Dem Bones, Dem Bones

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Halloween is right around the corner, and a cartoon of dancing skeletons brought to mind the perfect subject to write about- Bones.

As a child, I was told how important it was to drink milk and eat my fortified bread for strong bones.

In my twenties and thirties, I was often schooled by doctors, advertisers, female co-workers, and female friends on the importance of calcium supplement. You just couldn’t take enough calcium if you were a woman, I was told. Drink your milk, eat your yogurt and cheese, and take a daily calcium supplement to keep from having fragile old woman bones later in life!

I tried taking calcium supplements, but the chewable ones upset my stomach and the pill forms stuck in my throat. I decided I would just make sure I ate enough calcium rich foods and worry about osteoporosis when I got old. Devouring cottage cheese, butter, yogurt, milk, ice cream, I figured I had this calcium thing covered. No thought was given to my calcium leaching habits of drinking coffee and soda pop.

Turning the corner to 50, I asked myself, had I done enough to build up my bones?

Our bones are constantly being made over. New cells form, old cells die. By our mid-thirties, the rate of new bone cell growth slows down. Enter menopause, and new bone cells almost come to a complete stop. Therefore, it is important to build up our bone producing cells in the first half of life with calcium rich foods and weight bearing exercise.

It’s equally important to reduce calcium leaching foods such as soy milk, coffee, soda pop, tofu, white flour, and processed meats.

When menopause comes into play, many women choose to use hormone therapy replacement drugs. It’s an option I chose not to take, mainly because it increases your risk of breast cancer. I also try to follow the natural path with my body as much as possible. So, I focus on diet and exercise. HRT is a personal choice to be made by the individual after consulting with their doctors and research. I want to stress, I am not saying it is wrong, it just it isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t for me.

Regardless, every woman should follow a proper diet and exercise routine. Walking, weight-lifting, yoga, dance and jogging are all great weight bearing exercises. If you have physical issues that interfere with those types of workouts, check with a physical therapist to find out a routine you can do. And pick something you enjoy so it will easily become a part of your daily schedule.

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Women’s diets should include daily yogurt containing only milk and culture. Stay away from the added flavorings, sugars, color additives. You can easily mix berries, nuts, and honey to flavor your yogurt. Cooked greens and herbal infusions of red clover, nettle, or oat straw are also excellent choices.

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Still not sure how to make sure you are fulfilling your calcium needs? Visit a nutritionist. There are also many books and websites available to help you adjust your lifestyle to one that lovingly takes care of your bones.

I am including a recipe from the Susan S. Weed book, New Menopausal Years, The Wise Woman Way.

Just as it’s important for us to build up our bone producing cells the first half of life, it’s equally important to reduce calcium leaching foods in the second half of life.

Bonny Boney Brew

Nettle  1 oz, dry
Horsetail  1 tbsp, dry
Sage  1 tbsp, dry

Crush sage between palms and drop into a quart container with the other two herbs. Fill jar with water just off the boil. Cap tightly and allow to brew for at least four hours, though you may allow it to brew overnight. Strain; drink as is or heat and add honey. I like to add ice and drink it cold. You can substitute red clover, oat straw, or raspberry for the nettle.

Each cup contains same amount of calcium as a cup of milk.

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