Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Body, not books--

I've always said the blog would be reserved for talk about words, poetry, and stories--the realm of books and literature. This post is not about books, except perhaps on the ability to carry a stack of them or pick up your O. E. D. as you grow older. Instead, it's what I wish somebody had said to me years ago. If someone you love is a woman or smallish man--particularly one who is slight, of European extraction, and pursues a sedentary occupation (like writing books)--find out if she/he knows anything about getting her vitamins and minerals (sufficient calcium and vitamin D and others) through foods, about hewing close to an alkaline diet, and about getting enough weight-bearing exercise. If you are that person, do a little research. Sixteen percent of women over fifty in the U.S. have osteoporosis, and four percent of men. I call that common. It's not easy to increase bone mass after fifty, and the current osteoporosis drugs are, to me, rather fearsome.


  1. Good points, Marly. I don't have osteoporosis but it runs in the family, tests show I do have some bone loss, and I am quite opposed to (and scared of) the new bone-enhancing drugs doctors seem to be pushing. Those of us who write do need to get lots of weight-bearing exercise, and it's not so easy to remember to get up and get out. I need to find out more about alkaline diets though...

  2. Hi Beth--

    I was on one for five months before really delving into the research--then I tossed the rest in the garbage. I don't think all doctors are pushing them. Some are, but some do not or else appear to be changing their minds. And they used to put people on for years and years...

    Now I concentrate on diet and exercise. Every day I chart my food for calories and calcium. I usually look up mineral content online, but I also have an alkaline/acid handbook. If I eat something acidic, I try to balance it with an alkaline. Some things are really surprising; things that common sense tells you would be acidic are not at all as processed by the body. Some things are fantastic for calcium etc. but are very acidic. So I try for balance. And of course I take a good multi-vitamin for my age and D. So far. As I educate myself, things change. And I have introduced some foods into my daily diet that I would never have eaten before (like blackstrap molasses! bit strong straight out of the spoon, but full of the good things your granny knew were there.)

  3. Have done some reading today about this and think I need to address possible pH issues in my own diet. No one has ever brought this up so I'm glad you wrote this! What handbook did you get?

  4. Good advice, Marly. Being a vegetarian who doesn't much like veggies (unless covered in butter and/or cheese and salt) or fruit (too sweet for the most part), and as someone who does lots and lots of sitting, I've had to force the good stuff into my life. It took a long time to find an exercise I could stick with, but when I did, it made a big difference in my energy levels. My diet, as a good Southerner, was bread/cheese/butter/salt based around heavy foods, very starchy. So I've had to make major adjustments over the last few years...not because I knew I should for my health, but because I was feeling *so* ill for no reason (well it was for a reason--it was a junky diet and sedentary lifestyle). Anyway, I have to force myself to be good, but I've found some surprisingly tasty ways to do that. What made an extra difference for me was adding a multivitamin, probiotics, fiber capsules, and, most importantly, an iron supplement.

  5. Beth:

    Brown and Trivieri, "The Acid Alkaline Food Guide: A Quick Reference to Foods and Their Effect on pH Levels" (NY: Square One, 2006.)

    And I am reading Susan Brown's "Better Bones, Better Body: Beyond Estrogen and Calcium" (NY: McGraw-Hill, 2000.)

    The other thing I've ordered lately is Susie Hathaway's exercise DVD, "Safe Strength Training for Osteoporosis Prevention," which is good for people with osteoporosis as well.

  6. Robin,

    Sounds good! You were smart to realize it was diet making you feel bad... How can a Southern girl not like veggies? You know, of the "Southern" vegetables, okra is alkaline and has lots of calcium and other good things. Luckily I am a fiend on okra. Unluckily I'm up North! But even in the Northern sticks I can find it sometimes. Collards are really good for minerals and alkalinity, and so are mustard greens and kale.

    Although I do take a vitamin, my goal is to get those things you mention (like iron or fiber) from the food I eat. It's complicated, though!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.