Tag Archives: diet

Osteoporosis: Are Your Bones Doomed To Crumble as You Age?

osteoporosis - posture changing with ageOsteoporosis is scary. We know that youngsters get stronger and longer bones as they age and this goes on to some extent right through our twenties. Round about age 30 though we reach peak bone mass and bone strength and our bones are expected to get weaker from then on as we continue to age.

This loss of bone mass and strength is called Osteoporosis and is often regarded as “normal”. And indeed a quick look around in any shopping centre shows a huge number of elderly people with walking sticks and frames if they are walking at all an not being pushed in a wheelchair.

These folk have a mix of disorders but Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis would be prominent along with many other “age related” diseases.

My definition of normal is different because I am a Naturopath and regard bone loss and increased risk of fracture as simply a disease that can be healed with lifestyle adoptions and not something that has to be “lived with”.

In this article we'll look at what you can do to take your health into your hands and get it under control. We'll start with another definition of Osteoporosis and then move into the action points for you to consider adopting.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis or OP, is a progressive loss of minerals, strength and protein from our bones due to inadequate diet and activity.

It is a lifestyle disorder like diabetes and heart disease and like them can be addressed by going to the root of things and not by covering over the symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs.

Risk Factors For Osteoporosis

Those with a smaller stature are more likely to get OP and so are those from Caucasian families. But that just means that extra attention is paid to the diet and other lifestyle factors by those affected.

It is also a risk factor to have worked in industries or occupations that exposed you to heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. Sometimes just living in a polluted neighbourhood may be enough to get exposure. If you have heavy metal contamination that can be tested and treated pretty simply and is well worth doing.

Pharmaceutical medicines can also be risk factors. It is scandalous in my view that drug medicines taken to treat one condition often cause another but pharmaceuticals such as steroids, barbiturates, proton pump inhibitors, heparin amongst others are risk factors for OP.

If you take any of these it may be worth consulting your Physician to see if there are less harmful alternatives.

What We Can Do About Our Bones

Have you heard the Children's song…

”Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
Now, hear the word of the Lord!”
etc.

                                                 Words here http://is.gd/0w2cKg

If people know anything about their bones apart from the incorrect notion that they get weaker with age it is that bones and dry and bones are white.


All wrong.


You get weaker – both in muscle and bone with lack of exercise not age and bones are pale yellow and are living organs with a blood supply so they are not dry either!
 

Bones are living adapting organs that respond to exercise by strengthening and respond to nutrients like any other of our organs. So we need to nourish them, just like we nourish our muscles, brains and skin.

The Stress Connection

A memory has stayed with me since the early days of my learning clinical nutrition back in the eighties.

A researcher was about to publish a research paper and gave us an early peek into the data his study had found. The study compared the top drugs for Osteoporosis with a particular bone strengthening “exercise”.
 

The exercise was way more effective than the best drugs and now I'll tell you what it was…
 

  1. The researcher showed us by standing so we could see him from the side.
  2. Then he lifted his heels off the ground a little – say half an inch, no more.
  3. He then let his body down to normal standing by letting his heels strike the floor.


That was it – stand up, lift heels off ground and then let them fall back onto the ground.

Why This “Foot Exercise” Works

Having read that you might wonder why this silly little move would work? Why would it beat the best drugs on the market?


Good questions and here's why…


As we walk our hells are the first part of the foot to hit the ground. As it contacts the ground it makes what is called a “heel strike”. What happens with every heel strike is a shock wave travels not just through the foot but right up the legs and throughout the body.


The next bit is the interesting bit so read it very carefully…


The way that bones work is that they get stronger with shock and stress. So every heel strike makes the bones stronger and the shape of the bones will even change to make it even stronger to adapt to your movement and exercise.


Walking makes your bones stronger.


And so will the researcher's silly little exercise.


And so would skipping and lots of other walking, jumping and jogging exercises but only if you do not wear trainers.


No trainers?


No trainers because they cushion the feet and cut down the shock waves and stress and we don't want to do that.


Trainers are for professional athletes with special needs they are not for the average Jane who needs to exercise and get some shock and stress into her skeleton.

Is there a vitamin D connection?

There is another risk factor we face that can turn into an “Action factor” – something we can do to boost our health – and that is vitamin D. It is only in sunny climates that we can get enough natural vitamin D by our exposure to sunshine.

Northern latitudes such as Canada and the UK are at risk and lots of US citizens too unless you live in sunny Florida, Texas or Southern California, for example.

Even in sunny places we may not get enough sun exposure if we indoors too much or completely cover up due to fear of sunburn.

Best advice is to get a simple blood test of our vitamin D and then supplement with the needed dose of vitamin D3. Do take care that you see the actual amount of vitamin D and do not let yourself be told that your level is normal. Ideas of what is normal have changed a lot in the last few years and nowadays the normal level is much higher than it used to be.

