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Moroccan Slow-Cooked Chicken Thighs A Treat for Your Bones

IMG_1195If you like spicy, the Moroccan Slow-Cooked Lamb recipe from Epicurious 1 is a flavor sensation and a joy to prepare as aromas arise and the herbs, spices, zest and ginger root call up so many of your senses. But I didn’t want lamb quite as often as my husband wanted to make this dish, and I always have my eye on bone health 2 , so I decided to make this with chicken thighs, drumsticks and livers *, and see if it we could sustain the gustatory delights.

Well, it was every bit as good as the lamb version though quite its own taste, and a true treat for my bones as well.  It takes a bit of adaptation, as follows.

  1. Joint a pastured chicken, clipping off the outer wingbone, removing the drumstick/thighs from the backbone, leaving a good bit of breast attached to the remaining more-meaty wing, and severing the breast in two.  Cut off fatty deposits attached to the skin though leave a bit of skin on each chicken piece.

Put the bones, wing clips and all giblets save the liver into a small saucepan, cover with two plus a tablespoon of water, add a carrot a/nd coriander stalks, and simmer, covered, until you have the chicken broth required for the recipe.  Or, defrost chicken broth you’ve stored, or in a pinch (in desperation)  use unsalted organic chicken broth from a carton.

  1. Double the spice recipe; that is ground coriander, fennel seeds etc
  2. Wash, dry and rub with olive oil each chicken piece and the liver. If you wish, you can purchase additional livers and add them here. Dredge in the herb/spice mix aiming to coat the skin.  Place chicken pieces in a baking dish, pat on any remaining spice mix and drizzle just a little bit of additional oil on each piece.
  3. Make the sauce leaving out tomatoes. We’re baking those separately.

I substituted spring onions for onions because I did have scallions and didn’t have any proper onions.  You could use shallots too but skip red onions for this recipe.

  1. Core the tomatoes, pour a few drops olive oil into the core, sprinkle on some oregano. Cut a red pepper in half, take out the stem end, pith and seeds, rub with a bit of olive oil and sit on a piece of aluminum foil into the same baking pan with the tomatoes. (Use the foil because peppers have a strong taste and tomatoes are more delicate, and you don’t want to sully either with the other. Or, if you’re allergic to red pepper but you have a dining partner who isn’t, the foil makes everyone happy.)
  2. Slice an acorn squash into rings, drizzle each ring with a bit of melted butter and sprinkle with chili pepper, or black pepper if you don’t want everything spicy.
  3. Wash Brussels sprouts, slice off very bottom of each and make a small x.  That helps the Brussels to cook through instead of just outside leaves leaving core uncooked.  Keep the leaves that fall away for juicing.

Bake everything at 350, chicken first.  With ten minutes to go, put up the Brussels to boil.

  1. Once the chicken is just cooked and the sauce is done,  remove chicken pieces to plate, pour chicken pan juices into the sauce, heat through and sit chicken pieces into the sauce.
  2. Plate the chicken pieces each person selects, spoon sauce from bottom of the pan to catch the fruit and onions, and add a chicken liver, a tomato, some pepper (optional), and a few squash rings. Spoon more sauce as desired and sprinkle with chopped coriander per recipe.
  3. Drain Brussels and add to the plate.

Yum.

 

1   Moroccan Slow-Cooked Lamb http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/moroccan-slow-cooked-lamb-231597

The Healthy Bones Nutrition Plan and Cookbook says …
Dark meat from pastured poultry and gizzards from same are a source of Vitamin K2 which is scarce in food yet essential for bone formation.

Examine a Woman’s Bones Before and During Menopause to Nip Osteoporosis in the Bud and Provide a Personalized Plan

For years osteoporosis was called a condition of low bone mineral density caused by hormone loss during menopause, and with some exceptions physicians checked up on the supposed damage to bones afterwards.  Science has progressed from there, recognizing that 1) osteoporosis does not follow de facto from menopause, and that 2) lifestyle factors, gut health and western pharmaceuticals have a more potent effect on bone health – outer bone and inner bone mineral – among women and men.

