Monday, May 4, 2015

May Is Osteoporosis Awareness & Prevention Month: Tips For Stronger Bones

Happy Spring To Everyone!  The season of earth's awakening is upon us . . .  vibrant greens, shocking yellow jonquils and forsythia, warm breezes, and oh-so-vocal peepers peeping.  Mother Nature is indeed sounding her trumpet of things to come.  Spring has sprung - finally - up here in coastal Maine!  Always late to arrive in this part of the country, but when she does . . . she's awesome!  I think we appreciate it so much more here because our winters are so terribly long, frigid, dark, and dreary!

When you live in an environment that requires months of time spent indoors - away from the life-giving sunshine -  if you're a health-conscious person, you begin to wonder about how much vitamin D (aka the Sunshine Vitamin) you're NOT getting!  And if you aren't aware of why vitamin D (a fat-soluble vitamin) is necessary, then I'll give you one of the main reasons and focus on this today (since May is Osteoporosis Awareness & Prevention Month) . . . vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium (and other minerals) that are necessary for building strong bones.  You can obtain it via exposing your skin (sans sunscreen) to sunshine for 15 - 30 minutes per day where it is synthesized in the skin in response to exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays; and/or get it through your diet by eating plenty of organic egg yolks, shrimp, sardines, halibut, organic whole milk/yogurt/butter, fresh cod, salmon, bee pollen, royal jelly, fish liver oil, organic beef & chicken liver, and tuna;  fortified foods such as tofu, or soy, almond, coconut, or cashew milks; plus plant foods that include small amounts of vitamin D such as alfalfa, horsetail, nettle, parsley, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes. 

Vitamin D2 and D3 supplements can be taken, but obtaining your daily intake is best via sunshine or food, if possible.  Make sure you ingest between 600-1,000 IU per dayIf you live up north, like I do, work inside all day and rarely go outside, wear sunscreen ALL the time, have dark skin, have digestive disorders or food sensitivities that prevent you from eating some vitamin D-rich foods, or are vegan/vegetarian, then you may need supplementation.  Be sure to talk to your health care provider about this serious issue and do some research yourself.  "Bone up" on the importance of vitamin D.  I suggest having a blood test done to see if you are deficient.  Many times, this test is covered by health insurance.

Today, I'd like to share with you some interesting information about Osteoporosis . . . some facts that might surprise you, some facts you probably know, and some nutritional tips to help you get more calcium and other minerals in your diet.  Plus, I'd like to let you know that I have joined efforts with the American Recall Center www.recallcenter.com who have made it their mission to share the information for Osteoporosis Awareness & Prevention Month.  The American Recall Center is HONcode verified, they focus on patient safety, and aspire to educate others about healthy living.  I take a very personal interest in the Center's mission as I had a total left hip replacement in 2013 (as a result of two painful falls that I took down my home stairs in the winter of 2012).  I'm ultra mindful of the wear-and-tear that can occur to my replacement device as well as being proactive with regard to the maintenance of my bone health as I age.

Poster credit:  http://www.recallcenter.com/resources/

Here's a link to an article - "64 Interesting Facts About Osteoporosis" that I'm sure you'll find rather educational . . . it's a bit long, but enlightening:  facts.randomhistory.com/osteoporosis-facts.html

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease, is a chronic disorder characterized by degeneration of joint cartilage and adjacent bone that can cause pain, stiffness, localized soft tissue swelling, redness, heat, inflammation, and decreased movement of the joint.  It is the most common joint disorder and affects many people to some degree by the age of 70.  It also affects almost all animals with a backbone, even fish, but 2 animals that don't develop it are sloths and bats - both of which hang upside down.  Interesting!  Inversion boots, anyone?

Treatment can include appropriate, low-impact exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, such as yoga and Pilates, plus a daily gentle walk or swim, in order to help increase a joint's range of motion, maintain healthy cartilage, and strengthen surrounding muscles so that they better absorb shock.  Application of heat to the joint, very warm baths, and dressing properly to avoid chill are also beneficial.

