Osteoporosis is an expensive and debilitating disease. Current treatment can help but prevention is the best option because this disease cannot be cured and treatment offers mixed degree of improvement. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become brittle and more susceptible to fractures. The actual meaning of the work is porous bones. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 44 million Americans are currently diagnosed with Osteoporosis. This represents 55% of the population that is over the age of 50. Common treatment includes a class of pharmaceuticals called bisphosphonates as well as lifestyle changes.
Bone continues to grow throughout life through a cycle called remodeling.
Bone is continually broken down through a process called resorption and built up through deposition. Many things can affect this cycle such as exercise, diet, injury, and aging. Bisphosphonates work by decreasing the amount of bone that breaks down. They do not cause new bone growth. According to biomechanist Katy Bowman, new bone growth is brought about by mechanical signals.
Weight on our bones send signals of how much weight needs to be supported. The pressure put on the bones encourages the growth. The common location of fractures lines up with the areas that typically do not see enough mechanical input – hips, spine, and wrists. This is due to our sedentary lifestyles and posture issues. Prevention can be successfully used by obtaining generous amounts of weight bearing exercises.
This would include things walking, hiking, dancing, and tennis. A study that was published in 2015 shows promising results from Yoga.
The study showed significant bone density increase in the spine. Another area of promise is the area of nutrition. We are often told how important calcium is for our bones but there is more to that story. Although calcium comprises a large portion of our bones, are bones are made of a mineral balance of 12 minerals (calcium, boron, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, sulfur, silica, potassium, phosphorus, zinc) and 64 trace minerals. Focusing on just replacing one or two minerals misses the importance of the natural balance. These minerals are often lacking in our soils due to industrial farming.
A couple places that these minerals can be found is in celtic sea salt and leafy green vegetables grown in mineral rich soil. In addition to considering how to considering how to add these minerals, it is worth looking at what leaches these minerals out of our bodies. Some of the main culprits are pop, alcohol and tobacco. In addition to those leaching minerals out directly, calcium specifically can be leached out by our own bodies homeostasis. Homeostasis is a our body keeping itself stable and within a certain range. Much of the modern diet causes our blood to become too acidic. In order to maintain balance the body needs to bring the blood back to the proper pH which is just over 7.
Calcium is the most basic mineral so it is then pulled out of the bones to neutralize the excessive acid of the blood. Another interesting fact is that calcium is often recommended in large doses to help osteoporosis but according to the World Health Organization hip fractures due to osteoporosis are actually highest in countries with the highest calcium intake. More research is need in this area but the current thesis is that somehow the high consumption of animal protein might outweigh the calcium intake (WHO 2018). Osteoporosis is a complicated disease that is on the rise. We need to invest time and money to look at new solutions that includes prevention through diet and lifestyle changes.