My mother-in-law just turned 70 yesterday, and like many senior citizens, she is on several different medications, including one for osteoporosis. This got me thinking about how osteoporosis rates in the U.S. have gone up 300% in the last 30 years, much like the rates of diabetes, obesity, cancer and other lifestyle- and diet-related diseases.
Millions of Americans are at risk for osteoporosis—even more will probably suffer from bone loss. According to World Health Organization (WHO), osteoporosis is second only to cardiovascular disease as a global healthcare problem. And if you’re like the millions of people who are trying to prevent those conditions, you may be taking a prescription medication like my mother-in-law, or loading up on calcium. If so, there is a better way to protect your bones you should know about.
Bisphosphonate bone drugs (like the kind you’ve seen Sally Field talking about on TV) have been in the news recently, and if you look outside the mainstream media you will find that the news is not good at all. Made from the same class of chemicals that is used in the cleaners that remove soap scum from your bath tub, bisphosphonates do virtually nothing to contribute to healthy bone growth and osteoporosis prevention, and they also pose grave health dangers.
Osteoporosis drugs come with a long list of adverse reactions:
One study even found that one of these drugs—you may have seen the headlines about Fosamax—may actually be responsible for causing femur fractures!
And if you’re taking extra calcium, you should know that excess calcium can actually harm you. Taking too much of this mineral not only won’t help your bones, it could cause all sorts of problems, including arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure.
So how can you prevent osteoporosis, or possibly even reverse it if your bones have already begun to lose density?
Causes of Bone Loss
Turning it Around Naturally
Second, one of the most effective ways to increase bone density quickly is to exercise. At a minimum, exercise for at least thirty minutes three times a week, using a weight-bearing activity such as walking or jogging. This routine has been proven to increase bone mineral density and reduce the risk of falls by strengthening the major muscle groups in the legs and back. Whether you choose walking, running, swimming or aerobic dance classes, whatever you enjoy doing is best because you’ll stick with it.
Third, eating foods rich in calcium, magnesium, Vitamins D and K, as well as Vitamins B-6, B-12, folic acid, trace minerals and Omega-3s every day is arguably the most powerful thing you can do to avoid or reverse osteoporosis.
It is recommended to consume 1,500mg of calcium every day, (A glass of milk has about 300mg.) so foods rich in calcium should be consumed with every meal. Excellent sources of calcium include whole milk dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt), salmon, sardines, almonds, sesame seeds, beans, dark green leafy greens and broccoli.
Vitamin K can be found in green, leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, parsley, asparagus, and mustard greens. Grass-fed, deep yellow butter (preferably raw) and grass-fed beef liver are also excellent sources. If you take blood thinners, it is especially important to eat foods rich in Vitamin K, as these drugs deplete it from your body.
Vitamins B-6, B-12 and Folic Acid
Excellent sources of vitamin B6 include bell peppers, turnip greens, and spinach. Excellent sources of folic acid include spinach, parsley, broccoli, beets, turnip greens, asparagus, romaine lettuce, lentils and calf’s liver. Excellent food sources of vitamin B12 include calf’s liver and snapper.
Foods high in boron (a mineral that helps the body hold calcium) are beneficial for those affected by osteoporosis. Boron is found in apples, pears, grapes and other fruit, as well as in leafy greens, legumes, nuts and honey.
Strontium helps increase bone formation and is found in fish, whole grains, kale, parsley, lettuce, Brazil nuts, and molasses.Manganese is another beneficial trace mineral found in pineapples, brown rice, chick peas (garbanzo beans), spinach and oats.
Silica can be found in bean sprouts, cucumbers, leafy green vegetables, nettles and oats. Foods high in copper include grass-fed beef liver, sesame seeds, cashews, crimini mushrooms, and chick peas (garbanzo beans).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You can protect your bones by reducing or eliminating the use of yellow seed oils (try butter, coconut and olive oils instead!), and eating lots of anti-inflammatory, Omega-3-rich foods like flaxseed, hempseed, and walnuts, as well as grass-fed beef, and cold water fish like salmon, tuna andcod.
Like nearly all chronic diseases that plague Americans these days, preventing or even curing osteoporosis requires giving up modern convenience foods like packaged meals, yellow seed oils, junk food, and excess sugar and table salt, and replacing them with a whole-food diet rich in high-quality meat, dairy and fish, healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids, and abundant amounts of leafy greens and other fruits and vegetables. Eating this way does mean more home cooking, but given that hip fractures due to osteoporosis are one of the leading causes of death for people over age 50, I think you (and your bones) are worth it.
If you’d like to know where to find grass-fed beef, raw dairy products, sustainably-caught seafood, cod liver oil, and organic nuts and seeds, please see the Resources Page.
This post is part of Fight Back Fridays hosted by Food Renegade!
Want to learn more? Check out these related posts...