By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
Dairy products are popular in Western nations; milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream and milk shakes are common inclusions in most people’s diet. All of these foods taste good and they do contain some minerals, particularly calcium.
Most people think regular dairy product consumption is critical for maintaining strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. However, the story is not so simple. Western nations are the biggest milk drinkers and yet they also suffer far higher rates of osteoporosis than most Asian nations, where dairy products are not a part of the traditional diet. It is estimated that approximately 75 percent of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, therefore not able to digest dairy products properly.
A study compared the bone density of vegan women with non-vegetarian women to see if lifetime dairy consumption made much difference to their bones. The study was conducted by the Garvin Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia and the results are published in the journal Osteoporosis International.
The study compared the bone health of 105 post-menopausal vegan Buddhist nuns with 105 post-menopausal non-vegetarian women. Vegans only eat plant foods; they do not eat meat, fish, chicken, eggs or dairy products. The nuns in the study had a very low calcium intake, averaging 370 milligrams per day, whereas the recommended calcium intake is 1000 milligrams per day. Buddhist nuns were chosen for this study because their faith requires them to follow a strict vegan diet for their entire life.
The results of the study were quite startling to researchers; the bone density in the two groups of women was identical.
This study proves that there is far more to osteoporosis than just calcium intake. Osteoporosis is a disease that is usually the consequence of chronic poor health, poor gut health, poor diet and/or hormone imbalances.