I barely drink any milk....but my calcium levels are normal!

It always surprises people when I tell them I barely drink any milk. Let me explain why. For almost all of my life, I have been a huge dairy consumer. I drank a minimum of 3 glasses a milk each day up until last year (4 glasses a day when I was pregnant or nursing). I was obsessed with it (who me?) and made sure we always had milk! What made me change my mind? A couple of things.

First, I had this bone scan that said I was basically osteopenic. What??!!!??? But I drink so much milk (and I wasn't shy with the cheese or yogurt either). Something had to be wrong. Well....I am really small boned, and I did take a lot of prednisone in my youth, but still.

I started reading about it, and I came across a lot of really great sites like this one that discussed how well (or not) milk is absorbed. I've read a lot more than just this site and it started to remind me of some of the other issues in our food supply. Remember King Corn? Bottom line: the dairy industry spends a lot of money to get us to drink milk. They have a vested interest in it! It's amazing how effective advertising is! Seriously, I want to buy everything from infomercials. I could watch them for hours....but that's another issue.

I've had ethical issues with milk for sometime, so this was a tipping point for me. No soap boxing, I promise, but have any of you moms ever pumped breast milk? I have, and I felt so abused. I don't think it helped that my dog used to insist on watching, but honestly! I felt so horrible about subjecting cows to this that I would have given up all milk then and there if I wasn't previously obsessed with adequate dairy intake. No soap boxing...but obviously their trauma goes beyond just the forced pregnancy and routine milking.

Okay, so I decided to stop drinking milk. I could feel my bones shrinking as I drank water for every meal. Not really, just being dramatic. I found a whole new world with soy milk and almond milk (my fave). FYI, soy and almond milk interchange well in recipes...anything from pancakes to mashed potatoes to eggs...as long as they are not sweetened, they make a great substitute.

So what happened. Have I had a follow up bone scan? Nope, but I will next time there is a free screening (you knew it had to be free!) I've had something else. Since I've been sick and visited so many doctors, they all like to run tests. I've had 2 complete metabolic profiles run over the last year. They were spaced about 4 months apart.

They tested all of my organs and checked every level of micronutrients, from the usuals to the trace minerals. FYI--I do not take any supplements (unless I've had no fish in a week then I'll take an occasional omega-3). Every single vitamin and mineral came back in the upper range of normal, even the elusive vitamin-D (I'm giving credit to my daily wanderings in the forest...even with sunscreen). My calcium levels were completely normal. And at that time I hadn't had any milk in months, barely any cheese, and maybe yogurt 2-3 times a week.

So what gives? Upon further reading, I've realized that weight bearing exercise and a healthy diet are probably the most important things you can do for yourself. Not just to stave off osteoporosis, but every major disease. Ummm...duh? Maybe my bones were weak because I didn't do much exercise before. Maybe because I drank a lot of milk? Maybe because I had to have so many doses of prednisone?

When I first had the bone scan, I thought, "wow, good thing I was drinking so much milk or my bones could have been worse", but I don't think so anymore. If I find out otherwise, I'll keep you posted. Until then, do some research. Maybe we're all getting a little too much of a good thing.


Mrs. B said...

Thanks for sharing this. I've been thinking of taking out dairy for a while now....you may have just pushed me over the "edge".

Scrapingirl said...

Hmmmm......That's a lot to think about. I always wonder why we are the only animals that drink the milk of another.

Susan @ organicdeals said...

Angela, make sure to get organic soy or rice milk as soy is one of the most genetically modified foods in the US.

I will gladly send you any Organic Valley Soy Milk coupons I have if you would like them! Just e-mail me.

Also, my 2.5 year old would not nurse without gumming me no matter how hard I tried, so I exclusively pumped milk for him for 9 months!

I almost made it the full year, but my poor boobs, just gave out on me. I know how cows feel and man it sucks! (no pun intented LOL) :)

Lydia said...

Well, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that I disagree with you on this. I think that where the "problem" comes with absorption of milk's nutrients is in the pasteurization. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that when you heat something it changes it's nutrients. There are plenty of articles about that too- google raw milk benefits.

And just as the dairy industry spends money on advertising, so do PITA and others who want to "protect" animals.

I guess I honestly think there is some truth on both "sides" but to say that one is far more right than the other, I guess I just don't see it.

Anyway, there, I suppose I was on MY soapbox! :)

Angela said...

Thanks Lydia,
You might be right. I haven't found a good source for raw milk, so I can't give an opinion, but definitely warrants looking into.

I'm just now realizing how horrible I used to eat/drink. It's still a work in progress... and I'm learning as I go. Thanks for your comment.

Lydia said...

I'm all for eating healthful and am with you in learning how to do it better...I have a lot to learn. Thanks for graciously accepting my differing view!

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate all your tips, advice, and well wishes!


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