What’s for breakfast?

What’s for breakfast?  Cereal?  Toast?  Biscuits?  Muffins?  What do all of these breakfast foods have in common?  They’re all grains that contain gluten.

I can’t say that I have a totally gluten-free diet these days, but I’m definitely cutting back.  I learned from Nourishing Traditions that all grains contain phytic acid.  Phytic acid is an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound, and it’s in the outer layer or bran of every grain.  Untreated phytic acid can combine with the minerals in our food–important things like calcium, magnesium and iron–and keep them from being absorbed by our bodies.  This is why a diet that’s high in whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and eventually bone loss.

Bone loss.  I took notice of that and decided it was time to pay attention to food that is actually robbing my bones of the nutrients they need.

So, what’s for breakfast?

Yesterday, my daughter made some delicious blueberry muffins using a gluten-free baking mix.  Here’s the recipe, slightly modified from the recipe on the box:

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

1 3/4 cups of Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Mix
1 cup of frozen blueberries
1 tsp. of vinegar added to an almost-cup of dairy milk (This was a substitute for the cup of buttermilk called for in the recipe)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup xylitol
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350º.  Sift baking mix, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together, and set aside.  In a separate bowl, mix melted butter, milk/vinegar, sugar, and eggs together.  Add flour blend in three stages and whisk well after each addition.  Fold in blueberries.  Pour batter into lined muffin tins.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

I made a delicious strawberry smoothie to go along with my muffins.  I added Knox Gelatin to my usual smoothie after a friend gave me the idea.  Gelatin is very similar to the collagen in our bodies that makes up the connective tissues, including cartilage. Eating gelatin supplies the body with the materials it needs to produce new cartilage.  That’s good news for arthritis sufferers and for those attempting to have healthy bones.

Here’s my new and improved smoothie recipe:

Strawberry Smoothie

1 cup of unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup of frozen strawberries
1 pack of Knox gelatin
1 Tablespoon of whey protein powder
5-7 spinach leaves

Blend together until smooth and creamy.

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The box says the baking mix can be substituted for flour in any recipe, using a one-to-one replacement.  I think I’ll try homemade biscuits today.  I’ll let you know how they turn out…

What are YOU having for breakfast today?

What in the world is carrageenan??

After my recent post that featured Aldi’s Almondmilk, a thoughtful friend and customer pointed out to me that Friendly Farms Almondmilk contains carrageenan.  (CORRECTION added at the end of the post!)

AlmondMilk nutrition facts

What in the world is carrageenan??

Following my friend’s link, I learned that carrageenan is a completely natural extract from a particular type of red seaweed common in the Atlantic Ocean, near North America, Great Britain and Continental Europe.  It has no nutritional value and it is used primarily as a thickener and emulsifier.

The research of Dr. Joanne Tobacman, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago, indicates that exposure to carrageenan causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation and chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.

I had never heard of this extract or this research, so I’ll be doing some reading–and then I’ll have to decide what to do about my almond milk!

Have YOU heard of carrageenan?  Can you recommend another source of calcium that doesn’t include this extract?  Do you think it matters?  I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

February 24, 2015 CORRECTION:  Aldi’s Friendly Farms Almondmilk does NOT contain carrageenan!  My friend observed that it was in the same brand of coconut milk and assumed that it was in all.  Thankfully, it is NOT in the almond milk.  Whew!

Are You Smarter than a 7th Grader?

7th grade Life Science questions: 

  • Are bones alive?
  • What two substances comprise the bone matrix?
  • True or False:   Bones increase or decrease their mass as needed.

Are you smarter than a 7th grader?

If you’ve studied the 7th grade Apologia textbook, Exploring Creation with General Science, you know the answers to these questions!

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Are bones alive?  Yes, your bones are composed of living cells.  Bone continually changes to meet your body’s needs.

What two substances comprise the bone matrix?  Collagen and minerals.  Collagen is a flexible substance that belongs to a class of chemicals known as proteins.  Minerals are substances found naturally in the earth.  Collagen and minerals work together to make bones both strong and flexible.  The collagen gives bones their flexibility; the minerals give bones their hardness.

True or False:  Bones increase or decrease their mass as needed.  True.  Bones that bear weight must be firm.  So, if you exercise, your bones will be stressed and will respond by increasing their mass to become more firm.  If you are inactive, bone tissue will be taken away.

General Science

Now!  We’re all at least as smart as the 7th graders who’ve studied this book!

I’m getting the exercise my bones need now, but I still have a lot to learn about the minerals.  Calcium is only one of the minerals my bones need.

What have you learned?  Care to share?  I’d love to hear from you.  Email or comment and tell me what you’ve added to your diet to help your bones.  Thanks!

Weight-Bearing and Muscle-Strengthening Exercises

I’ve heard from several of you who have also been working in the bone density department.  Thanks for your encouragement!

