Osteoporosis, a brittle bone condition, is on the rise. The good news is that the condition can be reversed naturally!
With more than three million new cases per year in the US alone, and about 200 million (and rising) affected worldwide, it’s hard to ignore the growing epidemic of osteoporosis. This brittle bone condition is often caused by mineral deficiency or hormonal imbalance. With osteoporosis on the rise, it is no longer uncommon to see this condition among much younger age groups. Although women still seem to have higher incidences than men, the gap between those numbers is narrowing, and individuals even as young as mid to late twenties or thirties have been reported to see a decrease in bone density.
What has caused this seemingly sudden shift? Although there are a lot of different theories floating around the scientific world, some general ideas regarding bone loss are that it could be due to the onslaught of hormone disrupting toxins. Those disrupting toxins are things such as plastic byproducts, antibiotics, herbicides, and pesticides in our water and food supply, as well as the rise of mineral depleting pharmaceuticals, and (as always) the acidifying and calcium leaching, nutrient void, standard American diet.
Although the cause might vary from person to person, if found facing a diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia, a person would be likely to ask themselves or their healthcare practitioners, “What can be done to stop and reverse this?” Many doctors will most likely give the disheartening answer: “Not much.” Many authorities on health and medicine treat osteoporosis as if it’s a condition which cannot be cured or reversed. Once you’ve lost it, you’ve lost it, and the best you can do is to take a pill and pray that pill keeps bone loss at bay.
So when diagnosed with osteoporosis in my lumbar spine at the prime, youthful age of twenty-six, I began to ask questions. The first question you should ask when served a discouraging diagnosis by the doctors is simple: “What can I do to prove the doctor wrong?”
What follows are the anecdotal and researched answers to my questions of how to treat osteoporosis naturally, and also how to heal and make efforts to reverse this condition.
Step 1: Stimulate New Bone Growth
The key idea that anyone faced with the challenge of osteoporosis should familiarize themselves with is this: bone remodeling, especially if they are interested in overcoming and living a full life, and active life. Old bone is resorbed or broken down through osteoclasts, and new bone is formed through osteoblasts. This is a lifelong process that helps to maintain calcium balance in the bone tissue as well as repair damage and meet the ever changing needs of the body through each phase of life. When more bone is broken down than new bone is laid down or formed, bone loss occurs, and over time, this leads to osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis, or full blown osteoporotic bone loss.
The solution? Grow more bone! Here are some lifestyle and diet changes that can help:
If we rewind far enough back to our high school physiology, nutrition, or anatomy classes, we may recognize a scientific principle called Wolffe’s law, which states that a bone will adapt to the stress or load with which is placed upon it. Simply put, a moderate and smart amount of stress (i.e. exercise) to the body will stimulate growth. Those who are at risk of bone loss, or who are already in the red zone, should exercise caution when engaging in any moderate to high impact activities. Safe choices, which would provide an adequate amount of stress for bone growth, would include activities such as walking, jogging on soft terrain or surfaces, light to moderate aerobics, dancing, resistance training using bodyweight or light to medium weights, yoga, hiking, swimming, and other similar choices.
As we face an era where our soils are rapidly being depleted of key nutrients needed for proper health, we must often turn to supplementation to fill in the gaps left in our diets. It’s important to understand the key nutrients that have been shown to be helpful in stimulating bone growth:
● