Osteoporosis literally means “porous bone,” and that’s exactly what happens to the bones in your body over the years as osteoporosis slowly deteriorates the skeletal structure. Eventually, fragile bones predispose you to fracture and a plethora of other problems associated with bone loss including Dowager’s hump, loss of mobility, and pinched nerves from spinal collapse. In fact, bones affected by osteoporosis may become so fragile that fractures occur spontaneously or as the result of minor bumps, falls, or stresses associated with bending, lifting, or even coughing!
Bone is a living tissue; as such, it is ever-changing. Old bone is removed (resorption) and new bone is added (formation) to the skeleton on a constant basis. When we are young, bone formation is much higher than resorption. But as we age, formation slows. Peak bone mass is achieved at about age 30, after that bones can begin to weaken. If we do not have the right genetics, nutrition, weight bearing exercise and other factors in place, resorption becomes dominant and bone loss ensues.
Approximately 44 million Americans are threatened by osteoporosis and low bone mass—68% being women. One of every two women and one of every four men over 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
We often think of osteoporosis as a normal consequence of aging, but in fact, it is the result of certain unchangeable factors combined with poor diet and lifestyle habits. The truth is that it’s never too early to build strong bones or be aware of the factors that contribute to bone loss. There are risk factors you cannot change, and risk factors you can control.
Risk factors you cannot change:
Risk factors you can exert some control over:
The following tests are helpful in identifying the root cause(s) of bone loss:
The DEXA bone density test is used to identify osteoporosis. Dr. Stengler uses a bone metabolism to monitor the success of therapy. Using blood or urine, he measures two substances that are released when there is bone (and cartilage) breakdown. They are known as deoxypyridinium and pyridinium. A high level signifies too much breakdown.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Osteoporosis is certainly a disease highly associated with one’s diet and lifestyle. Studies of cultures with more of a primitive lifestyle demonstrate osteoporosis to be uncommon. A diet rich in inflammation fighting foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, omega 3 rich fish such as wild salmon and sardines, and lean poultry is recommended. Inflammatory foods such as caffeine, alcohol, soda pop, and other simple sugars should be avoided for those with this disease.
Studies also show that a high salt (sodium) diet contributes to calcium loss. Avoid packaged foods high in sodium (see High blood pressure). Fermented soy foods and protein powders have been shown to increase bone formation. Sea vegetables surprisingly high in calcium that have become more readily available in health food stores include wakame (1/2 cup contains 1700 mg), agar (1/4 cup contains 1000 mg), nori (1/2 cup contains 600 mg), and kombu (1/4 cup contains 500 mg). It should be noted that sardines with bones are not only a good source of omega 3 fatty acids but calcium with 500 mg per half cup.
Vitamin K is important for proper bone formation. This nutrient is abundant in dark green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and broccoli. The form in these foods is vitamin K1. However, vitamin K2 is better absorbed and remains active in the body longer than vitamin K1. The best food source of vitamin K2 is natto (fermented soybeans) and to a lesser degree, fermented cheeses (the type with holes, such as Swiss and Jarlsberg), butter, beef liver, chicken and egg yolks.
Studies looking at high animal protein intake and osteoporosis are conflicting. While high protein intake increases calcium loss it is known that adequate protein is required for bone formation. Those prone to higher blood glucose and insulin levels with diabetes or insulin resistance often benefit from high protein and reduced simple carbohydrate intake. The lower one’s insulin levels the lower the inflammatory response including one’s bones.
Regular weight bearing exercise is critical for proper bone formation and the stimulation of increased bone density. Walking, jogging, and stair climbing are good. Optimally one should incorporate weightlifting twice weekly to stress various parts of the skeleton. Work with a certified trainer for a personalized program. Flexibility and balance exercises are helpful to prevent falls.
Smoking is a big contributor to osteoporosis and cessation is necessary.
Read Dr. Stengler’s articlefrom Bottom Line Natural Healing on the role of pH balance and osteoporosis.
I was referred to Dr. Stengler after making the rounds for two years with four different traditional doctors (two from Beverly Hills). They were apparently “practicing”; I just didn’t want it to be on me. I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in 1999. Thanks to Dr. Stengler, I have been rebuilding bone density on a consistent basis without any medication. In fact, I have had a 6% increase in hip bone density in just one year! He has gotten my hormones under control and put me on a specific vitamin supplement program coupled with weight bearing exercises, yoga and healthy foods. I can even do a leg press of over 300 pounds! At 63 years young, that’s pretty good. Dr. Stengler has given me the tools to heal and look forward to a long, healthy life. Thank you, Dr. Stengler, for your professional guidance, encouragement and willingness to “think outside of the box.”
~ Penny Smith – Granada Hills, CA