Crumbly bones. Who wants crumbly bones? Who has crumbly bones? Who even wants to think about the idea that they have crumbly bones? I mean, bone is the scaffolding for everything you are!
My husband is still in the working arena of medicine, and his job requires him to fix tendons, ligaments, and bones in people of all ages. He has been doing it for roughly 20 years. Increasingly, he is bothered by the fact that healthy people of all ages (including high school athletes) have poor bone integrity.
To do his job properly, he has to drill and pound nails, screws, and rods into bone, and it has to hold for a patient to have the desired outcomes. In recent years, he has noticed that unexpected surgical patients have what he calls “soft, crumbly” bone. Bone that is not hard and dense. Bones that you’d expect in elderly or chronically ill patients! Bones that break.
Shockingly, he has seen healthy high school athletes with poor bone quality. He has seen young, thirty-something mothers with the bone appearance and quality of a seventy-year old woman with osteoporosis, and he has even seen middle-aged men with bone too weak to hold anchors and nails well.
The integrity of our bones is deteriorating! “Bad to the Bone” for you people who think in song! When the doctors in the trenches are seeing things, it then takes years for it to come to the consciousness of the medical journals and finally reach the public it affects. I don’t want to wait for you to hear about it! Osteoporosis is no longer an elderly adult problem. It is OUR problem: moms, kids, active people, sedentary gamers.
This “crumbly” bone trouble is going to increase until we address our society’s lifestyle and nutrition oversights. You will most likely see more fractures in young athletes and kids because their lifestyle is rampantly opposed to bone health.
I just wish I could drive home the connection between food, lifestyle, and the function of the body so that it was not cliché to people, but REAL! I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to say it so that I’m heard by the people who need it.
So what are the mistakes that we can reverse to help have strong, healthy bones that will last 90 years?
Move. Move. Move.
Our kids need to move. They need to get off of iPads and iPhones and cell phones and away from the television. We adults need to move. How many hours are you physically sitting all day long? I challenge you to COUNT the hours. Physical movement of arms and legs promotes dense bones.
Lift. Lift. Lift.
Lift your children. Move your couch. Move ten books at a time. Move the rocks around your flower gardens. Go to the gym and learn how to lift weights or use weight machines. Bones respond positively to physical work.
Outside in the sun. Don’t use sunscreen or coverings except to avoid sun burning.
We don’t want sun burns, but this advice to “stay out of the sun” has gotten to be sickeningly dogmatic and alarming. Taking a human out of the sun is like taking a fish out of water. The sun is the best vitamin D supplement on Earth. And besides vitamin D, it has other effects we are only starting to learn about. Don’t burn, but get in the sun so you can have vitamin D for strong bones!
“NO” grain-based (this includes white flour) processed foods or snacks.
I hate to sound absolute, because rarely am I an absolutist in any area of my life, but limiting processed foods is a very important point; they usually are made from grains. Do NOT eat or feed your kids grain-based processed snacks and foods as routine nutrition. WORK HARD TO LIMIT THEM!
These include: Cliff bars, Nutri Grain bars, Rice Chex, Corn Chex, Cheerios, Pop Tarts, bagels, granola bars, bread, buns, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, and please help me name some more so moms can raise their awareness that these foods are “bad!” (Again, I hate to use the word “bad,” because I am not a black and white thinker, but it’s that important to me that you understand!) These foods can decrease the absorption of calcium and other bone-healthy minerals! They also replace vitamin and mineral-rich vegetables, fruits, meat, nuts, and beans as food sources, because they are so cheap and so easy. Since these grain-based processed foods have become staples in people’s diets, it’s no wonder our bones are soft.
Do not rely on milk for calcium and vitamin D.
Make an effort to eat vegetables rich in calcium, like broccoli, arugula, and kale. Eat fish for vitamin D. Americans eat (drink) lots of dairy (particularly milk) fortified with vitamin D, and it is not decreasing osteoporosis or hip fracture rates. Something is wrong with our dairy picture. I don’t know what it is.
All I know is that despite the theoretical idea that our dairy consumption should be working to decrease hip fractures, the dairy we Americans rely on for bone health is not working. So use most dairy as a treat and to make your food taste better, but make it a point to get your calcium and vitamin D from other sources too! Please.
Doctors need to start talking about vitamin K2 and people need to start getting it.
There’s a vitamin that you will hear more about over the years, and I hope as people start making it a point to eat sources with it, that it does help toward improving bone quality. It’s called vitamin K2, and it helps vitamin D and calcium do their jobs properly, which you know helps bone strength. It’s not the same as vitamin K1 (in green vegetables); it has different effects. You can get it in liver; egg yolks; some hard, aged cheeses; and some fermented foods. Please learn about vitamin K2 and find out how you can incorporate foods with it into your diet.
We are what we eat, and studies show increasing rates of hip fractures and osteoporosis. Alarmingly, my husband comes home from a surgical day and shares with me that he is now operating on healthy young athletes with weak, soft bones. This shouldn’t be. Please, I beseech you! Look at your lifestyle and your food. Let’s work together to reverse this health crisis in our nation. It’s not up to doctors or the government. It’s up to you! And I believe in you! I know you can do it! I know we can do it together! It’s a trickle effect.
“They” told you to eat low fat and skip egg yolks. “They” tell you to not go outside without sunscreen. “They” shorten or eliminate recesses from kids’ schedules. Listen. You know what you need to do. Eat real, whole food, including eggs and diverse, unprocessed cheeses that you like and tolerate. Stay away from anything that you don’t make at home. Move. Get outside. Smile. Laugh. Forgive.
You want to be healthy. You want kids to be healthy. The desire is there, now put the foundation under it! If you don’t, the scaffolding WILL crumble. In fact, it is crumbling, even now in our youth. Let’s get at it!