the dairy industry has set U.S. standards for calcium consumption sky high through lobbying efforts. The calcium scare that has been going on in this country is, without question, the biggest nutritional swindle every conceived. If you think this is an outrageous statement, then show me a single case of calcium deficiency of a dietary origin. (If you’re thinking of rickets, that disease is caused by a lack of vitamin D, not calcium.)
You’ll hear health authorities say that women should get between 1,000 and 1,500 mg of calcium per day, while men should get 1,000 mg per day. What would these health authorities say to men and women throughout the world who get only 200 mg a day—and have bones stronger than most 40-year old women in this country? And they get their calcium from plant foods, not dairy products.
Osteoporosis is not genetic and you don’t have to suffer bone loss if you change your exercise and eating habits. When people say it runs in the family, it simply means the family has led a sedentary lifestyle over generations. Many women, including Dr. Ruth Heidrich, measured their bone mass during and after menopause without dairy products or hormone replacement therapy.
Bones are just like muscles. The single best thing you can do to prevent (and reverse) osteoporosis is to start exercising your bones, because a lack of physical activity is the primary cause of osteoporosis.
Acidic diets will cause bone loss, but not as rapidly as a lack of exercise. People who argue that acidic diets are the primary cause of bone loss, have a big flaw in their argument: There are lots of meat-eaters with strong bones, despite a bad diet. Also, obese women and men rarely get osteoporosis because they get lots of weight bearing exercise just carrying their bodies around, regardless of their diet and calcium intake. Lighter women and men don’t have enough weight—unless they run or jog to add stress to their bones. Therefore, lighter men and women need to engage in weight-bearing activities in order to strengthen their bones. Swimming is a good illustration of how a lack of stress on bones plays out—because runners have higher femur bone densities than swimmers.
It’s never been proven that a plant-based diet alone can reverse osteoporosis. It has been proven that exercise reverses osteoporosis. In fact, NASA regularly reverses osteoporosis in astronauts when they return to earth with an exercise program, not a change in diet. In fact, on that basis alone, exercise is the most proven way to reverse bone loss. (Osteoporosis is a potentially huge problem for long-term space flight because, due to the lack of gravity, NASA is afraid they’d end up with boneless astronauts!
There are no known studies which factor both exercise and diet into the equation to determine which is most important. There are, however, hundreds, if not thousands, of studies which show far more dramatic differences in bone density between those who get regular exercise and those who do not. And those differences are gigantic compared to studies that show differences in bone density between people eating different diets. On that basis alone, one has to conclude that exercise is the most important factor affecting bone density. The effect of weight-bearing activity on bone density is extraordinarily well-documented and has consistently shown the same results over decades regardless of diet.
A recent study showed that varying levels of calcium intake, ranging from 500 mg a day to 1800 mg a day, had absolutely no effect on bone strength. It was the exercise women got that was the key determinant in building strong bones.
We’re worrying about vitamin A and vitamin D and getting enough calcium—but no one is worrying about getting enough exercise. Our worries are solely the result of advertising by the dairy industry and the government, which sponsors the dairy industry. To think you can just eat your way out of osteoporosis or take calcium supplements is ridiculous.
Don’t worry about calcium. Do worry about exercise. We have this crazy idea that somehow cows produce calcium. They’re simply storage systems for the calcium they get from the plants they eat. Calcium comes from the earth, like all other minerals—and plant foods are the best place not only to get calcium but all the other minerals a body needs. Get your calcium from inexpensive plant foods like the rest of the world does. Plant foods will keep your blood acid level in balance because they’re alkaline, not acidic. Like protein, calcium is found in all plant foods and the amounts will easily supply the requirements of growing children and mature adults.
Calcium from plant foods is more easily absorbed by bone than calcium from dairy products and unlike dairy, calcium from plants comes in a disease-fighting, low-fat, high fiber package. Cut back or eliminate all foods that contribute to high acid levels. Diet and exercise are the keys to preventing and reversing osteoporosis. A change in diet will prevent bone loss and exercise is the way to build strong bones.
Here’s a quick comparison of plant and dairy foods’ calcium per 100 calories: arugula 1,300; bok choy 1,055; Turnip greens 921; Watercress 800, Collard greens 559; Mustard greens 490; Spinach 450; Broccoli 387; Romaine lettuce 257; Swiss cheese 250; Milk (2-percent) 245; Green onions 240; Okra 213; Cabbage 196; Whole milk 190; Sesame seeds 170; Cheddar cheese 179; Soybeans 134; Cucumber 108.
The above is excerpted almost completely from The RAVE Diet & Lifestyle by Mike Anderson. I received this book and its companion DVD, Eating, by donating to WBAI-Radio’s fund drive. I highly recommend these and expect to share more with you in the future. Please email me at NYCarol8@aol.com with your questions or comments.