Tag Archives: Live Better

Live Better Health tip

Clarks Header-CMYKPut Up A Resistance (Training) For Bone Health

By C Doussett M.P.H., R.D.N. of Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods Market

The oft-forgotten skeleton is one of our most powerful allies in the quest for health and a long life. Our skeletons not only keep us upright, but they protect vital organs, link body systems to each other and produce our oxygen carrying red blood cells and the majority of our immune cells. They also do wonderful things like nourish us when our diets are lacking and provide the basis for the pH balance in our blood. Taking care of our skeleton requires an adequate mineral and protein supply, as well as important fat soluble vitamins, specifically vitamins D and K. In addition, our skeletons require that we remain physically active and challenge ourselves in a way that sends vital neuro and hormonal signals to maintain bone integrity. Even a modest amount of exercise will have some benefit, yet the majority of individuals with sound bone health adhere to a well thought out and consistent exercise program. This means not only engaging in “cardio” (running, swimming, and biking) but resistance exercise, colloquially known as “hitting the weights”.

Weight training allows bones to experience what is known as the minimal essential strain (MES). The MES is a specific force that induces positive changes in skeletal health and is generally calculated at one/tenth the strain it would take to fracture a bone. In other words, weight training places a healthy strain on our bones that signals those same bones to strengthen themselves. The effects of resistance training on bone health can be felt after only a few sessions and regular training can ensure bones are healthy for years to come.

Knowing this, we must ask, who is at risk for impaired bone integrity?

  • Individuals with small skeletal structures, this unfortunately means a majority of women, including smokers and alcoholics
  • Soda drinkers- due to the high phosphorous content and caffeine, also known to block calcium absorption, or simply because soda is replacing milk and fortified orange juice as the beverage of choice
  • Everyone after a certain age as hormones decline.

What problems does impaired bone health (a.k.a. osteopenia and in advanced cases, osteoporosis) present?

  • Increased risk of fractures and breaks, especially hip fractures which can also lead to pressure sores and blood clots which may lead to pulmonary embolisms
  • Pain when exercising and performing activities of a physical nature
  • Weakened muscles and decreased quality of life

There are important activities we can do to strengthen our bones at an early age so they carry us through life. The recommendations for both kids and adults are, not surprisingly, very similar:

  • Get plenty of exercise. Playing like a kid is a great way to send signals to the bones to keep them strong, resistance training as well as an aerobics class, yoga or a walking group
  • Get your calcium. Leafy green vegetables and bone/mineral broths. For those individuals eschewing dairy, calcium fortified grains, salmon in the can with the bones, and fermented soy products are great, as well as dried spices like thyme, oregano, and basil (up to 100 milligrams of calcium per three tablespoons)

Major fractures later in life can cause immune system compromise and leave us susceptible to opportunistic infections. Keep your skeleton young and your body will follow suit, and as always, have a healthy day.

Give The Ferris A Day Off!


Courtesy of C. Doussett MPH, RDN of Clark’s Nutrition

For many people, dieting is like being on a Ferris wheel, there are high and lows and at the start, it’s nothing but promises and anticipation. Yet too often the process is predictably circular and ends up back where it started. For others, dieting is like a carousel ride, dizzy circles mixed with a steady stream of anecdotes and gimmicks, which ultimately creates a plethora of predatory marketing mixed with well-intentioned “advices”. And yet for others, dieting is akin to riding an escalator between two floors, floor one is eat less and floor two is exercise more. Over time, these individuals become stuck in the middle and have to continually eat even less and exercise even more. This is a recipe for long-term failure, but not a failure of a person’s will but one of design.

So what is to be done? There has to be a better way (there is), it has to be easy to understand (not at first but eventually), and easy to implement (this is where it gets tricky). The trick to lasting and meaningful long-term weight loss in the pursuit of health and longevity is highly individual, subject to change, requires study (to both increase health literacy and to guard against sensationalism), and demands constant vigilance. I wish articles like these could offer the “perfect” advice for weight loss, but that would negate the fact that we are dynamic beings who age, deal with stress, experience profound change, and are subject to a genetic code that is at the mercy of our choices, which are at the mercy of our environment.

Yet it is imperative that some reasoned attempt to distill nutritional and lifestyle approaches into a consumable article be made. In that spirit, the following suggestions are given as a starting template for your consideration.

  • Hydrate: water and herbal teas are best. Drink when thirsty and drink extra when urine starts to darken. Both caffeinated sodas and alcohol can negatively influence hydrations status so consume as little as possible.
  • Sleep 7 to 9 hours nightly. Our body’s internal clock can be thrown out of balance in as little as four days of halved sleep (3.5 to 4.5 hours nightly). This may result in mood changes, difficulty learning or remembering, blood sugar imbalance which increases cravings, and difficulty in performing normal activities of daily living (ADLs).
  • Exercise: One hour daily apart from physical activity. Planned vigorous exercise is the hero to the villain we call disease.
  • Plan meals in this order: vegetables, protein, fatty fruits, fruits, legumes, nuts/seeds, and spices. Create an environment where these food choices are everywhere and your body will respond.
  • Seek purpose and avoid risky behaviors

Supplements may be a beneficial way to assist efforts at achieving or maintaining a healthy weight but they are not the strategy per se. Always seek the advice of health professionals and weigh your decisions carefully. For example, caffeine is by far the most popular choice to help an individual with cravings and to give much needed stimulation during calorie deficits and training sessions but for many people, caffeine has side effects that may derail weight loss efforts. If caffeine (at or around 200 mgs per dose) causes anxiety, hypoglycemia, severe jitteriness, insomnia, or loss of appetite it should be minimized or discontinued.

Keep in mind that our best life may be lived at twenty pounds above our prettiest weight, it happens, yet remain vigilant that a cheat day does not become a cheat decade. Lastly, those healthy actions we do once become easier to do twice, do those a thousand times and you have a habit, five thousand times is a skill, ten thousand is a profession, and any more than that is a life well lived. Ha