Strong Bones: 5 Novel Foods for Osteoporosis Prevention

Osteoporosis: Silent Stalker

Osteoporosis is a public health problem that affects about 54 million people. It’s a condition where the bones become thin and then weaken. It can occur anywhere in the skeletal system and it’s always silent in terms of symptoms. When a fracture occurs, it is often life altering because it is difficult to repair the extensive fracture. I can still remember my sharp and nimble 85 year old grandfather stumbling on a hose and breaking his hip. He never came out of the surgery. Fortunately, a first line of defense is selecting foods for osteoporosis prevention. A diet with foods providing nutrients for bone strength starting early in life is key.
osteoporosis

Nutrients for Osteoporosis Prevention

Choosing the right foods for osteoporosis prevention will provide the best nutrients for bone strength. Most people know the importance of enough calcium and vitamin D for strong bones. Furthermore, we know diets rich in bone building nutrients early in life allow for stronger bones later in life. We all start losing bone strength as we age. Think of your skeletal system as a calcium bank that you start withdrawing from around 40 years of age. For that reason, the more strength in your bones earlier in life, the better off you will be when old.

Top important nutrients for bone health are calcium and vitamin D along with vitamin K, C, and A. Some recent studies have pointed out some novel foods that could help prevent osteoporosis.

Dried Plums (aka prunes)

According to researchers, prunes have a unique nutrient and dietary profile that seem to have a beneficial effect. A variety of phenolic compounds in this fruit may be the factor that helps prevent bone loss. As little as 6 prunes a day might be therapeutic.

Olives

It seems consumption of olives as well as olive oil improves bone health. The beneficial effect of olives and olive oil may be attributed to their ability to reduce inflammation.  Human studies have revealed that daily consumption of olive oil could prevent the decline in bone density and improve bone turnover markers.

Fish

The Framingham Osteoporosis Study has shown that people who eat at least 3 weekly servings of fish gained hip bone mass density over 4 years compared to people with low to moderate fish consumption. The correlation is due to a number of dietary factors. Fish is high in protein and also omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to decrease inflammation.

Beer 

Researchers have long known that silicon may contribute to bone mineralization. Silicon is available from drinking water and some foods. But, the silicon content of beer is relatively high. Researchers have noted that dietary silicon intake in men and women aged 30-87 years of age was correlated with a higher bone mineral density.

Wine 

In particular, the Framingham Osteoporosis study identified red wine as particularly beneficial to bone in women. This led to the thinking that perhaps the resveratrol found in wine was the protective factor. Resveratrol is a naturally occurring polyphenol abundant in wine, grapes, and some nuts. Researchers cautioned that moderation was key because excessive alcohol had a negative impact on bone density.

And, for information on getting enough vitamin D for strong bones, here’s more information!

For more detailed information on osteoporosis, visit here.

Has diet improved your bone density scans? How did you change your diet to build more bone density?

Pediatric Cancer Moms: The Most Amazing Moms I Know

I joined the pediatric cancer club in 2016 as the grandmother of a child with cancer. Never in my wildest dreams (nightmare) did I think pediatric cancer would become a family tagline. Never. We are all healthy, and while we often had some unique medical concerns, cancer was not one of them. Since 2016, the sheer grit, talent, and perseverance of what is called the “cancer”  mom continues to amaze me.

 

“Cancer” moms are resilient and generous

Google “cancer” mom and you get information on mom’s with cancer, not mom’s with children who have cancer. Even google can’t handle that search. Now, if you ever hear an adult cancer survivor talk of their journey, they often say the cancer was a “gift”. I certainly don’t see pediatric cancer as a gift, but it has opened my eyes to the absolute strength of those moms as well as the phenomenal generosity of others.

Can you imagine wrapping up brain cancer treatment of your son and then soon after donning a long red gown to attend a fundraiser to support pediatric cancer patients? This “cancer” mom  pulled this off with such elegance that you would never know her son was just wrapping up treatment. Time after time I see poised, strong, and resilient “cancer” moms moving through life with grace and boulder-like strength.

