Get All The Calcium You Need…Without Dairy
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.