Osteoporosis- What it is, What it is not, and What you can do about it
What it is
The main misunderstanding about osteoporosis is that it is a calcium deficiency disease or an estrogen deficiency disease. It is not. Osteoporosis is a condition in which calcium is being lost from bones faster than the bones can be rebuilt. This is caused by several factors, including; lack of exercise, progesterone deficiency, poor diet, mineral deficiencies and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
What it is not
With osteoporosis, regardless of how much calcium a woman adds to her diet, her bones are losing calcium faster than it is being replaced. This results in decreased bone density, which increases the risk of bone fractures, especially as women age. Osteoporosis is not caused by a lack of dietary calcium.
Osteoporosis is not caused by a lack of estrogen. According to Scientific American’s 1991 medical text, “Estrogen decreases bone resorption, associated with the decrease in bone resorption is a decrease in bone formation. Therefore, estrogen should not be expected to increase bone mass.” There is currently no scientific evidence that estrogen rebuilds new bone.
In fact, in 1995 The New England Journal of Medicine reported that a major study, involving over 9500 women across the United States, found that current estrogen hormone replacement therapy used by women over the age of 65, had no benefits in preventing hip fractures.
Resorption is just one step in the two part process of bone formation. During resorption, osteoclast cells dissolve or resorp the older bone cells in your body. Resorption leaves tiny spaces in the bone, into which the osteoblast cells move, rebuilding or “remodeling” new bone.
Women of northern European descent over the age of 50, who are relatively thin, and whose bone mineral density is over two standard deviations below the mean of normally healthy young women, are at the highest risk for this disease.
What you can do about it
Lifestyle choices that elevate your risk factors (which are preventable) include; smoking, lack of exercise, alcoholism, a diet high in meat and sugar, a diet low in raw vegetables and whole grains, a deficiency of the combination of vitamins D and calcium and magnesium, and the excess use of diuretics, fluoride and antibiotics.
Prevention means avoiding these lifestyle choices:
Smoking- Smoking can cause emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this causes the body to retain lung carbon dioxide and increase serum carbonic acid. This “metabolic acidosis” requires your body to produce calcium, usually taken from your bones, in order to attain balance. The more you smoke the more you are robbing your body of calcium.
Lack of exercise- In order to absorb calcium your bones require a minimum amount of weight bearing exercise. Bone building exercise includes walking, bicycle riding, tennis, and weight lifting, all requiring some resistance against the bone.
Alcohol abuse- Alcoholism causes, among other things, magnesium loss, nutritional deficiencies and possibly alcohol toxicity to bone. Alcohol abuse is a high risk factor for osteoporosis.
Eating Too Much Protein- Excess protein is not stored in the body, but must be excreted every day through the urinary tract. This excretion of protein waste products through the kidneys increases the loss of dietary calcium. This means that an excess of protein intake creates a negative calcium balance, which will cause calcium to be drained from your bones.
Excess Use of Diuretics- The excess use of diuretics will cause water loss through the urine, increasing the excretion of minerals, thus potentially increasing the risk of osteoporosis.
Fluoride- According to the book What Your Doctor May Not tell you about Menopause-The Breakthrough on Natural Hormone Balance, by John R. Lee, MD and Virginia Hopkins, “Fluoride is a potent enzyme inhibitor and causes pathological changes in bone, leading to increased risk of fracture. Fluoride affects not only the quantity but also the quality of the collagen (the non mineralized matrix) within your bones.”
Antibiotics- Long-term use of broad spectrum antibiotics kill the “good” intestinal bacteria that make vitamin K, a bone building mineral. Lowered levels of Vitamin K can inhibit the bone building process.
In short, restrict your intake of animal proteins, processed sugars, alcohol, diuretics, fluoride, antibiotics, steroids and tobacco use.
Positive Lifestyle choices to make:
Add a healthy portion of raw foods to your diet, lack of roughage in your diet can be a factor in osteoporosis.
Make sure your diet includes foods that provide vitamins D, A, C, B6 and K, and the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc.
In addition, you may want to add a natural, balanced progesterone cream to your regimen, to correct hormone imbalance.