When our friend Roz Warren, the librarian from Philadelphia, sent us this piece with the title “The Prune Bone is Connected to the Jumping Bone,” we had to wonder what she had been smoking. But as it turns out, the question really is, what has she been eating?
For my last annual check-up, I had a bone density scan and got a nasty surprise.
Like far too many women my age, I’ve got osteoporosis.
“But I walk everywhere!“ I protested to my doctor. “I walk for at least an hour a day. And I work at a public library, so I’m not only on my feet for long stretches of time but I’m always carrying books around. Isn‘t handling hefty tomes like ‘The Goldfinch’ and ‘The Luminaries’ just like lifting weights?”
She told me that although all that walking is great for my overall health and keeps me lean, I am— ironically— too lean for it to be considered the kind of weight-bearing exercise that would strengthen my skeleton. (So, here’s the bright side for those of you who are struggling to lose that last 10 pounds: Don’t. Apparently carrying that extra weight around is good for your bones.)
As it turns out, I’ve also got several bad habits that, over the years, have leached the calcium out of my bones — drinking lots of coffee and oversalting my food.
My doc has given me a year to do what I can to strengthen my bones. Or else? Or else I’ll have to go on that drug Sally Field is always pushing on TV.
So I’ve researched what I can do on my own to improve my bone density.
One study concluded that when postmenopausal women eat 12 prunes a day, it improves their bone density.
Another thing I can do?
Women who jump 20 times a day, according to a different study, also improve their bone density.
Therefore, from now on, just think of me as the prune-eating leaping librarian.
I now keep a supply of prunes in the staff fridge. The upside? Unlike my former go-to snack of vanilla jelly beans, my new snack supply lasts a lot longer, since none of my co-workers ever asks if they can have one. The downside? They’re prunes.
Now, when you approach the circulation desk at the library where I work, I’ll leap into the air before asking, “How can I help you?”
And how have our patrons responded to this behavior? So far, they’ve been too polite and well-mannered to mention it. Although one dude grinned and asked if I was working on my David Lee Roth imitation.
I’ve also stopped oversalting my food. And I’ve cut down (a little) on my coffee drinking. It’s far too early to tell if any of this is doing me any good. Check back in a year.
In the meantime? If you haven’t gotten a bone density scan, I encourage you to do so. The sooner you get on it, the better for your bones.
I do hope that your bones, unlike mine, are fabulous. But, if you come into my library and I leap into the air and ask “How can I help you?” and you leap into the air too before asking me to put “Strong Women, Strong Bones” on hold for you, I’ll leap again and say, “Certainly.“
Then I’ll offer you a prune.
Roz Warren is the author of Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection Of Library Humor. This piece first appeared on the website Women’s Voices for Change.