When people think of osteoporosis, they often think of a bone loss disease that mainly affects the elderly, particularly women. But did you know that we begin to loose bone mass in our mid-thirties? And that men and children are also at risk? Among Canadians, 1 in 2 women over the age of 55 and 1 in 4 men will develop osteoporosis1. Over 11 million people are effected in North America, with the rates of osteoporosis in the US and Canada among the highest in the world2. Fortunately, many cases of osteoporosis are entirely preventable, and can be reversed or greatly improved by implementing simple, natural lifestyle strategies.
People are diagnosed with osteoporosis, or warned about their risk for developing it, based on the results of a bone mineral density (BMD) scan. Healthy bone function is a dynamic balance between bone formation (osteoblast cells) and bone loss (osteoclast cells). As we age, the balance shifts towards bone loss, as bone breaking osteoclast cells increase in activity. This leads to loss of bone density, and an increased risk of fracture. This occurs in women during menopause, when there is a reduction in the female hormone estrogen, which also acts to inhibit osteoclast cells. Bone fractures, typically occurring in the hip, spine or wrist can be particularly debilitating, taking months of rehabilitation and increasing risk of blood clots to various organs (lungs, kidney, brain, liver) 3.
As Dr. Carolyn DeMarco, MD writes in her review of The Bone Building Solution (Sam Graci), it is important to realize that a BMD scan does not solely predict whether an individual will experience a fracture 3. This is because BMD is just one of many other risk factors that can predict future fracture incidence. Of the 24 known risk factors (of hip fracture), 17 are independent of BMD! Based on this, individuals with a low BMD scan may not go on to fracture, and vice versa for high bone density. In fact, the most common reason for bone fracture in the elderly is from falls (due to suboptimal nutrient intake, poor balance). Although BMD is the gold standard, it is therefore important to consider the individual’s lifestyle, environmental and hereditary factors in its entirety. Both lifestyle and environmental factors are in the power of the individual to change. Some of these risk factors include: lack of exercise, alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, high refined sugar (i.e. soda drinks) and salt, excess stress, poor balance and falls. Therefore, osteoporosis may be best thought of not as a disease, but a reflection of an accumulation of lifestyle habits. It is also important to note that loss of bone density with age is a normal, natural process. Living a healthy lifestyle, that emphasizes the right foods, supplementation and exercise together can reduce many of the alterable risk factors, and dramatically increase the quality of later life 3.
Below are six core insights for preventing osteoporosis (from Dr. Carolyn DeMarco, MD)
Eat color coded, “cell friendly” alkalinizing foods, such as vegetables, salads, berries, brightly colored fruit, ‘green drinks’, spices and herbs. Fruits & vegetables, when metabolized, contain alkalinizing elements (calcium, potassium, magnesium) that break down into bicarbonate, which neutralize excess acids in the blood. Excess acids can result from a diet high in animal protein and consuming soda drinks. Calcium is released from bone to neutralize these acids and is then excreted, leading to long term bone loss in the body’s attempt to maintain a stable blood pH.
2) Bone building supplement
Calcium and vitamin D3 are not enough for promoting bone health.
Instead, it is recommended to use a formula that is a synergistic blend of multiple bone benefiting nutrients. The Greens+TM, Bone Builder TM and Greens+ Bone Builder are all researched based, synergistic blends of multiple nutrients. The Bone Builder product contains highly absorbable forms of calcium (calcium formate, citrate-malate, bisgylcinate), bone building nutrients (magnesium, copper, vitamin D3, C, B12, vitamin K) and antioxidant polyphenols (Lycopene)4. Previous research has also supported that taking Greens+ in combination with Bone Builder offers more benefit than taking either alone1.
Weight resistant core exercises for strength and balance. Since falls are the greatest risk factor for fragility fractures, choose exercises such as yoga and tai chi which can improve posture and balance, thus reducing the risk of stumbles and falls.
4) Stress reduction
Engage in daily mindful activities, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga and Tai Chi. Take a walk in nature to lower stress, promote a positive mental state and increase physical activity.
8 hours of deep, rejuvenating sleep per night, in a darkened environment. Try to follow the natural cycles of light-dark, waking in the early morning, and going to bed early, avoiding too much stimulation from TV and electrical devices at night.
6) Lean vegetable protein, adequate essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6, 7, 9)
In addition to the prevention of osteoporosis, conscientious lifestyle choices such as those listed above are your best tools for preventing many debilitating diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. It is recommended you contact your doctor to determine your risk factors for developing osteoporosis, as well as a BMD scan if you are at risk. Lifestyle choices will also help you prevent the need for osteoporosis medications. These drugs help lower fracture risk but have no impact on bone density, and have numerous potentially serious side effects. In addition, there are no studies evaluating the long term (greater than 10 years) risks of taking these drugs. It is greatly encouraging to know that osteoporosis can be almost entirely prevented or reversed with conscientious, healthy lifestyle choices, including an alkalinizing diet, bone building supplement (Greens+) and core strengthening exercises, before the need for these medications. Therefore, maintaining bone health and preventing bone loss and osteoporosis is a lifelong pursuit that ideally should begin early in life. Childhood and adolescence are critical periods for getting sufficient calcium intake and maintaining peak bone mass later in life. Many of today’s children and adolescents spend less time outdoors and more time using various electronic devices that promote a sedentary lifestyle, while consuming increasing amounts of sweet/ acidifying foods and soft drinks. It is important to educate our youth, as well as young adults, as to the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle that will benefit them throughout their lives3.
For a more in depth view on this topic, I would encourage you to read The Bone Building Solution by Sam Graci, and Dr. Carolyn DeMarco’s article: http://www.genuinehealth.com/a-physicians-perspective-on-bone-building/#.UnhgAhC5h4w.
- Greens+ bone builder: Rao LG Study. http://www.genuinehealth.com/greens-bone-builder-rao-lg-study-progress-report/#.UnhwbxC5h4w
- Natural Medicines in the Clinical Management of Osteoporosis. http://ezproxy.ccnm.edu:2076/ce/CECourse.aspx?cs=&pm=5&s=nd&pc=12-106&searchid=43752726#keywordanchor
- A Physician’s Perspective on Bone Building. http://www.genuinehealth.com/a-physicians-perspective-on-bone-building/#.UnhxwRC5h4w
- Greens+ bone builder: Research proven to build stronger bones – naturally. http://www.genuinehealth.com/greens-bone-builder-research-proven-to-build-stronger-bones-naturally/#.UnhyEhC5h4w.