12.17.2009

The road to strong bones is a land of green

We all try to be healthy, vegan and non-vegans alike.  But, try is the operative word, being that it's simply something we occassionally consider rather than being a priority in our daily food choices (anyone that's ever eaten anything deep-fried can attest to that). An even when it is a priority, it's hard to know exactly what is better for our bodies. 
Take a mineral like calcium for example.  Is is better to drink cow's milk or to eat brussels sprouts to have strong bones and avoid fractures and osteoporosis? Our (main-stream and home) culture teaches us to respond: "Milk!" emphatically at a question like that.  Why? I'm not sure. It could have something to do with the hundred million dollars annually spent by The National Fluid Milk Processors Promotion Board in advertisements telling us that it does a body good, that milk mustaches are cool (celebrities are doing it), and that it promotes HEALTH. Is that so?

The following information is taken from John Robbin's book "The Food Revolution," Chapter 6 'Got BS?.'
I hope that you all find it as useful and eye-opening as I have.

"A central point of the dairy ads, of course, is that we need to drink milk products to get enough calcium.  'For humans to get the calcium they need from food without consuming milk products,' says the Dairy Bureau, 'is extremely difficult. One of the reasons is bio-availability.  The calcium in many other foods, like most fruits, vegetables and legumes, is poorly absorbed by the human digestive system. That is, it's not bio-available.'

Calcium absorption rates (according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition):
Brussels sprouts  63.8 percent
Broccoli  52.6 percent
Kale  50 percent
Cow's Milk  32 percent
...
"One cup of milk contains 300 mg of calcium, but only 32 percent (96mg) of it is bio-available...you can derive this amount of bio-available calcium from 1.5 cups of cooked broccoli." 
...

'A low calcium intake in the children of vegans is a cause for major concern' - Dairy Bureau of Canada

'Beyond weaning age, children and adults of various countries and food cultures subsist on diets differing markedly in their calcium content. These differences in calcium intake ... have not been demonstrated to have consequences for nutritional health.' -Health Canada's Nutrition Recommendations
...
From a 1994 study (see book for footnotes on all this information) "Elderly people with the highest dairy product consumption actually had double the risk of hip fracture compared to those with the lowest consumption. 
Another study (funded by the National Dairy Council) "in which post-menopausal women drank three additional 8-ounce glasses of skim milk compared to the control group of postmenopausal women...The results found that the women who drank the extra milk actually lost more calcium from their bones than the control group of women who did not drink it"
...
"Many studies have shown that the more animal protein we eat, the more calcium we lose. The more plant foods people eat (particularly fruits and vegetables) the stronger their bones, and the fewer fractures they experience. The more animal foods people eat, on the other hand, the weaker their bones and the more fractures they experience."
...
"Average American's estimate when asked what percentage of adults worldwide do not drink milk: 1 percent.

Actual number of adults worldwide who do not drink milk: 65 percent."
...
"Have you noticed that the dairy industry bombards us with ads claiming milk products are necessary to prevent osteoporosis, but never make such claims on milk cartons?...It's because the FDA won't allow them. The ads are subject only to comparatively lax Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, while the cartons are subject to FDA regulations that would require the statements to be backed up with facts."
...
"It is misleading to assume that all people have the same calcium requirements.  A person with a low intake of animal protein and salt might have half the calcium requirements of a person eating a typical North American diet. If you are sedentary, drink cola beverages, eat too much salt, and/or eat significant amounts of animal protein, your bones are going to suffer for it, in which case it might be a good idea to consume increased levels of calcium. That may help a bit, but don't expect the extra calcium to make up for bad habits.  If you are concerned about your health and the strength of your bones, it would be a far better idea to exercise regularly, avoid drinking cola beverages, eat a moderate amount of salt, and reduce if not stop eating meat and other animal protein. You'll feel better, your bones will be stronger, and your overall health will improve in many other ways, as well."

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That's a lot of information for you all to think about! I will be writing again tomorrow, but on a lighter note, exploring the vegan world of Etsy and celebrating my shops 1st anniversary!

Be well...eat your broccoli!
EcoVegan

1 comment:

  1. Yeah! Eat your broccoli and save cow's milk for the calf!

    ReplyDelete