Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become more fragile and more liable to break. It can be mild to severe and can disrupt lives due to pain and immobility. Before we look at ways to prevent/treat it, we should mention the reasons for its occurrence. Here are some of those factors:
- Certain medications
- Thyroid issues and other hormone disrupting problems
- Genetic predisposition
- Some cancers
- Poor diet – leading to multiple nutritional deficiencies but..
- Vitamin D deficiency primarily due to lack of sunlight
- Food intolerances and allergies
- Excess alcohol and cigarette smoking
- Eating disorders, gut problems and malabsorption syndromes
- Age – older people are more susceptible
This is not a definitive list – but as you can see, many of us are susceptible.
It is important to remember that there is no one cause. It is a multifactorial condition. One reason for this is that (for example), nutrients depend on other nutrients for their function in the body. Body systems never work in isolation and the function of one can determine the function of several others. It would seem very complicated and on a chemical level, it is. However, for us it is simple – to live in a similar way that we have since the beginning of our evolution.
Possibly the most salient factor, will be sub-optimal vitamin D levels or even outright deficiency. This condition is at epidemic proportions in the Western World. Why? The main reason is that we live our lives indoors, but even when we do venture out into the sun, we slather on a factor 50 sunscreen – which will prevent the formation of vitamin D in our skin. We are terrified of skin cancer but this is a cyclical problem – we need vitamin D for the prevention of most cancers, including malignant melanoma! Safe sunbathing is the way.
Inactivity is a factor too. Foot-to-floor exercise helps keep bone minerals where they should be – in the bones. It is not necessary to jog but if you do, keep it short. All you need to do is walk or participate in activities such as yoga, tennis, football or Tai Chi regularly. Try to walk/exercise at least 15 minutes per day.
Diet is possibly the most complex factor in osteoporosis. If we consider the fact that our ancestors (genetically the same as us) that lived 40,000 years ago didn’t suffer this condition, much can be learned. Even without the inclusion of dairy which came later, we can learn much about living healthily from these people in terms of diet, exercise and sun exposure. Where did they get their calcium from if they didn’t consume dairy?
It is likely that because they ate a completely natural (pesticide and antibiotic-free) diet, it allowed them to absorb more from what they did eat. Even if we are eating “healthily” according to government recommendations, we are still getting osteoporosis! The most important vitamins for bone health are the vitamins A, D3, and K2 – and they are present in animal fat. But government recommendations insist we must cut down on animal fat. These fat-soluble vitamins work together and without them you could consume vast quantities of bone minerals in your diet or as supplements, but they wouldn’t be absorbed! They will either go down the toilet or to areas of the body where they have no place to be and cause problems.
We also need more protein as we age. Protein gives “substance” to bone, or our bones would be like chalk and break just as easily. The best protein is available in eggs, dairy, meat with its fat and fish, but nut and seeds have some too. The food we have available to us in today’s world makes it easy for us to eat correctly (but many of us still don’t!). The inclusion of dairy foods – especially cheeses and fermented milk products – into our diet provides a wonderful array of bone nutrients. Protein, minerals, animal fat and the vitamins all in one food! Brie and Gouda are cheeses to include sometimes as they contain more vitamin K2 than others. Try to have protein foods at each meal.
As well as what we should eat for our bones, there are foods we should avoid as they could make osteoporosis or the possibility of osteoporosis worse. The body hates inflammation and inflammatory foods include sugar and grains (flour-based products and breakfast cereals). We should all be cutting down on sugary drinks, confectionary bread and cereals to improve our overall health.
Natural measures we should take to prevent/treat osteoporosis in a nutshell:
- Sunbathe safely
- Foot-to-floor exercise for at least 15 minutes a day
- Eat protein and natural animal fats
- Include cheeses and other fermented dairy products
- Consume less sugar and grain products
- Reduce alcohol and quit smoking
- Talk to your GP about osteoporosis, if you are on medications
I recommend a diet based on organic produce, as yet we don’t know the full health implications of ingesting chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and antibiotic residues. For sure, our ancestors were not exposed to them.
There is more information here.