This book is full of information on how to build strong bones. Though I don't like the author's comment in the foreword that it's too late to correct osteoporosis once you've broken a bone. I don't believe in "too late". That's a defeatist notion.
This isn't the simplest or clearest of books, hence the four instead of five stars, and needs studying thoroughly. In the introduction the author informs us that the book is about "keeping our bones strong with high-quality whole foods --- along with exercise and sunlight".
Annemarie Colbin cites several dietary risk factors for osteoporosis - 1) eating a high amount of refined flour products and sweets 2) eating a high proportion of nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers) 3) not eating enough vegetables, especially greens 4) not including enough good-quality fats in the diet 5) insufficient protein in the diet.
The risk involved in eating nightshade vegetables was new to me and I shall stop eating these. Re insufficient protein in the diet, this was not mentioned in the previous book I read and reviewed on the subject (by Lanou and Castleman). Annemarie Colbin states that both too much and too little protein can cause trouble with the bones. Vegetarians have been shown to have higher bone density than omnivores.
But more recent studies have indicated that those with the lowest protein intake had the most bone loss, and that lower intake of animal protein was also significantly related to bone loss in both the hip and spine. One study showed that a doubling of protein consumption from meat together with a reduction of carbohydrates not only didn't increase calcium loss through the urine, it is also associated with higher levels of bone growth factors in the blood. This is in direct opposition to the other, afore-mentioned book, but the latter bases its conclusions on many studies, and this was only one particular study.
Many people with osteoporosis never break their hips, and some with normal bone density do. Bone density tests present only a part of the picture.
Bone health depends on adequate supplies of many nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, certain vitamins, and a variety of minerals.
It is explained to us what bones are made of and how they work, and there is a small section on causes of fragility fractures. These occur when there is a low-impact trauma. Being hard and rich in calcium isn't enough to make bones resistant to fracture. Bones can be dense yet brittle and lacking in flexibility, which will cause them to break easily. A bone with zero calcium doesn't break, it bends, while a dense high-calcium bone with a diminished collagen matrix can break with slight pressure or shatter with a sharp blow.
The author cites the case of a student she had who regularly developed calcium deposits in the ureter. It turned out she drank about a quart of milk a day. When she stopped drinking milk, there were no recurrences of the problem. Thought-provoking!
There is a chapter about what bones need to be healthy, including vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, etc.
A chapter on what weakens our bones discusses acid-alkaline balance and the need for eating fruits, vegetables, seaweeds, miso and salt. Annemarie states that protein and carbohydrate foods are acid-forming, but, as regards the protein, in my view this contradicts her statement earlier in the book that eating relatively high amounts of protein are necessary for bone health.
She goes into the harmfulness of consuming sugar, sweets, sweeteners, caffeine and alcohol.
Lack of exercise, too much exercise or high-intensity athletics, cause bone loss. Walking and weight training promotes healthy bones.
The author calls into question the belief that we should get calcium from milk products or supplements, that we should add soy to our diet (because of its health risks) that it's important to have bone density tests, that it's important to take medication to avoid or slow bone loss and that women should use hormone replacement therapy.
A chapter is included on how diet can promote healthy bones, there's one on the importance of movement and exercise and one on how it is possible to regain lost bone , which seems to contradict her remark in the introduction to which I took exception.
Finally, there are many enticing recipes for healthy bones.
What irritates me about the book is how some of the chapters are packed with information of a varying nature, thus making it hard to find one's way around the book. An index would have been helpful.
But the information presented is invaluable. We all need to look after our bone health, especially in this day and age when the diet of most of us leaves much to be desired.
I would like to add that I recently broke my thigh bone though I had in my view been eating "right" by consuming plenty vegetables, and had been walking every day. However, I was not getting much protein, only a little fish, a few eggs and portions of beans, so the author is probably correct in her contention that low protein intake is deleterious for bone health.
I recommend that you read this book in order to obtain the necessary information as to how to protect your bones.