The Better Bones Blog

by Dr. Susan Brown, PhD.

Better Bones Better Body retreat

Our Inspiring “Love Your Bones, Love Your Body Retreat”

Oh what fun, and what inspiration!

We here at Better Bones were delighted with our first-ever “Love Your Bones, Love Your Body” retreat. This amazing four-day event was fun, educational and motivational. I was thrilled that 21 highly motivated women from around the United States and even England joined us in Myrtle Beach to seek better bone health. Each one shared our passion for getting to the root of any bone weakness, building bone strength naturally and creating a loving, healing community.

Some in the group had actually already built substantial bone density by simply learning from my books and blogs and using our Better Bones Builder multi-nutrient supplement. These women attended the Retreat to learn more and advance their personal bone-building programs.

Others in the group were new to the Better Bones, Better Body® Program approach; however, they were committed to exploring the best possible natural ways to build bone strength. For some, the path to Better Bones would be simple—nutritional supplementation, pH balancing, and exercise.

Still others realized that their bone health is likely burdened by hidden medical factors. Empowered by the Love Your Bones retreat, these women were now prepared to explore hidden medical causes of bone weakening, to work with their doctors, and even teach their doctors if necessary. Hear from attendees Jan and Nan about their retreat experiences.

Taking charge of our skeletal health

Every time we step up to the plate and take responsibility for what is happening in our bodies, we enrich our own life and add to the rising global tide of health awareness.  I am reminded of Margaret Mead’s comment, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

All of us in the Better Bones, Better Body community are making a difference, creating an overdue shift in how women’s bone health issues are viewed, evaluated, and treated. The women joining us in Myrtle Beach stood up to take charge of their skeletal health. I was inspired and uplifted by each of them.

Here at the Center for Better Bones, we work toward the day when every interested woman has the information she needs to empower her to take charge of her bone health. The “Love Your Bones, Love Your Body Retreat” was an important step towards fulfillment of this goal; a new wave of natural bone health awareness is spreading throughout the U.S. and even into Europe as these women return home to share what they learned during their four days with us.

Join us!

If you are interested in this more personalized group approach to fortifying your personal Better Bones program know that will be doing more retreats, like our next retreat this coming fall in Sedona, Arizona!  Perhaps even more relevant to many of you, this summer we are launching our first online, empowering Better Bones, Better Body® course.

In the meantime, we will continue to teach the new science of natural bone health through our weekly blogs, our Facebook page and YouTube videos. I hope you’ll share what you are learning with others thus adding to the vision we have for a radical transformation of women’s skeletal healthcare.

woman weight training

Getting more by doing less with high-intensity, slow-motion weight training

A few months ago, I spoke with Rick Berman, a certified personal trainer and owner of Studio 2020 Fitness. Rick uses a weight training technique that was originally researched for building bone — a slow-motion, high-intensity training program. While this strength training program might not suit everyone, I like it because you can see benefits working out only once or twice a week for 15 to 20 minutes!

If that sounds too good to be true, for once, it’s not — because this workout is not light duty. The whole point, Rick tells me, is that you have to work the muscles to great intensity in order to stimulate the muscle cells to build more muscle (which, as you know if you’ve read my blog, goes hand-in-hand with building bone. That means working the muscles to the point of complete fatigue — that “just can’t do even one more rep” point. This is accomplished by slowing the workout down considerably so that you aren’t using momentum to provide energy for the next rep; it forces your muscles to provide all the force needed to raise the weight. Getting to complete fatigue doesn’t actually take long, when you’re doing that much more work with slow movements (and that’s why the workouts are fairly short).

This program takes advantage of the body’s ability to adapt to the stresses we place on it — the more work we do, the more the muscles and cardiovascular system adjust to meet those strains. And it doesn’t matter how young or old you are: Rick says that “a number of my clients are 60, 70 years old — I have some in their 80s — and I see people that come in the door that can barely lift, sometimes, 20, or 30, or 40 pounds. I’ve had clients that have started at 20 pounds, and within … maybe 8 weeks, they’re doing 40 or 60 pounds.  We see very rapid increases in muscular strength.”

It should be no surprise that this method is good for developing bone as well as muscle. As Rick pointed out, the original exercise protocol was developed for an osteoporosis study some 33 years ago at the University of Florida Hospital. The slow speed was initially used because of fears that the research subjects — women 60 and older with osteoporosis — might injure themselves, but the serendipitous finding was that this slower training safely created more muscle mass, even with less-frequent workouts!

For more, watch my full discussion with Rick Berman. You will learn a lot!

Important PS: Always check with your doctor before starting any new form of exercise. There is no “one size fits” all strength training program and this intense slow-motion workout is not for everyone. If you’re new to weight training, I encourage you to work with a professional trainer who can teach you correct technique to avoid injuries and help you get the most out of your workouts. Best would be to find a trainer like Rick who specializes on slow-motion, high intensity training if you chose to give this system a try.

estrogen therapy for osteoporosis

Why estrogen isn’t an option for osteoporosis anymore

When the American College of Physicians (ACP) recently updated its guidelines for treating osteoporosis (Qaseem et al, 2017), tucked in with the usual recommendations for drug therapy was something major: The ACP reversed its position on estrogen therapy for osteoporosis.

In 2008, ACP guidelines supported estrogen therapy based on “high-quality evidence that estrogen therapy was associated with reduced risk for … fractures in postmenopausal women.” In direct contrast to this, the new guidelines state that “[m]oderate-quality evidence showed no difference in reduced fracture with estrogen treatment in postmenopausal women with established osteoporosis.”

Why guidelines on estrogen therapy for osteoporosis have changed

How is it possible to have “high-quality evidence” that something works and a few years later, it somehow doesn’t? 

It’s all about how you look at the data. The 2008 guideline based its recommendation on studies showing estrogen decreased fracture risk—but, as the 2017 guideline points out, “many of these studies focused on postmenopausal women with low bone density, or on postmenopausal women in general rather than those with established osteoporosis.” In other words, the 2008 evidence came from women who did not have osteoporosis — the problem the guidelines are meant to address.

In the intervening years, a bunch of randomized clinical trials were done examining estrogen’s effects on women with osteoporosis to offer better information. Since estrogen offers little benefit and has known harms, like increased risk of stroke or breast cancer, the ACP’s decision to change their recommendation makes perfect sense. It also highlights two important points when it comes to science — one, it’s always changing with new information, and two, a lot depends on the assumptions of the people looking at the evidence.

It’s enlightening to look at the ACP osteoporosis guidelines side-by-side with the 2013 European Union osteoporosis guidelines (Kanis et al., 2013). The European recommendations start by discussing mobility, falls, and diet and nutrition before weighing the pros and cons of bone drugs. The ACP guideline starts with drug therapy and mentions nutrition only in passing (the usual suspects, calcium and vitamin D, nothing more) and devotes only three lines to exercise.

The ACP’s guideline assumes that drug therapy is the best approach. The Europeans look at it differently — and so do I. My Better Bones, Better Body approach has stayed pretty consistent over the years because it’s based on the understanding that the body knows how to heal itself if it has the resources it needs!

References

References
Kanis JA, McCLoskey EV, Johansson H, et al. European guidance for the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis Int 24(1):23–57.

Qaseem A, Forceia MA, McLean RM, Denberg TD, for the Clinical Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Treatment of Low Bone Density or Osteoporosis to Prevent Fractures in Men and Women: A Clinical Practice Guideline Update from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med 2017;166(11):818-839.


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