One day I was walking through the mall, and I caught a glance of myself in a mirror at a clothing store.
I was embarrassed by what I saw.
Who was this punk kid with bleached hair sulking with bad posture through the mall?
My posture looked like a Slinky. As if I was still sitting while standing.
I’ve made some postural progress over the past 11 years, but not enough to say I’ve discovered the definitive fix. (My business partner Marco *has* made remarkable progress on his posture through breathing drills, and perhaps one day we’ll be able to offer a proven gameplan there.)
Today, it seems like everyone today is trying to fix bad posture, and I don’t see a lot of solutions.
There are 33.6 million views on Jeremy Ethier’s postural fix videos on Youtube alone. They’re short little videos with mobility routines.
Do these posture mobility routines work?
I’d wager that if you have straight teeth (without braces), you’re young, and you sit a lot for school/work/gaming—you might be able to make huge improvements with some mobility work (and breathwork.)
But if you’re over thirty, sure, do the mobility/breathwork—but I believe most of us could have a posture problem that goes much deeper than the way we sit.
Nutrition And Posture
There may be a role in nutrition to restore our posture.
This first started to dawn on me when I found research that a copper deficiency can play a role in back pain because copper is needed in the spine.
80% of Americans don’t reach the recommended amount of copper in their diet (2006)—and that doesn’t even account for the fact that both iron/zinc lower copper (which I’ll cover soon) along with many popular supplements that are likely in your cabinet.
New research is showing that copper plays a huge role in fat-burning as well. Agricultural studies show that low copper diets make cows have more fat marbling, which is “desirable.”
Another player in nutritional posture is magnesium. Magnesium works with calcium, phosphorus, and other micronutrients for bone health (2013).
Because of modern farming practices that only care about yield and not nutrition, magnesium is now 90% lower in foods like spinach, tomatoes, etc., compared to 100 years ago. That—and the fact that no one drinks hard well-water anymore, which is a source of many minerals like magnesium and calcium. (Tap water is quite empty of minerals.)
And so our minerals are slowly being leached out of our bones to be used in important bodily processes, like maintaining our heart health as we age—because our foods and water aren’t high enough to replenish them.
NPR had a neat story about how our bone shrinks everywhere, including our face, which is why plastic surgery doesn’t and will never look right. Because the issue isn’t just with sagging skin, but rather our bones shrinking, leading to the sagging skin.
Your bones shrink, your face shrinks, your teeth shrink, and so does your spine and everything needed to hold it up. These mineral deficiencies make it rough on your posture.
Does it need to be this way? Isn’t this just ageing? Probably not.
I’ve personally seen an improvement in posture after improving my diet. You can affect your bone density and your health, for sure, by improving what you eat. (Not to mention your success with muscle gain and fat loss.)
Action Plan To Correct Bad Posture
The very first course of action?
Stop Eating Iron-Fortified Foods
Stop eating iron-fortified foods, which lowers your copper. Iron/zinc/copper all compete for uptake, and when one is imbalanced, it lowers the others.
The government has been feeding you iron supplements—I’m not sure if you knew.
They’ve been giving you cheap unbound iron shavings in your pizza, burgers, pretzels, breakfast cereals, sandwiches, pasta, etc. Anything with white flour.
Not only that, but the magnesium you also want is found in the whole grain. It’s lost in the processing to make white flour. Swap out white flour for whole grains, and you’ll stop both iron overload and get more magnesium at the very same time.
Stop Eating Foods With Added Citric Acid
Citric acid lowers copper by affecting it’s transporter, ceruloplasmin. Take a look at all your foods. I found citric acid in my whole grain sourdough bread from Whole Foods, and my organic grass-fed dairy Kefir—unreal! It’s also found in a popular magnesium supplement.
Avoid These Common Supplements
The second course of action is to stop taking:
- synthetic zinc
- synthetic ascorbic acid (misleadingly called vitamin C, ascorbic acid is just the shell)
- synthetic vitamin D supplements
It’s one thing to take these supplements acutely if you’re battling a cold and you need urgent action or your doctor is giving them to you while they’re closely monitoring your bloodwork of all related factors.
But I would not recommend taking these blindly, especially at high levels, as a lifestyle (I learned from experience.) All of these directly or indirectly lower copper. (I wouldn’t even recommend supplementing with copper unless your doctor advises you to but instead, try to eat a variety of more whole foods.)
For vitamin C, I’d recommend looking into “whole food vitamin C” which includes things like rutin, J factors, and tyrosinase. Examples being powderized camu camu and acerola cherry.
For zinc, you could investigate oyster pills, which would include copper and vitamin B12 and other co-factors. I haven’t tried this as I get tons of zinc in my diet, but it’s something to think about.
Stopping vitamin D supplementation is a tough one—since it’s been backed up to be helpful in so many studies. But it may play a negative role in copper (through ceruloplasmin). Plus, it ignores the real problem—we need to ask ourselves why our vitamin D is low? Thin skin? Lack of sunshine and low magnesium? Can we really supplement the sun away? Or expect our heart health to be good if a vitamin D-dependent mineral like magnesium is low?
Plus, there are natural food sources of vit d (sulfated?) with its co-factors (vitamin A) like cod liver oil as an option.
In terms of posture, the cool thing is that lifting weights helps not only your muscles but also your bones (Harvard Health.) Plus, it can load up your muscles in a proper postural position. For example, doing deadlifts with proper form may help with posture, as well as getting tall, and then doing some farmer carries under load.
There’s also something fascinating about exercising and how it seems to help you eat better at the same time. I don’t know why, but it just seems easier to eat properly when you’re exercising compared to when you’re not.