Catalyzing change through nutritional therapy
Bone health and mineral balanceBone health and mineral balance
The month of August is more than half-way over, and the summer has flown by!
Many foods provide minerals essential for health.
This is a great time of year to add in new good habits to benefit your health and your family’s health throughout the life span!
From prenatal development through the golden years, the health of our bones is important for health and quality of life. We can work on optimizing and improving bone health at any age, but consciously building bone health sooner rather than later is an important preventive tool.
In my nutritional therapy practice, I often work with adults over 50 who are concerned about bone health, as well as pregnant women striving for optimal nourishment in the interest of their babies’ development.
By taking an individualized approach and addressing the root causes of dysfunction when there are concerns about poor bone health, I have seen great improvements in my clients’ overall health, along with dramatically improved bone density tests. Along the same line, my fertility and pregnancy clients have healthier pregnancies and healthier, and even more beautiful, babies compared to those consuming the standard American diet.
Bone health is a complex and multi-faceted area of human health, due to the numerous factors affecting mineral metabolism. A lot of the assumptions made about bone health are in fact incomplete or incorrect. For example, consuming high-calcium foods such as dairy products – or even calcium supplements – is no guarantee against osteoporosis. In fact, consuming low-fat and non-fat dairy products increases the risk osteoporosis. This is because without the fats naturally present in whole and unadulterated dairy products, the mineral receptors in the small intestine are not activated. This is a consequence of low-fat and fat-free dairy speeding through the digestive system in the absence of dairy fat, because these denatured and impoverished processed foods are mostly composed of water, sugars and protein.
Not all minerals present in food can be absorbed easily, and there is a lot of individual variation in ability to absorb minerals from various foods.
Some of the most common reasons for sub-optimal or poor bone health include:
- Inadequate nutrient intake
- Poor digestion, and in particular, low production of hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for the assimilation of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and other minerals.
- Poor fat digestion, or insufficient/imbalanced essential fatty acid status
- Food sensitivities
- Exposure to toxins, particularly heavy metals such as mercury (present in dental amalgam fillings, many vaccines and in compact fluorescent light bulbs) and aluminum (present in baking powder, cookware, deodorants, vaccines and many antacids) and glyphosate (the active ingredient in the popular herbicide Roundup, which has contaminated food, soil, air and water in most U.S. locations). Read my tips on reducing exposure to glyphosate and heavy metals here
- Hormonal imbalances
Typically, diets high in processed foods and refined sugars and starches are a risk factor for poor mineral metabolism. This is not only because such diets lack nutrients, but also because metabolizing these refined foods depletes the body of many nutrients and creates hormonal imbalances.
Even foods that are healthy can present a problem if they are not properly prepared. In fact, nuts, grains, seeds and legumes contain anti-nutrients that make it difficult to absorb minerals present in the food. This is because all seeds from all plants are designed to reproduce their plant species, rather than being designed as nourishment for us or other animals. As such, all grains, nuts, seeds and legumes have ways of protecting themselves from being digested and for punishing anyone who tries – unless you outsmart them.
Seeds have two basic forms of self-protection:
- Enzyme inhibitors prevent our digestive enzymes from digesting these foods.
- Phytic acid is a powerful anti-nutrient that binds to minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium potassium and magnesium, making these important minerals almost impossible to absorb.
Read more here.
Most commercial pasta contains high levels of phytic acid, so it is preferable for pasta lovers to consume pasta made from organic sprouted grains.
Homemade breads, quick-breads and pizza, both with and without gluten, are easy to make. Find my recipes here.
Bone broth for optimal mineral absorption
In addition to preparing grains, nuts, seeds and legumes in ways that optimize mineral absorption, the daily consumption of bone broth favors the optimal assimilation of minerals by providing amino acids such as glycine and glutamine that heal the intestinal lining, along with gelatin and collagen that help build connective tissue and joints. The minerals in bone broth are highly bio-available. Find my best recipes and serving suggestions here, and read Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla Daniel’s Nourishing Broth for an abundance of culinary, anthropological and scientific information about bone broth.
How to learn more about your mineral balance and nutritional needs
A hair analysis of essential minerals and toxic metals provides a more individualized picture of the overall toxic and essential elements, and how they interrelate. These tests are complex and must be interpreted by someone knowledgeable in order for the results to be of any practical use. I recommend hair tests in my nutritional therapy practice when additional information is needed about the client’s toxicity status, mineral balance and certain functional areas of health (such as adrenal and thyroid function). They are fairly low-cost and offer the expert practitioner a very useful snapshot of the client’s overall health, toxins of concern and areas of nutritional and functional deficiency. This information in turn serves as a starting point for the rebalancing process.
I like to use these tests not only in cases where there are obvious concerns about the person’s mineral status (as in osteoporosis and osteopenia), but also in other conditions that are affected by mineral imbalance and presence of toxic metals, such as ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, autoimmune conditions, metabolic/weight imbalances, infertility, skin problems, fatigue and more.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re interested in discussing your mineral balance and bone health.