Saturday, April 24, 2010

Osteoporosis: The Silent Disease - Part 3

This is Part 3 on the topic of osteoporosis. I want to tell you a bit about one of my favorite calcium / mineral-rich foods - sesame seeds - and why you should make them a part of your daily diet.

Sesame Seeds: The Tiny Yet Mighty, Tasty Seeds That Deliver A BIG Nutritional Punch!

Unless you regularly consume traditionally-made "halvah" - sesame seed candy, or "gomasio" - the toasted sesame seed / sea salt condiment, or drizzle sesame-garlic tahini salad dressing over your greens, the only time that you can probably remember eating sesame seeds is when you ate your last hamburger bun. Shame!

The tiny, oval, pale brown sesame seed delivers a big nutritional boost toward growing and maintaining healthy bones, teeth, hair, skin, and nails. This tasty seed is almost 19 percent protein and is richly endowed with B & E vitamins, calcium, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, phosphorus, and other trace minerals. Try to find unhulled, whole sesame seeds; these are darker in color and considerably richer in nutrients than their white, hulled cousins.

A good way to add sesame seeds to your diet is to replace peanut butter with organic, crunchy sesame butter. I prefer raw sesame butter, but the toasted variety is okay, too. Sometimes sesame butter is referred to as "tahini" or "sesame tahini". I also like to make sweet sesame snack balls by combining sesame butter with enough whole sesame seeds to form a stiff paste. Add raw honey to sweeten, then form into small balls about one-inch in diameter, and roll in unsweetened coconut shreds to coat. Refrigerate, then enjoy. Yum.

Benefits: If you eat 2 or 3 of these nutrient-dense, decadent treats each day, you may find that your PMS symptoms begin to diminish, a calm demeanor envelopes you and you don't become rattled so quickly, you fall asleep with ease and stay asleep, and perhaps if you suffer from restless leg syndrome, this begins to abade. As sesame seeds are high in fiber and healthy oil, constipation issues will be lessened. Not bad for a tiny seed!!

NOTE: The above article was written by Stephanie Tourles, lic. esthetician, herbalist, cert. aromatherapist, and nutritionist, and adapted from her book, "How To Feel Fabulous Today!", Storey Publishing, 2001. The information is true and complete to the best of her 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.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Osteoporosis: The Silent Disease - Part 2

Hi everyone. I hope spring has sprung in your neck of the woods and you are enjoying nature's refreshing color pallette. Here in Maine, the forsythia, daffodils, and dandelions are just beginning to show their vibrant yellows. Spring is SLOW to come to Maine, but this year we've been lucky with moderate temps and just the right amount of rain. Today we will continue with our discussion of osteoporosis and natural ways to build better bones.


"The causes of calcium loss may include decreased estrogen in women after menopause, decreased testosterone in elderly men, lack of weight-bearing activity, smoking, excess dietary animal protein, processed sodium, caffeine, and soda pop. In other words, most instances of osteoporosis are due to lifestyle choices," according to Ronald G. Cridland, M.D., certified member of the International Association of Hygienic Physicians (IAHP). Other causes of osteoporosis can include regular use of steroids and aluminum-containing antacids, lack of regular menses, history of anorexia, low bone density, poor dietary habits, hyperthyroidism, and poor health in general.

Osteoporosis does not have to be a fact of life. It can be prevented to a great degree and is often partially reversible with proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Disease prevention is always the preferred way to go, bit it's never too late to take corrective action no matter the status of your present bone health. Here are some tips to help all adults slow and/or prevent bone loss:

1. Strengthen your digestion. Many Americans suffer from poor digestion. Maximum nutrient absorption is not possible with an impaired digestive system, which tends to get worse as you age. Remember to chew your food well, eat in a relaxed atmosphere, take a daily probiotic to aid digestion, take a few drops of digestive herbal bitters (available in health food stores) prior to eating and after eating, and if indigestion is still a problem, follow your meal with mild fennel tea or a warm cup of ginger root tea. Try to eat lightly and not stuff yourself. An ultra-full belly is hard on the digestive system, tends to make you gassy, drains your energy, and doesn't get assimilated well.

2. Moderate your protein intake. According to John A. McDougall, M.D., "Excess consumption of protein triggers the kidneys to excrete calcium from the body. For people on high-protein diets, these losses are significant. Studies have shows that the quantities of protein commonly consumed by Americans cause calcium to be lost from the body at a rate that is greater than the body's capacity to absorb more calcium. It is estimated that between 1% and 4% of the adult skeleton is lost each year on the high-animal-protein American diet. This net loss of calcium occurs even when people consume high quantities of calcium."

3. Eat a "strong bone" diet. Include moderate amounts of whole grains, nuts, and seeds, plentiful fruits and vegetables, bi-weekly servings of canned salmon and sardines along with their edible bones, as well as small amounts of organic chicken, beef, and other fish/shellfish. Eliminate processed foods. A strong, supportive skeleton needs ample amounts of vitamins C, D, K, and calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, silicon, boron, moderate amounts of phosphorous, and naturally-derived fluoride. Mineral-rich herbs to add in your daily diet include nettles, horsetail, comfrey leaves, calendula blossoms, and raspberry leaves.

I need to mention a supplement that I'm quite passionate about, and that is raw, fermented cod liver oil blended with high-vitamin butter oil. It delivers real, absorbable vitamins A and D plus the necessary amounts of the essential fatty acid - omega 3. These nutrients are essential for proper bone development, brain function, skin and nerve health. Search online for "raw fermented cod liver oil" and you will find a few good sources from which to purchase. It is more expensive and rare than cod liver oil you will find in the health food store, but most of those oils have been heated to high temps and the vitamins have been destroyed requiring the manufacturer to add back synthetic vitamins - off all things! Natural is always better!

