Get All The Calcium You Need…Without Dairy

By Paleo
In Paleo Food
May 9th, 2013

Most of our lives we’re told how important calcium is to include in our diets, and while this is true, many people rely on dairy products as their primary source of calcium, and the paleo diet calls for the elimination of dairy in your diet. You may wonder why dairy is excluded from the paleo diet or how you’re going to get the necessary calcium in your diet without milk, cheese and yogurt.

At the most basic level, following a paleo diet means you don’t eat foods that our paleolithic ancestors didn’t eat. Since dairy became part of the human diet after the advent of agriculture, dairy is not considered paleo. Beyond the basic principles of paleo, dairy can also cause a number of health problems, since our bodies are not genetically adapted to consume dairy after a certain stage in our childhood.

Pasteurized dairy carries with it a number of potential health risks. Many people, often who don’t even realize it, have a dairy intolerance. Pasteurized dairy can be particularly problematic because it lacks the enzymes and nutrients that we as humans need to properly digest the dairy product. A lot of us are allergic to casein, which is found in pasteurized dairy, or lack the enzyme lactase, which is necessary to digest dairy. Often, people who eliminate pasteurized dairy from their diet for just a few weeks will find that their skin is clearer, they have less sinus problems, and they digest other food more easily.

Besides an allergy or intolerance, dairy can have several other negative effects on our health. Even if you are not technically allergic to dairy, it can lead to an inflammatory response in your gut, which can make it more difficult to digest other foods. Dairy products, particularly milk, can also spike insulin levels, which has a negative impact on weight gain, energy levels, and can even lead to more serious health problems such as diabetes. Dairy can also have an acidifying effect on your body, which means enjoying a cold glass of milk can actually rob your bones of the nutrients needed for healthy functioning.

With this being said, calcium is an incredibly important part of our diet, but there are great, paleo-friendly ways to make sure your diet includes the calcium you need. Leafy green vegetables are a great, dairy-free source of calcium. Examples include collards, spinach and arugula. Broccoli is also a great source of calcium, as are acorn squash and sweet potatoes.

A healthy paleo diet will also help you retain more calcium than you would on a typical diet. Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium, and a paleo diet should be high in Vitamin D. The paleo diet is also low in sodium, and sodium can actually hinder the absorption of calcium.

Remember, dairy may not be paleo, but it’s also not the only way you can get the calcium you need for strong bones. There are a number of great paleo-friendly food options that will ensure you stay strong and healthy.

6 Responses to “Get All The Calcium You Need…Without Dairy”

  1. Carolyn says:

    Did you know that half a cup of sesame seeds contains three times more calcium than half a cup of whole milk? In addition to being an excellent dietary source of calcium, sesame seeds are also a good source of manganese, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1 (thiamin), zinc, vitamin E, healthy protein, and fiber.
    Sesame seeds also contain sesamin and sesamolin, two substances that are thought to prevent high blood pressure and protect the liver against oxidative damage.

    Vanilla and Sesame Shake

    * 1 cup sesame seeds (or use about 1/3 cup Tahini paste)
    * 2 large bananas
    * 2 cups water
    * 3 Medjool dates OR 2- 3 Tablespoons honey
    * 1 TBsp vanilla essence OR ½ -1 vanilla pod
    1) Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on full power until all of the sesame seeds are fully broken down. [NB: Owing to the size of the seeds this may be hard to do – if you prefer no lumps at all you will need to mill the seeds in a nut mill before blending with the other ingredients.]

    2) Taste test for sweetness and add more dates or honey if required.

  2. Virginia says:

    What is your take on kefir made with goat’s milk or with coconut milk? I like having the probiotic benefits that the kefir provides and usually make it with goat’s milk, which I find less processed and healthier than cow’s milk that is store bought. I realise it’s dairy and have tried with coconut milk, but the kefir doesn’t come out the same.
    Thanks in advance!

  3. Christina says:

    I’m actually surprised that so many sesame seeds would be considered Paleo. Pleasantly surprised :)

  4. Joseph says:

    All that sounds great but with and RDA of 1000 mg of calcium, you’d have to eat about 8 cups of broccoli or 10 cups of kale. Not likely to happen.

    • Paleo says:

      RDA is not individualized. Taking more of any vitamin/mineral than needed will be toxic in the body. Be careful reading generalized information.

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