Fresh Figs 2Now scientists at the University of Michigan have turned to personalized medicine and diagnostic protocols to confirm an hypothesis that monitoring women through menopause would turn up subtle and larger differences in response of bone to hormone decline, and that the differences show in outer bone fragility, inner bone mineral density and how both may or may not put a woman at risk of fracture. 

The lead investigator, Karl Jepsen, Ph.D. associate chair of research and professor of orthopaedic surgery at Michigan Medicine, says that changes in bone structure and bone mass during aging are not well understood. 

“We hypothesized that age-related changes in bone traits also depend on external bone size, which is easily measured.” So the scientists measured bone mineral density and bone area.  The women cohorts, who were aged between 42 and 52 years old, had a uterus intact and were still menstruating, were followed from 1996 to 2017. The results surprised researchers:  some women lost bone strength; some women did not.  Some showed greater areal density; some showed greater mineral density loss. 

Dr. Jepson and his colleagues concluded that monitoring a woman’s bone health through menopause would allow physicians to intervene where necessary and with the appropriate intervention. 

We anticipate, and hope, that research scientists concerned with bone health will turn their attention similarly to men at risk of fragile bones.

Karl J. Jepsen, Andrew Kozminski, Erin M.R. Bigelow, Stephen H. Schlecht, Robert W. Goulet, Sioban D. Harlow, Jane A. Cauley, Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez. Femoral Neck External Size but not aBMD Predicts Structural and Mass Changes for Women Transitioning through MenopauseJournal of Bone and Mineral Research, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.3082

 

Your Sleep, Your Gut and Osteoporosis

Man SleepingIt has come to light that disrupted and insufficient sleep, factors thought to exacerbate a number of chronic diseases, may contribute specifically to loss of bone mineral density.  In an early study with a small group of men raging in ages from 25 – 65 scientists at the Oregon Health and Science University altered and shortened sleep patterns for three weeks.

All the men showed reduction in P1NP, a marker for bone formation; the reduction was 27% for the younger men and 18% for the older men.  More worrying, perhaps, is that none of the men showed a reduction in CTX, a marker for bone breakdown. This means that normal bone breakdown continued apace while bone formation slowed between 18 and 27 percent.  This study followed a larger study of sleep disruption and circadian rhythm at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“These data suggest that sleep disruption may be most detrimental to bone metabolism earlier in life, when bone growth and accrual are crucial for long-term skeletal health,” lead Oregon Health and Science study investigator Christine Swanson said. “Further studies are needed to confirm these findings and to explore if there are differences in women.”

Following another path, scientists are discovering a necessary relationship among  gut    microbiome profile, sleep patterns and health.

germsScientists are virtually certain of a direct relationship between the human gut’s microbiota profile and human health and they are on a hunt to discover factors that influence the balance of beneficial gut flora – those microorganisms that promote optimal digestion, for instance, and control the feeling of hunger – and those gut bugs that have a deleterious effects. For example there is much evidence that pesticide-free food and prebiotics, a beneficial bug’s favorite foods, support a thriving healthy gut ecosystem while processed food and refined carbohydrates support detrimental bugs that shortcut the complex digestive processes and feed a population explosion among the bugs that can defeat even an indigenous healthy colony.

Now there is evidence that disturbed sleep disrupts the gut too, causing disturbances in mood, stress, pain and hormone balances – and that the an unfavorable gut ecosystem may disrupt circadian rhythm, trigger sleep disturbances and the knock-on effects on health, including but not limited to bone mineral density decline.

The body is a cybernetic system, and the the gut seems to be a control center that may influence even epigenetic changes in our favor.

Prolonged sleep disturbance can lead to lower bone formation
https://www.endocrine.org/news-room/current-press-releases/prolonged-sleep-disturbance-can-lead-to-lower-bone-formation

Unlocking the Sleep Gut Connection
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/unlocking-the-sleep-gut-connection_b_8941314.html

More on P1NP
http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/61695

More on bone turnover markers including CTX
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/128567-overview

Promoting Bone Health Naturally: What You Can Do Right Now

Alfalfa's Logo

Helping You Make Healthy Choices

It was a great afternoon and evening at Alfalfa’s.  Once again thank you Alfalfa’s for opening your Community Room for a talk about promoting bone health naturally.

