Many of my friends are having bone issues like osteopenia and osteoporosis. As of Friday’s DEXA scan, so am I. So I’m putting together a series for what I’ve learned so far, beginning with options for the best diet to build bones.
First is from the book Lessons from the Miracle Doctors by Jon Barron, a Naturopath who does more research than I do:
Jon Barron’s healthy diet for osteoporosis:
- Lots of nutrient-rich fresh vegetables and greens.
- Lots of fresh whole fruit
- Lots of fresh-squeezed juices (more vegetable than fruit)
- Eat organic foods and avoid genetically modified and irradiated when possible.
- Moderate consumption of sprouted (or soaked) seeds, nuts, and beans
- Eliminate as much processed and cooked food from your diet as possible. Instead of canned or frozen, eat fresh.
- Low consumption of grains. Eat whole grains, better yet, eat sprouted grains and grain grasses. Eliminate as many refined flours, grains, and sugars as possible. Instead of white bread, eat whole wheat. Even better, instead of whole-wheat bread, eat lettuce wrap sandwiches. Instead of cake and ice cream for dessert, eat fresh fruit.
- Replace low-value foods such as potatoes and iceberg lettuce with high-value foods such as sweet potatoes and almost any of the richly colored vegetables such as romaine lettuce, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and beets.
- As much as possible, eliminate all snack foods and fast foods. Replace with prunes (an extremely powerful antioxidant), raisins, and all of the berries.
- Limit animal foods (meat, pork, chicken, and dairy) to less than 3 ounces a day.
- Supplement with superfoods such as spirulina, chlorella, pre-sprouted barley, wheatgrass, barley grass, and white chia seed (Jon Barron, Lessons from The Miracle Doctors, Chapter 7, “Diet, the Slow Killer.” pp. 125-126 and pp.339-340).
Barron continues, “At that point, the amount of highly absorbable calcium that you get from your diet (from foods such as romaine lettuce, broccoli, sesame seeds, and bok choy) will be more than adequate for most people to build strong bones” (p.340).
He explains that cows grow large, strong bones not by taking calcium, but by eating grass which is low in calcium but high in magnesium; magnesium is the basis of chlorophyll in plants. Barron wrote, “Consider the fact that the traditional Eskimo diet contains over 2,000 mg of calcium a day, but because their diet is so acidic (virtually 100 percent of the food is from animal sources) it produces the highest hip fracture rate in the world” (p.340).
If you can’t find the organic foods you’re looking for, talk to your local supermarket manager. I did, and now Harps Grocery is carrying organic soymilk. And when I first moved to this small town, I gave feedback to Wal-Mart using the receipt from whatever I bought, and they are expanding their organic food offerings.
Barron wrote that “Even Wal-Mart announced that it intends to become the largest seller of organic food in the world” (Lessons from the Miracle Doctors. p.120). That was more than ten years ago, and they still don’t carry enough organic fruits and vegetables, so I told Wal-Mart that I am ordering from Misfits Market online when I gave feedback for my purchase of socks.
80% Alkaline/20% Acid diet
The source I use most for Acid/Alkaline charts is Vivien Goldsmith’s Save Our Bones program because she healed her osteoporosis. (Author’s note: highlighting is mine):
The Save Our Bones Program offers you a comprehensive dietary approach to stop and prevent the depletion of calcium from the bones by creating an alkaline environment in body tissues. By eating the right foods in the right proportion, and by adhering to a healthy lifestyle, just about anyone at any age can prevent calcium loss.
This “diet” has nothing to do with losing weight and everything to do with preventing, stopping, and reversing bone loss. However, as you’ll discover for yourself, weight loss can be a nice fringe benefit of following this program. …foods are labeled in two general groups: acidifying and alkalizing.
The key to healthy bones is to eat 8 out of every 10 foods (in visually estimated portion sizes) from the alkalizing group and two from the acidifying group at each meal; in other words, an 80/20 alkaline vs. acid balance. This is very important because eating only alkaline foods is not a healthy option either (Save Our Bones, Chapter 9, “The Bone Success Chart: The Secret to Your Strong Bones,” p.105).
There are many acid/alkaline charts online. This one (below) is from Charlene Day, a registered Nutritional Consultant:
Finally, if you need a simpler guide to eating healthy for your bones, try using Greger’s evidence-based vegan diet following his Daily Dozen from How Not to Die:
Greger’s Daily Dozen
Beans: 3 servings; choose from
- ¼ C hummus or bean dip
- ½ C cooked beans, split peas, lentils, or tofu
- 1 C fresh peas or sprouted lentils
Berries: 1 serving, ½ cup fresh or frozen OR ¼ C dried
Other Fruits: 3 servings as 1 C or 1 medium fruit OR `1/4 C dried
Greens: 2 servings, 1 cup raw, and ½ cup cooked.
Cruciferous Vegetables: 1 serving, ½ cup of cruciferous veggies.
Other Vegetables: 2 servings, ½ cup each
Flaxseed: 1 Tbsp.
Nuts / Seeds: 1 serving, ¼ cup OR 2 T peanut butter or almond butter
Spices: ¼ tsp. Turmeric plus others you like
Whole Grains: 3 servings; choose from
- ½ C cooked rice, quinoa, or pasta
- 1 C cereal
- 1 slice of bread
- ½ bagel
Exercise: Dr. Greger recommends 90 minutes of moderate activity like walking, or 40 minutes of intense exercise a day. (And Dr. Axe says 30 minutes/day.)
Water: 5 large (12-ounce) glasses
[Please note that Greger’s Daily Dozen is not a diet specially designed for people with osteoporosis, but a research-based list of foods to eat for most people. It works best if you understand that the acid-to-alkaline ratio must be 20% to 80% and select the foods for each meal with that ratio. Too much acidic food leeches the calcium from your bones.]
Do you still believe you must eat meat or you won’t have the energy or strength to do what you must do? Tell that to Brendan Brazier, professional Ironman triathlete and author of The Thrive Diet, a plant-based vegan diet.
You have choices to make about your diet. Do you want to keep eating the way you always have? Or do you want to save your bones? If so, which plan will work best for you?
(See Greger’s Daily Dozen chart HERE.)
Next: Supplements for Bones
Till next time,
“Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows.” ~Pam Young aka Tzaddi