Are you one of the many worried people who would like to know how to best prevent the onset of an early bone disorder, or even stop the progression of one you suspect is already happening? Maybe, like me, you’re not too excited about exercise, beyond taking long, healthy walks, but warnings that you must lift weights, do yoga, or join your local exercise club have moved you to engage in some of the more popular exercises while hating every minute of it!
Many of us have been convinced by popular health magazines, websites, and even our own medical doctors that if we do certain types of exercises and take the best calcium supplements (even if they are just indigestible forms of calcium rather than whole food supplements), we’ll build strong bones and avoid dreaded bone disorders. Now, I ask you: is this really the best we can do?
Let me be clear: yes, exercise is important. But because this recommendation is what we hear most, I thought to present a more nutritional, holistic view of a relatively complex subject.
I sought out Joseph Antell, one of our well-studied Standard Process mentors, to explain some of the more difficult components of bone health that many of us find hard to understand. It’s my hope that by studying and following this information, we can start right now to build strong bones or help prevent further bone deterioration if it’s already started.
Allow me then to share some of my conversation with Joseph. I also add my own nutritional insights to get you started on your own journey to save your bones.
Dispelling the Myth that Aging Has Nothing to Do with Bone Health
Joseph tells me that as holistic practitioners we must first and foremost teach our clients that everyone is subject to some form of bone degeneration as they age. No ifs, ands, or buts about it! The sooner we accept that it’s part of the aging process, the better we will cope with the changes.
My objective then is to suggest ways to help us do the following three things:
- Learn the best food source of a very special enzyme critical to bone health.
- Learn what raw materials we need to support bone health.
- Learn the ideal support foods for bone health.
With those three objectives in mind, let’s explore two of the more devastating bone disorders: osteopenia and osteoporosis. We will address arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in another article.
The Two Most Prominent Bone Disorders
Osteopenia refers to bone density that is lower than normal peak density, but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis. Bone density is a measurement of how dense and strong the bones are. If yours is low compared to normal peak density, you are said to have osteopenia. As time passes, you are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a disorder in which the bones become increasingly porous, brittle, and subject to fracture, owing to loss of calcium and other mineral components. The condition sometimes results in pain, decreased height, and skeletal deformities. Common in older persons, primarily postmenopausal women, but also associated with long-term steroid therapy and certain endocrine disorders.
An Amazing Fact
An astounding bit of information I learned in my conversation with Joseph Antell is that osteoporosis was unknown before milk pasteurization! Until then Americans had access to raw milk and cheese—and they even ate raw meat and organs at times. Today, the false narrative is “eat plenty of dairy products for bone health.”
But here’s a fact for you: the enzyme alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is critical in the formation of strong, rigid bones and teeth. ALP causes calcium to bond with bone. But pasteurization destroys the ALP enzyme present in milk! This is why raw milk and cultured dairy foods are your best source of ALP and calcium—they provide ALP and calcium all in one package.
Cultured dairy products made from raw milk, including kefir, yogurt, and raw milk cheese, also contain higher concentrations of calcium than uncultured milk because culturing turns the liquids into solids.
Unfortunately, these raw foods are nearly impossible to buy in a store. But they’re easy to make! I demonstrate just how easy on my Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD.
Now, let’s take a look at the raw materials needed for bone health.
Spring Water (Fluoride Free)
Water is the main constituent of the human body: it makes up about 60 percent of body weight in adult males and 50–55 percent in females (due to their higher proportion of body fat). The muscles and the brain are about 75 percent water; the blood and the kidneys are about 81 percent; the liver is about 71 percent; the bones are about 22 percent; and adipose tissue is about 20 percent.
Minerals (Calcium and Magnesium)
I have to admit that even I—as a newly certified nutritionist—went along with the idea that calcium is calcium is calcium, but that’s far from the truth. Bone is a dynamic living tissue that is constantly being broken down and rebuilt, so of course it requires calcium bicarbonate, the most absorbable calcium, in a 5:1 ratio with magnesium.
Calcium bicarbonate is the type most easily absorbed by the body, but it’s only available in spring water. That’s why I personally use, and of course recommend, Standard Process Calcium Lactate. It’s as close as we can get to calcium bicarbonate. In fact, calcium lactate changes into calcium bicarbonate in just one step! It’s also an easily ionized source of those same minerals. “Ionized” simply means to be wholly or partly converted into ions. This gives an electrical charge to the item being ionized. The ionization of minerals makes them functional in the tissues. (Read more on the best calcium rich foods in my post “Let’s Take a Closer Look at Calcium.”)
