The word ‘osteoporosis’ means ‘porous bone.’ It is a disease that weakens bones, and if you have it, you are at a greater risk for sudden and unexpected bone fractures. Most of these are fractures of the hip, wrist and spine.Definition provided by The Cleveland Clinic
In 2012 I had my diseased thyroid surgically removed, so now I rely on levothyroxine for thyroid hormone replacement. A little known potential consequence of taking this medication is osteoporosis. Additionally, I am a post menopausal woman. So when the results of my first bone scan showed osteoporosis, I was not surprised. In fact, I swear I could actually feel it in my hips and spine, and it also showed in my slouch.
My doctor told me at age 53 I had the bones of an 80 year old. Interestingly, my mother, who was 86 was told she had the bones of a 50 year old. I had to fix this.
I was offered the obligatory prescriptions, like Boniva and Fosamax. But after careful consideration and seeing all the unwanted side effects and warnings, I decided to tackle my porous bones through diet and exercise.
With the guidance of my physician, who specializes in functional medicine, I started reading about osteoporosis on reputable internet sites. I like to use National Institutes of Health (NIH), Harvard School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic, for starters.
Food as Medicine
For most of my adult life, my diet consisted mainly of the wheat-based carbs and overly processed fast foods that make up the Standard American Diet (SAD). Now I follow the works of Dr. Mark Hyman MD, a functional medicine pioneer and author of Food, What the Heck Should I Eat. He also hosts a weekly podcast called the Doctor’s Farmacy, which I highly recommend if you are interested in improving your overall health and well-being by simply making healthier food choices.
Dark leafy greens – eureka! I was in luck! I love spinach, kale, fennel, arugula and (my favorite) broccoli. These are all good non-dairy options for getting the nutrients needed to build and maintain strong bones.
Macadamia nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds contain calcium, magnesium, zinc and other essential nutrients for strengthening bones.
Sweet potatoes offer magnesium and potassium. Both are nutrients that help grow strong bones.
Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit have vitamin C, which is connected to bone health.
Salmon is a great source for non-dairy calcium and also provides omega three fatty acids. Eggs are no longer taboo, so indulge!
Excessive caffeine, soft drinks and alcohol should be avoided, as they interfere with optimal absorption and metabolism of the nutrients needed for maintaining good bone health. This is a hard one for me. I love my coffee and my wine.🍷
Calcium has long been considered the hallmark for building and maintaining strong bones. I get enough calcium in my diet and I do not take this supplement. However, magnesium and vitamin D3 play a vital role in helping the calcium get into the bones.
Magnesium and vitamin D3 deficiencies are both common in the Standard American Diet (SAD). I take supplements for both.
Vitamin D3 is created through exposure to sunlight. This is why it is also called the sunshine vitamin. Those of us who live so far away from the equator are more likely to suffer from low vitamin D3, especially during the winter months, when sunlight exposure is not available. What we can’t get through sunlight, we have to get through diet and supplements.
Vitamin C – it’s best if you can get this in food form, but grapefruit interacts with my thyroid replacement medicine and oranges have too much sugar, causing a spike in my blood glucose levels. So I take a vitamin C supplement.
Note: calcium interacts with my thyroid medication, so I make sure I eat calcium-rich foods several hours after my levothyroxine dose.
The term “weight-bearing” is key. These are exercises that use your legs and feet to support your weight. This type of exercise stimulates bone growth. Swimming and bicycling are not considered to be weight-bearing. Here are a few of my favorite weight-bearing activities:
Walking/jogging. My daily walks are accompanied by short periods of what I joyfully call my “old lady shuffle,” which is a very slow and easy jog. Walking outdoors in the sunshine is best. I try to get at least 10,000 steps throughout the course of each day.
Sometimes I stomp my feet or march in place. Jumping jacks are also good for keeping your bones healthy. I occasionally use a 1980s style stepper that my sister was going to throw out.
I also do modified push-ups to strengthen my wrists and arms.
Mini-trampoline. I keep this in front of my TV and use it when I watch my favorite shows.
*I can’t stress enough that my intake of nutritional supplements and exercises are closely followed by my physician, through regular office visits and labs tests. Do not follow my dietary advice and physical activities without first consulting your physician.*
My strategy so far is working. I get tested every two years and I went from full-blown osteoporosis to osteopenia (a condition of reduced bone mass), to normal bones for my age (60). Again, I need to stress that this is what is working for me, and it’s not for everyone.
If you are a post menopausal woman age 50 or older, talk to your physician about getting a baseline bone scan now. Do not wait until you break a hip and suffer dire consequences. I am living proof that osteoporosis can be reversed without using expensive prescription drugs with consequential side effects.
Thank you for reading! – Barb, the River Blogger (Btrb)
Feel free to reblog anything I post. I welcome all comments and discussion.