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Here's the Best Preventative Medicine

Talk to any AMA doctor. Read any magazine or newspaper. I'll bet all the money at the blackjack tables in Las Vegas the sage advice reads: Women, swalloweth those calcium tablets daily to keep your bones healthy and strong. Fifteen hundred milligrams a day will keep the casts away, according to the guidelines issued by the august National Institutes of Health. 

In my research, this is the WORST advice anyone, male or female, could receive. 

First, osteoporosis is not a female disease. In Singapore, men get osteoporosis much more frequently than women. Here in the United States, where I'm writing, the increase of osteoporosis in those with XY chromosomes is on the rise. Everyone my age (yesterday was my 45th birthday) had better worry about fossilization. (My son was referring to my mental state, but here I'm talking about bones!) 

Second, osteoporosis has many causes. If your body lacks calcium, supplementation is a very good idea. The problem is, up to 62% of my customers have a calcium utilization disorder. Their bodies can not absorb the calcium they swallow. For them, the standard advice not only wastes their money. It makes them believe they are really doing something to protect their bones, when, it fact, it can hasten the osteoporotic process. 

How do you know if you have a calcium absorption disorder? My lab can tell you exactly. But if you want to do some free research before sending me greenbacks, answer this question: How much sugar and aspartame do I eat each day? 

If you answered the question honestly, you'll have a fairly accurate answer. If your sugar consumption is out of control, you probably have a calcium absorption problem. Yes, my friends, those diet soft drinks and Famous Amos cookies (in my case, chocolate mousse cake and fresh cherry pie) are making us prime candidates for the dowager's hump. 

Too much sugar, you see, can cause insulin resistance. I'll skip the chemistry class, but here's the result. If you eat too much sugar, your insulin levels become too high in your body. One very bad result of too much insulin: the substance literally robs your bones of their calcium. That's right. It pulls healthy bone material out of your limbs and deposits it in your soft tissues. 

And you know what else too much insulin does? It prohibits your bones from absorbing those calcium supplements you're swallowing. Ditto for the calcium in the milk and cheese you're consuming. Since the calcium can't go into your bones, where it is sorely needed, it ends up in your soft tissues, where it can even cause harm. 

So, if you take a calcium supplement and wash it down with a diet soft drink, or have a glass of Merlot (my fav) with your meal, forget about any calcium absorption. (I'm picking on soft drinks because aspartame acts just like sugar when it comes to insulin reactions. Saccharin is the only sweetener that is OK). 

How do I know this? I see it every day in my work. Calcium levels are the first thing my lab tests in a Tissue Mineral Analysis. Normal levels of calcium are 26 to 46 parts per million. My tissue calcium levels have topped 248. I've seen readings as high as 900. 

So, giving up sugar is crucial. My hero Shannon Lucid taught me the second cardinal rule of bone loss prevention. 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration physicians discovered astronauts lost bone in space at the dizzying rate of 1.5 percent a month. Dr. Norman Thagard, for example, spent 115 days in space on the Russian space station Mir last year. He lost 11.7 percent of his bone material and 17.5 pounds of overall muscle and weight during his sojourn. Most of this loss came from the hip and lower spine. (Does this sound familiar?) 

Dr. Frank M. Sulzman, director of life science research at NASA, says a trip to Mars, which takes a year or two each way, may leave an astronaut permanently crippled upon return to Earth. 

Guess what these NASA experts discovered was the solution? Pumping iron! (Duh. Your tax dollars at work?*^&!) 

Yes, resistance training against gravity is the best way to build bone, even in space. The astronauts, of course, lost bone because they faced no gravitational resistance in a weightless environment. Even though you fight gravity every day, you still need to pump iron at least twice a week to keep your osteoblasts -- the cells that manufacture new bone material -- working at high gear. 

Tufts University did a study of older women, giving them a weekly weight lifting routine. Since the youngest ones were in the 70's, this was new stuff for this group, who probably grew up thinking it was unladylike to sweat. 

After 12 months, the weight lifters increased the bone mass in their hips and lower spines by an average of 1 percent. The control group of sedentary women lost 2 to 2.5 percent of their bone mass. (Compare that to Dr. Thagard's 11.7 percent loss!) That made the sedentary ladies 2.5 times more likely to suffer a broken bone than the ones who pumped iron. 

A secondary finding: strength training can ease depression. 

My conclusion: Throw out the calcium supplements and the Prozac and Zoloft. Buy some hand and leg weights and don't worry, be happy. 

P.S. The Tufts researcher, Miriam Nelson, wrote a book about her findings called "Strong Women Stay Young." It's a very good primer if you've never pumped iron before, regardless of your chromosome make up. 

Freud once said ignorance is no excuse for dumb behavior. In the Meltdown interpretation of those words, ignorance is a choice we make to prevent ourselves from making difficult changes in our lives even though we really know better. Now you have no excuse not to get healthy!

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