A normal level is generally regarded as 50 to 60 ng/ml and anything below that needs fixing with daily D3 of say, 3000 iu tablets or capsules. In fact you can now get a D3 liquid with 5000 iu per tiny drop. You can even get a D3 spray so it is really very easy to get a daily shot of this vital vitamin.

In the Winter it is generally a good idea to increase your dose to make up for less sunshine. And preferably test again after a few months and see how you are doing.

Vitamin K

Another Vitamin we need for bone health and strength is vitamin K. This vitamin we can get from our food but eats lots of green leafy vegetables every day? Not many people do but that is where we find vitamin K so that means that most people should be on a good supplement and the best is vitamin K2. This is easy to take and may be in your daily multi – it is often included in quality multi-vitamin supplements. A daily dose of 100 MICRO grams – millionths of a gram is all need.


Note – those taking Warfarin are recommended to keep their vitamin K supplements at low levels of 100 micrograms. Higher levels may interfere with their anti-coagulant therapy.

How About Calcium?

We have to talk about Calcium at some stage.

There's a lot more in a bone than the mineral calcium – there are other minerals such as phosphorous, magnesium, sodium and bicarbonate as well as structures of collagen, blood vessels – but we do need around 1200 mg a day and most of us do not get it. So a supplement of calcium citrate is recommended or perhaps a mix of various forms of calcium glycinate, malate or a chelated calcium.

Please take note that Osteoporosis is not a calcium deficiency disease – we get oodles of calcium in our water and in milk and yet there is an epidemic of OP. Read on and get the full picture below…

And Magnesium…

I have recommended magnesium as an all purpose muscle relaxant, pain reliever and anxiety reducer but we need it for bones too. We can get plenty of magnesium from our diet but only if we eat plenty of green,leafy veggies…and do you do that?

Silica

Taking silica increases bone mineral density and increases the production of bone proteins. So it's great for healthy bones and as a bonus helps improve the look and health of our skin too!

O Yes And Boron Too!

The last mineral in my Anti-Osteoporosis list is a seldom discussed one called Boron. We need very little but it acts to balance minerals and to reduce inflammation and reduce the loss of calcium in the urine. Only a milligram or two is all we need.

Is there an Osteoporosis Diet?

To fight or fix Osteoporosis we need to oppose the inflammation in the blood stream and elsewhere in the body and act to alkalise the body.

The diet needs to be anti-inflammatory.

A whole grain plant based diet does that and it supplies a lot of the minerals and vitamins we need but it does it in a way that helps the body heal rather than in a way that triggers allergies and inflammation.

Crudely speaking foods may be put into either an inflammatory or anti-inflammatory group.

Inflammatory foods are meat, fish, eggs and dairy products

Anti-inflammatory foods are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, omega 3 plant oils and spices

So a whole grain based vegan diet seems to be the most anti-inflammatory diet which combined with specific OP fighting vitamins and minerals.

If a vegan diet seems too restrictive for you a Mediterranean diet with a strong emphasis of the anti-inflammatory foods and supplements is what I'd recommend.

Osteoporosis is not a disease of ageing or of calcium deficiency. It is a logical result of many years of eating the wrong diet and can be corrected with a few months of eating the right diet – a “plant strong diet” packed with super foods and boosted with powerful anti-inflammatory supplements such as vitamins C and D.

O yes and after one of your plant based meals – take a nice relaxed walk and enjoy yourself Now I'd love to know if OP has been a part of your life? Please comment and share this post if you feel it could help people you know… Thanks

Photo credits Certo Xornal

What You Can Do To Have Healthy Joints

X ray of shoulder joints and  ribcageWe worry about our health, about our heart health, about the chances of getting cancer and increasingly nowadays about getting dementia since we may have seen a relative sliding into Alzheimer's Disease as they aged. Seldom do we worry or do anything about the health of our joints and yet arthritis and other joint disease is at epidemic proportions.

Joints just don't get the attention they deserve even though we use them for every movement of the body. Even sitting still reading this article numerous joints in your rib cage are working as you breath and others in your ribs and arms as you scroll down the screen to read this article.

Joints are places where things happen; they are where 2 bones come together to allow and facilitate movement. When working well they are like well oiled hinges and they bring no attention to them selves. And when afflicted with a disease like arthritis we struggle to move, we push against stiffness and suffer pain as a consequence.

We all have good incentives to do what we can to keep our joints healthy and the good news is that all we do to boost our general health is going to help our joints too

So lets look at some lifestyle choices we can make and then see what part professional treatment can play in the health of our joints

Movement:“use it or lose it”

Never was that saying more truly used than about our joints. When we walk or exercise or do some gardening or housework we not only stretch our muscles we use our joints too and this helps lubricate them, and boost the health of the joints used.

