The Bone Health Revolution, the book I talked about in my post yesterday arrived late last night as an e-book. It’s 54 pages long so it is something of an exaggeration to call it a “book” and rather dear at more than $.50 per page.
However, in terms of the research findings, I could have written it myself. I have reached the same conclusions after researching the field, and like Goldschmidt, have found that a change in lifestyle has brought about a change in my bone health without the help of medically prescribed medication.
Since I reached these conclusions independently, I do not think it is unfair to summarize the main points on which we heartily agree:
1. The relationship between bone density and bone fracture, contrary to popular opinion, is not strong. Many women, especially in Asian cultures, have far fewer fractures than we do in the West, even though our bone density in the West is much greater.
2. Bones get thinner with age. Period. It’s not a disease anymore than wrinkles and grey hair are a disease. So what is causing the fearful increase in fractures among older women especially in the West? The problem is not thinning bones but brittle bones. A thin stalk of bamboo might survive much greater assault because it can bend than a dense but brittle branch. It’s the same with bones. The question is not what is making our bones less dense but what is making them so brittle.
3. More than anything it’s probably due to the food we eat, with a strong secondary push from our reduced exercise. Fundamentally the problem is that we generally eat too many acidic foods and not enough alkaline foods. Because our blood needs to be kept at neutral in order for us to stay alive, the body leaches calcium from the bones to restore the balance if we’ve eaten too many acidifying foods.
4. So what should we be eating to get more alkaline foods and less acidifying foods? Broadly translated into ordinary English, it means more fruit and vegetables, and fewer grain products, animal and dairy products. If this sounds to you a lot like the same nutritional regime that reduces cancer and heart disease, it is. Which is encouraging. A healthy diet is a healthy diet is a healthy diet.
To be a little more specific, healthy alkaline foods are almost all fruit and vegetables, wine, draft beer, mineral water, buckwheat, millet, sprouted beans and seeds, most spices and herbs, and some nuts. The mother of all alkaline foods are raisins and figs. A handful of raisins or a few dried figs once or twice a day have multiple health benefits.
Acidifying foods are essential for human health, but we need no more than one acid food for about each four alkaline foods we eat. Acid foods include almost all grains (or things made from grains like bread and pasta), legumes and beans, dairy products (including milk, which may be a surprise because it contains a lot of calcium), all meat and fish. Hard cheeses and egg yolks are highly acidifying – the opposite of raisins and figs.
Personally, I can’t get into compulsively counting the number of acid and alkaline foods I am having every time I prepare a meal. But I do look at the menus I serve most often and have made a few alkaline additions to meals that are high on the the acidic side.
Foods to be drastically reduced (or eliminated altogether if your will power is greater than mine) include fizzy drinks, spinach, rhubarb, peanuts & peanut butter, milk and dairy products. Caffeine can be a killer for bones, so if you are a coffee, tea, or soda fiend, an addiction to any of these can be worth fighting.
5. Do we need supplements? Yes. 1400 mg calcium (calcium citrate tends to be absorbed the best) with half that much magnesium. It’s a bother, but calcium has to be taken several times a day, because we can only absorb 500 mg at a time. So it’s a waste of money to take more than that. (I take mine with breakfast, dinner, and just before I go to bed.) Also take either separately or in a multi-vitamin daily amounts of vitamins D, C and K, along with silicon, boron, selenium, copper, manganese, and zinc.
6. Don’t skip the exercise. 20 minutes a day is best, but 3 x a week will help a lot. I turn on music and do a circuit by rotating every two minutes from stretching, strength training, and aerobics. It is the only way I have found to keep deadly boredom from turning my good resolutions into promises for what I’ll do tomorrow instead.
7. Fosamax and the other biphosphonates that are routinely perscribed to women with low bone density might, in the long term, be extraordinarily dangerous to bone health. It increases “density” by stopping natural bone loss. Unfortunately, it also stops normal bone replacement. So it may be fostering dense but very brittle bones. It hasn’t been around long enough to know for sure. We do know for sure that Fosamax also has some other draconian side effects for some people that make a fracture look like the preferred option. In my opinion, Fosamax is a very high risk option in light of the alternatives.
If you want to read more but don’t want to do all the research yourself, The Bone Health Revolution is a good summary. It’s available at www.saveourbones.com. Osteoporosis: the silent epidemic by Marilyn Glenville, PhD is excellent and so is her website www.marilynglenville.com. Her book is available on www.amazon.com and www.amazon.co.uk. She favours changing one’s food patterns as the first strategy, but is not as horrified by the possibility of biphosphonates as Goldschmidt is – or I am.
To see additional posts on osteoporosis, click on “Select Category” in the right-hand column, and select Osteoporosis.