Category Archives: calcium myth

Healthy Bone Week: Bone Building Exercises

Strength training and muscle building through weight lifting.

We all know that exercise is essential for good health and mental agility. Is it no surprise that exercise is also good for the bones? Putting healthy amounts of exertion or weight upon your bones help build them and protect them from loss. What types of exercises can you do, right now, to help build your bones? Let’s find out.

If you are already suffering from bone loss, or you have osteoporosis, it is best to find out what your body can handle by talking to a trusted physician. The exercises mentioned here are for your research and knowledge, and it is up to you how you apply them to your own healthy lifestyle.

Squats

Squats allow your body weight, and any additional weight you apply to yourself, to be placed on your legs and thigh bones. Just a few reps of these and you will start to notice why these are bone strengthening. Your muscles, if you are not used to this type of exercise (and you haven’t properly warmed up by stretching) might feel sore after the first time with this exercise.

Fitness coach Darin Steen demonstrates a basic squat.

If you add a bar bell or some form of weight over your shoulders during this exercise, it will also help work your balance and inner stability and strength. This will also add more weight to the leg muscles and bones, to help strengthen and build them even more, as you go down.

Side Lunges

This form of exercise is also good for your leg muscles. You work each leg at different times, other than working both at the same time during squats. You could add light hand weights to this exercise to build the strength in your arms as well as your legs.

Place your feet side by side, feet wider than the hips, while lunging from right to left. Stay in each lunge for about 5-10 seconds, letting the majority of your body weight move into that lunging leg, with the other leg fairly straight. About 15 repetitions of each leg is ideal and can be accomplished by the majority of people.

Interval Cardio

This form of exercise is my absolute favorite. With interval training and cardio, you do bursts of intense activity, followed by short periods of rests. This maximizes your heart rate, and has been shown to be more effective at burning fat than regular long-endurance cardio sessions. You can achieve an hour’s worth of cardio in only 20-minutes if you use this exercise effectively.

In this video,  fitness coach Darin Steen explains the benefits of interval cardio.

Interval cardio is especially good at building muscles, because of the high intensity you are placing on your body during those short cardio bursts. Perhaps you are jumping up and down for 30 seconds, extremely fast, and then marching or jogging in place for the next 30 seconds for the break. With the jumping, you are providing fast muscle and bone movement and pressure, helping to build and strengthen the bones and muscles.

Yoga

I love yoga—not only for its relaxation abilities, but the feeling your body gets after stretching and elongating. It is almost like a form of meditation, in that it helps focus the mind, as well as strengthens it. It can also be a great bone building exercise.

Photo Courtesy InsidersPassport.com

With yoga, there are many side lunges, balancing postures and spine movements that all work with your own body weight, helping to strengthen and tone the entire body. Upward facing down can help strengthen and elongate the spine:

Photo Courtesy YogaJournal.com

Downard facing down can do the same thing, but will also provide weight bearing in your arms and legs, as well as toning the stomach:

Photo Courtesy YogaJournal.com

Triangle pose also works the leg muscles and bones by providing you with a good lunge. It also brings a twisting posture to your spine, allowing you to help build a flexible spine:

Photo Courtesy YogaJournal.com

You can find more yoga poses here.

Healthy Bone Drink

This drink you will see again near Halloween. Why? Because it is blood red! This is a preview for the next blog post, one that is CHOCK full of calcium, omega 3’s and vitamins K, C and A, nutrients that will help beautify and detoxify your body, as well as provide necessary ingredients to help your bones.

Healthy Bone Week, Day Two: Osteoporosis Drugs and Healthier Options

Drugs and Bone Health

Photo Courtesy ZDNet.com

If you have watched television in the last couple of years, or read a magazine or listened to the radio, you most certainly have noticed ads for osteoporosis drugs like Boniva or Fosamax. These advertisements are usually endorsed by a well known celebrity, and promise protection against fractures when diet and exercise are not enough.

However, there is a dark side to these drugs that these advertisements do not emphasize. Also, there is a wide body of research and scientists who are seriously scrutinizing the claims made by the drug companies who put out these osteoporosis pharmaceuticals. Things like rotting jaw, increased risk of bone fractures, eye problems and heart damage.

How Your Bones Work

Photo Courtesy BusinessWeek.com

This should have gone in Day 1 of “Health Bone Week”, but here it is all the same.

Your bones are dynamic structures composed of many different minerals which work together to support a strong system of your body’s structure. Your bones are constantly reconstructing themselves by removing unhealthy bone with brand new bone. Cells called osteoclasts are responsible for the breakdown of unhealthy bone, whereas the cells called osteoblasts are responsible for building new, healthy bone.

With osteoporosis drugs such as Boniva and Fosamax (which are known as bisphosphonates—chelating agents, their single phosphonate forms used also in detergents) bring the osteoclasts to kill themselves through what is known as apoptosis.

