Friday, December 2, 2011

Diagnosis: Osteoporosis

Too many of my friends are getting a diagnosis of osteoporosis. I fear that most women (and men) will get that dreaded diagnosis unless they take action to make a few changes in their life. Current estimates state that worldwide over 200 million women suffer from this disease.

Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and the loss of bone density over time. Our bones have a structure much like a sponge. Osteoporosis will make that "sponge" look thin—tiny cells become larger—making the "sponge" weaker.

By 2050, the worldwide incidence of hip fractures in men is projected to increase by 310% and 240% in women.

The Diet Connection
It's known that as you age, calcium and phosphate may be reabsorbed back into the body from the bones, which makes the bone tissue weaker. This can result in brittle, fragile bones that are more prone to fractures, even without injury. So why does this happen?

The why has been known for many years among alternative health enthusiasts. I ran across a study done in 1972 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Incidence of Osteoporosis in Vegetarians and Omnivores. The study found a significantly higher level of bone density among vegetarians versus omnivores, which suggested vegetarians were less likely to get osteoporosis.

Why does your body basically steal calcium and phosphate from the bones?

As I point out in Demystifying Acid vs. Alkaline, calcium is leached from your bones to balance the acidic environment brought on by eating the Standard American Diet (SAD)—meat and potatoes, fast foods, sugar and packaged and artificial foods. If you want to make a change in your bone health, change your diet to healthy.

You can check your body's alkaline level with pH Test Strips, which can be purchased online, in most health food stores and at some pharmacies.

Go to Demystifying Acid vs. Alkaline to find a list of alkaline-balancing foods to get your body on the path to being more alkaline.

The Drug Caution
As a preventative measure, Fosamax has been marketed to women to help strengthen their bones since 1995. Other drugs prescribed to help stop and reverse the weakening of bones include Actonel, Atelvia and Boniva. Worldwide sales of these drugs last year were $7.6 billion.

The problem is these drugs have not been tested long-term and many women have experienced fractures (even without a fall) having been on the drugs for more than five years. The FDA, who is tasked with protecting the public, has not been forthright in requiring labeling to caution users about the extended risks of taking these drugs—that is, you may experience a bone fracture as a result of taking the drug.

I strongly caution anyone considering taking or already taking these supposedly preventative drugs to evaluate the risks—discuss them with your doctor. The benefits have only been proven for three to five years, not longer.

The Vitamin Link
Many people will opt to take a calcium supplement to help their bones, but is that wise? Recent studies have shown that taking calcium supplements may increase the risk of cardiovascular events. Other health risks can also occur with taking calcium.

For strong bones and good health in general, vitamin D is important. It helps in your efforts to avoid osteoporosis. Your doctor can do a blood serum test (called 25-hydroxyvitamin D) to determine if you are deficient in Vitamin D. Your optimum value should be 50-70 ng/ml.

It's best to get vitamin D from natural sunlight, but that becomes a bit more difficult in the colder months. Taking an oral supplement will be your best choice. Make sure you take natural vitamin D called D3 (cholecalciferol). As an adult, you may need as much as 5,000 IU's of vitamin D for optimum health.

The Exercise Benefit
Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. Therefore in addition to a healthy diet, strong bones are developed by weight-bearing exercise. You can experience profound benefits to both your skeletal, muscular and cardiovascular systems.

Some examples of weight-bearing exercises include weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing. Examples of exercises that are not weight-bearing include swimming and bicycling.

If you've never had an exercise program, Summer Tomato lists ten tips for starting and sticking with exercise to give you some help.

Now you know how to treasure your bones. Any questions? Are there changes you will make to help your bones? What are they?

1 comment:

  1. Since the water content in fruits and vegetables is surrounded by molecules, it can easily get into your body’s cells when compared to pure water