4. Moderate dairy intake. Contrary to popular belief, dairy products are not the best foods for building bones. Yes, most dairy products are high in calcium, but they are also high in protein and leave an acidic ash in the body after digestion. This causes calcium to be excreted from the body, not retained. Additionally, after age 4, most people cannot properly digest dairy products due to an absence of necessary enzyme production. Cow's milk is best suited for calves, not humans. If you feel that you must drink milk or eat other dairy products or just cannot live without them, please consume organic, grass-fed, raw cow or goat milk/cheese/kefir only. Pasteurization makes dairy harder to digest as it kills the live enzymes contained within, and most commercial dairy was produced from cows raised on pesticide-laden grain (grass is their natural food, not grain), and is tainted with antibiotics, herbicides, steroids, etc. This kind of dairy definitely does not do a body good!

5. Make an impact. Your bones need at least 30 minutes of daily weight-bearing exercise in order to build and preserve the most bone. Brisk walking up and down hills, stair climbing, weight lifting, running, dancing, and jumping rope fill the bill. A sedentary lifestyle will rapidly accelerate bone loss.

6. Don't smoke. Cigarette smoking and the smoking of recreational marijuana can inhibit bone growth, boost calcium excretion, and impair digestion. It also slows the healing of fractured or broken bones.

7. Limit salt and sodas. Refined salt (aka free-flowing bleached grocery store salt), sodium in most manufactured foods, and the phosphorus contained in sodas are calcium-depleting minerals. If your diet is high in junk foods or you eat out several times a week you are probably consuming excessive amounts.

8. Check your medications. Several medications can increase the likelihood of bone loss. Among these are adrenal corticosteroids (cortisone-like drugs), anticoagulants (blood thinners), aluminum-containing antacids, some chemotherapy medications, antidepressants, certain diuretics, and some antibiotics. Check with your health care provider for possible side effects and how to counter them.

9. Limit alcohol consumption. Daily intake beyond a small glass of wine or beer can interfere with calcium absorption.

NOTE: The above article was written by Stephanie Tourles, a lic. holistic esthetician, aromatherapist, nutritionist, and herbalist, and adapted from her book, "How To Feel Fabulous Today", Storey Publishing, 2001. The information is true and complete to the best of Ms. Tourles' knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author. Ms. Tourles disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Osteoporosis: The Silent Disease - Part 1

I realize that the subject of osteoporosis has been written about to no end . . . but the incidence of this potentially crippling disease continues to rise in young and old alike. In fact, it is increasing dramatically worldwide, especially in developed countries where protein and dairy consumption is high, rich and processed foods abound, sedentary living is commonplace, high stress is rampant, and environmental chemicals and poisons are encountered every day. Approximately 33 percent of all American women and 20 percent of all American men will suffer serious consequences related to this disease at some time in their lives. Many more will suffer from minor to moderate effects, especially in their smaller joints and as general stiffness throughout their body.

Being well-versed in natural therapies, including nutrition and herbalism, I'd like to give you my perspective on this disease and natural tips to use towards prevention and/or moderating the progress of osteoporosis. I hope you find some useful information that you can apply to your daily life.

Osteoporosis is a condition of weak, thin, porous bones, and it is not limited to frail, little old ladies anymore. Porous bones can be found in just about anyone, from a 16-year-old football player to a 60-year-old man who's been on prednisone to treat asthma complications.

Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because bone fractures and breaks can occur without warning. Often it's the arm, wrist, foot, or hip that breaks. The bones of the spine are also a common area of thinning. Frequently, over several years or even decades, the supportive vertebrae will collapse upon themselves, causing the trademark stooping posture, loss of height, and back and neck pain.

You must realize that bone is a dynamic, living, semi-flexible tissue. It is not simply a fixed, hard structure. Like your skin, it is in a continual state of flux, always regenerating and degenerating. This constant tearing down and rebuilding of bone helps keep your skeleton strong - that is, as long as you provide it with the necessary building blocks.

Bone health is dependent on more than just calcium intake! Maintaining bone health is not as simple as popping a daily calcium supplement or drinking a cup of milk. Bone health is determined by the interrelationship of circulating levels of minerals, trace minerals, hormones, vitamins, proteins, and other nutrients, as well as regular weight-bearing activities, sunlight, and right lifestyle.

If you are taking TUMS or another popular drugstore brand of calcium supplement on a daily basis . . . confident that you are covering all of your "calcium bases" . . . please, I beg of you, think again. What you are eating is primarily artificial color, flavor, filler, and chalk (calcium carbonate) or ground up oyster shells. Your poor body doesn't know what to do with synthetics - other than store them in fat tissue - nor does it know how to process chalk or oyster shells. We humans are not meant to consume inorganic minerals such as chalk or oyster shells. Just think what they'd do to your teeth if you didn't powder them first! Instead, if you were to put that calcium carbonate powder or oyster shell powder on your organic garden as a fertilizer, and allow the vegetables to naturally uptake that inorganic mineral substance, then you could eat those calcium-rich veggies when ripe, and be able to absorb organic calcium. When inorganic minerals are absorbed via a growing plant, they are converted to organic minerals - which a human body can easily absorb and assimilate. But eat chalk or oyster shell powder and assume it will be assimilated into your bones, I don't think so!

That's a bit of "food for thought" . . . Next week I'll continue with Part 2 . . . How To Build Better Bones Naturally. Stay tuned . . .

NOTE: This article was written by Stephanie Tourles and adapted from her book, "How To Feel Fabulous Today!", Storey Publishing, 2001. The information is true and complete to the best of the author's knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of the author. Ms. Tourles disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.