Osteoporosis affects a significant portion of the population, with one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 being impacted. It is marked by a thinning or loss of bone, making you more vulnerable to injuries, particularly fractures, and reduced mobility., Osteoporosis is “silent” and often goes undetected until a fracture occurs.
Maintaining bone density and health throughout your lifespan is paramount for a good quality of life. There are many factors to be considered when analyzing the risks for this disease including gender, age, race, activity level, diet, estrogen/testosterone status, and lifestyle choices, and many steps that can be taken to mitigate them. This article will explore the steps you can take to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and maintain bone health throughout your life.
1. Alkaline Diet
Over time, changes in body pH can affect bone health, so following an alkaline diet provides the balance required to maintain a healthy pH. A metabolically alkaline diet includes foods that have a buffering, alkalinizing effect on cell chemistry. For example, citrus fruits are alkalinizing because the body generates more than twice as much bicarbonate buffer from metabolizing them than there is acid in the fruit itself. Thus, while citrus fruit and similar foods are acidic in their food state, they are alkaline-forming in the body.
Having too much acidity in the body, and not enough buffering minerals can lead to oxidative stress and inflammation. Eating a lot of refined flours and processed sugars that do not contain natural potassium and magnesium contribute to this deficit.
Inflammation can contribute to bone loss by releasing cytokines that provoke osteoclasts to break down bone. So it’s important to select foods that are anti-inflammatory in nature such as those containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and fish oil, flax and chia seeds, and walnuts. High fiber foods and green leafy vegetables are also anti-inflammatory.
Here are some additional tips to eat for good bone health:
- Meals: Consume heavier meals earlier in the day and eat lighter in the evening. Include alkaline-promoting foods such as sweet potatoes, yams, lentils, beans, chickpeas, and other root vegetables like parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, and kohlrabi. Avoid foods you are reactive or sensitive to.
- Snacks: Choose whole options such as nuts (almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and cashews), dried fruit (raisins, currants, or dates), sprouts, and seeds. Remember to portion your snacks and make sure you are not snacking excessively.
- Balance carbs, fats, protein, minerals, and fiber: Eat low on the food chain and opt for organic or biodynamic options. This makes it easier to balance the carbs, fats, protein, minerals, and fiber. Avoid grains and choose grasses instead. Avoid items with added sugar; fruits and vegetables have enough sweetness as is.
Water allows the bones to absorb the nutrients needed to maintain healthy bones. If you are dehydrated, toxic substances can build up in the bones or lead to a lack of calcium and vitamin D. Dehydration can also lead to an increased risk of falls which can lead to injury for those already experiencing bone loss. We recommend consuming 8 glasses of mineral-rich water on a daily basis to maintain healthy hydration.
3. Exercise and stretching
Exercise and stretching can help manage the risk of osteoporosis and build strong bones. There are many different forms of exercise and movement that you can practice, but the specific type is less important, than being active on a daily basis. Higher-impact activities help to strengthen bones, but lower-impact exercises like walking and yoga are best for those already struggling with weakening bones. Incorporating a variety of exercises can improve bone health and reduce the risk of falls and fractures in individuals with osteoporosis.
Consider stretching when beginning and ending your day to explore your body’s limits. Stretching can increase blood flow and even contribute to bone remodeling and growth.
4. Stress and Sleep
Keeping stress to a minimum is absolutely essential due to its neuro-hormonal link to bone health. Stress raises cortisol levels in the body, and cortisol is known to interfere with the formation of bone-building cells, leading to decreases in bone density. Some good ways to manage stress include abdominal breathing, mindfulness practice, yoga, and tai chi chuan.
Restorative sleep gives your body time to rebuild bone due to the release of important growth hormones. Here are some tips to help achieve a restful night of sleep:
- Limit technology use 30 minutes before bedtime
- Try a salt and soda bath
- Green light therapy
- Soothing caffeine-free tea or Golden Milk before bedtime
- Stretching before bedtime
5. Evaluate Risk
There are a number of blood and urine tests that you can take to measure various indicators and predictors of bone health. These “predictive biomarkers” can track your current status compared to healthy goal values. In addition, Lymphocyte Response Assay (LRA) tests can determine if hidden allergies are contributing to bone-weakening inflammation.
Here are some great tests to use to help discover your risk:
- Urine pH: Bone is so sensitive to small changes in pH that vital bone functions can be affected. The first morning urine pH assessment allows you to ensure you’re in a healthy range between 6.5 and 7.5.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D3 enhances the absorption of calcium in the intestines and helps mobilize calcium from your bones into the bloodstream when you’re not consuming enough. Without adequate levels of vitamin D, the body may not be able to absorb enough calcium from the diet, leading to a deficiency that can weaken bones over time. Check your levels!
- Inflammation: High-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hsCRP) is a predictive biomarker for inflammation. Bones and muscles are especially vulnerable to inflammation and oxidative stress. Higher levels of hsCRP are associated with increased fracture risk.
- Oxidative Stress: Oxidative stress is the result of an imbalance between the production and accumulation of free radicals in cells and the ability of the body to detoxify these reactive products. This can lead to cellular and tissue damage and chronic inflammation, which can break down bone. Several factors can contribute to oxidative stress, including environmental toxins, poor diet, smoking, and chronic disease. Assessment of oxidative stress is an invaluable component of preventive approaches to optimizing bone health, overall health, and longevity.
- LRA Testing. These delayed-allergy tests can help you discover which foods and environmental chemicals you may be reactive to, keeping your body from defending and repairing as it should. Once you remove these offending triggers and make appropriate diet and lifestyle modifications, you will become more resilient.
In can be challenging in modern times to get all of the essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed to keep your bones and body functioning well. Results from the above tests may help inform your supplement selection, although a super multivitamin is recommended at a minimum.
- A super multivitamin – choose one that contains a good variety of vitamins and minerals with no binders or fillers.
- Magnesium and choline citrate – this patented combination helps improve magnesium absorption. Magnesium will help alkalinize the body for better bone health.
- Vitamin D3 supplementation can help raise your vitamin D levels to the 50-80 ng/L healthy goal value for building and restoring bone and positively affecting other crucial body systems.
- Quercetin is an antioxidant plant compound that can be taken in supplement form to help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Omega 3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA have been shown to decrease bone loss and fracture risk. A good fish oil supplement that is nitrogen-distilled to prevent oxidation is recommended.
By following all of the above tips, you can manage the risk of developing osteoporosis and maintain healthy bones throughout your lifespan.