What Is Osteoporosis?
by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center
Osteoporosis occurs when too much bone mass is lost, and changes occur in the structure of bone tissue. Certain risk factors may lead to the development of osteoporosis or increase the likelihood that you will develop the disease.
Many people with osteoporosis have several risk factors, but others who develop osteoporosis may not have any specific risk factors. There are some risk factors that you cannot change, and others that you may be able to change.
By understanding the risk factors, you may be able to prevent osteoporosis and fractures.
Factors That May Increase Your Risk
Your chances of developing osteoporosis are greater if you are a woman. Women tend to have lower peak bone mass and smaller bones than men. However, men are still at risk, especially after the age of 70.
As you age, bone loss happens more quickly, and new bone growth is slower. Over time, your bones can weaken and your risk for osteoporosis increases.
Slender, thin-boned women and men are at greater risk to develop osteoporosis because they have less bone to lose compared to larger boned women and men.
White and Asian women are at highest risk. African American and Mexican American women have a lower risk. White men are at higher risk than African American and Mexican American men.
Changes to hormones and low levels of certain hormones can increase your chances of developing osteoporosis. For example, low estrogen levels in women after menopause. Men with conditions that cause low testosterone are at risk for osteoporosis, however, the gradual decrease of testosterone with aging is not a major reason for loss of bone.
Diet may also be a reason. Beginning in childhood and into old age, a diet low in calcium and vitamin D can increase your risk for osteoporosis and fractures. Also, excessive dieting or poor protein intake may increase your risk for bone loss and osteoporosis.
Long-term use of certain medications may make you more likely to develop bone loss and osteoporosis, such as glucocorticoids and adrenocorticotropic hormone, which treat various conditions, such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Antiepileptic medicines, which treat seizures and other neurological disorders. Cancer medications, which use hormones to treat breast and prostate cancer. Proton pump inhibitors, which lower stomach acid. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which treat depression and anxiety. Thiazolidinediones, which treats type II diabetes.
Lifestyle factors that may contribute to bone loss include low levels of physical activity and prolonged periods of inactivity can contribute to increased rate of bone loss. They also leave you in poor physical condition, which can increase your risk of falling and breaking a bone.
Chronic heavy drinking of alcohol is a significant risk factor for osteoporosis.
Natural Strategies to Help Prevent and Treat Osteoporosis
The following are safe and effective natural strategies to reduce the risk of fracture, support healthy bone mineral density, bone strength and structural integrity.
An Anti-Inflammatory Healing Diet
Foods to avoid would be foods associated with inflammation in the bones, so it is critical to avoid highly inflammatory foods which include refined sugars and grains, and any foods that are easily metabolized into sugar (high glycemic foods). These foods upregulate inflammation and create extra acidity in the tissues.
It is best to avoid sodas. In addition to sugar, most sodas have a high phosphoric acid content which can remove calcium from the bones. Drinks and foods with high levels of caffeine can also interfere with calcium absorption.
Meat and dairy from conventionally raised animals, farmed fish, processed foods and highly processed vegetable oils, such as canola, peanut, cottonseed, soy and safflower, promote inflammation and should be eliminated.
Foods to Include
The foods you should be eating on an anti-inflammatory, healing diet are whole, unprocessed foods. Choose grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught meats and fish. Eat lower carbohydrate, low glycemic, colorful vegetables and fruits for their abundant antioxidants and phytonutrients. Plentiful amounts of herbs are also helpful to use on a healing diet.
Healthy fats are also an important part of a healing diet. Healthy fats are found in coconut, olives, avocados, and their oils and in grass-fed butter and ghee. Omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) found in wild caught salmon and grass-fed beef and dairy are fats with many bone health benefits.
Foods to Boost Bone Density
Along with a healing diet, you can include foods that can boost bone density. Raw cultured dairy, such as kefir, yogurt, and raw cheese, contain calcium, magnesium, vitamins D and K, and phosphorus, all of which help build strong bones.
Sea vegetables and green leafy vegetables also contain vitamins and minerals that are critical for bone formation and bone strength. Foods rich in omega-3 fats, such as wild-caught salmon and sardines, walnuts, and certain seeds, help reduce inflammation.
