In my latest book, Love Your Bones, I put forward a “day in the life of a bone lover” – a daily routine that maximises bone health and can be followed by anyone wanting to introduce all the essential factors that are needed to maximise bone-building. I was therefore interested to see that Yoplait, a yogurt manufacturer, has put forward their own stance on what a healthy, “bone-building day” looks like, utilising their Cal-in+ brand. Yoplait is an internationally franchised brand jointly owned by US food giant General Mills, and French dairy cooperative Sodiaal. Cal-in+ is their latest offering as a brand that allegedly supports bone health. In fact, they go as far as to say the following on their website:
“The experts at Yoplait are committed to helping you and your bones. They wanted to find an easy and tasty way to do this. That’s how they came up with Cal-in+ yogurt!”
That’s very nice of them, isn’t it? The ingredients of Cal-in+ are listed as follows (for the strawberry flavoured yogurt):
Yogurt (Reconstituted skimmed milk, Skimmed milk, Cream, Skimmed milk powder, Lactic Cultures), Strawberry 10.3%, Sugar 9%, Water, Calcium citrate, Modified maize starch, Stabiliser : Carrageenan; Flavourings, Acidity regulators : Citric acid, Sodium citrates; Colours : Anthocyanins, Carotenes; Vitamin D.
Our case study for this “diet balanced for bones” is Janet. Janet looks, from the photograph, to be a 30-something City worker, portrayed by a smartly-dressed model. As you might imagine, her menu and lifestyle for the day differs somewhat from that outlined in Love Your Bones.
7:00am Janet wakes up
7:15am Breakfast – Breakfast cereal with milk
Fresh orange juice
8:00am She leaves home for work in the city
10:00am She has a cup of coffee with milk
12:30pm Lunch with colleagues
Pasta Salad with watercress and cheddar
One pot of Cal-in+
4:00pm Afternoon Snack
A cup of tea with milk
7:00pm Dinner at home
Starter: avocado salad
Main course: Salmon with broccoli and potatoes
Dessert: Seasonal fresh fruit
Let’s take this from the top and outline why this menu cannot in any sense be considered to be healthy for bone-building.
Breakfast: “Breakfast cereal” with milk. The brand or the nutritional composition was not stated. Isn’t it clever marketing to put the words “breakfast” and “cereal” together? They are now so strongly linked that we think we have to start our day with cereal. Sadly, many such cereals are made from bone-demineralising acidic grains which have sugar added; sugar in turn being a potent destroyer of bone tissue (see Chapter 6 of Love Your Bones). Milk is not bone-building, despite all the marketing efforts made by the dairy industry to convince you otherwise (see Chapter 3 of Love Your Bones).
According to a major study published in the Journal of Gerontology in 2000, dairy product consumption is positively correlated with hip fractures. Want to get osteoporosis? Drink milk, eat cheese and eat yogurt. But what, I hear you cry, about children? Don’t they need milk, and yogurt, and cheese, and, if Yoplait get in on the act, Petits Filous? I have addressed this on page 24 of Love Your Bones, stating what the authors of a scientific paper published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics, have put forward. Interesting stuff.
Another detrimental component to Janet’s breakfast is the orange juice. It doesn’t say whether it is freshly squeezed, or cartoned, reconstituted, from-concentrate junk that is found ubiquitously in supermarket aisles. However it is produced, it is concentrated sugar. See above.
We are not told how Janet gets to work in the City, but I assume it is by train. If it is by train, and she is crammed in with commuters, this is potentially stressful, unless she is very good at closing her mind to the chaos. See page 126 of Love Your Bones to find out how stress can damage bone health. If she is cycling to work, that, at least, gives her some exercise, but expert bone physiologists indicate that cycling is not necessarily correlated with an increase in bone density. Also, exercising in a polluted city can lead to the inhalation of numerous environmental contaminants; these in turn can have a detrimental effect on bone health. You’ll find out how and why on page 71.
At 10am Janet has coffee with milk. Oh dear. On page 40 I explain why coffee needs to be eliminated, since it blocks the absorption and increases the elimination of an important mineral for bone health. Regarding the milk – see above.
Lunch: Pasta salad with watercress and cheddar. Pasta is a demineralised grain product that causes net bone loss. Watercress is good for bones since it contains vitamin K – essential for bone health. You’ll find out why by reading pages 85-89. Cheddar is a dairy product – see above as to why it will not help with bone integrity.
1 pot of Cal-in+: the name of this product suggests that it will put calcium into your bones, doesn’t it? Not at all. It is a dairy product (see above), it contains added sugar (see above), and the added calcium is an inorganic source which has relatively poor bioavailability. Vitamin D is added to Cal-in+, but it does not work in isolation in regard to bone health. Find out which other vital factors, conspicuous by their absence in Cal-in+, are involved on page 99. Despite the “commitment to your bone health” from Yoplait’s so-called experts, I predict only harm from this product, not benefits. Why don’t they do a study on a large number of people to find out if adding one pot of Cal-in+ per day to the subjects’ diet causes a reduction in fracture risk? Only then will I sit up and take notice.
At 4pm, Janet has a cup of tea with milk, and some chocolate biscuits. It really is starting to look as if she doesn’t like her bones very much at all. Chocolate biscuits contain sugar (see above), processed refined grains which run calcium out of the body and also act like sugar (see above), and chocolate which contains caffeine (see above under coffee). Additionally, the highly processed/trans-fat present in biscuits is harmful to cardiovascular health. A very bad combination of ingredients, and all she will gain from these biscuits is empty calories and a net loss of essential bone minerals.
Dinner: Avocado salad. This is a good start, but it doesn’t say what is in the salad. If it is just greens and avocado, that’s good. If it contains heated oils, or undisclosed animal protein ingredients, that’s bad.
Salmon with broccoli and potatoes: sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Not so fast. On page 46, you’ll discover the research that indicates the problems you face for bone health if you eat animal protein. Boiled potatoes lack the minerals necessary for bone health. Broccoli is good. But we are not told how it has been prepared. If it has been boiled to within an inch of its life, it is of no value to bone health. If it is raw, or very lightly steamed, it’s a much better choice.
A dessert of fresh fruit: surely there can’t be anything wrong with healthy fruit can there? Well, actually, yes there can. Fruit is often picked before it is ripe, and is high in sugar (see above) and low in minerals. As far as desserts go, fruit is a lot better than anything processed, but most fruit does not help to build bone, and can lead you to a net loss. See page 93 for details of the best fruit to eat for bone building, according to recent research.
Finally, Janet’s day makes no mention of exercise. Seriously, you can’t just eat your way to bone health; you have to exercise too. And you also have to do other things that have benefits for bone health. Read all about these in my version of “a day in the life of a bone lover” on pages 167 to 173; very different from Janet’s day, and your structure will love you for it!