As we grow older there’s no escaping the changes that happen to our body, however we can do things to slow this ageing process and the worries we have about it.
Thinning, weakening and brittle bones are one of the dreaded markers of ageing. More than half of all caucasian women age 50 and older are estimated to have low bone mass, which means their bones are getting weaker but they don’t yet have osteoporosis. If not addressed, everyday tasks such as carrying groceries, opening jars, walking, reaching for high shelves can become difficult and filled with fear for people whose bones have developed osteoporosis.
Chinese medicine with it’s 5 element food medicine, Qi Gong and Acupressure can help you manage the physical, mental and emotional transitions of ageing. For the month of December we will be practicing Qi Gong and Acupressure to build strong bones and slow the ageing process.
Im 54 and I have been using Chinese Medicine for over 25 years and I share here how this system of holistic health keeps my bones strong.
From about age 25 to age 50, bone density tends to stay stable with equal amounts of bone formation and bone breakdown. After age 50, bone breakdown outpaces bone formation and bone loss often accelerates, particularly at the time of menopause. The risk increases at menopause, when levels of bone-bolstering oestrogen fall. Men are also at risk as even though they don’t usually experience dramatic hormonal change, because life expectancy continues to rise, men over the age of 70 can experience slow, progressive bone loss.
In Chinese Medicine, the body and it’s organs are divided into five energetic systems or elements; wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each of these elements have a time of day, a season, a flavour, a sensory organ and a body part. The water element is linked to the Kidney and Bladder which in turn govern the spine, the bones, brain, reproductive organs, hormonal and nervous system.
Therefore Osteoporosis, in Chinese Medicine would essentially be treated by supporting the Water element and the Kidney System, the flavour for which is salty.
What can we eat?
Let’s look at foods that have a salty flavour and would support the energetic Kidney system and most importantly, the bones.
Obviously salt has the saltiest of flavours so making sure we have enough good natural sea salt in our diet is essential. Because sea salt is minimally processed it contains minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium and most importantly for bones, calcium. It also helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure in the body.
However too much of a good thing can tip the yin yang balance so don’t over do the salt by eating foods packed with refined table salt such as crisps (chips) popcorn, pre-packaged ready meals, processed, smoked or canned meat, such as bacon, cold cuts, ham, frankfurters, and sausage as this can have the reverse effect and increase blood pressure and weaken bones.
Foods with a salty flavour usually have a high mineral content so eating these foods rather than relying on salt alone will mean your bones stay strong. Calcium is the most important mineral for bone health. However, there are other minerals such as copper, magnesium, boron, iron, potassium and zinc that play an important role as well. The good news is that a balanced diet that include salty tasting foods such as
- bone broth
- broccoli & green leafy veg
- daikon radish
- dandelion root
- chicory root
- adzuki beans
- wheatgrass, barley grass
- sesame seeds
- and my favourite, seaweed
should meet your daily magnesium and calcium requirements.
Studies show “Magnesium deficiency contributes to osteoporosis directly by acting on crystal formation and on bone cells and indirectly by impacting on the secretion and the activity of parathyroid hormone and by promoting low grade inflammation.”*
All edible seaweeds contains high amounts of magnesium and calcium in a format that’s super easily absorbed by the body. This mineral rich, salty flavoured food will really nourish the kidneys and the whole skeletal system.
You can find lots of seaweed plus salty food recipes and full list of kidney supporting in my 5 element cook books that cover the colours, the foods, emotions, seasons, acupressure points, and energy exercises for each specific organ and system.
I eat seaweed every day, whether sprinkled on eggs or avocado or larger flakes added to stews and rice as they cook.
For the whole month of December we will be practicing Bone Marrow Qi Gong, learning acupressure points and sharing food medicine to build strong bones and slow the ageing process.
Exercise is an important aspect of bone strength you can read more in my next blog or even sign up for a special bone building Qi Gong class at the end of November.
Qigong, combines gentle movements, controlled breathing, and focused meditation. It is designed to cultivate and balance the body’s life force energy, promoting overall well-being.
Every journey starts with a single step, let a simple daily Qi Gong practice guide you on a transformative path towards renewed vitality, fortified bones, and a joyful heart connected life.