My bones have been bugging me. I’m pretty sure that eating a balanced diet of (mostly) real food is increasing my bone mass, and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Yeah, I know everyone says that healthy bone density is a good thing, but I’m not quite convinced.
Bone Mass is Heavy, Dude
For starters, there’s the issue of weight. For women, bones start gaining density at puberty, and bone density will continue to build throughout a woman’s lifetime (with growth peaking sometime during your twenties).
So here’s the problem: bone is heavy, and this extra bone density is going to show up on the scale!
I don’t think that’s going to work for me. Seeing that number on the scale go up is terrifying–bone density or not. If eating healthy is going to increase my bone density, I’m not sure if I can handle the extra weight. Just walking around knowing I weigh more than other women will torment me to no end.
And what about my body mass index? Goodness knows that height-to-weight ratio means everything. If my weight is too high–even if it is bone density or muscle mass–I’m going to hear it from my doctor. I can’t deal with that kind of pressure just for the sake of strong bones.
Bone Density Just Isn’t “Cool”
And what about later in life? I really won’t be cool when all the other women my age are popping Caltrate and Boniva like candy trying to scrape up an extra ounce of bone mass. They’ll think I’m totally lame when they ask what pills I’m taking and all I can say is something like, “Oh, um, I’m not really into that stuff.” Then they’ll snicker behind my back and talk about how uncool I am.
The ostracism won’t stop there, however. How will I identify with other folks my age? When I’m sitting around the table enjoying a festive dinner with friends, what if the conversation suddenly turns to hip or knee replacement? I won’t be able to indentify with anyone in the room. They might think I’m rude when I don’t participate in the discussion. They may not invite me back for next Thursday’s cribbage game. I don’t want to die friendless and alone!
Good bone density may be “healthy” but it’s definitely not “cool” — so I’m hedging my bets and doing what I can to lose bone density.
Here’s my 7-step plan to avoid the unpleasant experiences of healthy bone density:
Step 1: Weigh myself religiously.
This is how I will gauge my health. If my weight goes up one ounce it’s time to start dieting. I won’t pay attention to my measurements or my pant size. Just the scale. Oh, and maybe an online BMI calculator, too.
Step 2: Avoid natural proteins and fats like the plague.
Both are essential for fueling the bone-building process (protein for structural building material and fat to balance the hormones that control bone formation), so I’ll definitely stay away from those.
Step 3: If I do eat fats, it’ll be corn oil.
Corn oil is definitely not the best oil for healthy bone density (source), so this is an essential part of my plan.
Step 4: I’ll start a low-carb diet to lower my insulin levels.
This slows down the rebuilding process so I’ll be breaking down more bone mass than I’m replacing.
Step 5: I’ll restrict calories.
I mean, gosh, if I’m avoiding protein, fats and carbs this should be easy. Crash diets are a key orchestrator of bone loss (since they raise stress hormones to cope with the energy deficit), so I’ll throw some of those in there, too.
Step 6: I’ll run several miles a day while undereating.
This is sure to put me in a catabolic state with high stress hormones, which will force my body to eat at my bone (and muscle) mass for energy.
Step 7: I’ll live a high-stress lifestyle.
If all of that isn’t enough to keep my stress hormones sky-high, I’ll also make sure I don’t get enough sleep and that my to-do list is miles long. No naps, no vacations, no walks in the woods. This should elevate my cortisol levels enough to accelerate bone loss.
In today’s world there just isn’t room for someone with a healthy level of bone density. I figure this is a surefire plan to make sure I don’t have to deal with becoming a bone density outcast.
But if you’re “cool” with being an outcast, just do the opposite of everything I just said. Eat a balanced diet with enough energy and nutrients to support your lifestyle, exercise (but don’t overdo it), get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, and have some downtime every day.
P.S. I first started learning about bone density and osteoporosis in relation to diet and lifestyle from The Schwarzbein Principle book series. You can read my reviews of those books here.
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Elizabeth is the founder of The Nourished Life and has been writing about natural living for 12 years. Her work has been featured at Shape, Bustle, and Mother Earth Living. Her mission is to help you lower your stress levels and find fun ways to become happier and healthier. Read more about Elizabeth here.