I’m not a big fan of dairy as your main source of bone healthy nutrients. I like a wider variety of foods for healthy bones, including dark leafy greens, seaweeds, protein (animal and beans) and bone broths.
I make an exception with yogurt. Why?
Yogurt is fermented by adding bacterial cultures to milk, transforming the milk sugar, lactose, into lactic acid.
So why is yogurt better than milk when it comes to your bones: acidity. Milk acidifies the body’s pH level, and when that happens, your body releases calcium from your bones to neutralize the acid. So while many people are guzzling milk for the calcium, they’re actually leaching calcium from their bones at the same time.
Yogurt is a different story. Fermented or cultured dairy products like yogurt are acid neutral so they don’t have that calcium leaching effect.
In fact, it’s a pretty good idea to eat yogurt for your bones. Why? There’s calcium, of course. But there’s more to it than calcium.
The real reason is lactoferrin. Raw cow’s milk and fermented milk products such as yogurt and kefir contain lactoferrin, an iron-binding protein that has several key roles when it comes to building strong bones.
Be picky about your yogurt
I’ve listed above some great reasons to enjoy some real yogurt.
But I do mean REAL yogurt. Not some gloop that’s just a delivery system for sugar. Sugar is another of those acid-forming foods that will leach calcium from your bones. There should only be about 10 to 12 grams of sugar in a serving of yogurt because that’s the amount that is naturally contained in a serving of plain dairy.
Unfortunately, big food companies have hijacked yogurt, and what was a naturally cultured health food has become in many cases a highly processed junk food. Thanks to the hype of advertising, millions of people have been led to believe that they need to eat a plastic container full of sugar, preservatives and fillers.
Is Greek yogurt better for your bones?
The big new marketing rage in the dairy aisle — and hence the big consumer hot topic — is Greek yogurt. Both Greek and American style yogurt are fermented with traditional lactic acid bacteria —Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus—that give yogurt many of its digestive health benefits.
The big difference between the two is thickness – Greek yogurt is thicker because more of the whey has been drained out. And because the liquid’s been drained out, Greek yogurt has almost twice the protein of regular yogurt. On the other hand, regular yogurt has about 10% more calcium than the Greek because straining out the whey removes some calcium. And there’s the cost. Greek yogurt will cost you more because of good marketing but also because it takes about four times more milk to make it than regular yogurt.
Whether you buy Greek or American, just make sure it’s plain (no added sugars) and organic, and that the label read “live active cultures” or “living yogurt cultures.”
Your bones will truly thank you.
Irma Jennings is a Bone Health Coach. She blogs here.