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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What you can do about weak bones (osteoporosis/osteopaenia)

How come he's got such strong bones?
"Two Auckland clinical researchers say there is no scientific evidence to support the use of Vitamin D and calcium supplements for osteoporosis, and yet doctors continue to prescribe them, and academics and advocacy groups promote them. Auckland University Associate Professors Andrew Grey and Mark Bolland have just had a paper published in the British Medical Journal.
In it, they say that 32 out of 38 clinical trials of calcium and/or Vitamin D reported no health benefit in the use of the supplements for managing osteoporosis, in fact, they can cause harm. Andrew Grey discusses their research."
For me, reports like these are vindication for what I have been saying over and over again for the last 10 years but far too late with much unnecessary harm done to countless people: 

Here's the podcast which is well worth listening to:

However, I was deeply disappointed that the specialist being interviewed, Andrew Grey, had little in the way of alternatives for listeners who have concerns about their bone health, other than to take bisphosphonate drugs!  He should have informed listeners that there are thousands of lawsuits before the US courts right now, alleging irreparable harm from taking these drugs.

In my opinion, this class of drug has horrific side effects and should be reserved for bone cancer and little or nothing else.
It's not satisfactory to leave people high and dry, especially when there are very healthy things that one can do to build and maintain strong bones regardless of age.  
The usual and most undesirable progression of osteoporosis

Here is what I recommend, but first some obvious and very commonsense statements and reasoning:

Taking more calcium does not build stronger bones!

In fact, increasing one's calcium intake may actually make bones weaker and drive the processes of arteriosclerosis.  
I have also warned continuously of the dangers of megadosing with vitamin D and written many articles on the subject but these warnings have been largely ignored:

Too much Vitamin D drives calcium out of the bones and into the blood where it causes havoc with health

The mistakes being made by clinicians, including doctors and nutritionists is this:

If a little is good for you, then a whole lot more is even better!

You do not have to be in possession of a university degree to understand that this kind of reasoning is deeply flawed.
Let's concentrate this article on calcium.

Every nutrient has a "Goldilocks zone" - not too much and not too little.  This even applies to water.  Did you know that more people die from drinking too much water during sporting events than drinking too little?  Calcium is not an exception to the Goldilocks rule of nutrition.
I have now tested the nutritional status of more than a thousand New Zealanders.  I can tell you that at least 80% of these people benefit from having less total dietary calcium - not more.
Example of excess tissue calcium (Ca), leading to extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, weight gain and arthritis.

Think of yourself as being like a beautiful flowering pot plant that is becoming diseased and wilted from months of neglect.  What do you do to restore that plant to flowering beauty?

  • Do you swamp it with a month's worth of water, then leave it for a month?
  • Do you give it a year's worth of fertiliser in one hit?

Of course not!  This is what a wise gardener does:

  • She carefully re-pots the plant in fresh compost and potting mix.
  • She adds a carefully balanced fertiliser and replenishes this each week.
  • She keeps the soil moist with gentle watering each day.
  • She places it in the sun and out of the wind.
  • She sings to it!

 Do the same to yourself.

Questions for which the answers are so obvious as to be ridiculous to ask them in the first place:

"If the main ingredient in a cake is flour, then do you make a better cake by doubling the amount of flour, while not proportionally increasing all the other ingredients?"

Of course not - you will end up with a horrible mess!

"If the main ingredient of concrete is sand, then do you make stronger concrete by throwing in whole lot more sand?"

Of course not - your construction will collapse!

The way to make a better cake or stronger concrete is to ensure the ingredients are of the highest quality and perfectly measured according to the recipes.

"If New Zealand has one of the highest dietary intakes of calcium in the world, then how come it also has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis?"

I will not even bother to answer that last question.  But I challenge you to ask your doctor or nutritionist to explain that one!

My partner, Alofa, is Samoan.  If you look at Samoans and Tongans who live in the islands and follow their traditional lifestyles, did you know that they have the strongest bones of any race?  My challenge for you is this:

"Can you identify where the calcium is in their traditional diets?"

You can't:  There is hardly any calcium in the traditional Pacific diets.  On the other hand, their diets are rich in dozens and dozens of minerals (including some calcium), especially minerals like iodine, potassium and phosphorus from reef foods.  Coconut is consumed in every meal.  Coconut is rich in potassium and saturated fats (we are being told by health experts to avoid these fats, which I think is wrong).

Calcium is but one mineral of over 50 that are found in strong healthy bones

The key to building and maintaining strong bones is to supply all the building blocks needed by the body to build healthy bones - not just one or two (in this case calcium and vitamin D).  This means a diet that is nutrient-dense with minerals, vitamins, protein and a wide range of unprocessed fats and oils, including saturated fats.

My recommendations for building and maintaining strong, healthy bones

My Mother, Maisie

Reduce high calcium foods and avoid calcium supplements

This means reading the labels of all the processed foods, looking for added calcium.  You'll be surprised at how much calcium is added to our food.  Such has been the effectiveness of the pro-calcium message that extra calcium sells!  

