A few nights ago we were invited to one of our dear friends’ house for dinner and our joy was doubled because we would also see another couple who live in London and haven’t seen in months.
It was a great night of good food, drinks and a lot of cathching up.
One of the topics that came up was the osteoporosis that Jeff’s wife Pelin thought she migh have. We discussed what she should do about this, but I thought it would be a good topic for a post. It is quite common with aging, especially among women.
Osteoporosis is a Greek word meaning “porous bones” and many people are surprised when told that bones are being constantly rebuilt in a dynamic process involving the removal of old bone and the creation of new bone.
No, they don’t just sit there as calsified hard pieces of our bodies.
You can see the difference in the above picture.
Those with osteoporosis are at increased risk of serious fractures, icluding hip fractures, which can have lethal consequences, not to mention chronic pain.
I am not certain as to the validity of this, but I have read that sometimes when people with osteoporosis fall down and end up with fractures, the reverse is actually what happens. That is, their bones fracture and that is why they fall down.
HOW DO WE PREVENT OSTEOPOROSIS?
An important strategy for maintaining healthy bones is to EAT REAL FOOD. Isn’t it interesting that whatever topic we dwell upon, the importance of a healthy diet always pops up. No wonder the Americans say “you are what you eat”. A great majority don’t seem to practice what they preach, however.
A diet full of procesed foods will produce biochemical and metabolic conditions in your body that will decrease your bone density. Avoiding processed foods is the most important first step to improving your bone health.
Certain nutrients, including animal-based omega-3 fat, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and magnesium are also critical for strong bones.
I am a strong believer that the best way to maintain strong bones is to practice resistance training. Many years ago I went all out on a very intense weight training program and wanted to have a very accurate measure of my percentage body fat, before starting the program and a month later. A doctor friend had just installed a scanner in his office to measure bone density, but the machine also measured one’s body fat percentage. Anyway, even though I wasn’t interested in my bone density, the doctor was very surprised at how much my bone density had increased in one month.
For non-gym rats, I recommend the “Super Slow” program that I posted on February 16, 2015.
You can, of course, do any kind of resistance training but do it properly. Look at my “Exercise Tips”, if in doubt.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), posted on February 26, 2015, is also a good way to maintain/improve bone health; as is hopping.
Rebounding, pictured below, is also good for bone health. You might recall that I warm up with rebounding before hitting the weights. However I do this to increase the efficincy of my lymphatic system in cleaning out metabolic waste; the fact that its also good for your bones is a new discovery for me.
What makes exercise so critical for bone health? Your bones are constantly being rebuilt in a dynamic process involving the removal of old bone through osteoclasts and regeneration of new, healthy bone by osteoblasts.
Resistance training helps build stronger bones by stimulating cells responsible for the synthesis and mineralization of bone (osteoblasts). Simply put, as you put tension on your muscles, it puts more pressure on your bones, which then responds by continuously creating new bone.
NOW LETS GET TO HOW WE GET BACK OUR BONE HEALTH
All of the suggestions above are also excellent ways to increase bone density in people with osteoporosis. However, given how fragile the bones might be make sure:
- To find a trainer who knows exactly what he/she is doing, and
- Go very easy on the weights, initially.
Yoga is also an excellent way to maintain and regain bone health. It is said that yoga puts more pressure on bone than gravity does. By opposing one group of muscles against another, yoga stimulates osteocytes, the bone making cells.
A copy of the full yoga for osteoporosis program with photo demonstrations and safety instructions for each pose is available on the
website; just google it.
Finally, lets go over the nutrients again. They are important in maintaining good bone health, as well as regaining it.
- Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium
- Vitamin K2 directs calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited in your organs, joints and arteries
- Magnesium for the proper functioning of calcium
Calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2 and D3 are available in supplement form,
But try to get them from food and the sun.
- Calcium: Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, carob, sesame seeds. Also milk and cheese but I don’t advise their consumption, as you know.
- Magnesium: Sea vegetables, such as kelp.
- Vitamin K2: Leafy green vegetables and fermented foods.
- Vitamin D3: Sun exposure is the best way. As I’ve said before the body/skin needs to have cholesterol in order for it to be able to synthetize Vitamin D3 during sun exposure. I have no idea what taking cholesterol lowering drugs does to this process.
Be sure to monitor your vitamin D3 level by having periodic blood work done. It should be in the 40-60 nanograms per milliliter range.
GET THOSE BONES BACK IN GOOD SHAPE MY FRIENDS.