Attendees said they particularly appreciated the What You Can Do Right Now bottom line tips on cooking for bone health so we reproduce it here.

BONE HEALTH:  WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW

Embrace the joys of food preparation and of cooking.

Think bone health when you plan meals, shop and cook.

Sun mushrooms

Use sprouted nuts, pulses, grains and beans

Properly prepare greens

Pre-soak oats

Use lots of fresh or home-dried organic herbs

Choose pastured eggs, poultry, and meat

Make or choose sourdough or rye bread

Include fermented food / bone vinegar

Include prebiotic foods

Equip your body to absorb, transport and deposit minerals at the site of bone.

Use 1/2 teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar to pre-soak organic oats and on freshly steamed or lightly boiled calcium-rich greens and on calcium-rich salad greens such as arugula and watercress. The vinegar makes minerals available for absorption by weakening the antinutrients.

Speak with your doctor about …

Vitamin K2 / take when you consume calcium

MK7  from Natto

Magnesium Oil  Spray

Consuming Soy

 

Your Bones and the Good Gut Bugs – A Feast


Why do
 I have to eat these asparagus, my niece asked me.  She’s four, and it was a good question.  I decided to be simple though truthful.  Gut bugs, I said; we need to feed the good ones so they keep the bad ones out of business, and they love asparagus. Oh, she said, taking a beat to think.  That makes sense, she mused, dead serious; they can’t go shopping.  What else do they like, she asked, munching her way through an asparagus spear.  


I’m glad she’s learning early.  Mineral absorption depends heavily on healthy gut bugs so let’s feed them what they like most – prebiotics.  Prebiotics are nondigestible fibers.  The most studied are oligosaccharides and inulin found in food such as chicory, burdock, raw asparagus, leeks, garlic, onion and beet root, globe artichoke, dandelion greens, barely-ripe bananas, jicama, and Jerusalem artichoke. Scientists are searching for and studying additional nondigestible fibers, and research suggests mushrooms, wild blueberries, kiwis, alfalfa, mung and apples may also be healthy options for the good bugs within. 


So here’s a picture of today’s lunch – a bonanza for bones and the good gut bugs. 

Combine noBones and Bugs Image-mayo coleslaw with well-drained raw fermented sauerkraut, alfalfa sprouts, sliced yellow carrot, sliced jicama, slivers of raw red onion, a bit of chopped raw fennel, snipped fresh organic dill, two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of Hellman’s Real mayonnaise.  Serve with fresh-baked organic chicken thighs or leftover thick-sliced chicken breast with gravy and baked garlic cloves. 

Spice(s) of life?

spices-flavorings-seasoning-food
Ancient peoples believed that turmeric, a ginger-family tuber root, was strong medicine, and in today’s chemistry parlance, scientists say that curcumin, an intensely-colored yellow/orange chemical in turmeric, is almost surely the source of its health benefit.

Yet very recently 120 double blind studies * demonstrated that curcumin is not a stable chemical and that a human body does not readily absorb it, which suggests that the magic currently ascribed to curcumin alone – easing or arresting perilous conditions and illnesses from psoriasis and cancer – may be more sorcery than science.

Nevertheless, no one is dismissing turmeric – or curcumin – as good medicine. Almost certainly, curcumin – perhaps along with further chemicals and compounds in turmeric – act and react with chemicals and compounds in other seasonings, spices and foods and may very well have a positive impact on human health. Could curcumin – alone or in combination with other chemicals in turmeric or other spices and/or foods –  be an anti-inflammatory agent, a benefit to mitochondria or cell walls or telomeres, for example? The synergies and impacts have yet to be discovered.