Obvious foods to avoid are cheese, milk and yoghurt, especially ones that have been calcium-fortified.  Many milk substitutes, such as soy milk, have added calcium.

If you want to have some milk, have the full cream versions (silver top) which also happen to be rich in the fat-soluble vitamins (more about these later).

If you have any doubts about your need to reduce calcium, please order a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis here:

This test uses the same technology as on the Mars Rover for assaying Mars rock and soil.  It is very accurate and a gold mine of nutritional and health information.

Take no more than 1-2,000 IU of natural Vitamin D3 per day

This applies if you are not out in the sun that day.  Ensure the vitamin is D3 and not D2.  In most cases, unless testing says otherwise, 1,000 IU per day of vitamin D is usually sufficient.  It is not the big dose that works the health magic, it's being consistent with small amounts on a daily basis over a long time that makes a healthy difference.

Review any medication you are taking

Many drugs, especially those for asthma, inflammation, pain, reflux, heart problems and blood pressure may drive osteoporosis as if it were on steroids!  

Talk to your doctor.  Do you really have to be taking this, or that drug?  By the way, if you deal with the root causes of ill health and not merely symptoms, then there are very few medical conditions and drugs that require medication for life.  But don't just stop taking your medication - talk to your doctor first - ensure your health and safety are covered.

Generously salt your food with a multi-mineral salt

If you go back and look at the hair tissue chart above, you will see that this person is very low in cellular sodium (Na) and potassium (K).  For the majority of people I have tested, they actually need more salt - not less.  The low salt message for preventing high blood pressure simply does not apply to them.  The majority of people tested.

Having said this, we must make a distinction between refined salt which is pure sodium chloride (NaCl) and the salt that civilisation was built upon - natural multi-mineral salt that contains as many as 80 different minerals of which sodium is but one.  These minerals are essential for building strong bones and health in general.  Symptoms of a low salt intake include; fatigue, low blood pressure, confusion, muscle weakness and osteoporosis.

Unless you have a hair tissue test showing the opposite, there is about an 80% probability that you will benefit from increasing your intake of natural multi-mineral salt.

There are a number of multi-mineral salts on the market, such as pink Himalayan salt.  Reduce refined salt by avoiding commercial salted foods, including fast foods, then be generous with the natural multi-mineral salt.

Ensure there is a variety of protein in each main meal

Bone is more than calcium and a whole lot of other minerals.  You need protein for strong bones.  

You can't store protein like you can store fat and sugar.  If you do not have enough coming through your diet right then for tissue repair, hormones, growth and so on, you will have to scavenge from lean tissue which means you'll end up getting weaker - not stronger as time passes.

Please ensure you have a wide variety of protein from sources such as poultry, fish, red meat, organ meat, whole grains, beans and nuts.  
You can fortify your diet with delicious protein smoothies which are ideal for vegetarians:

Get into making delicious, nutritious bone broth soups

This is very obvious advice that you can't thank Grandma for.  Here's an article which explains it well:

Eat two fresh eggs daily

Eggs are a real superfood.  Ignore what has been said in the past about eggs and cholesterol.  You can eat at least 4 eggs a day and be healthier for doing so.

Eggs are rich in everything you need to be healthy and vigorous.  In particular, they are rich in the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).  You will realise that all of these are essential for building healthy bones as well as for beautiful hair skin and nails - even good eyesight!

Make your goal to have 2 eggs per day but on one condition and that it that the yolk is always runny.  Don't damage all those delicate nutrients found in the yolk by over-heating them!

Ensure there are a wide range of fats and oils in your diet

Yes!  As I have been saying: Bones are complex and made up of a lot more than calcium alone.  Your body needs a rich supply of a whole 

Be sparing with refined carbohydrates, especially simple sugars

Take a high-quality nutrition supplement that is rich in the fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins

Ensure your diet is rich in antioxidants

Exercise daily

This can include walking, gardening and dancing.

Other than these, there is one exercise to do each day: this is the "Lift and Press".

Illustrations from Gary Moller's book, "Back Pain - a guide to treatment and exercise"
You do not need heavy weights which can be as simple as a couple of plastic milk bottles with water or sand in them.  Lift from the ground, smoothly reaching to a stretch above the head.  Lower slowly and repeat ten times.  Do this once a day in combination with other exercises such as walking and you have done sufficient to stimulate bone strengthening - so long as your diet is proving all the ingredients your bone cells need to build that new bone!

Got the idea?  Simple really and no drugs required.

Additional reading

"The Calcium Lie", by Dr Robert Thompson.  I have a few copies left of Dr Thompson's book left for $35 delivered free within New Zealand.  This book explains it all and is full of helpful dietary advice.  It is an engaging and easy read.  Email me if you want a Get in quick if you want one.

 About this website 
The advice in these articles is given freely without promise or obligation. Its all about giving you and your family the tools and information to take control of your health and fitness.

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