We may need to push hard to strengthen a muscle but gentle movement is all we need to exercise a joint.

When treating patients in my Osteopathy clinic I used to teach a simple routine where we go through all the major joints of the body and perform slow circular movements. Starting with the head and then moving to the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles it takes just 2 or 3 minutes and feels good as you both gently stretch the muscles around the joint and feed “exercise information” to your body and brain.

The movement may be dance, skipping, yoga – whatever pleases you – it does not have to be”exercise” – anything that gets us in motion will do the job.

Joints and muscles are feeding position and speed data to the brain like a satellite or rocket sends back telemetry data to ground control. This is vital to our well being and interrupting this flow of data from our joints deprives the brain of what it needs to function properly just like eating a junk diet deprives the body of minerals and vitamins that it needs to do all its work of healing and detoxing properly.

Diet: “We are what we eat”

The phrase “We are what we eat”, seems to be as old as the hills and is often taken to be a folksy way to nudge us into following advice like “Eat your greens!”. Well the phrase is not just a metaphor it is a literal hard scientific truth. We are made of what we have for breakfast, and lunch and dinner…and whenever else we eat too! And what we drink as well!

When it comes to our health we really do have the power to choose and to make our bones and joints strong and healthy. So what choices are best? The science for the last several decades whether in the shape of The China Study or in any of dozens of other major studies comes back with the advice to eat what the researchers call,”a plant based diet”.

This is not the same as a Vegetarian diet or a Vegan diet though. A diet of so called “Breakfast” Cereals, toast, coffee, Bagels and microwaved ready meals might well be vegan but would be a junk food diet none the less.

I know plenty of Vegetarians whose diet is similar to the above and whose dinner plates are rarely graced with the sight of Broccoli or Kale or other healthy greens. This is their choice of course and in our culture the food we eat is not culturally determined as it is in many countries but is there from individual decisions.

A Plant Based Diet means a wholefood diet, preferably organic, and examples may be found in the Mediterranean Diet and the Diet in rural Japan. In both there is a variety of vegetables, fruit (more so in the Mediterranean diet, which is part of why I think it is better) and small amounts of bread, fish and meat.

From detailed research I've seen I'd advise a vegetarian or vegan version of the Mediterranean diet as the healthiest diet for our joints and for general health too. It has a wide range of plant nutrients including mineral and vitamins; there is plenty of protein and Olives and nuts and seeds provide all the healthy oils we need.

Joint Supplements: “Every little helps”

But what do we do when we get joint disease? The time to change the diet was 5 years ago before we got soreness and pain in and around the joints and your diet will affect your health going into the future but right now what food supplements can we take as extra healthy plant medicines for your joint issues?

Pain usually comes from inflammation in the body so we need to give the body as much anti-inflammatory support from diet and supplements as we can. So after getting meat out of the diet we can add omega 3 oils to it. These are plant oils – the only reason fish oil has omega 3 oils in it is that fish either eat plants with omega 3 oils or eat smaller fish that eat plants! There's no point eating fish and exposing yourself to hazards from mercury pollution and much else besides if all you want is to get a good supply of omega 3 oil.

The richest source of omega 3 oil is flax and the best way to get it is to mix powdered flax seeds into your meals or smoothies. Eating flax seeds is fine but your body cannot get at the oil inside the seeds.

Budgies and other birds can, we can't!

And pouring flax oil on salads is OK if you can be certain that it is fresh and safe but after using flax oil for some years I doubted that it was as fresh as I wanted, so I shifted to using flax seed powder. This is safe and stable for months and has been tested in medical trials and proved effective.

Other anti-inflammatory supplements include vitamin D to boost bone strength and taking enough vitamin C. The latter not only strengthens collagen that gives our bone its strength but also strengthens the tendons and ligaments around the joints. Bones, tendons and ligaments are all made of collagen and all are “powered” by vitamin C. The mineral Silica helps too but vitamin C is primary.

You'll hear a lot about other supplements like glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin but they have a mixed record when put to the test. What is probably happening is that we need sulphur and if we are deficient they can fill that gap. A better way to get sulphur may be to either include onions and garlic in your diet or to use a garlic pill or else supplement with MSM, full name – Methyl Sulphonyl Methane which seems to work rather better.

Treatment: “If it ain't broke don't fix it”

This phrase is used a lot by engineers but it fits in with the Hippocratic rule of “First do no harm”. That implies that treatment by an Osteopath or Chiropractor should be minimal and gentle and treatment from Surgeons avoided if at all possible.

