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The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones

"The bones of the body renew themselves every seven years. With the wholesome wisdom of this book, you can help your bones provide a firm scaffold for your body."
Mehmet Oz, MD - co-author of YOU: The Owner's Manual and YOU: Staying Young.

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Article

Healing Your Bones after a Fracture
by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.

In early 2002, I was marching along very purposefully to teach a class on healthy bones. It was winter, and still dark early. I was carrying some papers. While crossing the street, there was one of those metal plates covering a hole. My right foot struck the edge of the plate, and I lost my balance. Trying to recover, I sent my left foot forward which ALSO struck the plate – so both my feet were stuck – and with the momentum of my fast walk I pitched forward like a falling tree. My right hand was free, so I extended it to break the fall, which it did very well. When I sat up after the fall, my right hand looked severely misshapen. I pulled at it a little to straighten it out, figuring that maybe while it was warm it would go back in shape, but no such luck – it still looked wrong.

What to do? I had a dozen people waiting for the class and my habit is to show up when I am expected. I went to the place where I was to teach, had some miso soup to recover from the shock, wrapped my right hand in a scarf hanging from my neck, and taught the class writing on the board with my left hand. We all had a good laugh at the irony. After the class I went to the hospital, where a serious young doctor re-set my hand as all the bones were sprained out of place through and through; I had also broken my wrist, what is called a “Colles fracture” – very common for older women! So a cast was in order. My fingers were hanging out, and over the next few weeks they turned first a deep purple, then green, then yellow, and eventually went back to normal color. The hand took a while, but the bone healed in 5 weeks, which is pretty quick.

So this is the regime I followed, and I would recommend this to anyone who hurts their bones for quicker and more thorough healing.

1. Lots of green vegetables every day, cooked and raw, in soups and salads.

2. Cooking everything with a base of bone stock, mostly chicken, but also concentrated beef bone stock when possible.

3. Eating bones whenever possible: sardines with bones, small whole fish baked till very crisp, crispy whole chicken wings (you can eat the whole tip), chewing on chicken bones (organic always preferred). Also, dishes with bone marrow such as ossobucco.

4. Normally I don’t use dairy as a regular food, but I decided to go with about ˝ cup goat yogurt daily, with a couple of teaspoons of regular cod liver oil mixed in for the Vitamin D. I know it sounds odd, but it tasted great to me. As I believe that the body can tell by the taste if a food is good for it, that was my sign to keep going.

5. Homeopathic medicine: arnica 3-4 times a day until I stopped hurting (about a week), then once daily for a couple of weeks more.

6. Foods to avoid completely: anything with added sugars of any kind, alcohol (I don’t have more than a glass of wine per week, but I eliminated that), caffeine including green tea and chocolate, and of course any processed, boxed or packaged foods that I normally don’t eat anyway.

I came up with some great recipes for my book, now called “The Whole Food Guide to Strong Bones” (New Harbinger). The following is one of my favorites, and I highly recommend it for any one with bone issues, pain, osteoporosis or osteopenia, fractures, or similar complaints. This stew is a variation on a classic Japanese carp soup called Koi Ko Ku, which is traditionally recommended as a tonic and blood strengthener for women who have given birth. Because of the long cooking, the fish bones are completely softened and become edible and quite delicious. It is a superior source of natural calcium and other essential bone minerals: in fact, according to the laboratory testing I commissioned, one cup provides over 800 mg of calcium and 50 mg magnesium as well as about 50% of the vitamin D requirement for a 150 lb woman. The best part is that it is in the form of food, which the body can recognize more easily than pills. Offer this recipe to anyone who complains of pain in the bones – it may be surprisingly helpful..

5-Hour Whole Fish Stew

1 whole fish (e.g., pike, red snapper, carp), about 1 ˝ to 2 lb
4 slices ginger
3 small carrots (about ˝ lb), scrubbed and roll-cut
1 medium onion, medium dice
1 cup white wine or 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
6 cups water
1/4 cup mellow barley miso

1. Buy only the very freshest fish. Ask that it be cleaned, leaving on the scales, head and tail, and cut it into 3-4 pieces. Rinse well before cooking.

2. To prep ginger: cut 4 thin slices off a knob, lay them on top of each other, then slice them lengthwise into thin slivers.

3. In a 6-quart pressure cooker, place the fish, onion, carrot, ginger, wine, water, and miso. Bring up to pressure, reduce heat to low, and simmer very gently for 5 hours. Allow to sit until pressure is down, open pot, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to harmonize all the flavors. Check the proportion of liquid: if you like it more soupy, add some water. Find a bone and taste test; it should be easily chewed. If a little too hard, pressure cook for another hour. Makes 6-8 servings. This soup/stew can be kept in the refrigerator for 4 days. I do not recommend freezing because it kills the taste and makes it flat. Re-boil each time before serving, adding a little stock or water if necessary.

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