Achieving optimum bone health (while avoiding osteoporosis later on) is often about what you eat, the supplements you take and regular exercise.
Here is what to do
1. Avoid processed foods
which are minus the nutrients you need and often full of refined salt. Refined salt saps calcium from the bones, weakening them over time. But refined salt should not be confused with natural salt which is essential for life (you cannot live without it ) but it must be natural and not processed salt.
2. Avoid those sodas and soft drinks
which have a two-fold danger for bones as the fizziness in carbonated drinks often comes from phosphoric acid (which ups the rate at which calcium is excreted in the urine) while the soft drinks themselves are full of high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar and absolutely no nutrients.
3. Avoid alcohol
or limit to just one drink a day. Alcohol prevents the bone-building minerals you eat from being absorbed while heavy drinking disrupts the bone remodelling process by preventing osteoblasts (the bone-building cells) from doing their job. So another two edged sword – bones become weaker and should you suffer a fracture, alcohol can interfere with healing.
4. Avoid too much caffeine
and of course smoking
is a definite “no no”. Both caffeine and cigarette smoking can reduce the absorption of calcium.
5. We have all been told that we need calcium
for our bones. However, calcium is only one of many minerals required and it needs to be in balance with other minerals. Calcium on its own is a hardening agent which by itself is not good. Yes, it will give a greater density to your bones but it is a hard brittle density and brittle increases the risk of fracture. Calcium is also one of the agents responsible for hardening of the arteries. In simple terms, arteries become inflamed, cholesterol appears and tries to heal the inflammation but then calcium deposits on the cholesterol. So when taking calcium supplements, they must be in balance with other nutrients and magnesium in particular. Ideally, take magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, a small amount of calcium and 3mg of boron daily.
6. Vitamin D
is very important for bone health - either naturally from plenty of sun exposure or through supplementation in the form of vitamin D3. While protein and sodium boost the amount of calcium excreted in urine, vitamin D will reduce the amount excreted in urine.
7. A daily helping of bone broth
is one of the best ways to build bones (and heal the gut) because all the minerals are absorbed and utilized. Here is a recipe for bone broth kindly supplied by a friend of mine. She has a cupful every day and, along with high dose magnesium, raw milk kefir, vitamin K2 and vitamin D3, has reversed her osteoporosis.
The bone broth recipe you need to follow
- A crockpot or big pot on stove
- Plenty of bones to ¾ fill the pot (beef bones are best roasted first)
- 1 T natural sea salt and other seasoning to taste
- 4-6 cloves garlic
- 1 onion quartered (add onion skin if using poultry bones for improved color)
- 2 T apple cider vinegar
– add enough filtered water to completely cover bones and allow to sit for 1-2 hours so that the apple cider vinegar can pull the minerals from the bones. Bring to the boil before turning to low. Simmer for at least 12 hours for poultry, 24 hours for red meat bones. Skim off any scum, strain and use. When cool, the broth will be like jello.
8. Other good foods to build bone health are prunes
(dried plums), onions
. You might want to add some raw onion to your salads and some cooked ones to hot meals. Sage (which is a herb) should be used sparingly otherwise it will give off a pungent odor and add a musty taste to your food. Probably the best way to take sage is to add a few leaves to your cups of tea every day. Bananas
are another helpful food as the potassium found in bananas neutralizes any excess sodium in some people's diet, allowing for healthy amounts of calcium to remain within the body.
9. Instead of pasteurized dairy, change to raw milk, cream, butter and cheese
if you can. Studies have shown that populations that have a high intake of pasturized dairy products also have the highest rate of osteoporosis. Raw is so much better than pasteurized because the enzyme phosphatase, which is needed for calcium absorption, is destroyed with pasteurization. If raw dairy is not available, fermenting is an alternative. For example, kefir or 24 hour fermented yogurt with pasteurized dairy will restore some enzymes and enhance calcium absorption.
10. Researchers have found an important reason to exercise
as working out triggers influential stem cells to become bone instead of fat, improving overall health by boosting the body's capacity to make blood. The body's mesenchymal stem cells are most likely to become fat or bone, depending on which path they follow. For more on this research
Some expert advice
Most experts advise that while some foods improve bone density, any program to reverse bone loss should also include exercise and possibly some supplements for increasing bone mass. If you actually have osteoporosis or osteopenia, it is wise to cut back on acid forming foods and increase alkaline foods.