Building Better Bones

“It is a bone-deep change you are going into, my beloved,” counsels Grandmother Growth. “You must open to your very marrow for this transformation. No cell is to remain untouched. You are to open more than you ever dreamed you could open, more than you have opened in birth or in passion. You open now to the breath of mortality as it plays the bone flute of your being. What can you do but dance to the haunting melody, develop a passion for an elegant posture and a long stride? Legal Steroids Europe

“Ah, yes,” Grandmother Growth smiles rather wantonly. “It would do you well to develop a taste for dark greens tarted with vinegar and mated with garlic. These things will build strong flexible bones to support you as you become Crone.”

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Did you know that your bones are always changing? Every day of your life, some bone cells die and some new bone cells are created. From birth until your early 30s, you can easily make lots of bone cells. So long as your diet supplies the necessary nutrients, you not only replace bone cells that die, you have extras left over to lengthen and strengthen your bones.

Past the age of 35, new bone cells are more difficult to make. Sometimes there is a shortfall: more bone cells die than you can replace. In the orthodox view, this is the beginning of osteoporosis, the disease of low bone mass. By the age of forty, many American women have begun to lose bone mass; by the age of fifty, most are told they must take hormones or drugs to prevent further loss and avoid osteoporosis, hip fracture, and death.

Women who exercise regularly and eat calcium-rich foods enter their menopausal years with better bone mass than women who sit a lot and consume calcium-leaching foods (including soy “milk,” tofu, coffee, soda pop, alcohol, white flour products, processed meats, nutritional yeast, and bran). But no matter how good your lifestyle choices, bone mass usually decreases during the menopausal years.

For unknown reasons, menopausal bones slow down production of new cells and seem to ignore the presence of calcium. This “bone-pause” is generally short-lived, occurring off and on for five to seven years. I noticed it in scattered episodes of falling hair, breaking fingernails, and the same “growing pains” I experienced during puberty.

I would like to help you let go of the idea that osteoporosis is important. In the Wise Woman Tradition, we focus on the patient, not the problem. In the Wise Woman tradition, there are no diseases and no cures for diseases. When we focus on a disease, like osteoporosis, we cannot see the whole woman. The more we focus on one disease, even its prevention, the less likely we are to nourish wholeness and health.

Focusing on osteoporosis, defining it as a disease, using drugs to counter it, we lose sight of the fact that postmenopausal bone mass is a better indicator of breast cancer risk than broken bone risk. The twenty-five percent of postmenopausal women with the highest bone mass are two-and-a-half to four times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those with the lowest bone mass. And that hormones which maintain bone mass also adversely affect breast cancer risk. Women who take estrogen replacement (often given to prevent osteoporosis), even for as little as five years, increase their risk of breast cancer by twenty percent; if they take hormone replacement, the risk increases by forty percent.

Focusing on bone mass, we lose sight of the fact that a strong correlation between bone density and bone breakage has not been established, according to Susan Brown, director of the Osteoporosis Information Clearing House, and many others. We lose sight of the fact that women who faithfully take estrogen or hormone replacement still experience bone changes and suffer spinal crush fractures.

Bone-pause passes and the bones do rebuild themselves, especially when supported by nourishing herbs, which are exceptional sources of bone-building minerals and better at preventing bone breaks than supplements. The minerals in green plants seem to be ideal for keeping bones healthy. Dr. Campbell, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, has done extensive research in rural China where the lowest known fracture rates for midlife and older women were found. He says, “The closer people get to a diet based on plant foods and leafy vegetables, the lower the rates of many diseases, including osteoporosis.” Women who consume lots of calcium-rich plants and exercise moderately build strong flexible bones. Women who rely on hormones build bones that are massive, but rigid.

Hormone replacement regimes do not increase bone cell creation; they slow (or suppress) bone cell killers (osteoclasts). There is a rebound effect; bone loss jumps when the hormones are stopped. Women who take hormones for five years or more are as much as four times more likely to break a bone in the year after they stop than a woman of the same age who never took hormones. Women who build better bones with green allies and exercise nourish the bone cell creator cells (osteoblasts).

Hormone or estrogen replacement, taken as menopause begins and continued for the rest of your life, is said to reduce post-menopausal fracture rates by 40-60 percent. Frequent walks (you don’t even need to sweat) and a diet high in calcium-rich green allies (at least 1500 mg daily) have been shown to reduce post-menopausal fractures by 50 percent. The first is expensive and dangerous. The second, inexpensive and health promoting. It’s easy to see why more than eighty percent of American women just “say no” to hormones. It is never too late to build better bones, and it is never too soon. Your best insurance for a fracture-free, strong-boned cronehood is to build better bones before menopause. The more exercise and calcium-rich green allies you get in your younger years, the less you’ll have to worry about as you age.

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