Meantime it appears that curcumin becomes much more bioavailable when combined with a fat. Scientists don’t yet know which element of the curcumin chemistry is coming alive in the presence of a fat but this phenomenon is well known, as carotenoids in carrots, for instance, blossom in goodness when combined with a bit of fat such as that in avocados.

Curcumin is in good company. Spices have been thought life saving for centuries, and now modern science, with the tools and techniques available to analyze impact at a genetic level, may show us whether – and if so why spices and long life go hand in hand.

* Kathryn M. Nelson, Jayme L. Dahlin, Jonathan Bisson, James Graham, Guido F. Pauli, Michael A. Walters. The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of CurcuminJournal of Medicinal Chemistry, 2017

Food Synergy: Whole Foods and Nutrients That Work Better Together

Thanks to Elaine Magee, MPH, RD for her  WebMD post on nutrient synergy.  We have summarized her key points about combining nutrients from whole foods, adding support for our recommendation that you avoid isolates. (The hyperlinks are Ms. Magee’s.)

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/food-synergy-nutrients-that-work-better-together#1

  • Broccoli and Tomatoes
    From research: tumors grew much less in rats that were fed tomatoes and broccoli than in rats who ate diets containing broccoli alone or tomatoes alone, or diets that contained cancer-fighting substances that had been isolated from tomatoes or broccoli.
    A lycopene supplement may not hurt, but the whole tomato will probably help more. And    a tomato eaten with broccoli may help a lot more.

  • Vitamin C, Vitamin E, isoflavones from soybeans and other compounds
    Vitamin C, Vitamin E, isoflavones from soybeans and other compounds combine to slow oxidation of cholesterol.
    Antioxidant protection is a complex system that includes many nutrients and            You need all of them for maximum effect.
  • Phytochemicals Quercetin and Catechin
    Quercetin (apples, onions, berries) and catechin (apples, green tea, purple grapes, grape juice) together can help stop platelet clumping. Clumps can become clots and heart attacks.
  • The Mediterranean-style diet
    Food culture Mediterranean is a clean fresh taste that favors plants, olive oil, walnuts and fish to dairy and meat. From research:  People who eat a Mediterranean style diet have lower risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease and death.  
  • Fat and Fat-Soluble Vitamins/Phytochemicals
    From research: Two groups at spinach, carrot and lettuce salad. One group also ate 2 1/2 tablespoons of avocado with the salad.  Those who ate avocado with the salad absorbed 8.3 times more alpha-carotene and 13.6 times more beta-carotene, both of them cancer- and cardio-protective – and 4.3 times more lutein (positive for eye health) than no-avocado salad eaters.
    Eating a little good fat, such as raw cream, cultured butter, olive, hemp, avocado,   walnut, grape or other healthy oils and non-hydrogenated fats along with your         vegetables helps your body absorb their protective phytochemicals, like lycopene from     tomatoes and lutein from dark-green vegetables.

  • Oats

It is common knowledge that oats are cardio-protective but it’s not just the fiber.  Oats contain immunomodulator beta-glucan; magnesium; folic acid; tocotrienols; and a phytochemical so far identified only in oats — avenanthramides.
            The protective effect is almost certainly the collective effects of all of these compounds.

  • Apple and Skin

From research: 

  • Apple with apple skin was better at preventing oxidation of free radicals than apple without the skin.   Also, the catechins in apple plus phytochemicals from other plants had an even better punch against free radicals.

In my opinion, Ms. Magee says, Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she created plant foods: There is magic in the packaging.

 

Bone Health Evening at Alfalfa’s

Well aware of growing osteoporosis and fracture rates, Alfalfa’s of Louisville and Boulder CO invited my mom and me to present a bone health evening in their very welcoming Louisville Community Room. The owners of these two wonderful supermarkets demonstrate their quiet commitment to medicine through food by selling only hormone- and antibiotic-free meats including beef, pastured eggs and meats aplenty, virtually all organic produce and responsibly sourced supplements – in addition to a bountiful bulk section, a bakery focused on all natural ingredients,  specialty items, showcased new foods by local growers and producers, batch-pasteurized milk and cream from pasture raised cows and everything else you’d expect to find in a well-stocked supermarket.  Thank you, Alfalfa’s, for your dedication to the community’s health and well being.