Helping others with the pediatric cancer challenge

A central theme with cancer moms is to help others going through the same experience. It might be the worst emotional trauma on earth to a parent, and so many of these moms (and dads) only want to help others in any way they can to lessen the pain for others. It is not about themselves, but always other families. Here are some amazing ways these moms have helped other cancer families:

  • There is a local cancer mom that is a photographer. She offers to take photos of the cancer warrior children during the holidays. She reaches out for toy donations and then all these children receive toys along with the precious family photos.This act of generosity is priceless to those dealing with pediatric cancer.
  • There is a Chicago area charity called Cancer Kiss my Cooley (CKMC). The purpose of this organization is to create special moments and lasting memories for families living with pediatric brain tumors. The founders of CKMC lost their son, and their son Carter only wanted “everyone’s dreams to come true.” The organization was named after a phrase that Carter used to say during treatment. His backside was called his “cooley” which is Italian slang for “rear end”. He would sing “cancer kiss my cooley” during treatment and hence the legacy name of this organization. There is a mom (and dad) behind this special organization.
  • There is a mom that runs marathons and she is my daughter. She ran two, and runs her third in October, 2019. These marathons are to raise funds for brain cancer research. And then there are the toy drives so that children receiving brain radiation can have a gift after each treatment. And, other children receive Christmas gifts at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Why does her running matter for research? Only 4% of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer and only a small fraction of that is slated for brain cancer research.

A toast to all moms

So, I give a toast to all moms this Mother’s day. But for cancer moms, I will toast you and also thank you for making lemonade from lemons. It really does take a village to fight and support pediatric cancer. On this Mother’s day, consider your blessings if your children are healthy, and support those that are not with a shoulder to lean on or a donation in your community.

To read more or donate:

Cancer Kiss My Cooley

Lurie Children’s Hospital

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Coping With Pet Loss: Try Walking

Pet loss and coping

RIP my friend

Grief is what we feel at loss. The loss of a person, a four-legged buddy, or your past way of life. Everyone grieves and copes differently. But even though we all grieve in different ways, we all need to cope. Walking can be a coping tool for all loss, including pet loss. As hard as it may be to start walking to cope with grief, it’s a tool that most of us can use as we cope with loss of any sort.

Planned walking for coping with pet loss

I walk regularly. Walking for me is usually for my physical self-care. But, walking can be for mental health as well. On this day, walking is for my mental well-being. I got on the treadmill after being away from it for a few days. After 2 miles, I got off the treadmill. Then, I got ready for the next exercise event I had mentally planned so I could start to feel better. I had suffered yet another pet loss that I needed to heal from.

Over the weekend, I lost my seemingly healthy 12 year old cat. He was a very cool cat that acted like a dog. Everyone loved him, including all my granddaughters. He is the third fur baby I have lost in 3 years. His death was very unexpected as he had passed his vet check-up less than a month ago with flying colors. He was eating, drinking, playing and being his normal self. I have a hole in my heart. I haven’t really gotten over the loss of my last two pets, and was cherishing the “wellness” of my remaining fur baby.

My planned strategy

What was my planned exercise event? I got off the treadmill and went to a canine rescue shelter that allows volunteers to walk the dogs. I knew I needed to do this for my mental health to help healing. The walking of the shelter dog was purely selfish. But, I just knew it would help me and help whatever dog was allowed to escape for the 30 minute walk. It was a calculated move for my mind that was a win-win. I can’t wait to go back.

Walking for mental health

So how does walking help our mental health and just plain old coping? Here are some reasons researchers have suggested walking can help lift our mood and help our mental health.

Fatigue. Regular walking can actually alleviate physical fatigue. Physical fatigue begets mental fatigue. I know when I have experienced severe emotional stress, I always feel physically exhausted. As exhaustion lessens, our minds are better able to refocus and cope with life.

Better sleep. We don’t need to be a scientist to know that a good night’s sleep can be magical. A good sleep allows our mind to start healing and lets us get through the next day more effectively. Better sleep casts a better light on EVERYTHING life throws at us.

Hormones. Some hormones will be increased and others lowered. The shifts in the hormones are of benefit to our brain. Walking releases mood lifting hormones called endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain and improve our mood. At the same time, mild exercise can decrease the stress related hormone called cortisol. While we need cortisol, we don’t need the blood levels that come along with chronic stress.

And walking in sunshine? Even better! The sun will allow your body to make vitamin D which will boost serotonin levels. Increased serotonin levels is a known mood booster.

RIP my Louis. You loved hanging with me by the computer and the treadmill. We had a nice visit in Michigan on the porch just before you left me. I am so glad you were able to see all the birds and do your goofy chirp.

For more excellent tips on how to manage grief from pet loss, see the suggestions from the American Veterinary Medical  Association.

Grieving moves in stages. The passing of time helps our wounds. Have you walked or turned to physical activity to help soothe the process? Please share.