Food Therapy and Bone Health
Bone health is vital for optimal health, preventing osteopenia and reducing risk of osteoporosis. Did you know that osteoporosis drugs actually cause more harm, producing weaker bones and causing higher incidence of fractures?
The good news is there’s plenty you can do to prevent osteoporosis, increase bone health and maintain bone strength.
A New Disease?
Half of all women will have osteoporosis by age 60. One in five women will have a hip fracture in her lifetime, and 50% of them will never walk again. Men are not immune to this problem. 30% of osteoporosis happens in males, and 50% of men who suffer hip fractures will die within one year. Osteoporosis which is so prevalent now, was virtually unheard of a hundred years ago. It was a rarity until the turn-of-the-century.
So what happened? Did our genes change in a hundred years?
No! Genetic material takes thousands of years to change. The only thing that changed was our diet and lifestyle, which are much different than they were hundred years ago and it has caused an epidemic of osteoporosis.
What CAN I eat to reverse this process?
Consume nutrient-dense leafy greens and organic vegetables
Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, dandelion, chard and other leafy greens contain much higher calcium values than milk. Just one cup of kale has 350mg of calcium!
Consume Adequate amounts of Protein
Grass fed beef, bison, wild caught fish, free range poultry. Studies have shown that bone density improves by increasing protein consumption (from grass-fed and pastured-raised animals) as long as the intake of calcium and vitamin D are at optimal levels.
Hydration - Drink WATER
Drink a sufficient amount of water daily and add some unprocessed salt for additional minerals.
Consume homemade bone broth
Bone broth promotes strong, healthy bones, contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation. Reduces joint pain and inflammation, courtesy of chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage. Fights inflammation: Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects.
Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better.
Consume a healthy balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fats.
A study published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage found that omega-3 fatty acids reduce risk of osteoporosis by 50 percent!
Get the Right Kind of Calcium
Tums is one of the worst sources for calcium. In addition to being composed of calcium carbonate, which is a poorly absorbed form of calcium, it decreases the stomach acid even further. Calcium citrate and calcium hydroxyapatite are the best forms of calcium to take. They need to be taken on an empty stomach for best absorption, and only 500 mg at a time (that’s all our bodies can absorb at one time). A total dose of 1000 to 1200 mg per day is adequate for most menopausal women.
Get Some Sun!
Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic in our society. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium, and put it in the bones. It is also important for immune system modulation, depression, and autoimmune disorders. It is made in your skin when you get out in the sun. The farther you are from the equator, the less vitamin D you make in your skin. Most supplements contain 400 to 800 IU which is inadequate for most people in northern latitudes.
Since a skin cancer is such a concern, most people use sunscreen when they go out in the sun. Sunscreen blocks over 90% of your vitamin D production. But instead of putting yourself at risk for skin cancer, the best solution is to take supplements. Vitamin D levels can be measured by your physician, and the supplements can be titrated accordingly.
Have Your Hormones Checked
Hormonal decline is one of the most common reasons for bone loss after menopause in women. Andropause, the male equivalent of menopause, also causes bone loss in men. Adequate levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are important for bone maintenance.
Excess levels of cortisol, insulin and parathyroid hormone can also cause bone loss. Most physicians never check for these levels. An elevated calcium level in the serum is a clue that parathyroid hormone might be in excess. Excess refined sugars and starches in the diet cause elevated insulin levels. Excess stress causes elevated cortisol levels.
What foods should I AVOID?
Stop Drinking Soda Pop
Carbonated beverages such as soft drinks, champagne, and sparkling water leach calcium from your bones.
A Harvard study on 16 to 20 year-old women showed that half of them were already showing bone loss as a result of excess soft drink intake. Carbonated beverages also have excess phosphates, which cause even more calcium loss.
Reduce and/or ELIMINATE Caffeine
Each cup of coffee that you drink makes you lose 150 mg of calcium in your urine. Chemically decaffeinated coffee is not the answer either though, because it contains harmful chemicals that interfere with the detoxification process. Naturally decaffeinated teas are a better option, but if you must drink caffeinated coffee, at least increase your calcium intake by 150 mg for each cup you drink.
Avoid Processed Grains: Wheat, corn, GLUTEN
....which cause mineral deficiencies, digestive distress, prevent mineral absorption, and reduce bone density.
Avoid pasteurized dairy
Yep, you read that correctly. Calcium is the main nutrient that comes to most minds for improving bone health. Many people believe milk is the best source of calcium and that it’s necessary for strong bones.
Did you know....
Avoid processed, inflammatory foods
- That 1 cup of cooked spinach has almost the same milligrams of calcium as a cup of milk? (UCSF Health Study)
- Fracture rates are significantly higher for those that drink 3 or more cups of milk daily? (Harvard Nurses Study).
A SAD (standard American Diet) diet of fast, fake and processed foods produce inflammation, an acidic environment that depletes minerals, and biochemical and metabolic conditions in your body that decrease bone density.
Avoid HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)
A study by the USDA, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that fructose alters the body's balance of magnesium, leading to increased bone loss.
Reduce acid blocking drugs: Nexium, Protonix, Prevacid, Tagamet, and Zantac, for problems such as heartburn and hiatal hernia. Stomach acid is necessary to absorb minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Blocking stomach acid significantly increases the risk of osteoporosis. These drugs were meant to be used for six to eight weeks at a time, not for years at a time! In fact, most heartburn symptoms are not due to excess stomach acid. Two thirds of the patients on acid blocking agents have too little stomach acid, not too much!
Change Your Diet
Excess refined sugars and starches, elevate your insulin levels and cause an increase in osteoporosis. The ideal diet is one called a “low glycemic index” diet. Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly food turns into sugar in the bloodstream. Low glycemic index foods do not raise blood sugar or insulin levels quickly, and include lean proteins, beans, vegetables, and good fats (nuts, olives, olive oil, fish, fish oils, avocados). Increasing fiber intake is an easy way to lower sugar and insulin levels. Fiber taken just before meals helps to slow down the absorption of sugars and fats, and can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as much as medication.
Stress raises cortisol levels. If cortisol levels are high for long periods of time it can cause bone loss. Cortisol antagonizes insulin and leads to insulin resistance, eventually raising the blood sugar and causing calcium loss in the urine. As little as 25 teaspoons of sugar can cause calcium to be lost in the urine.
Stress reduction can include specific activities aimed at invoking the “relaxation response” such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, massage and prayer. It may also include getting more sleep, taking a vacation, getting psychotherapy to help with toxic relationships, and making an effort not to “burn the candle at both ends”.
When the muscles pull against the bones during exercise, it stimulates the bones and tells them that they are needed. Any weight-bearing exercise such as walking, hiking, climbing stairs and weightlifting can increase bone density. As little as 15 to 30 minutes a day can be helpful. Weightlifting does not need to be with heavy weights either, it can be with as little as 2 – 5 pound hand or ankle weights. Or you can use your own body weight and let gravity to do the job. Floor exercises such as leg lifts and sit ups, will work just fine. Exercises such as swimming and cycling though great for muscle strength and fitness are not weight-bearing so aren’t the most beneficial for your bones.
Do you need help nutritionaly with your bone health? I would be honored to help you. Please call me, Debbie Allen, MNT, CNHP at: 303-782-4842
Good health begins with taking responsibility for our own body.
Contact Me Now to Begin Your Transformation.
If you have questions or need more information:
Call: 303-782-4842 (MTN)
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