We would be delighted to meet anyone in the Denver/Boulder/Fort Collins area on Wednesday March 29th from 3 pm onward. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-power-of-nutrient-groups-to-prevent-treat-osteoporosis-naturally-tickets-32906291604

1UP-ThePowerOfNutrientGroups

A new osteoporosis drug? Antibody for a protein known to inhibit bone growth   

The search is endlessly on for a safe, effective osteoporosis treatment. One that may hit the market in 2017 inhibits the actions of a naturally-occurring protein, sclerostin. Sclerostin interferes with a signalling pathway (the Wnt signaling pathway) that spurs osteoblasts to grow bone. Sclerostin is secreted by osteoctyes embedded in bone matrix and seems to be a feedback mechanism to keep bones from growing too thick.  If you inhibit sclerostin, as is seen in some disease states, you increase bone mass and strength.

Recently scientists have crystallized the antibody, and two pharmaceutical companies are moving ahead with clinical trials. They say the results are positive and that the drug could be available this year.

The clinical trials so far have been for 12 months, during which time no severe side effects were listed.  It remains to be determined how long and how often treatment would be recommended.

It also remains unknown how long-term inhibition of sclerostin will affect the body as a whole.

Info

Sclerostin Antibody Therapy for the Treatment of Osteoporosis:
Clinical Prospects and Challenges  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4899597/

http://www.biozentrum.uni-wuerzburg.de/en/home/detail/artikel/osteoporose-antikoerper-kristallisiert-2/

Following a fracture, a physician must review all medications for potential contribution to bone fragility 

The majority of older individuals who sustain a fragility fracture have recently taken prescription drugs that are associated with an increased fracture risk—and a similar percentage continue to receive these agents after the fracture, suggest results of a recent study that highlights a missed opportunity to reduce secondary fractures.– Melinda B. Tanzola, PhD in The Puzzling Use of Drugs that Increase Fracture Risk

About one in two women and one in four men over age fifty will break an osteoporotic bone. Some of us won’t be surprised: We know our bone mineral is meager or our bones are overly stiff; others, many times men, don’t know until the fracture. So would you be surprised to find that following an osteoporotic fissure, few physicians review medications to see whether any in the armory of the patient’s pumps or pills is known to cause osteoporosis? That’s exactly what Sarah D. Berry and her Harvard Colleague Douglas P. Kiel found to be the case and the consequences of the lapse cannot be overstated: to cite just two shocking facts, the incidence of osteoporotic fracture is greater than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined; and, among those who fracture a hip 21% will die in the first year.

Dr. Berry says that a fracture patient’s physician should review three groups of medicines:

  • drugs that increase fall risk, which include antidepressants, benzodiazepines and sleeping pills (e.g., zolpidem or Ambien)
  • drugs that decrease bone density, principally though not only proton pump inhibitors, long known to the medical community (though rarely communicated to the public) as cause of osteoporosis and prednisone, a potent anti-inflammatory drug which WebMD reports as prescribed for many and varied conditions such as arthritis, blood disorders, breathing problems, severe allergies, skin diseases, cancer, eye problems, and immune system disorders. Prednisone belongs to a class of drugs known as corticosteroids. While steroids except those applied to the skin are considered osteoporosis risk, even in small doses prednisone is a known osteoporosis risk.
  • drugs with unclear fracture risk mechanism

Ideally, always confirm with your physician that there is no herbal, dietary, environmental or activity alternative to drugs that have a known causal link to osteoporosis. This is essential if you suffer a fragility fracture.

Reference

Medication Review After a Fracture – Absolutely Essential
Sarah D. Berry MD/MPH and Douglas P. Kiel MD/MPH
JAMA Internal Medicine October 2016 Volume 176. Number 10

Invited Comment for
Patterns of Prescription Drug Use Before and After Fragility Fracture
Jeffrey C. Munson, MD, Julie P. W. Bynum et al JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(10):1531-1538.