#127 | How to get Great Bones | Dr Keith McCormick

The surprising truth is that bone health is one of the key levers of health and longevity for men and women. Bone health is a driver AND a symptom of overall health that declines steadily past the age of 30. Yet, it is slow to give us feedback on our mistakes…it is a lagging indicator that is hard to fix once low bone density and/or quality have arrived. Do. Not. Let. It. Happen. I used to think I didn’t need to worry about my bone health because I was a strong and active athlete my whole life. But I was wrong. Osteoporosis afflicts 50% of all women and 20% of all men, including life-long athletes who “did everything right”.

Today, on episode 127, I am joined by Dr. R. Keith McCormick to talk about Great Bones. Dr McCormick was an Olympic athlete who discovered 1st hand how “doing everything right” does not keep you safe from osteoporosis. His journey from Olympic athlete to bone fractures from osteoporosis at 45 years old, and back to competitive athlete at 69 years old has informed his deep knowledge about losing and regaining bone health. In his book, Great Bones, Dr McCormick explains not just the fundamentals of osteoporosis and the mechanics of bone loss and regaining skeletal health, but also what you and I can do to slow the decline in bone density and quality so we can keep our bone great bones well into our 60s, 70s, and beyond. In our chat today, Dr McCormick share a little of this knowledge with us.

This episode is a bit long and we get into the weeds but there is important information shared all the way to the end.  Take your time, and get to the end. You will learn a ton about the hows and whys about having great bones. And how to avoid weak bones and fractures and the fear of fractures that may come for you if you are not careful. I can promise you that I am being careful starting now.

Bullet points

  • Bone health is a symptom and a driver of overall health
  • Bone health drugs can buy time if you’ve fallen too far, but they are not a long term solution. Don’t need them..
  • Bone breakdown and bone building is an all the time thing, just like muscle; if either breakdown or buildup gets out of wack you lose the balance and you lose bone density and quality.
  • You have to signal to the body that you need strong bone. But you also need the substrates to build bone AND a clear signaling to the bone stem cells (immune system issues, inflammation issues, fat cells in bone marrow, etc)
  • For Great Bones, you need:
    • 1.2g/kg/day of high quality protein (collagen is good but doesn’t count toward protein intake). Can take leucine and alpha ketogluterate to boost anaerobic effect of protein 
    • Low chronic inflammation; over-active immune system is bad for bone (watch gluten and dairy). Also, long cardio sessions increase inflammation which is bad for bone.
    • Frequent high impact activity (2x/day for 30 minutes is ideal); resistance exercise is the key
    • A healthy gut for absorption of nutrients & avoiding immune system over-activation: lots of fiber, digestive enzymes (acidic digestion), herbs: berberine (good for gut and for bone)
    • Sufficient nutrients, including calcium (not carbonate; 150-200mg a few times a day), magnesium (not carbonate); keep sodium in check; watch iron
    • Get enough Vit D (test for 40-60 nanograms/ml; commonly 1000-5000iu/day) and Vit K (1 & 2 MK- 4&7). Omega 3 are helpful.
    • Healthy sex hormone levels….don’t be catabolic
    • Stable weight (no yo-yo dieting); dramatic weight loss is bad for bone
    • No fasting or IM if low BMI
    • Vibration plates are not a good substitute for resistance exercise; useful for people who cannot exercise.

Related info and episodes:

More Dr Keith McCormick info:

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The ever curious athlete who demands answers.
About the Author
Curious athlete who demands answers. Husband to Susan ( Father of 3 daughters. Athletic pursuits over time, in reverse order: cycling, skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, triathlon, golf, tennis, football.

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