Back to Bone Ami

I never realized how difficult it is to get the necessary Vitamin D, calcium and magnesium in food! After a month of keeping a food diary and tracking my nutrients on Cronometer, it has beome apparent that even my healthier diet with 6-9 cups of fruits and vegetables every day is not supplying what I need for bone health.

So, I’m turning to an old supplement friend, Bone Ami. This time, I’m choosing the liquid version which supplies 400 IU of vitamin D, 500 mg of calcium, and 250 mg of magnesium in every dose. The liquid form is more readily absorbed, and, in case you’re wondering, it tastes really good! I still have to make good food choices to reach my target goals for these nutrients, but the goal is now possible, thanks to Bone Ami.

My next bone density scan should happen in October 2018. I lost ground from 2012 to 2014 and barely maintained from 2014 to 2016. I’ve been told that women in my demographic can’t gain bone density, that we just have to work hard to keep from losing. Maybe that’s true- but what if it’s not? I’m giving my bones my best shot. I’m eating well, nourishing them from within, and I’m exercising, strengthening them from without. And now I’m giving them a little extra help from Bone Ami.

So, friends, is it possible? Have any of you actually gained bone density? Have any of your Bone Densitometry reports ever shown improvement? I would love to hear some success stories!

Bone Ami Liquid 2

Click here to learn more about Bone Ami.

Running

I did some running when I was in my 20’s. I wasn’t very fast, but I enjoyed it and it was good exercise.

I took a break from running when my children were young and then started again when they began running cross country. I found out some things had changed over that break, most notably, my knees. X-rays confirmed arthritis in both knees, and I was advised to give up running. I learned from a chiropractor that strengthening the muscles in my legs would help to support my knees, but I filed that information in the back of my mind and settled for occasional walks.

Fast forward to three years ago. Osteopenia finally woke me up to the need to exercise and I began a regimen of weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. Even though I had given up running, I walked in some 5K races in the area. My goal was twofold but simple: to finish in under an hour and not to be the last person to cross the finish line! My time was usually between 55 and 59 minutes, and I usually spent the rest of the day with legs elevated, icing my inflamed knees.

But every now and then, I dreamed that I was running. In my dreams, I had found a way to run without touching the ground! I described those dreams to a Trak Shak salesperson who recommended a Hoka running shoe for me.  Walking in Hokas has been the next best thing to running without touching the ground.

With three years of exercise behind me and Hoka shoes to support me, I started running again. In June, I walked/ran 3.1 miles (5K) in my neighborhood and finished in 47 minutes- not great, but almost nine minutes faster than my fastest walking 5K.

Is it possible that my recently improved diet could already be strengthening my muscles and joints? I’m able to run almost a mile without pain now, and my current 5K PR in the neighborhood is 44:33. I’m still slow compared to almost everyone else I encounter on the trail, but I have a new twofold goal now: to run as much as I can without causing injury and to run without concern about others being faster.

What about you? Do you run for exercise? What are your goals? Tell me what motivates you to keep moving. And tell me about your shoes!

Melissa and Morgan, Smith Family Resources
Morgan is my post-run encourager!

Progress Report

At my first health coaching session, Rebecca gave me some homework: increase my intake of fruits and vegetables to 9 cups a day and start tracking my nutrients.

Background information: I haven’t been eating anywhere close to 9 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. In my last post, I blogged that I had taken the baby step of eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal. Even so, I was eating no more than 1 or 2 cups a day. Nine cups is a BIG baby step!

Rebecca suggested Cronometer, an online tool for tracking nutrition, fitness, and health data. It will track a lot of things, but my focus is on vitamins and nutrients. (There’s a free online version, but I opted for the $3.99 app.)

Cronometer app

Since I started keeping up with my fruit and vegetable intake, I’ve hit the goal once and come very close several days. Even though I’m not consistently meeting my goal yet, I feel better already- more energy, better sleep, and less pain.

I’ve been trying to learn more about nutrition for several years now, but the design of the Cronometer app has helped me to see more clearly what I’m actually getting from my food. I can tell at a glance whether or not I’ve gotten the nutrients needed for the day. That information helps me eat things that will actually nourish me and not just fill me up.

One evening recently, I was going to skip dinner and just eat a bowl of cereal. I searched my intended cereal in the app and discovered that there was almost no nutritional value whatsoever. Even though it’s a gluten-free, organic, supposedly healthy cereal, it would basically be empty calories!

I’ve also been confirmed in my belief in the amazing contribution of SuperMom to my overall health. Here are two screenshots of my breakfast this morning:IMG_9882[1]

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The first is my breakfast before SuperMom. Notice in the bar at the bottom that my nutrient target goal is at 28%. The second screenshot is after taking the SuperMom. Now my nutrient target goal is at 69%. Wow!

Unfortunately, I’ve been relying on SuperMom to make up for the deficits in my diet, and, as super as it is, it just can’t do it all. I can see in my nutrient reports that I’m still not consistently getting enough Vitamin D, Magnesium, or Potassium every day. Those are important nutrients for healthy bones which probably explains why I’ve had issues with arthritis and osteopenia.

So, enough about me! I’m excited about my progress, but my reason for sharing is to encourage you in yours! Please share your own progress in the comments or by email. I’ll be glad to hear from you!

About those Baby Steps…

Seven years of baby steps… A lot of progress can be made in seven years, but my steps have been small, and I find myself very near where I started. I’ll have my first session with health coach Rebecca Mills-Anderson tomorrow, and I’m ready to learn take some bigger steps with diet and nutrition. I’m eager to move closer to the goal of better health.

So, about those baby steps… In preparation for the health coaching to come, I’m reflecting on the progress- however small- that I’ve made thus far.

  1. I eliminated caffeine. I took this step as a young adult when I realized that my daily Diet Coke and ever-present glass of sweet tea were creating problems for me. That first step could have been a bigger step if I had known to replace the offenders with water, but I simply replaced them with decaffeinated sweet tea. Still, it was a baby step in the right direction!
  2. I began taking a daily multivitamin. SuperMom was the first vitamin I’d ever taken that actually made a noticeable difference in the way I felt.
  3. I eliminated fried foods. Gall bladder pain prompted this step, and it was not hard at all. Pain is a powerful motivator!
  4. I increased my water intake. If you follow this blog, you’re probably tired of hearing about drinking water! But, this has been huge for me. I went from drinking almost no water at all to half of my body weight in ounces. This big step is probably the main reason I’ve remained reasonably healthy in spite of the deficiencies of my diet.
  5. I began exercising regularly. I started for my bones but am gradually realizing the benefits of exercise for the whole body.
  6. I eliminated high fructose corn syrup from my diet, and I cut way back on processed foods.
  7. I realized that I was relying on supplementation and elimination to get me to better health. I’ve added some things- vitamins, water, exercise- and I’ve taken out some things- caffeine, fried food, high fructose corn syrup. But I’m just now facing the fact that my diet doesn’t include all the nutrients and vitamins I need to be truly healthy.

Okay, #7 may not be a true step. But that realization is already making a difference. In the last few weeks, I’ve made a conscious effort to eat three healthy meals every day, no matter how busy I am, and I’ve eaten a fruit or vegetable at almost every meal.

And that’s where I am today. On to bigger steps tomorrow!

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?