Feed Your Bones

By Ken Babal, CN Published in DRUM! Magazine's February 2010 Issue

Bone is not a hard and lifeless substance. It is living tissue that is continuously renewed throughout life, reaching peak mass around age 30. Later in life, bone tissue begins to break down faster than new bone can be formed due to an imbalance in bone remodeling.

Osteoporosis is a common but not inevitable disease that occurs around age 50, most often in postmenopausal women but also in significant numbers of men. Features of the disease are bone thinning and brittleness, causing fractures, gum and jaw loss, dowager’s humps, back pain, and loss of height.

Achieving optimal peak bone mass as a young adult is important for reducing the risk of osteoporosis later in life. Irrespective of age, three critical factors must be addressed to protect skeletal health throughout life. The bone-building trinity consists of 1) weight-bearing exercise, 2) hormone balance, and 3) proper diet and supplementation.

A diet that is unbalanced and acid forming causes calcium to be leached from the bones in order to neutralize the acid. The typical American diet, which is high in meats and refined carbohydrates and low in vegetables and fruits, is highly acid forming.

Most people know that calcium is important for strong bones. While it is true that calcium is required in larger amounts than most other minerals, an array of nutrients are essential for directing the calcium into bone tissue. If they are in short supply, healthy bone-building will not occur and calcium may deposit inappropriately in soft tissues such as skin, arteries, muscles, and kidneys. Important bone-builders include magnesium, boron, and vitamins D and K.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are required for hormone production. Like vitamins, the body requires these healthy fats on a daily basis. Best sources are fish, nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, and oils. They’re also necessary for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Studies suggest that EFAs enhance calcium absorption and improve bone strength.

Bone loss caused by inactivity is evident in people who are bedridden as well as in astronauts experiencing zero gravity. Just as a muscle gets bigger and stronger the more you use it, a bone gets stronger and denser when worked. Any exercise you do on your feet will help strengthen the skeleton.

Don’t let osteoporosis and fractures be your fate. Bone up on exercise and a healthy diet!