Building Better Bones – Part 2

Building Better Bones

Building Better Bones - Part 2 of 3

Women who take estrogen replacement (often given to prevent osteoporosis), even for as little as five years, increase their risk of breast cancer by twenty percent; if they take hormone replacement, the risk increases by forty percent.

Focusing on bone mass, we lose sight of the fact that a strong correlation between bone density and bone breakage has not been established, according to Susan Brown, director of the Osteoporosis Information Clearing House, and many others. We lose sight of the fact that women who faithfully take estrogen or hormone replacement still experience bone changes and suffer spinal crush fractures.

Bone-pause passes and the bones do rebuild themselves, especially when supported by nourishing herbs, which are exceptional sources of bone-building minerals and better at preventing bone breaks than supplements. The minerals in green plants seem to be ideal for keeping bones healthy. Dr. Campbell, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, has done extensive research in rural China where the lowest known fracture rates for midlife and older women were found. He says, "The closer people get to a diet based on plant foods and leafy vegetables, the lower the rates of many diseases, including osteoporosis." Women who consume lots of calcium-rich plants and exercise moderately build strong flexible bones. Women who rely on hormones build bones that are massive, but rigid.

Hormone replacement regimes do not increase bone cell creation; they slow (or suppress) bone cell killers (osteoclasts). When the hormones are stopped, there is a rebound effect; bone loss jumps. Women who take hormones for five years or more are as much as four times more likely to break a bone in the year after they stop than a woman of the same age who never took hormones. Women who build better bones with green allies and exercise nourish the bone cell creator cells (osteoblasts).

Hormone or estrogen replacement, taken as menopause begins and continued for the rest of your life, is said to reduce post-menopausal fracture rates by 40-60 percent. Frequent walks (you don't even need to sweat) and a diet high in calcium-rich green allies (at least 1500 mg daily) have been shown to reduce post-menopausal fractures by 50 percent. The first is dangerous and expensive. The second, inexpensive and health promoting. It's easy to see why more than eighty percent of American women just "say no" to hormones. It is never too late to build better bones, and it is never too soon. Your best insurance for a fracture-free, strong-boned cronehood is to build better bones before menopause. The more exercise and calcium-rich green allies you get in your younger years, the less you'll have to worry about as you age.

"A woman has lost half of all the spongy bone (spine, wrist) she'll ever lose by the age of 50, but very little of the dense (hip, hand, forearm) bone. Attention to bone formation at every stage of life is vital; there is no time when you are too old to create healthy new bone." - American MD.

Osteoporosis is much less common in countries that consume the least calcium. That is an undisputed fact." -T. C. Campbell, PhD. Nutritional Biochemistry.

Step 1: Collect Information

Calcium is, without a doubt, the most important mineral in your body. Calcium makes up more than half of the total mineral content of your body. Calcium is crucial to the regular beating of your heart, your metabolism, the functioning of your muscles, the flow of impulses along your nerves, the regulation of your cellular membranes, the strength of your bones, the health of your gums and teeth, and your vital blood-clotting mechanisms. Calcium is so critical to your life that you have a gland (the parathyroid) that does little else than monitor blood levels of calcium and secrete hormones to ensure optimum levels of calcium at all times.

When you consume more calcium than you use, you are in a positive calcium balance: extra usable calcium is stored in the bones and you gain bone mass (unusable or insoluble calcium may be excreted, or stored in soft tissue, or deposited in the joints). When you consume less calcium than you use, you are in a negative calcium balance: the parathyroid produces a hormone that releases calcium stores from the bones, and you lose bone mass.

To ensure a positive calcium balance and create strong, flexible bones for your menopausal journey, take care to:.

  • Eat three or more calcium-rich foods daily.
  • Avoid calcium antagonists.
  • Use synergistic foods to magnify the effectiveness of calcium.
  • Avoid calcium supplements.

Step 2: Engage the Energy

  • The homeopathic tissue salt Silica is said to improve bone health.
  • What does it mean to you to support yourself? To be supported? To stand on your own? To have a backbone in your life?

Step 3: Nourish & Tonify

  • What do we need to make strong flexible bones? Like all tissues, bones need protein. They need minerals (not just calcium, but also potassium, manganese, magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus, sulphur, chromium, and dozens of others). And in order to use those minerals, high-quality fats, including oil-soluble vitamin D.
  • Many menopausal women I meet believe that protein is bad for their bones. Not so. Researchers at Utah State University, looking at the diets of 32,000 postmenopausal women, found that women who ate the least protein were the most likely to fracture a hip; and that eating extra protein sped the healing of hip fractures.
  • Acids created by protein digestion are buffered by calcium. Traditional diets combine calcium- and protein-rich foods (e.g. seaweed with tofu, tortillas made from corn ground on limestone with beans, and melted cheese on a hamburger). Herbs such as seaweed, stinging nettle, oatstraw, red clover, dandelion, and comfrey leaf are rich in protein and provide plenty of calcium too. Foods such as tahini, sardines, canned salmon, yogurt, cheese, oatmeal, and goats' milk offer us protein, generous amounts of calcium, and the healthy fats our bones need. If you crave more protein during menopause, follow that craving. CAUTION: Unfermented soy (e.g., tofu) is especially detrimental to bone health being protein-rich, naturally deficient in calcium, and a calcium antagonist to boot.
  • Bones need lots of minerals not just calcium, which is inflexible and brittle. (Think of chalk, calcium carbonate, and how easily it breaks.) Avoid calcium supplements. Focus on getting generous amounts of calcium from foods and herbs and you will automatically get the multitude of minerals you need for flexible bones.
  • Because minerals are bulky, and do not compact, we must consume generous amounts to make a difference in our health. Taking mineral-rich herbs in capsule or tincture form won't do much for your bones. (One cup of nettle tincture contains the same amount of calcium - 300 mg - as one cup of nettle infusion. Many women drink two or more cups of infusion a day; no one consumes a cup of tincture a day!) Neither will eating raw foods. I frequently come across the idea that cooking robs food of nutrition. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cooking maximizes the minerals available to your bones. Kale cooked for an hour delivers far more calcium than lightly steamed kale. Minerals are rock-like, and to extract them, we need heat, time, and generous quantities of plant material.
  • Green sources of calcium are the best. Nourishing herbs and garden weeds are far richer in minerals than ordinary greens, which are already exceptional sources of nutrients.
  • Calcium from green sources alone is not enough. We need calcium from white sources. If you want really healthy bones, add a quart of yogurt a week to your diet. Because the milk has been changed by Lactobacillus organisms, its calcium, other minerals, proteins, and sugars (no lactose) are more easily digested. This carries over, enhancing calcium and mineral absorption from other foods, too. (we have  known several vegans who increased their very low bone density by as much as 6 percent in one year by eating yogurt.) Organic raw milk cheeses are another superb white source.
  • Horsetail herb (Equisetum arvense) works like a charm for those premenopausal women who have periodontal bone loss or difficulty with fracture healing. Taken as tea, once or twice a day, young spring-gathered horsetail dramatically strengthens bones and promotes rapid mending of breaks. CAUTION: Mature horsetail contains substances which may irritate the kidneys.

- continued -

Building Better Bones - Part 1 of 3
Building Better Bones - Part 2 of 3
Building Better Bones - Part 3 of 3

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