After my doctor told me that my bones were “thinning at an alarming rate” on June 1, 2015, I went straight home and started reviewing the literature on how to increase bone density. The first thing I came across was a study by a man in Florida which proved that dried plums—formerly known as prunes—increased bone density. Another study showed red grapefruit would do it. Yet another study said that any caffeine would have a negative impact on bones. I quit drinking tea. I ate 15 prunes every day, mimicking the study. I ate grapefruit. I started drinking forty-eight ounces of green tea every day after seeing another study on its efficacious effect on the skeleton. I read more studies. I bought a couple of books on the subject that looked promising. One was by an American assistant professor of nutrition and wellness who advanced a theory that we must maintain the alkalinity of our bloodstream or our bodies would increase that level by leaching the calcium from—you guessed it—our bones. The author had done a meta-review of thousands of research studies from all over the world on exactly who gets osteoporosis and who does not. The results were surprising and convincing. The evidence presented in the book appeared unassailable. As a lawyer, hard data and evidence are important to me. In my desperate state, I grabbed onto her theory like a life jacket. Over a period of about three weeks, I changed over to a mostly vegan diet, drank no caffeine whatsoever (except for the green tea), and walked like a drum majorette on speed. Although I had always been a gym rat and had done extensive cardio exercise, I had avoided high-impact running for years—since pre-menopause—due to its effect on my back and feet. For cardio exercise, I rode an elliptical machine instead. That was a great loss for me, since the strength and freedom I had felt while running had always made my heart sing. I recall sharing with my university classmates how I had been out running in the rain. When they all looked at me cross-eyed and asked why, I burst out with, “Because that’s what life and living is all about!!” That was how much freedom and joy it gave me.
One thing that became obvious to me after June 1, 2015, was that elliptical training was not preventing my bone loss because it lacks the necessary impact on the heel and up the spine. Unfortunately, even after my doctors discovered I had osteopenia and osteoporosis at the age of 50, they did not share this news with me. Perhaps they did not know. But I learned it from my own experience, and started walking instead. And walk I did. Like a mad woman. Walking, walking, walking. Fast. And far. Every day for an hour. Which is hard to do when your life is already overtaxed by a demanding career and a long commute. Meanwhile, I continued to eat prunes and grapefruit, drink green tea, and eat a low-acid diet. And pray.
For the next year, I continued to read and take all of the interventions I could. I also found an excellent new general physician in May 2016. After I had a DEXA scan done at the end of that month, I discovered that all of my hard work had paid off: I had stabilized the bone density in my hips and had increased the bone density in my left femoral neck by an astounding 11.3%.
But that work is never done. Bone-building continues, as does bone breakdown and bone resorption. It’s up to us to work at keeping our bones strong. If you’re interested in avoiding medication like I was and am, read my book:
https://www.amazon.com/NO-BONES-ABOUT…/dp/1735540528 If you do, you’ll see that everyone is different; everyone has different risk factors. For those reasons, we may all need different lifestyle hacks. That’s why I advocate for building an Individual Bone-Building Plan (“IBP”). If you are interested in help formulating such a plan, book a session on my coaching page.