During my 20s, my diet consisted of fat-free muffins for breakfast, salads for lunch, and low-fat steamed Chinese food for dinner. I thought these meals were keeping me on the healthy track. Little did I know that what they were really doing was robbing me of my health — and ruining my bones.
When I began to experience excruciating pain in my lower back and hips, I had no idea it might be a sign of disease. And so I ignored the pain for months, blaming it on my high heels, hectic New York City schedule, and intense workouts.
But then I finally made an appointment with my doctor. And when he walked in, as white as his lab coat, and said my bone deterioration was the worst he had ever seen in someone my age, my entire life changed.
At the age of 30, I was diagnosed with advanced osteoporosis. I had the bones of an 80-year-old.
How I Ditched My Old Diet And Ate My Way Back To Health
What I didn't know prior to my diagnosis is that our bodies require essential micronutrients to be completely healthy. And I just wasn't getting enough through my plain, low-fat diet.
The good news is that after two years of micronutrient therapy with a doctor of human nutrition, I was able to eventually reverse my advanced osteoporosis. How did I do it?
Working with my doctor, we first focused on adding more nutrient-dense foods into my diet. I also cut out sugar, wheat, and other “anti-nutrients." I learned that these micronutrient depleters, such as phosphoric acid found in soda, can lead to loss of calcium and other nutrients.
Omitting these foods helped me to temper the calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D loss that I had been experiencing. Thankfully, making these dietary changes wasn't too hard. The fat-free muffin was replaced with carrot cake pancakes, and I soon realized that Chinese food didn't taste nearly as good as my new diet of hearty homemade chili, cauliflower crust pizzas, and shepherd's pie.
I also learned that opting for high-quality foods can supply greater amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. For example, some studies have shown that eggs from pastured chickens have twice as much vitamin E and double the amount of omega-3 fatty acids as commercial eggs. Simple swaps like this helped me to pack a ton more micronutrients into every bite.
At the same time, I also reexamined my lifestyle habits. I quickly quit being a cardio queen and picked up weight lifting instead, to avoid excess mineral loss through sweat and to stimulate bone growth.
And I learned that some of the medications I had been taking were also messing with my micronutrient levels. Before my journey back to health, I was one of the approximately 80 percent of American women who have used oral contraceptives at some point in their lives. What I didn’t know is that these medications can leach folic acid (B9). Folic acid, by means of lowering homocysteine, may aid in the prevention of osteoporosis. This means that my birth control pill might have contributed to my advanced stage of disease.
Finally, I learned to supplement smart, and added in the calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 that I was so deeply deficient in.
These steps changed my life forever. Now, I work alongside my husband (the doctor who initially helped me to heal) as a certified nutritionist.
We want more people to understand how these essential nutrients can help our bodies prevent and reverse many lifestyle diseases, and we just published a new book, The Micronutrient Miracle, to that effect. And best of all, I'm happy to report that I've now been free of osteoporosis for more than 10 years.