Protein, Collagen, and Amino Acids
In terms of importance, the protein we eat is even more vital than calcium, according to Joseph Antell. The reason being is that calcium needs to be able to attach to what is called the collagen matrix in order to build healthy bone. It’s therefore imperative that, in addition to getting the most absorbable sources of calcium, we must make eating protein (of which collagen is a vital part) a priority on a daily basis. I highly recommend the book Nourishing Broth to anyone looking to understand the importance of broths in making collagen. Also read my blog post “Help! My Body Is Getting Flabby” (scroll to the bottom of the post and read the section on “The Collagen Connection”).
Amino acids are the next most vital component of proteins. There are 22 amino acids, and according to Joseph Antell, the body must have all 22 in order to do what he terms “completing the job.” Unfortunately, 8 essential amino acids are potentially destroyed with heat. At only 110°F (approximately 43°C), 2 of the 8 essential amino acids, tryptophan and lysine, are destroyed. When food is cooked above 117°F for only 3 minutes, deleterious changes begin and progressively cause increased nutritional damage as temperatures are increased or applied over prolonged periods of time.
OK, you may be asking, “But will I now need to eat all my meat raw?” I chuckled as it was not a pretty picture when I imagined myself taking a bit of a raw chicken breast! Meat, after all, is a huge portion of our diet. Under the “Ideal Support Foods” section below, I hope I can shed some more light on this issue.
Estrogen Receptor Sites
The last vital component we discussed are estrogen receptor sites (ERS), which are responsible for stimulating bone growth. (The more scientific-minded can click here to read more about ERS.) In simpler terms, our discussion focused on the importance of keeping the endocrine system healthy because this also addresses the health of the estrogen receptor sites. See supplementation below to support the ERS/endocrine system. A normal healthy diet such as the one I advocate below also has the foods that are best suited for supporting the endocrine system.
What We’ve Learned
By now you’re aware that exercise (important as it is), along with just about any good sounding calcium, isn’t enough to protect you from developing a bone disorder.
We may not be able to—or even want to—commit to making our diet as superior as we know it should be. However, even a small change will prove beneficial, so please don’t get discouraged. Just do the best you can with the information you’re now getting.
I would like to add that it’s easier to transition into a healthy eating mode while incorporating whole food supplements should you need them than to see your body gradually disintegrate! Please, think about that.
Ideal Support Foods
I’m a strong advocate of the Wise Traditions diet philosophy espoused by Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Additionally, I endorse taking the same supplements recommended by Joseph Antell (see below). And for anyone who may want to explore the superior health benefits of raw meats and fish, I’ve included a few good websites that may remove the “yuck factor.”
Several recipes on page 234 of Nourishing Traditions, including traditional Steak Tartare and Italian Raw Carpaccio might also be a great way to start. By all means buy this cookbook, and be sure to get started with my Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD (soon available on demand through Vimeo at Selene River Press). These are great resources that will help you learn all about the best foods to include on your bone building journey.
Raw Meat and Fish
“Enzymes are complex proteins that act as catalysts in almost every biochemical process that takes place in the body…the enzymes we need to consider when planning our diets are the third category, the food enzymes. These are present in ample amounts in many raw foods, and they initiate the process of digestion in the mouth and stomach.”
—Nourishing Traditions (Click here for the full post that cites this quote.)
Many people who promote eating raw meat have studied the works of Dr. Weston A. Price; they follow the work of Sally Fallon and Mary Enig or Aajonus Vonderplanitz; or they’re from Europe and they grew up eating steak tartare, carpaccio, and similar dishes. Many raw meat enthusiasts belong to the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation or the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Recommended Standard Process Whole Food Supplements
Note: The following is a full complement of important bone supplements. You may not need all of them, depending on your current diet and the state of your bone health. The best way to know which supplements are best suited for your condition is to visit a Standard Process practitioner.
- Ostrophin PMG: This bone protomorphogen provides a blueprint for regrowth. Promotes bone fracture repair and recalcification in dental disease and osteoporosis.
- Calcifood Powder: This cold process raw bone meal is a source of calcium and phosphorous, protein, and enzymes (all raw) and contains bone marrow.
- Calcium Lactate: The most absorbable form of ionizable calcium and magnesium in a 5:1 ratio. A nondairy product as it contains no whey or lactose, it’s safe for people allergic to milk products.
- Symplex M or Symplex F (male or female): A special formula containing protomorphogen extracts from bovine ovary, adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid glands. These unique nucleoprotein mineral extracts support endocrine cellular health and balance.
- Protefood: This special amino acid formulation provides the 8 essential amino acids as well as RNA (ribonucleic acid) to produce proper amino acid synthesis in the blood.
- Chlorophyll Complex: The only fat soluble form of chlorophyll in the world, this complex contains vitamin A, E, K, and F. Recommended by Joseph Antell along with Symplex F.
- Organically Bound Minerals: Excellent source of alkaline ash minerals, potassium, and magnesium. Supports parasympathetic nervous system and is an alkalizer, multi-mineral supplement.
Photo at top from iStock/Eraxion
Note from Maria: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor prior to following any recommendations I make in my blogs or on my website.