Eat Well: Good Bones

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
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It’s been awhile since I have written a blog post and I’ve missed it.  There have been several reasons contributing to my absence but the main reason is that I have been helping my mother, Rebecca’s Nana, who fell and broke her leg (her femur) over a month ago.  She had immediate surgery to attach plates and screws to hold the bone in place, and after 5 days in the hospital, has been recuperating in a rehab center. I’m bringing this up because on the day that we brought her to the center, one of the nurses asked if she had taken Boniva or Fosamax, both osteoporosis medicines.  Yes…she had…for 2 years but stopped taking them several years ago because she had an instinct that they weren’t good for her.  “You might look into it but we have seen a huge number of broken femurs associated with these drugs,” said the nurse. It turns out that there is a class action lawsuit against the drug companies making osteoporosis medicines because people’s femurs are suddenly breaking…without trauma.  The drugs, although helping with bone density, are suspected of making bones brittle.  In my mom’s case, the Boniva or Fosamax might not have contributed to her break.  She fell on her knee, which is replaced, and the bone cracked.  Because she fell, we can never know if her bone would have stayed in tact if she hadn’t taken the drugs.  But there is that thought in the back of my mind…. What if?

I have talked about The China Study and the subsequent movie, Forks Over Knives, here before. The book made so much sense to me when I read it over 6 years ago that I changed the way I eat. To reiterate, the authors argue, based on 30 years of scientific study, that our chances of contacting “Western” diseases—diabetes, heart attack, many cancers, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis—dramatically decrease if we limit our consumption of animal protein (dairy, meat, and eggs) to less than 10% of our total calorie intake.  


A couple of weeks ago, I had a bone density test.  The last time I had one was about 6  years ago, just before I switched to a plant based diet with some, but very little, dairy and eggs.  At that time I had osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis, so I was interested to find out if my diet change had affected my bone loss. A couple of days after the test, I called my doctor’s office to find out the results.

“Oh…your bones look great!” the assistant told me.  “No osteopenia whatsoever."

I told him how I had osteopenia 6 years ago and he looked at my chart to confirm. I then told him that I had changed the way I eat and had switched my calcium supplement from Calcium Citrate to plant-based calcium—that I had read the China Study and it had changed my life.

“Wow!  Have you seen Forks Over Knives?” he asked. “Our whole office watched it together and since then, we are suggesting to our patients to make the changes you made.  Whatever you are doing, keep it up!”  I was so excited to hear that this office, a very mainstream general practitioner’s office, not only watched the movie but is telling people about it. 

As women, we are at a higher risk for osteoporosis than men.  On the high protein western diet, at about age 30, bone mass begins to decline and during menopause, when our bodies stop producing estrogen, our bone loss becomes much worse.  The good news is that the damage can be reversed.  By increasing our plant-based protein consumption and decreasing our animal protein consumption, we give our bones a chance to stay strong and that means fewer fractures as we age. This doesn’t mean giving up meat and dairy entirely.  But decreasing animal protein to a small portion once or twice a day will make a huge difference, and in my case, even at 57, my bone density returned to normal by eating a mostly plant based diet and switching to plant-based calcium supplements.

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It’s easy to get calcium from plants.  Many of the same plants that are high in protein are also high in calcium. Collard greens, kale, broccoli (especially the leaves), mustard greens, arugula, okra, and turnip greens are powerhouses of calcium. (Either grow your own broccoli for the leaves or you can find broccoli rabe or other leafy broccoli at farmer’s markets.) Figs, apricots, nuts, beans, soy, molasses, oranges, quinoa, and seeds (such as sesame, sunflower, and chia) have lots of calcium, too.  So basically, if you are eating a variety of different plant based foods, you will be eating a calcium rich diet. 

I rarely ate kale before my switch, and now it is a staple in our diet.  It is a powerhouse of calcium and other vitamins and minerals.  Ages ago, I did a post on kale chips, but I think it is a good time to re-examine this delightful way of eating kale.  I’ve also since then played around with different ways of preparing it.  You can either roast the kale in a hot oven, which is fast but also can burn the kale, or you can cook at a lower heat for longer.  I experimented last night with several temperatures and flavorings, and both Larry and I agreed that we preferred the kale cooked at a lower temperature. You can have fun trying different seasonings and oils—my friend Liz likes avocado oil, which gives it a slightly avocado flavor.  Also truffle oil is delicious.  Sprinkle with salt and a little sugar, or add smoked chipotle, cumin, nutritional yeast, or other flavorings of your choice. Anyone who doesn’t like kale will be an instant convert with presented with a plate of Krispy Kale!

Krispy Kale
1 bunch curly kale
about 2 tablespoons olive oil
salt or seasoned salt of your liking (I use my favorite VitalSalt sesame truffle salt)
pinch or two of sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash and DRY kale well (the oil won’t stick to it unless it is dry).  Tear leaves into about 3 inch pieces, saving the stems for other uses. Toss in a bowl with about 2 tablespoons of oil of your choice.  
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Massage oil into kale with your hands so that the oil is coated on the leaves. Toss with salt to taste.  Spread in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets.  
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Bake for about 10 minutes and then turn kale over.  Bake for another 5-10 minutes, checking frequently.  The kale is best when crisp but not brown.  Pour kale in a bowl and toss with a pinch or two of sugar, if desired. (I love it this way!!)
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optional flavorings: cayenne pepper, smoked chipotle, cayenne pepper, nutritional yeast (add before or after baking)

You can eat these as a snack or sprinkle them on a favorite entrĂ©e or salad.

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Next time I am going to try and make kale chips by using a dehydrator.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.  Meanwhile, I’d love to know if you have a favorite way of preparing crispy kale!

Enjoy! And may your bones be healthy forevermore.

Love,
WWW

2 comments:

Sarah H | 9:03 AM

The timing of this post is hilarious to me, as I have been on a complete kale chipe bender all week. I have gone through 4 heads just this week alone, and even my 2 year old son loves them. Last night, when he called his play food lettuce "Kale chips" I realized I might be on my own personal Portlandia!

I love them just like you make them, with salt and pepper and Nutritional yeast (Nooch!), but i recently tried this recipe that is purported to taste like Doritoes!
Shockingly, they DO!

http://www.thekitchn.com/snack-recipe-cheesy-and-vegan-kale-chips-179037

Holley | 11:06 AM

Thank you for posting this! I completely agree and have changed my diet which was inspired by my mother who had multiple health issues. She chose a plant based diet and the results are astounding!