kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

Bones are our bodies’ architecture. The skeleton has to be both rigid and pliant. We have to be able to twist and bend and stand upright, all in a constant flow. We lock our knees and stretch to reach an upper shelf and, on a good day, our knees bend to allow us to pick things up off the floor. For decades, we rely on our unseen bones to do their jobs unfailingly.

Most people have 206 bones, but the actual number can vary a bit between people. About one person in eight has an extra set of ribs and people with Down’s syndrome frequently are missing a pair. 206 doesn’t include the tiny sesamoid bones that are scattered through our tendons. Sesamoid means “like a sesame seed”, though the kneecap is also a sesamoid bone.

Clearly, bones provide support, but they also protect our interiors, manufacture blood cells, store chemicals, transmit sound (middle ear), and in light of a recent discovery, it is possible that bones also help our memory and cheer us up thanks to the hormone osteocalcin.

Gerard Karsenty, a geneticist at Columbia University Medical Center, realized that the osteocalcin produced in bones is not only a hormone but is also involved in a large number of important regulatory activities across the body, from helping to manage glucose levels to boosting male fertility to influencing our moods and keeping our memory in working order. This could help explain why regular exercise helps to stave off Alzeheimer’s disease. Exercise builds stronger bones and stronger bones produce more osteocalcin.

Bones grow bigger with exercise and use just like muscles. All your bones together weigh no more than about twenty pounds, yet most can withstand up to a ton of compression. Remarkably, bones will grow back to fill a void. Bones don’t scar, so if you break a bone, after it heals you cannot tell where the break was.

Bone health is important throughout our lives. Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue. This typically happens as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.

Weight-bearing exercises are particularly important for the prevention of osteoporosis. Unfortunately, drugs are typically the first-line remedy recommended by conventional doctors. This is tragic, considering these drugs do more harm than good.

Oral bisphosphonate drugs for osteoporosis such as Actonel, Boniva and Fosamax, are associated with a two-fold increased risk of esophageal cancer. Research also shows that, over time, these kinds of drugs will actually worsen your condition, because all you are doing is fooling your body into producing denser but weaker bone.

Healthy bones maintain strength from a continual process of bone breakdown and bone rebuilding. Osteoclasts are cells that break down bone; osteoblasts are the cells that rebuild it. Healthy bone undergoes this process of cyclical removal of unhealthy bone and replacement with new bone throughout our lives. This is how they remain strong.

In osteoporosis, the net rate of bone resorption (breakdown) exceeds the rate of bone formation, which results in a decrease in bone mass. Bisphosphonates and similar drugs do not actually help your body build new bone. These drugs work by killing off your osteoclasts, which halts the normal bone repair process since you now lack the cells that break bone down.

The end result is increased bone density, but denser bone is not stronger! Eventually your bones become weaker and more prone to fracture. In women who have been taking a bisphosphonate-type drug for five or more years, their bones have literally lost the ability to regenerate and this is why many are still faced with more brittle bones and fractures.

Weight-bearing exercise is one of the most effective remedies against osteoporosis. A walking lunge is a great exercise for building bone density in your hips, even without additional weights. You can use YouTube to find demonstrations of how to do it properly.

Balance-building exercises like yoga and Tai Chi are also recommended. As long as you have strong muscles, bones and steady balance, your risk of falling is minimized.

Needless to say, the earlier you start exercising, the better.  Exercise is really a lifelong lifestyle component, not a temporary fix for any particular problem. That said, even if you’re older, you can still improve your bone health. It’s never too late to start exercising.

You don’t have to use weight gym equipment if you don’t want to. Examples of high-impact weight-bearing exercises recommended by the U.S. National Osteoporosis Foundation include:

  1. Dancing
  2. High-impact aerobics
  3. Hiking
  4. Jumping rope
  5. Climbing stairs
  6. Playing tennis

Lower impact weight-bearing exercises, which are a safer alternative if you’re starting more frail include:

  1. Low-impact aerobics
  2. Stair-step machines
  3. Fast walking

Guidelines for maintaining or increasing your bone strength:

Avoid processed foods and soda, which can increase bone damage by depleting calcium. By ditching processed foods, you’re also automatically eliminating a major source of refined sugars and processed fructose, which drive insulin resistance. It will also provide you with a more appropriate potassium-to-sodium ratio, which is important for maintaining bone mass.

Increase your consumption of organic, raw, fresh vegetables. If you find it difficult to eat the recommended amount of vegetables you need daily, you can try vegetable juicing.

Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally from appropriate sun exposure. Vitamin D builds your bone density by helping your body absorb calcium. If you use an oral supplement, make sure you’re using vitamin D3 (not D2), and that you’re also increasing your vitamin K2 intake. The supplement that I am currently taking is made by Natura, Health Products. It is a highly bioavailable, food-based form of vitamins D, A and K.

Consider making your own fermented vegetables using a special vitamin K2-producing starter culture, or supplementing with vitamin K2 if you’re not getting enough from food alone. Vitamin K2 serves as the biological “glue” that helps plug the calcium into your bone matrix. Also remember to balance your calcium and magnesium (1-to-1 ratio).

Avoid sitting and incorporate as much non-exercise movement into each day as possible.

Get regular exercise. Ideally, your fitness program should be comprehensive, providing the necessary weight-bearing activities for bone health while also improving your cardiovascular fitness and fat-burning capabilities with high-intensity exercises, along with gentle balance- and flexibility-boosting exercises such as yoga, Qigong and Tai Chi.

Lemon

Lemons are a very popular and easy fruit to find year round. Lemons grow throughout southern Europe, the Middle East, and into East Asia. They were brought to the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Today, the leading lemon producers are California, Arizona, Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, South Africa and Australia.

Lemon trees thrive in tropical and subtropical climates, although large-scale cultivation is kept in subtropical regions to limit tree diseases and pests. Lemon trees also don’t do well in cold climates because of the fruit’s low sugar content, making them more prone to freezing.

“Lemons are high in vitamin C, folate, potassium, flavonoids and compounds called limonins,” said Alissa Rumsey, a New York City-based registered dietitian, certified strength and conditioning specialist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Limonins are powerful antioxidants found in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits.

A 2007 study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, showed the effect of limonin on lowering cholesterol. Men and women who had high cholesterol were given limonin and vitamin E daily for a month and their cholesterol levels lowered 20 to 30 percent. The researchers think that limonin reduces apolipoprotein B, which is associated with higher cholesterol levels.

According to World’s Healthiest Foods, a quarter cup of lemon juice contains 31 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 3 percent of folate and 2 percent of potassium and 13 calories. A whole raw lemon contains 139 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake and has 22 calories.

Recent studies have examined the role of lemons in accessing carotenoids, which are beneficial phytonutrients, from other foods during the digestive process. Carotenoids can have low bioaccessibility and bioavailability, meaning that even if you eat a carotenoid-rich food like carrots, you might not absorb many of the carotenoids. A 2018 study in International Journal of Nutrition and Food Engineering found that the carotenoids in boiled or mashed carrots, when combined with lemon juice, olive oil and whey curd, were nearly 30 percent more bioaccessible than without. This suggests that lemons can be an effective exigent food, meaning that, in addition to their own nutritional properties, they can unleash benefits from other foods when combined with them.

According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells and may protect the integrity of immune cells. Vitamin C helps protect leukocytes, which produces antiviral substances. Vitamin C, too, is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, said Rumsey. A 2015 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at more than 100,000 people and found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a 15 percent lower risk of developing heart disease. Those with the highest vitamin C levels in their plasma had even more reduced rates of heart disease.

Lemons and limes contain the most citric acid of any fruits, which makes them beneficial to those suffering from kidney stones. According to University of Wisconsin Health, citric acid deters stone formation by binding calcium and also breaks up small stones that are forming. The more citric acid in your urine, the more protected you are from forming new kidney stones. Half a cup of pure lemon juice every day or 32 ounces of lemonade has the same amount of citric acid as pharmacological therapy.

A 2011 study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention found that lemon extract applied to breast cancer cells induced cell death. The lemon extract was applied in-vitro, but the results may suggest powerful cancer-fighting properties in lemons.

Limonins have also been linked to a decrease in cancer risk, said Rumsey. A 2012 article in the Journal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics looked at limonins in breast cancer cells and found that they could be a helpful aid to chemotherapy.

Lemons, lemon water and lemon peels have become popular with dieters. A 2017 Scientific Reports study of short-term juice-based diets, all of which had lemon juice as a primary ingredient, saw that participants’ intestinal microbiota associated with weight loss had improved, their vasodilator nitric oxide had increased and the oxidation of their lipids had decreased, resulting in improved wellbeing overall.

New research in BioMed Research International suggests lemons may help damaged livers. The 2017 animal study found that rats who had severely damaged livers from alcohol intake saw liver improvement after consuming lemon juice. Lemon juice significantly inhibited negative effects associated with liver disease.

