Osteoporosis is a condition of low bone mineral density with an increased risk of bone fracture (breakage). Primary osteoporosis occurs most often in post-menopausal women. Secondary osteoporosis may occur in anyone at different ages, as a result of chronic medical problems (for example, hormone imbalance and lack of periods) or secondary to prolonged use of medications, such as prednisone or antacids (proton pump inhibitors/PPIs).
Is Osteoporosis An “Old Lady” Disease?
Under certain circumstances, osteoporosis can affect anyone. But the main reason you should be concerned about osteoporosis in your 20s and 30s is because this is the opportunity to optimize your bone density to prevent osteoporosis later on. Bone building occurs most when you are young and you will reach your peak bone density.
Mechanism For Building Bone
- Stress the skeletal system – do weight bearing exercise like walking, running, jogging, and weight training.
- Cells located inside the bone break down old bone (osteoclasts), while other cells build new bones. The factors that influence this activity are hormones, weight bearing exercise, mineral levels, blood sugar levels, and stress.
Risk Factors For Osteoporosis
- Excessive caffeine intake
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Amenorrhea – lack of regular periods means hormone imbalance that can lead to bone loss. Amenorrhea may be due to PCOS, excessive exercise, low body mass, hypothyroidism, menopause or several other causes. If your periods aren’t regular, see your doctor for testing and diagnosis of the problem.
- Use of certain medications called proton pump inhibitors and antacids lower stomach acid that is necessary for mineral absorption.
- Excessive alcohol intake is hard on the stomach and digestive tract and has the potential to impair mineral absorption.
- High stress leads to cortisol production that can leach minerals out of the bones.
- Avoid soft drinks. Carbonated beverages can neutralize stomach acid that is essential for mineral absorption. Added to that the caffeine that leaches minerals out of the bones and cola beverages are a nasty combination for bone health.
To Prevent Osteoporosis
- Quit smoking.
- Limit caffeine intake to no more than 1 caffeinated beverage per day.
- Get more active. If you have a sedentary job, get up and move every hour for 5 minutes. Outside of work, exercise, for at least 30–60 minutes every day.
- Balance your hormones.
If you have any of the following signs of hormone imbalance, see your doctor or naturopathic doctor for testing.
- Irregular periods
- Excessive facial or body hair
- Head hair loss
- Easy or rapid weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Very low body fat (less than 14%)
- Feeling excessively tired.
There are natural ways to better balance hormones through diet, stress reduction, exercise and herbs if they are out of balance.
- Talk to your doctor about getting off Proton Pump Inhibitors and Antacids. Use of these medications should be limited to short-term and the underlying cause of acid reflux or indigestion should be treated to resolve these issues. Having adequate stomach acid to absorb minerals and digest protein is important in order to build healthy bones.
- Limit your alcohol intake to no more than 1–2 servings, once or twice per week.
- Reduce your stress. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress and build bone at the same time. Stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, tai chi, and breathing exercises can help lower cortisol and preserve bone density.
- Avoid drinking soft drinks. For so many reasons these are bad news, but particularly for bone health because of the combination of sugar and caffeine.
- Leafy greens. Dark, green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, Swiss chard and spring mix salad greens are the perfect combination for bone density because they have calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron, and other important minerals for bone health along with vitamin K. Vitamin K has been proven to help build bone density and prevent fractures. Vitamin K should not be taken by those on the blood thinner, Warfarin or Coumadin.
- Broccoli, canned salmon with the bones mashed up in it, and almonds are all good sources of calcium.
- Bone broth. Put meat with bones in it in your slow cooker, add a tablespoon of vinegar and 2 cups of water, set it on low and leave it for 6-12 hours and use the broth to make soup or stew. Bone broth contains all the minerals to make healthy bones in a delicious soup.
- Coffee and tea – Caffeine leaches minerals out of the bones and teeth.
- Soda – Carbonation decreases mineral absorption and paired with caffeine and sugar, does a real number on bone density.
- Alcohol – Alcohol irritates the stomach and digestive tract and may impair mineral absorption.
- Sugar – Sugar and carbs increase production of acidic by products in the body, which requires minerals from the bones to maintain the proper pH.