For anyone unsure of the meaning of osteopenia and osteoporosis, both terms refer to lower than normal bone mineral density. Osteopenia refers to slightly lower than normal density. Osteoporosis refers to dramatically lower than normal. There are no symptoms with osteopenia. With osteoporosis bones become progressively thinner, weaker and brittle until they fracture very easily. Among other things, poor diets, genetics and inadequate exercise contribute to bone loss, even in teenagers and very young adults.
Doctors, natural health care practitioners and nutritionists are quick to prescribe or recommend a variety of drugs and supplements. These can be harmful or somewhat helpful but do not adequately address the cause(s) of the problem.
As with all health issues, strong bones require proper food choices as well as excellent digestion and absorption of nutrients. Some of the things, consumed orally, having the most negative affects on bone health include all forms of alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, antibiotics, calcium, coffee, contraceptives, cortisone, all forms of diuretics, oral insulin, any processed carbohydrates (anything made with flour or sugar), any sodas/colas (including diet) and excessive commercial salt intake.
Wait. Hold on a minute. Calcium is in this "negative" list. How can calcium be bad for your bones?
Strangely, nations with the highest rates of osteoporosis including Sweden, USA, New Zealand, Finland and France consume the most calcium. People with the least incidence of osteoporosis live in countries like New Guinea, South Africa, Singapore and Yugoslavia. They consume very few dairy products and obtain most of their minerals from vegetables.
It seems the more dairy products you consume, the higher your risk of fracture. A Harvard Nurses Health study examined whether higher intakes of milk can reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures. The study observed over 75,000 women for twelve years. They concluded increasing milk consumption did not provide a protective effect against fractures (Feskanich et al., 1997). In fact the report suggested increased calcium intake from dairy foods was associated with a higher risk of fracture. Postmenopausal women in the U.S. eating calcium rich dairy products have over three times more osteoporosis than those who do not.
With these facts established, let's consider one other aspect of this conundrum. I contend the problems created by cows' milk are basically the result of pasteurization. This process of heating milk to "purify" it destroys the naturally occurring enzymes and changes this natural food to an unnatural health hazard. Historically organic, raw, unpasteurized milk and milk products from free-range cows eating organically grown grasses have been used for various health cures. When used in moderation, cultured and fermented organic, raw milk products such as cheese, kefir, yogurt and cottage cheese do not seem to create the same problems as pasteurized milk products. You may be able to find some of these organic, raw milk products in your local health food store. The main point is there are much better food choices for minerals and bone health than cow's milk. More about these later.
If you're thinking of replacing cow's milk with soy milk and soy products, you may want to reconsider. Soy contains natural toxins known as 'anti-nutrients' such as saponins, soyatoxin, protease inhibitors, oxalates, and estrogens. Some of these can interfere with the enzymes you need to digest protein. It also contains goitrogens capable of blocking your body's production of thyroid hormones, interfering with iodine metabolism and potentially decreasing your thyroid function. Hemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance, is found in soy. This can cause your red blood cells to clump together making it difficult for them to properly absorb and distribute oxygen. Phytates (phytic acid) in soy bind to metal ions and may reduce the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. The isoflavones genistein and daidzein in soy are types of phytoestrogens. They resemble human estrogen. This allows them to mimic and sometimes block your natural estrogen with potential adverse effects on various human tissues. And, soy may have toxic levels of aluminum and manganese from being processed by acid washing in aluminum tanks.
Back to the question at hand. If drinking pasteurized milk and eating pasteurized dairy products is bad for your bones, what makes them stronger? Almost all mineral supplements recommended by health professionals and in health food stores contain incorrect amounts of calcium and magnesium. Most contain twice or more calcium than magnesium. Osteoporosis is lowest in countries where the amount of dietary calcium and supplemental calcium and magnesium is the same or between two parts calcium to three parts magnesium. Studies show magnesium, even without calcium, increases bone density by 7% to 8% within nine months. In another study with slightly less calcium than magnesium, results showed an 11% increase in bone density in nine months. This provides definite proof bone loss can be prevented and even reversed.
So, problem solved. Take a supplement with more magnesium than calcium. It would be wonderful if it was this easy. Such a supplement needs other vitamins, minerals and cofactors to insure your body can absorb the nutrients and provide everything to create and maintain healthy bones.