On a dietary note, many people find significant relief from the severity of arthritic flare-ups when they eliminate the eight foods most likely to cause food sensitivities:  wheat, soy, dairy, chocolate, eggs, peanuts, refined sugar, and corn.  These foods, which we modern folk eat far too often and in too great a quantity, often can result in bloating, inflammation, pain, fatigue, stiffness, and myriad other uncomfortable symptoms.  A blood test can determine if you do indeed have food sensitivities or allergies.  The addition of probiotics, gamma-linolenic acid from evening primrose oil or borage oil, and omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseeds, walnuts, fish, or chia seeds can help ease inflammation, as can eating a predominately vegetarian diet.  Chlorella and spirulina, single-cell algae's, are wonderful dietary additives as they are both rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, omega-3's, and contain potent anti-inflammatory properties.

A holistic physician, naturopath, herbalist, massage therapist, or acupuncturist may be of therapeutic assistance, if need be.  Topically-applied herbal remedies can also deliver comfort, easing the pain and other unwelcome symptoms that accompany the disease.  You can find some wonderful DIY remedies in my book, "Hands-On Healing Remedies: 150 Recipes for Herbal Balms, Salves, Oils, Liniments & Other Topical Therapies" (c2012, Storey Publishing).

Here's a yummy, healthy "protect your bones" candy recipe I'd like to share with you that is chock full of vitamins B & E, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, natural sugars, protein, healthful fat, and fiber . . . it's called:

Sesame Calcium Chews

Regular consumption of this mildly sweet, raw candy will lend a glow to your hair, skin, and nails, replenish your core energy reserve, or ojas, and strengthen your bones.

Ingredients:

- 20 small dried, Black Mission figs
- 1 cup raw sesame seeds, hulled or unhulled
- 2 tablespoons raw honey
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, finely shredded

Directions:

1.  Remove the stems from the figs.  Soak the figs for 4 hours in enough purified water to cover by 1 inch.  Drain.  Reserve the chilled soak water to drink later for a refreshing treat.

2.  Put the figs, sesame seeds, honey, and salt in a food processor and blend for 20 to 30 seconds.  Remove the lid and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Replace the lid and blend again until a moist, slightly sticky, granular dough forms, about 10 seconds.

3.  Scrape the dough into a medium bowl.  Put the coconut in another medium bowl.

4.  Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter.  Toss the balls in the coconut to coat.  

5. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.  The chews are delicious eaten right out of the freezer.

Yield:  25 to 30 balls 

You can find this recipe in my book, "Raw Energy: 124 Raw Food Recipes for Energy Bars, Smoothies, and Other Snacks to Supercharge Your Body" (c2009 Storey Publishing).
 

If you'd like to drink your "bone-building nutrition", then here's a fabulous recipe that can be blended up in a snap and it's a fabulous source of blood-building iron and chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins B, C, and K, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur, other trace minerals, tryptophan, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, natural sugars, and fiber . . . it's called:

Banana-Kale Sweet-n-Smoothie
I've downed a lot of really bad kale smoothies in my time, but this is one of the first kale smoothies I ever made of which I could actually say that I enjoyed the flavor.  Kale is a strong-tasting, sulfurous, leafy green and can easily overwhelm the flavor of a smoothie if not blended with the right "masking" fruit - just a simple banana does the trick.  This pale green beverage is wonderful for nourishing strong hair, nails, bones, and radiant skin and promoting bowel regularity.  Due to the duo's stabilizing effect on the nervous system, it is the perfect balancing drink for those who tend to be hyperactive.

Ingredients:

- 1 1/2 cups purified water
- 2 cups baby kale leaves, packed
- 1 large or 2 medium bananas, peeled, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil, unfiltered preferred
- Pinch of sea salt 

Directions:

1.  Place the water, kale, banana, flaxseed oil, and salt into a blender and blend on high until the kale leaves are completely liquefied, about 30 seconds.

2.  Serve immediately.  This blend contains a moderate amount of natural sugars and fiber, so sip slowly, and delight in the silky green smoothness. 
 
Yield:  2 servings

You can find this recipe in my book, "Raw Energy In A Glass: 126 Nutrition-Packed Smoothies, Green Drinks, and Other Satisfying Raw Beverages to Boost Your Well-Being" (c2014 Storey Publishing).



NOTE:  This blog was written by Stephanie Tourles; portions were adapted from her books, "Raw Energy" (c2009 Storey Publishing), "Hands-On Healing Remedies" (c2012 Storey Publishing), and "Raw Energy In A Glass" (c2014 Storey Publishing).  The information in this article is true and complete to the best of Ms. Tourles' knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles.  She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information, it is for educational purposes only.



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