Slim, Skip the Skim. Drive Your Risk for Osteoporosis Down with a Paleo Diet
Years ago, we were told “milk, it does a body good” and I recall an ad on TV of a tanned, slim women in a white swimsuit running along a beach to show us just how good it really was.
Then, the dairy council repositioned to make sure we “got milk” and featured a slew of images of men and women, athletes, celebrities and models photographed with that characteristic milk mustache to really demonstrate how this fantastic drink really was meant for all of us to enjoy in order to ensure we’d get our calcium, some protein and even recover from a workout.
Milk is indeed high in calcium; one cup of 1% milk contains 314 mg of it, 8.5 grams of protein and only 2.3 grams of fat1, making it a great choice, right? Far from it.
First of all, if you’re transitioning to a Paleo regime, keep in mind that milk, or any dairy for that matter is not included. While there are many versions of what Paleo is these days, the real Paleo diet approach eschews dairy,2 grains and legumes.
However, if you’re making your way to Paleo in small steps, make sure to segue out of the nonfat or fat free milk first. Then, any dairy you’re consuming in the interim should be full fat and from 100% grass fed cows.
Low-fat or fat free milk wreaks havoc on your blood sugar levels. Skim milk alone has about twice the amount of sugar as full fat cream. Plus, saturated fat, which is removed to create skim milk, has satiating, blood sugar stabilizing effects. So, in taking it away, the opposite effect results.
Finally, skim milk is totally devoid of nutritional value. Vitamins A, D, E and K in milk are fat soluble, which means they need fat in order to be absorbed by the body. Calcium absorption is enhanced by Vitamin D, but the Vitamin D needs fat. Without the fat, skim milk breaks the entire chain of absorption and becomes nutritionally empty.3
Ok, so low fat or fat free is a no-go. So what’s the problem with continuing to drink full fat milk or heavy cream? Well, nothing, if you don’t mind putting yourself at risk for osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis, or “porous bones,” is the weakening of bones caused by an imbalance between bone building and bone destruction. An estimated 10 million Americans (80% women) have osteoporosis and another 34 million have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis4.
Preventing this debilitating illness is multi-faceted and dependent on several factors:
- Diet, including amount of calcium consumed, source of calcium and net calcium balance (ingested versus excreted or ‘borrowed’ from bone)
- Activity level including how much weight –bearing and thus bone-strengthening exercise is done
- Getting adequate vitamin D, whether through diet, exposure to sunshine, or supplements.
- Consuming adequate vitamin K, found in green, leafy vegetables.
In The Paleo Answer, Dr. Loren Cordain shares data from a study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health that showed “no benefit of Calcium supplementation on nonvertebrae fractures and an increase risk of hip fracture.”
Dairy isn’t problematic in its calcium content, but rather that consumption is linked to high risk for:5
- Heart Disease
- Insulin Resistance
- Difficulty breastfeeding/colic
- Impaired Ability to Absorb Iron and Zinc
When we drink milk, the pH of the body becomes acidic and in order to buffer this, calcium is leached from the bones, leading, over time to decreased bone density.
In the long run, you’re far better off helping yourself to calcium rich veggies, which are both great sources of calcium as well as alkaline to the body, leaving you net positive on the calcium balance spectrum at the end of the day!
 “NDL/FNIC Food Composition Database Home Page.” NDL/FNIC Food Composition Database Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.
 “What to Eat on The Paleo Diet | Dr. Loren Cordain.” The Paleo Diet. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.
 “5 Reasons to Skip the Skim Milk.” Dr Frank Lipman. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.
 “Calcium and Milk: What’s Best for Your Bones and Health?” The Nutrition Source. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.
 Cordain, Loren. The Paleo Answer: 7 Days to Lose Weight, Feel Great, Stay Young. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.