Bone is a living tissue constantly being broken down and rebuilt based on blood pH (acidity or alkalinity), hormones and other factors requiring precise balance. Some of the "other" things needed to keep your bones healthy include vitamin A as beta carotene, C as a complete complex, D3 as cholecalciferol, B6, Folate, B12 and K as menoquinone. Also, required are minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, silica, boron and other trace minerals. And, there are many herbs to provide plant foods and their cofactors to help everything work better. With herbs, enzymes should be added to insure the proper digestion of the plant materials. It is very rare to find a mineral supplement with all these ingredients in the correct ratios to each other.
Besides minerals, there is something else very good for your bones in all vegetables: Chlorophyll. This is the green pigment (coloring) in all plants allowing them to convert sunlight, air and water to food. Seawater, blood and chlorophyll all have the same chemical structure with one small variation. The base element in seawater is sodium. The base element in blood is iron. The base element in chlorophyll is magnesium. As mentioned above, magnesium, not calcium, is much more important for normal, strong bones.
Supplements can be beneficial but it's much easier to find foods containing everything you need for life-long bone health. Some of the best are:
- Sea vegetables, including all varieties of kelp
- Organic Vegetables with high chlorophyll content (in alphabetical order):
Asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, brussel sprouts, celery, collard greens, dandelion greens, green beans, green bell peppers, green cabbage, green olives, green peas, kale, leeks, parsley, romaine lettuce, spinach, sprouts, sugar peas, Swiss chard, turnip greens, parsley, watercress, etc.
- Organic vegetable juices
- Organic nuts and seeds and their sprouts
- Organic beans and peas and their sprouts
- Organic sprouted grain breads and other products with no flour or gluten added (read labels carefully)
When vegetables are cooked with high heat or for too long, the dark green chlorophyll and naturally occurring enzymes are mostly destroyed. They lose their color, a great deal of their nutritional value and their flavor. To get the most benefit from your vegetables, choose organically grown and eat them raw, lightly steamed, lightly sauteed or lightly stir fried. The least heat used for the shortest time is best.
Equally important as the correct amounts of minerals and cofactors is good quality protein. Minerals are carried in your blood to their proper destinations bound to protein. Some of your best sources of protein are:
Since research shows vegetarians have less problems with osteoporosis, choose quality proteins and eat them in moderation.
- Organic, free-range eggs
- Organic nuts and seeds and their sprouts
- Wild-caught, deep ocean fish
- Organic chickens and turkeys
- Wild game such as deer, elk, birds, etc.
- Organically raised, grass-fed beef, buffalo, etc.
With all your food choices, try to avoid any genetically modified (GM) vegetables and any products from animals fed GM foods, raised in cages or other confined environments or farmed fish. The following foods are currently the most often genetically modified: canola and its oils, corn and its oils, cottonseed and its oils, Hawaiian papaya, soy and its oils, crookneck squash, sugar from sugar beets, and some zucchinis. Any of these foods and anything made from them should not be eaten.
Drinking enough pure water is also essential. See the articles on water pH, fluorine and chlorine. At the very least use a water filter on your kitchen faucet for all water used for drinking and cooking. Your filter should be able to remove the majority, if not all, chlorine and fluorine as well as lead and other common toxins frequently found in water supplies. I use the PUR 18 cup water dispenser at home and the Aquasana water filter system at work. If you can, add filters to showers since your skin can absorb large amounts of chorine and fluorine from hot water. Our shower filter is made by Aquasana. Taking the time to view the video at www.fluoridegate.com can be quite important for you and your loved ones' health.
Next is exercise. Weight bearing exercise has been proven to help prevent and replace bone loss. Choose activities you enjoy. The best exercises for you are the ones you'll do regularly. Fifteen to thirty minutes of exercising correctly two or three times a week is more than enough.
And, finally, when having the organic foods or time to sprout or juice is simply not possible, taking quality supplements may be your best option. After years of research and proven effectiveness with thousands of patients, the ones we recommend most fequently are listed below. The directions for taking them are on the labels. The amounts of included nutrients are correct and balanced.
All of these products are available through our office.
- Harmonic Innerprizes Calcium From The Sea is in line with our preference for providing "whole food" supplements whenever possible.
- Ionic Fizz Super D-K Calcium Plus mineral supplements are very easy for your body to absorb and work well for rapidly overcoming deficiencies.
- Digestive enzyme formulas are the best to help your body completely digest whatever you eat for optimal absorbtion.