For those of you that have read my book, ‘A Healer of Souls’, you may recall that I have suffered with hormonal issues for – at the time of writing – 44 years. I have taken Hormone Replacement Therapy for 40 years now and in the last 7 years this has been in bioidentical form, as I always prefer more natural options over chemical ones in all areas of my life.
Both male (testosterone) and female (estrogen) sex hormones play a very important role in our health, particularly in the health of our bones, and in men, muscle growth which creates stress on the bones and makes them stronger. Without balanced hormones our bones become weaker and are more prone to breakage and fracture. After menopause bone loss can occur in women and as both men and women age, not only do we tend to become less active, and muscle tone relaxes creating less tension on our bones, but bone formation fails to keep up with bone resorption and over time, bones weaken and osteoporosis occurs. Osteoporosis can of course also occur in young people with sub-optimal nutrition.
According to doctors, I had no sex hormones in my system between the ages of 13-18, a time when normally our hormones are raging thus creating strong bone growth in our bodies. So it comes as no surprise then when I was told that I had suffered significant bone loss and was placed, on the line between osteoporosis and the precursor to this, osteopenia. Regular bone scans over the years showed that I pretty much stayed on that line and fortunately, never crossed the border into osteoporosis. But still, my osteopenia diagnosis made me perhaps overly cautious in my life as far as sporting risks went. Attending annual bone scans I was told to drink two pints of milk a day, and have lots of cheese, ‘for my bones.’
But as you will also know from my book/website is that I have been interested in health and healing since I was sixteen (at the time of writing that is 41 years) and while I have not qualified in nutrition, I have taken responsibility for my own health. Additionally, after a twenty five year spiritual search, looking for the best possible healing path, in 2004 I received a vision (an Estrella) at the sacred mountain of Machu Picchu, Peru in which I was told to become a shaman. Since then, nearly twenty years ago now, I have worked as a shamanic healer helping people all over the world to heal their past, and their health so they can go on to create a life of their dreams.
And what I learnt, particularly about bones is that excessive milk and cheese do not make strong bones, in fact, quite the opposite, despite the popular marketing adages.
“The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost non-existent.”
– Amy Lanou Ph.D., nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.
“Data does not support the hypothesis that higher consumption of milk or other food sources of calcium by adult women protects against hip or forearm fractures.” (Source: Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: a 12-year prospective study. American Journal of Public Health. 1997).
I look at it quite simply. The blood needs to be at a pH of 7.35-7.45. Without eating or drinking anything, the natural metabolic processes, of the body – and even carrying out heavy exercise or stress – create an acidic pH. Western medicine does not seem to understand this, but Chinese medicine does. (I was discussing this acid in the body the other day with my Chinese doctor and he confirmed that gentle exercise (slow walking, tai chi for example) reduces acid in the body). In addition, we eat, drink, drink alcohol, smoke perhaps – also usually creating an acid pH. A plate of vegetables for example would normally have quite an alkaline effect on the body. But meat, tea, coffee, alcohol, dairy products – which contain lactic ACID, and even stress, increase the pH of the blood. So what does the body have to do? It has to bring down, regulate, the pH of the blood because it is critical that blood pH remains constant. How does it do that? One of the ways is by alkalising it. What is alkaline in the body? Bones! So the body dissolves our bone mass, making them weaker in order to alkalise our blood and keep it at that constant 7.35-7.45 pH. So the last thing we want to do then, when we have compromised bone health, (and even when we don’t), is to have an excessive amount of dairy. In fact excesses of anything, is not good for us!
I am not saying that dairy does not contain calcium, of course it does. But it also contains lactic acid. Do we need to ingest calcium? Absolutely. But there are other sources that do not have an acidic effect on the blood. One of my favourite books on health is, ‘The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods,’ by Dr Michael Murray and Dr Joseph Pizzorno (Piatkus, 2005). The book provides among other things, ranks of foods containing certain vitamins and minerals in milligrams per 100g serving. If we look at the chart for calcium content, we see the following;
Cheddar cheese 750 (but we also have the lactic acid issue)
Carob flour 352
Dulse (seaweed) 296
Collard greens 250
Turnip greens 246
Brewers yeast 210
Dandelion greens 187
Brazil nuts 186
Goats milk 129
Dried figs 126
Buttermilk 121 (buttermilk is alkalising once digested)
Sunflower seeds 120
Yogurt 120 (yoghurt is alkalising once digested)
Wheat bran 119
Whole milk 118
Sesame seeds 110
Cottage cheese 98
Dates (fresh) 59
The colour markings are purely my own and show (after the food has been digested) orange for acid pH, blue for neutral and green for alkaline. Opinion varies on walnuts. It is interesting to see that yogurt after digestion has an alkalising effect on the blood, as well as 120 mg of calcium so this might be a better dairy source. Live yogurt is also the easiest dairy to digest as it is pre-digested by bacteria. But chomping on 50g of almonds would give you the same amount of calcium, plus Vitamin E, dietary fibre, magnesium and phosphorous, all good for bones. And if you soak them overnight in water, they are easier to digest. While dates come lower down on the list for calcium, they are particularly great for bone health because they contain Vitamin K which is essential for bone metabolism as well as other bone friendly minerals such as copper, selenium and magnesium.
