Make No Bones About Osteoporosis!
If you love your grandma, send her this article. It may save her life one day. Why?
Those most at risk of suffering from broken bones due to osteoporosis are the elderly, especially women. Women are three times more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than men because women typically lose bone density faster. Grandmas are at the highest risk of fracturing and breaking their bones, and will need the right information to help them understand how to rebuild their bones.
The good news is that with correct habits, osteoporosis can be slowed, stopped, prevented, and to some degree, reversed!
Bones provide the structural support for our muscles, tendons and organs, enable movement, protect our internal organs from falls and impacts, store minerals and energy, and produce blood cells. That’s a busy bunch of bones!
Osteoporosis occurs when our bones deteriorate, becoming more brittle, resulting in an increased risk of injuries related to falls. More than 5% of women currently have osteoporosis, and the risk exponentially increases with age. Preventing osteoporosis is our main line of defense against injuries resulting from weak bones.
Why do bones grow?
You have probably heard that if you eat calcium, mainly from milk, your bones will grow. And that's it. No more advice.
But don't you think that's too simple of an explanation for something as complex as your bones?
There are 2 main different types of cells that build or break our bones. We have osteoblasts, which take the materials in our blood (the ones from the food we ate) and use them to build our bones, and we have osteoclasts, which take old material on our bones and put it back in the blood to be excreted.
Thanks for the science lesson Einstein, but why would I care?
Because building our bones is not just about having the right materials in our body(like calcium), it's also about creating an environment in our body that ignites osteoblast production and slows osteoclast degeneration. This ain't your typical nutrition talk.
Here, I'll explain what actions to take to increase our osteoblast production AND what materials it needs to properly build bones.
Can’t we just take a pill?
Yes, but osteoporosis medications block the disease symptoms without treating the root cause, and some of these medications have severe side effects. If you are taking medication, combining healthy lifestyle habits with your meds will significantly increase your chance of recovery.
How do we increase our bone production?
More than any other factor, weight-bearing exercise has the greatest effect on fighting osteoporosis: Weight bearing exercise creates an environment for our bones, just as it does for our muscles, to grab nutrients that will make them grow. Those engaged in a consistent strength-training program are less likely to experience falls and broken bones since exercise increases bone density[i] and improves balance.[ii] Seniors who exercise regularly for 2 years are almost three times less likely to have a fall resulting in a broken bone than those who don’t exercise.[iii] Weight bearing exercise has the greatest effect on bone health, although any type of exercise has significant benefits.[iv]
Eat the right foods for the correct hormone production: What foods create hormones that improve our bone production?:
- Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids (flax-seeds, hemp-seeds, chia-seeds, salmon, etc.)
- Foods high in zinc (grass-fed beef, legumes, hemp-seeds, cashews, etc.)
Decrease Stress: This is a factor most people look past, but needs addressing. When we're stressed, we release hormones that negatively affect our osteoblast production.
Foods, vitamins, and minerals that prevent loss of bone density:
Calcium builds strong bones! Most Americans eat less than the dietary standard of calcium intake.[xi] When we think of calcium we think of milk. But the research shows that the best source of calcium is green vegetables as they have a very high calcium absorption rate.[xii] Milk and other animal products can create a slightly acidic environment in our blood, which actually causes calcium to be excreted from our bones more rapidly.[xiii] Just one cup of cooked spinach provides nearly 25% of your daily value of calcium in only 40 calories! However, be aware that calcium supplementation does not affect your risk of falls and fractures.[xiv]
Phosphorus, found in pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, Carp (fish), and beans,[xv] is just as important as calcium.[xvi] Calcium and phosphorus work in a balanced relationship to increase your bone density, meaning that consuming too much of one without the other won't help you increase your bone density.[xvii]
Phytates which are found in whole grains, beans, nuts, and vegetables.[v]
Almonds have a positive effect on increasing bone density.[vi]
Vitamin D increases our body’s ability to absorb and utilize calcium to strengthen bones[vii], increase muscle strength to prevent falls[viii], and help our nervous system increase balance to prevent falling[ix]. Although our skin is able to produce its own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, most Americans don’t get enough sunlight exposure. Luckily, a daily dose of between 1000-2000IU of Vitamin D3 supplement increases our blood levels of Vitamin D.[x]
The lifestyle choices we make can have a significant impact on controlling the risk of developing osteoporosis. For a strong, healthy body, incorporate a regular schedule of strength training exercise, include a Vitamin D supplement and eat foods rich in phytates, calcium, and phosphorous.
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