I thought you might like to see more detail of what my friend Kristin shared with me.  The “Exercise for Strong Bones” pages include information from the National Osteoporosis Foundation, modified slightly for me.   If you can’t read it, click on the images to enlarge.Exercise for Strong Bones, National Osteoporosis FoundationExercise page 2I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t understand the connection between exercise and bone health.  I was hoping I could just take a supplement and forego the exercise, but that’s just not how the body was designed.  I’ve learned some fascinating things about bones and muscles, so check back here later for more of my discoveries.

Please share what you’ve learned about building bone density!  I love to hear from you!

Exercise for Strong Bones

Those were the words at the top of the page my friend Kristin sent me.

Exercise for Strong BonesExercise…

Up until this point, my entire exercise life could be summarized in a few words:  housework and an occasional walk.  And, as the technician had said, “Whatever you’ve been doing, it hasn’t been enough.”

So, Kristin came over and helped me get started with an exercise routine.  I began with 6-pound weights, a list of exercises, and Kristin’s encouragement to work out for 30 seconds and rest for 15 seconds.

I found a free app to help me with the intervals, and I think the fun of that app kept me going those first few days.  I found it at pushpress.com, and it has a great feature called Audio Assist.  I have no idea who these people are, but their encouraging voices tell me when to start and when to rest.  I chose the voice of Elyse Umeda, simply because hers was the most like Kristin’s of all the choices. 🙂  When I get all the way through my workout, that voice says, “Time!  Great job!”  Ah!  Music to my ears and to my tired muscles!!

pushpress app

This is how my routine looks now after working up just a bit.  I work for 40 seconds and rest 20, and my whole workout takes about 27 minutes.  I now work with 8-pound weights for my first cycle and then switch back to the 6-pounders, and I also wear 3-pound ankle weights.

My plan includes three days of this workout, three days of other exercise (once a week it’s 30 minutes of intense housework, sometimes it’s a vigorous walk, and occasionally it’s my regular workout exercises except without the weights), and one day of rest.

I feel my muscles.  I sure hope it’s helping my bones!!

weights

It hasn’t been enough…

After my last bone scan, the technician said to me, “Whatever you’ve been doing, it hasn’t been enough.”

That was sobering.

But when I actually evaluated what I had been doing, it really wasn’t all that much.  I was taking a great multivitamin (SuperMom) and I was attempting to eat healthier, but I really hadn’t added much calcium to my diet, and I still hadn’t learned much at all about the importance of other vitamins and minerals.

So, I started with almond milk.  I bought Silk first, original and unsweetened.  I found the unsweetened to be UN-drinkable.  I wasn’t happy with the amount of sugar in the original, so I was thrilled when I tried Aldi’s Friendly Farms Unsweetened Vanilla AlmondMilk.  It was actually good!  I even prefer it over dairy milk now.

AlmondMilk     AlmondMilk nutrition facts

One cup of AlmondMilk contains 45% of the RDA for Calcium, so this has been an important addition to my diet.

Calcium is only one of the nutrients needed for healthy bones, and I have a lot to learn in this department.  I’ll be blogging more about that soon.

How about you?  What dietary changes have you made for your bones?  Any recommendations?

Bone Ami?

When I learned of my osteopenia diagnosis, my first thought was of Beeyoutiful’s Bone Ami.  Bone Ami contains vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese, all of which are very important for bone health.  I had a dream of coming back for my next bone density scan and wowing everybody with my bone growth.  Then I would say, “I owe it all to Beeyoutiful and Bone Ami!”That’s not exactly what happened.  I still think Bone Ami is a great product, but it didn’t seem to be the answer for me.  I took it for several months but stopped when it seemed to be aggravating my gall bladder.  I found myself in a catch-22.  The supplements that were good for my bones were bad for my gall bladder.  The diet for prevention of gall stones didn’t include the foods that would help my bones.  What to do??

Well, I went to work on my gall bladder.  Several cleanses later, the gall bladder pain was under control, and I attempted to help my bones with some additional calcium in my meals.  But my diet changes weren’t enough.  When it was time for the next scan, not only had I not experienced any bone growth, I had actually lost!

Sigh.  It wasn’t going to be as simple as taking Bone Ami.  I was going to have to work a little harder…

No Bones About It!

DXA Bone Densitometry ReportDo you know what this is?

This is a DXA Bone Densitometry Report.

To be exact, it’s two of those–one from 2012 and the other from 2014.

In case you can’t read the small print, these reports together say, “Melissa, you have to do something about your bones!!!!”

What they actually say is that from February 2012 until August 2014, I lost bone density and I already didn’t have that much to lose.  The latest report tells me that I’m osteopenic with a T-score of -2.4.  I learned that a normal T-score for my age is -1 or higher.  If someone has osteoporosis, the T-score is -2.5 or lower.  My T-score is awfully close to osteoporosis.

So, I’ve been learning about bones and bone density, and I’ve found out that I have a lot to learn!  Do you have any advice?  Please comment!  I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned in the next few days, and I’d be thrilled if you would share, too!