Isn’t it interesting to see that Walnuts have more calcium content than Cottage cheese? Watercress more calcium than goats’ cheese? Going further down the list we have dried apricots at 67, green beans at 56 even oranges at 41! Whole milk is quite a way down the list and many of us have semi-skimmed or even skimmed milk, so it’s a shame those figures are not included. But clearly, there are many foods you can eat that have plenty of calcium, not just dairy and I wanted to get that information across to you in this blog article, while also making you think about the acid/alkaline balance of your diet and most of all about having a balanced diet.
Am I against dairy? Not at all. I have a little semi skimmed in my one cup of tea a day (However please note tea and coffee are highly acidic) and often treat myself to a latte. I like some parmesan on my pasta and the odd tuna and cheese toastie. But I don’t have a lot. To be clear, it is not just dairy that causes an acidic pH in the blood, many foods do this. You might think that for instance lemons cause an acidity in the blood but actually they alkalise the blood. It’s not the acidity of the actual food item you consume, that matters, its what’s called the ‘ash’ – the matter that is left post digestion that affects blood pH. Very briefly,
Acids- Meat, Poultry, Dairy, Fish, Caffeinated Beverages, Alcohol
Neutrals – Sugars, Fats, Starches
Alkaline – Fruit, Vegetables, Nuts, Legumes.
What the body always needs, is balance. Too much of anything is not a good idea, even ‘good’ things! Eat too many carrots and the palms of your hands will become orange! This is why I was shocked to be told to have ‘two pints of milk a day and lots of dairy,’ which to my mind is unbalanced and I am writing this article just in case you have been told the same thing and also to broaden your options calcium wise. The body is highly, highly intelligent and works very hard to keep us well. Our kidneys for example work hard to remove excess acids and balance blood pH. I am NOT suggesting you move to a purely alkaline diet, because our bones need protein to be strong as our body creates collagen from the amino acids found in proteins. Collagen production reduces with age, excessive sun bathing, lack of sleep and exercise, smoking and excessive alcohol, so by living as well as eating in a balanced way, you will help your bones. Balanced exercise is good for the bones and also does not cause an acid environment in the body. I walk, do tai chi, archery and Kung fu. High intensity exercise causes an acidic environment, but a short walk afterwards helps your body regain balance.
Am I a nutritionist, scientist, or a leading authority on this? No, not in anyway. I do believe that we have a responsibility to look after our own health though and I feel it is particularly important to do so in these times given the strain on the NHS and the current struggle to obtain doctors’ appointments. If you do have osteoporosis, I would like to suggest you go and see a qualified nutritionist who will educate you and help you to create a balanced diet for good bone health. Yes have a treat, enjoy your food, but also have some healthy stuff! Because aside from the alkalising effects, fruit and vegetables contain Vitamin C which is also essential for good bone health.
According to the lady who did my bone scan yesterday, (April 2023), I no longer am on the line for osteoporosis. I am not even osteopenic (the level before osteoporosis) any more! In fact she said my bone health was great and wanted to know what I had been doing. Not bad considering I am nearly 58 and have had decades of hormonal issues. While I am not a scientist, I must be doing something right, yes?
What about the shamanic angle you might ask? Well, shamanism is all about creating balance and harmony in all areas of our life, so hopefully the above will help you create this in your life or at the very least help you realise there is calcium in other things apart from dairy. Our bodies are amazing, as long as we stay balanced, (food, exercise, beverages) our body should be able to keep us well.
However, I have noticed when I ask my clients with osteoporosis about their lives, the general comment is that as children or young adults, they felt unsupported by their parents, guardians, or wider family and often comment that they have continued to lack the feeling of support throughout life from family, friends, colleagues and even the world itself. In nearly twenty years of helping people on their healing journeys as a shaman, trying to get to the very root of a person’s issues, I have noticed that the body is directly affected by and reflects deep feelings and emotions. When we think of support in the body, it’s the skeleton or the bones – particularly the spine – which acts as a support for everything else i.e., muscles, organs etc. I have seen time and again that the body often mirrors what the person is feeling through physical problems. This is recognised also in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is an ancient form of medicine said to be about 3000 years old. For example, I see that grief is normally held in the lungs, childhood trauma in the knees, emotions such as sadness or anger is held in the liver, frustration in the throat, sexual trauma in the womb area.
This is why doing our personal healing work is so important on top of a balanced lifestyle, because our bodies want these emotional/energetic issues clearing up and it creates illnesses and other conditions as a call for this help. It’s not normally the symptom itself that needs healing, it’s the root cause which has created the symptom. This is why in shamanic healing we don’t focus on the symptom, for example, asthma, but at healing the past grief and sadness that are held in the lungs and clearing it energetically and emotionally, clearing the way so that the lungs can heal themselves. A dear client who has suffered with severe asthma since she was seven (now mid 50’s) who nearly died from attacks on many occasions is now doing so well her doctors have reduced her asthma medication and steroids down to almost nothing, because we have focused on healing her past, including her past lives, as these can also affect health in this lifetime. (Note: never come off medication without the approval and advice from your doctor).
Shamanic healing is the oldest form of healing on the planet, said to be at least 30,000 years old. It allows us to heal our past and most importantly, return to wholeness (balance) through processes such as Energy healing, Inner Child work, Power Retrieval and Soul Retrieval, clearing the energy blocks that create illness so that our bodies become aligned with health so we can move forward and create the lives we love.
If you would like me to help you to regain your inner feelings of strength and support and help you to move forward, please contact me through the appointments page of my website, or feel free to text me on +44 7748 361210.