(Health Secrets) As we age, our bones begin to erode, and some of us lose so much bone that our skeletons become weakened and deformed, and in severe cases we incur loss of bone density in multiple places. That is osteoporosis, and it frequently causes fractures of the hip, spine and forearm. At its worst, bones can become so frail that they can crack and break under the body’s own weight! But your bones don’t have to crack under the strain of this disease. You can slow, stop or even reverse bone loss.
The meaning of the term osteoporosis originates from osteo, meaning bone, and porosus meaning thinning or becoming more porous. Medically speaking, osteoporosis is a disease of the bone in which the bone mineral density (BMD) is reduced, resulting in low bone mass and deteriorating bone tissue. Bone mass (or bone density) is the amount of bone present in the skeletal structure. The higher the density, the stronger the bones. Bone density is influenced by hormone status, and can be influenced by environmental factors and medications.
If osteoporosis is not prevented in the early stages or if it is left untreated, it can progress painlessly to the point where bones start breaking. The fractures caused by osteoporosis can be either in the form of cracking (as in a hip fracture), or collapsing (as in a compression fracture of the vertebrae of the spine). Though the spine, hips, and wrists are common areas of osteoporosis-related bone fractures, almost any skeletal bone area is susceptible.
The consequences of osteoporosis may impair a person for life. Spinal or vertebral fractures have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity. Osteoporosis can cause a person to stoop forward and appear to have a hump on the spine. While osteoporosis occurs in men and pre-menopausal women, the problem is predominant among postmenopausal women because of hormone loss.
Women lose bone rapidly after menopause, because their bodies are producing less estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, the hormones that sponsor healthy bone.
Other factors contributing to loss of bone density and strength:
Excess phosphorus intake from drinking sodas, particularly colas, causes the body to balance this phosphorus by drawing calcium from bones.
Magnesium deficiency is a huge factor for osteoporosis. Magnesium is actually more important than calcium for bone growth and bone density. As many as 90 percent or more of us are deficient in magnesium.
Some medicines can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium, causing bones to weaken. These include cortisone/corticosteroids, anticoagulants, and some anti-convulsive drugs. Cortisone, blood thinners, antacids containing aluminum, chemotherapy, lithium, and certain antibiotics rob bones of mineral.
Other illnesses or diseases, such as over-active thyroid, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis may cause bone loss. Anorexia nervosa or bulimia can cause changes in a person’s hormone status and lead to osteoporosis.
Other significant factors leading to the onset of osteoporosis include smoking, high intake of alcohol, tea or coffee, low levels of physical activity (weight bearing exercise), and family history.
Sedentary lifestyle is a major factor in osteoporosis. Exercise strengthens bones – inactivity encourages the body not to rebuild unused bone.
A lack of natural Vitamin D, which can be obtained by exposure to sunlight is an important factor in bone loss.
Not enough Vitamin K in the system is an often overlooked contributor to osteoporosis. New research has shown that this little known vitamin is the key to calcium balance in the body. Trace minerals, in which most of us are deficient due to our mineral depleted soils, are necessary for the transport and absorption of calcium.
Excess consumption of dairy products actually causes bone loss, contrary to what many might believe. This is due to the lack of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in factory farmed dairy products.
Excess salt and sugar consumption in junk foods can leach calcium from the bones into the urine.
Fluorides destroy collagen, the glue which adds strength to the bones.
Exercise to build strong bones:
Exercise aerobically for 20 minutes a day at least three days a week doing weight-bearing exercise such as walking or jogging. This regime has been proven to increase bone mineral density, and reduce the risk of falls by strengthening the major muscle groups in the legs and back. You may prefer running, biking, swimming or aerobic dance classes. Aim for quality, not quantity, when you exercise, and choose an exercise you know you will want to keep on doing. If you stop, benefits will fade.
Walking in chest-deep water for about 30 minutes at least three times a week is a suggested remedy, especially if you’ve already had a fracture or two, since the water will help support your body weight and take stress off bones and joints. Work yourself up to 30 minutes at least three times a week.
Make your “exercise equipment” a chair and the floor. To complement water walking, do some easy muscle-strengthening exercises. Such exercises can include abdominal curls, shoulder blade squeezes and back extensions.
To do back extensions, lie on the floor on your stomach, with a pillow under your hips and your arms at your sides. Using only your back muscles, not your arms, raise your upper body a few inches off the floor. Hold for as long as comfortable, then relax downward. Work up to doing this six to ten times a day.
Dietary and other tips for handling osteoporosis without medications
Vary your diet. Bones are not made from calcium alone. Instead, bones are an amalgam that includes various minerals such as zinc and boron. These trace elements can be ingested through a varied and broad-based diet that includes mostly unprocessed foods, such as whole grains, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and shellfish, and lean meat. Foods high in boron (a mineral that helps the body hold calcium) are beneficial for those affected by osteoporosis. Boron is found in apples, pears, grapes and other fruit, as well as in legumes, nuts and honey. Manganese is another beneficial mineral. Traces of manganese are found in pineapples, nuts, spinach, beans and whole wheat.
Foods rich in calcium are especially necessary for maintaining healthy bones. Dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt), salmon, sardines, almonds, dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli are good sources of calcium. The body can absorb only about 500 mg of calcium at one time, so intake should be spread throughout the day.
The recommended daily minimums for magnesium are 320 mg for women and 400 for men, but optimum daily amounts are more like 500 to 700 mg. Dietary sources include dark green leafy vegetables and nuts
Brussels sprouts are known to prevent diseases like cancer, birth defects, osteoporosis and heart trouble. Brussels sprouts provide essential Vitamin K (this vitamin activates a protein found in bones, called osteocalcin, which holds calcium molecules in place) and helps protect against osteoporosis.
It is important to note that some studies have suggested an adverse effect of calcium excess on bone density. Excess consumption of dairy products may leach calcium from the system. Therefore vegetables and nuts are a better source of calcium than factory farmed milk products, or supplements. If that seems incredible, consider that man alone continues to drink milk after the age of weaning. Note that cows get all of their calcium from grass and vegetable forage, and they have some of the largest and strongest bones of any animal.
Herbs that help osteoporosis
Dandelion tea helps build bone density.
Red Clover has been shown to improve bone mineral density and stabilize hormone levels. It also lowers LDL cholesterol.
Chaste Berry (vitex) contains vitexicarpin and vitricin, which help to keep hormone levels in balance. It is advisable to take at least 250 mg a day of a standardized extract of this herb.
Dong Quai has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is advisable to take 250 mg of a standardized extract of dong quai daily as a tonic herb.
A recent study indicates that the popular herb black cohosh may help prevent osteoporosis. Most studies recommend an intake of either 20 or 40 mg of black cohosh extract twice a day.
A handful of sesame seeds every morning may also help osteoporosis.
Other useful supplements
Silica (from horsetail and/or shavegrass) works with calcium to maintain strong bones and is especially effective in combination with GTF Chromium.
Inositol/IP6 modulates the behavior of bone-forming and bone-destroying cells to help prevent osteoporosis.
Besides being an excellent pathogen destroyer, Colloidal Silver also helps bone, tissue and nerve regeneration.
Many people have reported excellent results for arthritis as well as osteopororis with Colloidal Gold.
Caution: Be very wary of taking bone drugs for osteoporosis. Evidence has shown that they produce abnormal bone growth and can actually make bones more brittle. They may have serious and even life threatening side effects!
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