Lemons are known for their antimicrobial properties. A 2017 book, “Phytochemicals in Citrus: Applications in Functional Foods,”describes how solvents made with lemon peel show antimicrobial activity against salmonella, staphylococcus and other pathogenic bacteria. A 2017 study in The Journal of Functional Foods found that fermented sweet lemon juice showed antibacterial activity against E. coli bacteria.

In general, lemons are quite good for you, but if consumed in excess, can cause gastric reflux problems or heartburn for those who suffer from the conditions. Citric acid of lemons can wear down the enamel on your teeth, according to World’s Healthiest Foods, which encourages drinking lemon water through a straw.

Lemon can also be employed for cleaning purposes. It is often used as a natural bleaching agent and as a stain remover. Its refreshing scent also makes it a good choice for a natural deodorizer. I put a couple of drops of lemon oil into every load of my front-loading washer to deter mold.

How to Buy

Look for lemons that are heavy for their size and have smooth, thin and firm skin. Select medium to large size lemons, which are usually juicier than small lemons.

Avoid lemons that are soft, spongy, wrinkled and have bumpy skin. These will have less juice.

You can buy lemons all year round but their peak season is April to July.

Bottled lemon juice and other processed fruit juices are not healthy and often contain high amounts of fructose and/or potentially dangerous additives.

How to Store

How long lemons last depends on how they’re stored. At room temperature, they stay good for about a week.

After a week of being left in room temperature, lemons lose their moisture and start to deteriorate. The pores in the lemon rinds allow moisture to escape the fruit, causing it to dry out and go bad.

To keep lemons fresh longer, you can put them into a bowl of water in the fridge. Or, you can use an air-tight silicone bag like Stasher Bags. The water in the bowl serves to replenish the lost moisture to the lemons, and the silicone bag serves the same purpose of maintaining that moisture within the fruit.

Lemons do NOT ripen after harvest, so chilling them immediately is a good way to keep them fresh.

If you have zested a lemon, it will need extra protection to keep from molding. Seal with a beeswax wrap, like those from Nature Bee, and wrap again in aluminum foil.

To freeze whole lemons:

  1. Place lemons in a freezer-safe bag.
  2. Remove as much air as possible before sealing.
  3. Store in the freezer for three to four months.

To thaw, just let them sit in cold water for about 15 minutes

How to Cook

Wash  lemons before cutting. The zest (the yellow outer skin) is edible and is very flavorful. Remove it with a grater or peeler, taking care not to cut the bitter inner white skin, called the pith. Lemons are available throughout the year but summer is their peak season. Lemons are an extremely versatile fruit. You can eat them in slices, add slices to make lemon water, make lemonade, garnish food with them, candy their peels, and use their juice and peels in cooking.

Lemonade recipes vary but I like one cup of lemon juice, 1/2 cup of maple syrup, one cup of water. Use this as a “lemonade syrup” – add to ice water to get exactly how sweet or citrusy is perfect for you.

Toum (Garlic Whip)

Adapted from Phoenicia Restaurant, Birmingham, Michigan/ Photo Credit Con Poulos NYTimes/ Food Stylist Donna Hay

4 1/2 Cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peeled garlic cloves (about 32 cloves, from 3 to 4 whole heads)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice (from 3 to 4 lemons)
  • 3 ½ cups avocado oil or grapeseed oil (remember to only use grapeseed oil cold, never for cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons ice water

Instructions

  • Place peeled garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the garlic for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then repeat three more times until garlic is finely chopped.
  • Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and continue processing until a smooth paste forms, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl every 45 seconds or so. You want the wet, finely chopped garlic mixture to end up with a texture similar to mashed potatoes. Pinch it between your fingertips, and it should no longer feel gritty. (If you don’t blend the garlic enough at this stage, it won’t become fluffy and emulsified later.)
  • With the food processor running, start incorporating 1 cup oil, drizzling it in at a slow, steady stream. Once the oil is incorporated, slowly add another 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Repeat this step with another 1 cup oil, then another 2 tablespoons lemon juice. By the end, the mixture should have a fluffy consistency.
  • With the food processor running, alternate adding 1/2 cup oil in a slow, steady stream, then 1 tablespoon lemon juice. This should happen twice. Next, with the food processor running, add the remaining 1/2 cup oil in a slow stream until totally incorporated, then do the same for the ice water.
  • Once finished, transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Toum will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 weeks.

 

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