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Five ancient rules for maintaining strong bones

Ancient wisdom can help to protect your teeth and bones
Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Osteoporosis, a serious weakening of the bones, is a modern day malady, one in which our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not suffer. Archaeological evidence from around the world supports the fact that it was not until the agricultural age that humans began to have weak bones and teeth and began to suffer from modern problems like osteoporosis and cavities. The agricultural age was a time when humans began to eat grains in significant quantities for the first time in our entire history, and it's no coincidence that the addition of grains coincided with some modern diseases. But aside from the addition of grain to the modern diet, what else sets us apart from our hunter-gather ancestors that predisposes us to osteoporosis? What can our ancient ancestors teach us about staying healthy that modern doctors have failed to do?

1- Keep vitamin D levels high. Our ancestors would have either been out-of-doors in the full sun much of the day, or they would have eaten Vitamin D rich cold-water fatty fish if they lived in northern climes with little sun. In order to maintain healthy bones, modern humans should get their Vitamin D levels in their blood checked, and maintain optimal levels for life. Unless one lives close to the equator or works in the sun, this will almost certainly need to be accomplished by the use of supplements.

2- Get enough magnesium. Soils today are depleted of magnesium, and most westerners have replaced healthy fresh and ‘foraged’ foods with processed foods, further depleting their bodies of nutrients. Magnesium is one of these lost nutrients that are imperative for the prevention of osteoporosis. Most people, even those who maintain a diet high in natural foods, still suffer from subtle signs of magnesium deficiency due to depleted soils and a stressful lifestyle. Again, getting enough magnesium will almost certainly require magnesium supplements to meet the needs of the body in our modern stressful lifestyle.

3- Eat healthy fats. While most people do not think of fat as being important in the maintenance of strong bones, fats contain the bone building fat-soluble vitamins of A, D, and K. Studies of indigenous societies estimate that those eating a traditional ancestral diet get up to ten times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins as those eating a modern diet. The fat-phobic western medical establishment has done a disservice by recommending a low fat diet that keeps us from getting adequate amounts of these essential fat-soluble nutrients that maintain good health and strong teeth and bones.

4- Eat bone broth. In times past, humans would have eaten the entire animal, including making ‘bone broth’ out of the scraps, organs, and bones. This ancient tradition of boiling soup bones is what our grandparents would have called ‘stock’ or ‘broth’, and it’s this taste that flavor packets of artificial broth are designed to mimic. Traditional bone broth (but not the cans, jars, or packets) contain nutrients such as collagen and gelatin that have traditionally helped to keep our bones and joints supple and strong.

5- Avoid acid blockers and antacids. These pharmaceutical drugs that help to relieve heartburn were never meant to be used long-term, and for good reason. As advertised, they decrease acid levels in the stomach, but this is not a desirable condition. The stomach is supposed to be highly acidic in order to kill bacteria and break down food into absorbable nutrients and . Decreasing the acid levels of the stomach is known to decrease the absorption of bone-building nutrients such as calcium and magnesium, leaving the takers of these drugs at risk for osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is an entirely preventable modern disease. But following some time tested ancestral wisdom can help to keep your bones healthy and strong for life.