So, you have a drug which is killing cells that are naturally occurring to help break down unhealthy bone, leaving you with only the cells that are responsible for building new, denser bones. Sounds good? Well, many critics point out that just because a bone is getting denser, doesn’t necessarily mean it is stronger.

Osteoporosis Drug Side Effects

Photo Courtesy NoPrescriptionNeeded.com

The side effects of these osteoporosis drugs are just starting to show themselves after the few years they have been out on the market, in a number of ways. Because the bone isn’t being rebuilt and repaired from due to the absence of osteoclasts, there is an increased risk for fracture.

At the 2010 conference of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, health concerns of the long term use of bisphosphonate s presented a point of increased bone fractures in patients taking these osteoporosis drugs for over 4 years. The studies shown presented a link between bisphosphonate s and weaker bones. More studies are showing that the bone, which is becoming denser due to the killing of the osteoclasts cells, are becoming more brittle over time, leading to hip and femur fractures.

There are also many studies showing the link between these drugs and heart disease.

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine has shown that taking Fosamax, a popular bisphosphonate, increases the risk for stomach ulcers (2001). When taken with an anti-inflammatory drug, this risk is even greater.

The Journal of the American Dentistry published findings showing that bisphosphonates lead to a high risk of developing a disease of the jaw called osteonecrosis. This is where the bone in your jaw starts to die, and will then slowly rot! How scary is this?

More than 20 million people in America alone are taking osteoporosis drug medications, and that number is growing, despite the high amount of calcium intake and the advice of conventional medical doctors. What can we do to stop the number of people who are suffering, or will suffer from osteoporosis, and what can we do to reverse it, without taking drugs?

The Best “Cure” for Osteoporosis

Photo Courtesy Ayushveda.com

The only “cure” we know of for osteoporosis is complete prevention. If you believe you may be at risk, then it is time to take preventative action NOW. You don’t want to be frail, in poor health and succumb to premature death due to this disease. But sadly, that is what is happening to many people. Take charge of your health and take preventative action now.

The best things you can do for your bones are things you probably are already doing. A healthy diet, like the one highlighted in Healthy Bone Week Day One, will ensure you are receiving the proper nutrients and minerals for the support of building stronger bones. Nutrition is just one of the keys to good health—not only for your bones, but for overall health (mind, body and emotionally).

Exercise is another key to good health. Again, not only will it benefit the growth of new bone due to the intense pressure you are putting on it through walking, strength training or cardio (weight helps strengthen the bone and muscle), but it can help you lose weight, increase clairty and focus and fight mild depression. Exercise and nutrition are truly great things.

With exercise, it is always best to speak to a trusted doctor so that you can find out how far you can push yourself. If you are suffering from osteoporosis and are wanting to start an exercise program, you want to make sure how much pressure you can put on yourself. Over time, you will be able to build up the amount of intensity in your exercise program when your bones become stronger.

Vitamin D, a truly remarkable vitamin, is also an absolute necessity for good bone health. It helps facilitate the absorption of calcium in your system, and also helps in blood sugar metabolism (high insulin levels, over time, has been associated with an increase risk for bone loss).

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In Day Three of Healthy Bone week, I will describe certain exercises that can be done to help build stronger bones. Before then, read my blog post about exercise. There is quite a surprise in this post that you might not see coming, but may be incredibly helpful in strengthening bones and muscles. Stay tuned.

For now, this is The Healthy Advocate.

P.S. Be sure to check out this video that I did on eggshells and how you can use them in your diet for a bioavailble source of calcium. If you don’t consume dairy products, local, free range and organic egg shells may be a good option. You can also read the blog post about eggshells I did here.

Eggshells – A Bioavailable Source of Calcium

The Calcium “Myth”

Each and everyone of us have been told that we need calcium to build stronger bones, and this nutrient has been blasted on the airwaves, promoting the mass consumption of milk and dairy products. I do believe that raw dairy products are beneficial, but the conventional pasteurized dairy is what is being touted as the healthy source of our daily calcium, and this just isn’t true.

If you are only focusing on calcium for building strong bones, you are going to increase your risks for developing fractures and osteoporosis later on in your life. This is because many minerals work together synergistically to combine a strong support system for bone health and growth. Calcium is an important nutrient; however, there are minerals that are essential that you may be missing out on while only focusing on drinking your milk.

Get your bones in shape! Photo courtesy of TeamSugar.com

Bone Building Nutrients and Their Sources

Let’s look at the most important minerals and nutrients you need to grow stronger bones. Listen to that last part of the sentence–stronger bones, not just denser bones. Density and size of bone doesn’t always equal strength.

Incorporating these nutrients are quite easy to do, and do not provide much effort or money to place into your healthy lifestyle.