Exercise is critical for both maintaining bone health and preventing fractures.
Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to have positive effects on bone loss by increasing bone formation and decreasing bone reabsorption. Weight-bearing exercise is any exercise that requires your bones and muscles to support your body weight.
Examples are weight lifting, running, walking, dancing, and tennis. It is important to do weight-bearing exercises at least 3-4 times per week for 30-60 minutes per time.
Incorporating balance exercises, such as Tai Chi, into your exercise regimen is important for reducing the overall risk of falling and being injured.
Calcium is a major building block of bone tissue. In fact, 99 percent of our body’s calcium stores are housed in our bones. Consuming optimal amounts of calcium from food or supplementation is critical to prevent and treat osteoporosis.
Calcium is best obtained from foods in your diet. Dairy products (preferably raw, grass-fed, organic dairy products) are the most readily available sources of calcium. Dairy products also contain protein and other micronutrients important for bone health. Other calcium-rich foods include fish with soft, edible bones (such as sardines), green vegetables (broccoli, curly kale and Bok choy), and nuts (Brazil nuts and almonds).
Zinc and Magnesium
Both zinc and magnesium are important for bone health and for supporting the immune system.
Zinc is a mineral required for bone tissue renewal and mineralization. Foods high in zinc include pasture-raised chicken and eggs, grass-fed beef and dairy, spinach, and wild-caught salmon. Nuts and seeds such as cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and watermelon seeds are also high in zinc.
Magnesium is a crucial nutrient that supports over 300 physiological processes or functions in the body. It is referred to as the “master mineral” and plays an important role in forming bone. Magnesium is critical to all aspects of vitamin D and calcium metabolism.
The top food sources of magnesium are leafy greens such as Swiss chard and spinach, sea vegetables, sprouts, and avocados. Grass-fed dairy and wild-caught fish are rich in magnesium. Pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, and coffee are also good sources of magnesium.
Vitamins D and K2
Vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 work synergistically to promote bone health and reduce the incidences of fractures. These nutrients work together to help guide calcium into the bone tissue and prevent it from accumulating in places such as the arteries.
There are numerous animal-based food sources of vitamin D3. Whole food sources of vitamin D are much healthier options than foods fortified with vitamin D. The best dietary sources of vitamin D are wild-caught salmon and fatty fish, cod liver oil, grass-fed butter and raw cheese, egg yolks, mushrooms, and beef liver.
Vitamin K2 is an important nutrient that plays a role in many bone metabolisms. Getting enough vitamin K in your diet is key to maintaining healthy bones and protecting against fractures.
Vitamin K2 is needed to form a bone-building protein called osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is a necessary protein for maintaining calcium homeostasis in bone tissue. It works with osteoblast cells to build healthy bone tissue. When we are deficient in vitamin K2, osteocalcin production is inhibited which reduces calcium flow into bone tissue. This can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Foods rich in vitamin K2 are meat, dairy, fermented foods, and natto. Vitamin K2 is also produced by the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
The combination of vitamins D3 and K2 enhances osteocalcin accumulation in bone cells greater than either nutrient alone. Increased osteocalcin formation significantly improves bone mineral density.
There is a relationship between stress and osteoporosis. Increased stress hormones wreak havoc on the body, including the bones.
Stress induces physiological changes leading to osteoporosis. Stress also induces behaviors that may lead to osteoporosis such as distorted eating patterns, drinking alcohol, lack of exercise, and poor sleep habits.
It is critical to take steps to reduce stress and lower elevated cortisol levels daily.
Other powerful techniques are grounding, deep breathing exercises, sunlight exposure, and Epsom salt baths. Practice these stress reduction strategies daily to reduce stress and protect your bones from the effects of stress.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body that regulates circadian rhythm. As we age, our melatonin levels decrease, which may lead to imbalanced bone remodeling.
Recent studies have shown that melatonin may have a positive effect on the skeleton. Melatonin was shown to increase bone mineral density after one year of treatment in a study of postmenopausal women with osteopenia. Melatonin can be taken as a supplement; however, it is possible to promote your body’s own ability to make it as necessary. The best way to support your own production is to try and control your light exposure to match sunrise and sunset.
If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.
Source: Natural Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; Drjockers.com.