Even before I read it, I had the feeling that the article would annoy me. Featured in the January issue of Platinum magazine, it was called The Bare Bones. Would they be serving up the usual outdated and inaccurate information we’ve all heard so many times before, or would the features writers for this lifestyle magazine, aimed at women over 55 who want to make the most of every day, finally give us something closer to the truth, stepping outside the often-repeated dogma of vitamin D and calcium?
Sadly, it was the former. One page of the feature included “foods for strong bones”, so that is of course where my attention went immediately. Let’s look at the recommendations:
Drink more water. Avoid alcohol and canned fizzy drinks containing phosphoric acid. Excellent – we’re off to a great start.
Eat your vitamins. Foods containing vitamin D were recommended and their suggestions were fortified breakfast cereals, oily fish and egg yolks. Oops – bad idea. Breakfast cereals are a poor source of the minerals needed to build bone strength, and often contain significant amounts of sugar, which leaches calcium and magnesium out of the bones, raises cortisol levels, and in turn inhibits DHEA (a hormone involved in bone-building). You’ll find out more about this on page 50 of my 2015 book Love Your Bones. The value of any added vitamin D in cereals would be very limited in the face of these other onslaughts.
Oily fish and egg yolks are poor food choices for bone health. Oceanic pollution concerns with fish aside, these are both animal protein sources, which negatively impact bone health. A study as long ago as 1992, published in the journal Calcified Tissue International, indicated an association between animal protein consumption and hip fracture across several countries. Numerous other studies published more recently indicate that hip fracture is more common when the ratio of animal protein to plant protein consumption is higher. High protein diets are implicated in bone loss, but there is no risk association with diets high in plant protein – it’s only animal protein consumption that increases the risk. See pages 46 and 47 of Love Your Bones for more on this. Animal protein consumption, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, inhibits the production of a particularly active form of vitamin D, therefore negating the value of any vitamin D that you might have obtained via the oily fish and egg yolks. Fascinating stuff. I wonder if the features writers were aware of this?
Get your greens. Hooray! But not because of the bone-beneficial amounts of magnesium present in the greens. Oh no, magnesium was not even mentioned. it was all about calcium, which is arguably significantly less important than magnesium for bone health. Greens were cited as a source of calcium, and other sources of calcium were listed as dairy products, fish and bread. Hang on a minute – why not focus on the greens?
Double up on dairy. Who writes this stuff? How many years have to pass before people start taking notice of the fact that countries with the highest dairy consumption have the highest incidence of osteoporosis and hip fractures? 20 years ago a large-scale international study indicated the link between dairy product consumption and hip fracture. Why are “experts” still ignoring this? Other studies show that whilst dairy-consumers may on average have denser bones on X-ray than dairy-avoiders, this does not protect them against fractures. The article stated “milk and cheese are rich in both calcium and protein, essential for improving bone health.” See above regarding animal protein – it’s detrimental to bone health. As for calcium, it’s just not that relevant for bone health in comparison with the minerals magnesium, boron, strontium and silica, as you’ll find out in Chapter 8 of Love Your Bones, starting on page 67. The conclusion of the authors of a study published in Pediatrics in 2005, following extensive review of the literature, is as follows: “Scant evidence supports nutrition guidelines focused specifically on increasing milk or other dairy product intake for promoting child and adolescent bone mineralisation.” Other studies indicate that the same applies to senior populations. After having been practically force-fed dairy products as a child, which did nothing but aggravate my dairy-induced severe eczema, I am so pleased that I eliminated them at the age of 15.
At the end of the feature, we have the “case study” of a 65 year old lady called Christine who managed to reverse some of the osteoporotic features of her DEXA scan. She was told to increase dairy, which she reports to have struggled with since she is not a fan (sensible lady!). She has made many other lifestyle changes including weight training, which to be fair, has probably made the greatest difference in her case. But as I say to everyone, there is no “one thing”. If you truly want to tackle the multi-faceted disease processes of osteopenia and osteoporosis, you have to look at all the aspects that make a difference.
You don’t have to struggle with this. I have done all the leg-work and meticulous research for you. Heck, I have even put 100 recipes in my book Love Your Bones. Because your bones, just like the rest of your body, deserve love and attention. And, to the features writers of Platinum magazine, this means (according to the best research studies we currently have on this debilitating condition) ignoring the outdated dogma that still pervades in the medical establishment, and writing about the things that will make a positive difference. It means avoiding dairy products and animal protein, as well as heeding the many other recommendations that you’ll find in Love Your Bones. Please invest in your bone health and read my book, even if you have to borrow it from the library or from a friend. Sermon over.