Saturday, February 25, 2012

Food Facts Friday: Bone health

Yesterday, the day got away from me and I still had to squeeze in a 5mile run. So, after dropping my son and his friend off at wresting club, I decided to go to the gym an run on the treadmill. My son was going to get a ride home from his friend's father, so I wanted to take advantage of this small window of time.

Well, I was just finishing up with the five miles when I got a phone call from my son's friend's Dad,"Hi, yeah, it looks like we got a broken collar bone, here. I'm gonna take your son to the hospital."
Now, I know a collar bone is easy to break - it doesn't take more than a few pounds of pressure - and I know there's really nothing you can do for a broken clavicle, except keep the arm, on the side that's broken, in a sling. Still, it's my son and when I asked if he were in pain, the response was, "Yes."

I guess that was a stupid question, but it was one whose answer made me feel sick to my stomach. I felt bad that mini-man was in pain, in someone else's car, driving to the hospital and I was, half dressed running out of the gym toward my car. Someone even yelled at me, "Put some clothes on!"
Get some clothes on!
Note to self: I am not the person you want on your emergency call list. I look fine, act composed and seem like I am thinking straight - but don't let the looks fool you! Inside, the brain is mush. I don't think straight and act very militant-like, as I try to bring order to the thoughts jumping around in my head. So, that's why what should have been a 25minutes ride to the hospital, turned out to be more like a 50minute ride! Yeah, I got lost ...twice. Eventually, I had to use my GPS to get there! Just crazy! I literally could not get there fast enough!

Finally, when I got to the hospital and gave them my insurance card, they were able to administer a little ibuprofen and run him to X-ray. They confirmed that he broke his right clavicle and sent him home with his right arm in the sling.
Mini-man at the doctors
This morning we picked up the X-rays from the hospital (they have to file them in the Radiology Library before you can have a copy!) and brought them to the Orthopedic Center.  The doctor did not tell me anything new, except how exactly the clavicle will heal. It's amazing, actually. Mini-man's bone will not heal straight, although he will get a "figure-eight" sling in 2weeks to position it to heal a bit straighter (due to the pain issue, they wait 2weeks to use this other sling) than it is now. The doctor told us that when bone heals it just send a bunch of bone material (osteoblasts) to the break. After it is healed, other bone material (osteoclasts) reshape the bone so that eventually, it is 'mostly' straight.

All this bone talk about rebuilding and remodeling made me think of what my nephew asked me a couple of months ago, "Why, if we are one of the biggest milk consumers in the world, does osteoporosis threaten millions of Americans?"

He's correct. The United States is ranked the third largest consumer of milk, after India and the European Union. And, after some European states, like England and Sweden, the US has some of the highest rates of osteoporosis.

Lots of factors play a role in the development of osteoporosis, such as age, gender, hormones, genetic, diet and lifestyle. According to the research, genetics is responsible for about 2/3 of the variation in bone mass. That means that diet and lifestyle play into only about 1/3. But don't let this small fraction fool you. Diet and lifestyle can and do influence that genetic potential for peak bone mass and bone loss. And, unlike genetics, diet and lifestyle can be modified.

Everyone has heard that calcium and vitamin D can help build and maintain bone mass. But, not everyone has heard that dietary salt can negatively impact your bones, too. In fact, a high salt intake increases your excretion of calcium.

Is this preventable? Yes. 
There are three main ways you can 
stop losing your calcium 
due to a high intake of dietary salt:

First: Understand how much sodium you need and which foods are high in dietary salt. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 2300mg of sodium per day (and less than 1500mg/day if you're 51 or older). Foods high in sodium, which you may consider cutting back on include: processed and prepared foods (duh!), milk or shellfish, table salt and sauces (like soy, BBQ or cheese sauce).
Second: Eat a variety of potassium rich fruits and veggies, such as bananas, dates, mango, sweet potatoes, asparagus every day. If this is not possible, you can fortify your diet with a vitamin supplement that contains potassium. It appears that potassium helps the kidneys reabsorb calcium.
Third: Use a combination of techniques by incorporating a low salt diet, such as the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) with a diet high in fruits and veggies.

With 50,000 Americans dying each year due to problems related to osteoporosis, it makes sense to promote a diet higher in fruits and veggies and lower in dietary salt. Besides the dietary approach, physical activity must also be a part of one's lifestyle to build and maintain bone mass. Physical activity can range from running, to weight lifting, or yoga -  as long as the exercise you choose, stresses the bone in a resistance routine.

"What appears to be more important in bone metabolism is not calcium intake, 
but calcium balance" 
Neal Barnard, MD Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, 
Understanding Health, 1999.


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