By JJ VirginNot a week goes by without getting an email, phone call or Facebook Fan Page post asking “I have reduced or stopped eating dairy products, but now I am worried about getting enough calcium!” Rest assured, you do NOT need dairy products to build strong bones and in fact, quite often the acidifying nature of them can negatively impact your calcium balance. I realize that this statement that might rock your world a bit but as you read on you will see that it makes sense when you look at the big picture of bone health as well as overall health as you must take an integrated approach to both. Diligently swallowing your calcium supplements each day is NOT the answer to building strong bones.
I have developed a 7 step plan for building healthy bones for life that you can start and see improvement at any age. I have pulled out three of my top recommendations here for you to get started on right away.
You must maintain a tight balance of acid and alkaline throughout your body. This balance varies throughout your body depending on the functions performed. If you are higher in acid then necessary, your body must buffer your pH back to normal. It uses alkalizing minerals to do so and the biggest reservoir we have for these is the calcium in our bones. If you are consuming a high acid load diet of dairy products, grains, coffee, sugar, alcohol, animal protein and soda you could be at increased risk of bone loss. Soda is especially bad as it contains phosphoric acid which can further leach calcium from the bones. The take away here is to lower your acid load and then balance the healthy acid loading foods (like clean lean animal protein, Greek style yogurt, quinoa) with a rainbow of fruits and veggies. Simple things like adding a green salad to your meal, throwing organic frozen berries into your smoothie and having a daily green drink support good acid-alkaline balance.
I am thrilled to hear the press that Vitamin D is consistently getting in the media. Michael Hollick, the foremost Vitamin D researcher in the world says “That Vitamin D is an unrecognized epidemic in children and adults” and recommends blood levels above 80 ng/ml. Vitamin D helps the body absorb and maintain calcium and is essential for bone health as well as overall health; its deficiency has been implicated in many diseases including Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. When you are going to your doctor for your annual checkup be sure to request a 25- hydroxyvitamin D blood test. Your goal is 80 ng/ml which means you may need to supplement with additional Vitamin D. Remember Vitamin D levels will vary throughout the year if you live in a seasonal climate. Strive for 20 minutes a day of sunlight where you are bare armed and legged and sunscreen free. If th is isn’t possible, you may need to supplement with additional Vitamin D beyond what you are getting from your wild fish intake to get your levels to optimal.
Eat Your Fish!
Wild fish has so many amazing health benefits including reduced inflammation, lowering triglycerides, and improving mood, but you may not know that is also helps with good bone health. Omega 3 fats from wild fish and seeds supports bone remodeling. Your bones are alive, they are constantly in a state of breaking down and remodeling. You don’t want “old bones” nor do you want bones that are breaking down faster than they are getting remodeled or built back up. Eat wild fish 3 times a week and add some freshly ground flaxseeds to your morning smoothie to support consistent bone remodeling.
©2010 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Nutrition and Fitness Expert JJ Virgin is a the author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy and the co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters reality series. Visit her at http://www.jjvirgin.com to grab her free audio: 7 Steps to Break Your “Freaky” Food Habits Fast & Forever.