The first line of treatment is to gently move the joint and find out where there is pain or limitation. As much as is reasonable the joint needs to be moved around its normal arc and doing so will help drain the area of any inflammatory build up and bring fresh blood to the area to help heal the pain and or damage.

A massage around the joint is extremely helpful because it relaxes the muscles around the joint and reduces pressure and again helps circulation. Using a good oil will relax the muscles and I routinely use Olive oil – slightly warmed up but any oil will help relax muscles and take pressure off the joint.

The best oil by far is Castor Oil. It should only be used on the skin and for Castor Oil Packs and never taken by mouth. But massaging the oil on is easy and can be and should be done for as long as needed. Using a Castor Oil pack is good advice but does involve quite a time and much good can be had just by directly rubbing the oil on the skin above and below the joint.

Other ways to encourage relaxation is to use the minerals Magnesium and Potassium. Any good supplement will do but the absolute best is to use the Celloids range of minerals by Blackmores called PPMP.

By all logic PPMP should not be anything like as effective as it is but it is the nearest to a “Cure all” that I have ever found and is superb to help pain, muscular spasm and anxiety amongst many other issues.

Some healing technologies can be used as well. Cold laser can be very useful in dealing with hard to get at lesions. Ultrasound may play a role as well. Used as part of a holistic approach any non-invasive therapy can be helpful. Overall the strategy to work on Joints is to restore normal function and movement with anti-inflammatory diet, supplements and gentle hands on treatments.

Used appropriately these tactics can heal just about any joint problem whether the cause is arthritis, gout or accidents. And if a particular joint is stubbornly refusing to heal then some extra diagnosis is needed to find out if a nutritional or other factor is involved.

Trace mineral analysis may provide the needed info or “Muscle Testing” by a Qualified Kinesiologist may be needed to hunt down the confounding issue.

The body does heal itself but needs us to do some extra detective work sometimes. To get some details on the kind of diet recommended in the research on plant based diets the The China Study CookBook may be helpful.

Feel free to share your experience of joint problems below or on my Facebook page.

Photo credit

 

Choosing a Colon Cleansing Diet

Much attention these days in the Detox world is paid to colon cleansing programs and diets and the vexed question of what is a good colon cleansing diet comes up again and again. With colon cleansing being the natural starting point for detoxification in any health program this is to be expected. While there is no one diet that will work for everyone there are some clear principles in detoxing that we can use to guide us in choosing a colon cleansing diet.

Allergic foods

This is the first principle and is one that I came to by experience of doing detox for years both for myself and for my patients. It does not matter what health benefits there are or what nutrients it has, if a food is disagreeable to us we should avoid it. Whether the symptoms are fatigue or swelling of the lips or just a stomach ache if you are allergic to a food then it must be avoided, Maybe the allergy can be cured at a later stage but while doing a detox or cleanse of any type it is essential to avoid all allergic foods.

Mucus Forming Foods

Many foods are traditionally avoided while detoxing on the grounds that they are "mucous forming". Among these are dairy foods but others get included too according to the views of the Raw food or macrobiotic or other philosophy producing the detox. My own view of this is that foods that are judged to be mucous forming are actually foods we are allergic too anyway and we should avoid them for that reason.

Raw foods

This, you might say, is a hot potato! It is certainly true that many foods are "cooked to death" and by the time they are served much of the nutritional value has been lost.

One point for raw foods then.

But it is also true that cooking allows more of the nutrients of a plant cell in a vegetable to be digested and absorbed by whoever eats it. A lot of the nutrients in raw food go straight through us because we cannot fully digest the cell wall.

One point to the cooked food lobby.

My position on this is that our diet should include some raw food every day but that both the total raw food and the standard cooked food diets are both extremes to be avoided.

Raw food has its vitality and enzymes intact and these are important to our health and cooked food allows more nutrients to be absorbed and has a warming and relaxing power to it that raw food lacks.

Most people will benefit hugely by increasing the amount of raw foods in their detox diet and this can be done easily with juices.

Vegetable juices

Increasingly detox and cleansing includes vegetables and green juices as a mainstay. This is certainly true for me. Green juices are as powerful as many detox formulas and many people can get powerful detox results and weight loss simply by focussing on a good juicing system. While it is true that brown rice diets and apple diets to mention some well known cleansing diets still have relevance, green juices have a power and vitaility that cannot be ignored.

Colon cleansing diets are important and lay the foundation for all other kinds of detox. The diet needs to be hypoallergenic and be a sensible and acceptable blend of raw foods, juices and easily digested and comforting cooked food.

So there is no one answer here to the question, "What is the best colon cleansing diet?", rather provided that you follow these principles you can choose from many thousands of possible diets.

If you have experience of detoxing with colon cleansing diets kindly share it below…