As middle age women, we are always on the hunt for how to preserve our bones as we age.

Osteoporosis, which strikes about 1 in every 4 women, is called a “silent disease” because it progresses without symptoms until a fracture occurs.

And though its true that it develops less often in men than in women, men are NOT immune to this disease. So please remember that whatever takeaway advice you gather from us, be sure to share it with the men in your life!
 
Most people hear the words bone health and automatically think of one thing – calcium. Truth be told, there is SO much more to the picture. A lot has to do with the state of our diets and how acid or alkaline they are. Diets that are low in veggies and fruit and high in animal protein, sugars, alcohol and carbs can result in our bodies being mildly acidic, which over time can contribute to bone loss.
 
That’s because with even very small variations in acidity, the body draws alkalizing minerals (such as calcium, potassium and magnesium) first from the blood, then, if necessary, from tissues such as muscle, and ultimately from the bone stores.

Chronic stress, too much or too little exercise, and environmental toxins also contribute to acidity. Over the long haul, more and more of our mineral reserves are pulled from our bones just to restore pH balance. And these minerals are critical for bone health!

With that in mind, here are some of our favorite bone supporting tips: 

Eat your veggies (at least 5 servings per day) Even if you don’t go any further down this list, taking this one step can instantly make a huge difference. That’s because vegetables top the chart as the most “alkaline” food in our diets and are loaded with fabulous bone-building minerals. What does a serving look like? One serving = ½ cup cooked or raw and 1 cup leafy greens. Think onions, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and all your greens.

Add 6 prunes to your daily diet. Prunes? Really? That’s right – cooked or raw, 6 prunes per day have been shown to maintain bone integrity. The real bone magic seems to come from this dried fruit’s combo of vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, boron and other antioxidants that can help reduce bone loss. If you love prunes (which can also help in the “let’s get things moving department”), enjoy them in your morning smoothie, cooked oats, or afternoon snack with a handful of nuts. You can also make a puree by combining them with hot water and using in sauces, yogurt, or spread on toast.

Replace refined carbs and grains with roots and gourds, such as butternut and acorn squash, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips. We always encourage our clients to greatly reduce refined starchy foods like bagels, muffins, white rice and pasta which lack nutrition and are more on the acidic side. And though a couple servings of whole grains like brown rice, oats and quinoa can be super healthy, don’t let them outweigh your veggie intake. That’s why we also advocate eating starchier veggies (like the winter squashes, peas and beets) which are hearty and filling and can help reduce your grain load while improving your veggie count.

Add fresh lemon and lime to your water. Though we typically think of citrus fruits as acidic, they’re actually highly alkalizing in the body.

Limit animal protein. Limit your animal protein sources (beef, chicken, pork, eggs, and dairy products) to no more than 2 servings or less per day and increase plant-based protein sources such as beans, lentils, and nuts and seeds.

Drink alkalizing beverages, such as ginger tea, apple cider vinegar in water, herbal teas, hot veggie broths, water with lime/lemon juice, herbal ice tea with lemon.

Include collagen in your diet. Several studies on collagen, which represents 90% of organic bone mass, suggest that collagen peptides may enhance bone metabolism, especially in the pre-osteoporosis phase known as osteopenia. A daily intake of 10g of collagen peptides for 4 to 24 weeks may increase bone mass density.

Don’t over-supplement with calcium. We see many women on at least 1,200mg of calcium supplements a day without taking into account their dietary calcium or balance of vitamin D, magnesium or other bone minerals. Too much calcium is actually not good for bones so be sure to keep this in mind. Also, there is no need to rely on dairy for calcium. Though small amounts of well sourced dairy are okay, there are other wonderful calcium sources such as collard greens, broccoli and broccoli rabe, kale, Bok choy, figs, oranges, canned sardines/salmon with bones, and almonds.

Be sure your vitamin D levels are in good shape. Vitamin D is just as if not more important than calcium intake. We look for levels at least in the 40’s or above. 

One more MUST. The research is clear that weight bearing exercise is critical for bone health. Check out THIS link for more info on exercise and bones. 

If you are concerned about your bones or have other nutritional challenges, feel free to contact us and see how we can help. 

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