Vitamin D. I’ve written about Vitamin D before (specifically Vitamin D3), and you are probably already aware of the importance that Vitamin D has in our body. This vitamin is usually added to milk to fortify it, as it helps increase the absorption of calcium into our bodies. However, sometimes this is in the form of Vitamin D2, not D3 which is what you need, or even worse, it isn’t absorbable by the majority of your body.

I have a few plants growing outside, and they require sunlight at all times. Humans require sunlight as well; not as much as the plant kingdom, but it still provides this incredible vitamin for us when we expose our bare skin to it a few minutes a day. When sunlight hits our naked skin (meaning arms and legs and face uncovered–not necessarily your entire body, unless you have a private place to yourself…), it converts the cholesterol in our skin to Vitamin D and regulates over 3,000 genes in our body. It also helps facilitate and transport the calcium in our diet to the bones and muscles that need it.

Vitamin D can be found in food sources in small quantities, and also in supplement form. However, the best source is from the sunlight, and is completely free. Dr. Joseph Mercola, from Mercola.com, advises to go outside in the sun just until your skin turns a light shad of pink. This is when all the Vitamin D that your body can produce has been produced, and any more exposure to the sun can lead to free radical production and damage to your body. One food source of Vitamin D comes from egg yolk, which also provides a high quality protein.

Vitamin K. This vitamin is almost like Vitamin D, except it acts a “binder”, in a way, to help ‘insert’ the calcium that you take in from food sources into your bones. It is essential that you receive this vitamin in the forms of K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 is found in most green, leafy vegetables, and K2 is found in fermented foods raw, fermented dairy products (natto, kefir, yogurt, aged cheese). K2 is probably the most significant, whereas K3 (synthetic version) can have adverse health effects due to the likelihood of toxicity.

Protein. Most people believe that those who consume more protein will actually secrete it in their urine, and lead to the leeching of calcium from your bones. This is true, but increasing your levels of calcium intake, along with your protein intake, will compensate for the loss and help you build stronger bones. In the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was reported that those who consumed the most protein had a 7.5-8% higher bone mineral density and strength than those who consumed less. Today’s conventional animal protein (those that are NOT organic, do not have access to grass or free range) can challenge your body’s pH levels, leading to an acidic reaction in your body. This will steal important minerals from your bones. Therefore, when choosing an animal protein, be sure to try and get local, free range and preferably organic (if dairy, perhaps raw).

Folic Acid and B Vitamins. In The Journal of New England Medicine, they showed that increased intake of B vitamins in the diet led to lower homocysteine levels in the body. This hormone raises the risks of bone fractures. Good dietary sources include green vegetables, carrots, avocados, cantaloupe, apricots and almonds.

Omega 3 Fats. This fat, found primarily in fish, flax and chia seeds, has been shown to provide stronger bone density in a study recorded in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Exercise. Believe it or not, but this is an essential nutrient. We must all try to aim for as much physical exercise during our day unless we want our bodies to slowly rust. Numerous studies have shown that weight bearing exercises and resistance training can help build strong bones and protect bones from becoming thin and weak. Squats and weight training are very powerful sources of this nutrient.

Organic and free range eggs are the way to go.

Egg Shells as a Bioavailable Calcium Source

Even though calcium isn’t the only mineral we need for strong bones, it is an important nutrient to consume to ensure adequate protection of them. Eggshells are about 90-95% calcium carbonate, and is easily absorbable by our bodies, unlike most dairy products and fortified foods today. This is a completely safe and health source of calcium that anyone can incorporate into their diets.

Find a source of locally grown, free range and organic eggs. The likeliness that you contract salmonella from raw eggs and egg shells are actually quite low, and in fact decrease when choosing local, free range organic eggs. In fact, nutrient quality (such as omega-3 fatty acids) are much more available in these eggs, compared to ones you find at the store.

Use the eggs as you normally would, and instead of discarding the egg shells, run them under clean, cool water. Make sure to get all the egg white out of the egg shell. You can then boil the egg shell in hot water, if you feel as though you need to kill any bacteria, and then place it in a place to air dry. Then, using a blender or coffee grinder, pulverize the egg shell into a powder.

1/2 tsp. of dry, powered egg shell contains around 400 mg of calcium. The average person should consume around 1000 mg of calcium, which is easily done if you are eating a proper diet. A good source of calcium that is bioavailable, besides egg shells, include any green leafy vegetable, as well as sardines (which contain mercury, but not as much as other fish–consume with knowledge 1-2 times per week, unless you can find a source that tests mercury free).

Use 1/2 tsp. in drinks, smoothies, cereals, recipes, etc. Excessive intake of calcium can lead to muscle cramps, so be sure to eat a banana or a magnesium source food to negate these effects.

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Next post, I will discuss what you want to avoid at all costs if you are trying to protect or build your bones. Some fascinating bits of information you do not want to miss, so stay tuned for Thursday’s post.

For now, this is The Healthy Advocate.