Using Nutrition to Prevent Osteoporosis: Digestion
In our previous discussions of osteoporosis and cancer, we have touched on diet and nutrition, but now it’s time to address it directly. But it’s a big topic, so this will be the first of three posts. To begin with, let’s talk about digestion.
You Can’t Build without Bricks: Get the Protein and Minerals
In woefully simplistic terms, bones are a lot of alkaline minerals—calcium, magnesium, potassium, a bit of boron, zinc, and others—nestled inside a sponge-like matrix of protein. There’s a lot more in there too—blood vessels and nerve endings and immune-cell production zones—but for a discussion of osteoporosis, this is sufficient.
So, to build and repair bone, you need minerals, and proteins, in the right ratios. These come from your diet.
Stop Breaking Your Digestion: Get off PPIs and Antacids (Safely)
- TUMS and other calcium-based antacids supply a bit of calcium to your diet… but not much. Mostly what they do is neutralize stomach acid, which is critical for protein digestion. Undigested proteins create inflammation and allergies. You need your acid.
- Sadly, a lot of mineral supplements are also largely indigestible/unabsorbable.
- Acid reflux (aka “GERD”) is almost always caused by too little stomach acid, not too much.
- Acid-blocking drugs of the “proton-pump inhibitor” (PPI) class are a short-term fix, but a long-term disaster for your digestion and overall health. One analysis of 11 studies averaged the results to determine that use of PPIs increased risk of hip fracture by 30%. PPIs also increase your risk of dementia, heart attack, kidney disease, and cancer, just for starters.
So, if you are “papering over” your digestive problems with symptom-treating drugs, you need to stop.
But: quitting these things “cold-turkey” can have definite and serious repercussions. If you are taking acid-blockers, there’s a reason why, right? You do need to get off these drugs, but you need to do it safely. Please do additional research, and consult with your doctor to work out a realistic “weaning off” schedule, while you make other changes. Also you can get some additional coaching and support from our nutritionist here at ORW.
Start Improving Your Digestion
Cooking from scratch is almost always healthier than eating out or consuming packaged or prepared foods. If you don’t know how to cook a variety of healthy foods—learn!
But there’s another important reason to eat at home: smell activates the digestion. The smell of food cooking, for a few minutes before you eat it, tells your digestive organs to prepare for food.
Also: eating at home is (hopefully) more likely to be calm and relaxed. Being in a calm (parasympathetic) state of mind and body is a lot better for digestion than being in a (sympathetic) “flight-or-fight” mode.
Meal rituals (patterns/habits), prayers of gratitude, and other calming practices also support digestion. So take time to create (or at least appreciate) aromatic, attractive, colorful meals. Pay attention. Savor. Follow the rat’s advice.
Fermented foods—over time—can do wonders to heal your gut. Start here:
- Plain organic yogurt – sweeten with stevia or honey or fruit. If you’re avoiding cow milk, there are coconut-milk yogurts, etc.
- Sauerkraut – buy “raw, live” varieties or learn how to make your own (spoiler: it has two ingredients). Use organic red cabbage if you can get it—it has more antioxidants than green.
- Build a network of friends and neighbors who know how to make (nonalcoholic!) ferments: kefir, kimchi, pickles, ginger-ale, kombucha – whatever you can find. Diversity is more important than perfection here.
Note: if you have high histamine, fermented foods can cause problems. Be cautious.
Some foods are particularly healing for the gut. Among these are the “mucilaginous” plants, such as:
- Aloe vera (available in international markets but learn how to prepare it); add to smoothies. Many other benefits, including building collagen (NCBI).
- Chia and flax seeds
- Certain herbs like licorice, marshmallow, plantain, and fennel – steep overnight for a gut-healing tea.
Some of the top bone-building and anti-cancer foods will be addressed in the next two posts. But you can’t get the full benefit of any food if your digestion has problems. Healing starts in the gut for almost every chronic condition.
Get Expert Help
So now we’ve established just a few good places to start working on improved digestion. Pick one or two and start turning them into habits.
When you need expert guidance, coaching, or help figuring out some of the unique complexities of your own health, please come talk to one of our specialists about a nutritional evaluation. We have a registered dietitian that can help you make excellent nutritional choices and improve your health. You can learn more about our nutrition services here.