Visit our Re-post guidelines
Science has once again shattered the myth that milk makes strong bones. A new Swedish study links drinking milk to higher rates of bone fractures and even death.[i]
The study tracked the eating habits of over 60,000 women for 20 years and over 45,000 men for 15 years. Researchers found that drinking more milk did NOT lead to lower risks of bone fracture. In fact, women who drank three glasses of milk per day broke more bones. Compared to women who drank less than one glass per day, heavy milk drinkers had a 60% greater risk of breaking a hip and a 16% higher risk of breaking any bone.
But it gets worse. People who drank more milk also had a higher risk of dying from any cause. For every glass of milk they drank every day, women had a 15% higher risk of death and men had a 3% higher risk.
Why does milk lead to more broken bones and higher death rates?
Researchers found that milk drinkers had more biomarkers for oxidative stress and inflammation. They suggested that high levels of two sugars in milk – lactose and galactose – were the cause. In fact, they noted that low doses of D-galactose are often used in animal studies to induce signs of aging. Studies link D-galactose to a shortened life span, oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, neurodegeneration, decreased immune response, and gene transcriptional changes. The dose used to obtain those results in animals is equivalent to a human drinking one to two glasses of milk per day.
Milk may be high in calcium but too much calcium can break your bones.
If milk doesn't build strong bones, what does? Here are 10 foods proven to be a better choice for reducing your fracture risk and keeping your bones strong.
The Swedish study found that fermented milk had the opposite effect on your bones as drinking plain milk. For each serving of fermented milk products women reduced their hip fracture and death rates by 10 to 15%. Examples of fermented milk products include yogurt, kefir, and sour cream. Fermented dairy was also linked to lower oxidative stress and inflammation.
Like fermented dairy the Swedish researchers found eating cheese also lowers fracture and death rates. Cheeses are also rich in vitamin K2 which is essential to strong bones. The best choices with the highest levels of vitamin K2 are Gouda, Brie, and Edam. Other good cheeses for your bones include Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, and Gruyere. Stick to traditionally made cheeses and stay away from Velveeta, soy cheese, and other modern processed "cheese products."
A traditionally fermented soy product popular in Asia, natto is another food high in vitamin K2. In a study of 72 premenopausal women, researchers found that those who ate more natto had better bone formation.[ii] And a University of Tokyo study concluded that natto consumption may contribute to the relatively lower fracture risk in Japanese women.[iii]
4. Green Tea.
The Mediterranean Osteoporosis Study showed that drinking up to 3 cups of tea per day was associated with a 30% reduction in the risk of hip fractures in women as well as men over 50 years of age.
And researchers from Texas Tech University showed that 500 mg of green tea polyphenols improves bone health after three months and muscle strength at six months. That's about what you get in four to six cups of green tea. The green tea compounds support osteoblast activity (bone building) and suppress osteoclasts activity (bone breakdown).[iv]
Florida State University tested bone density in 100 menopausal women over 12 months. Half were told to eat about 10 dried plums a day. The other half ate dried apples. Researchers found the prune eaters had significantly higher bone mineral density in the forearm and spine. Other studies show dried plums slow bone loss.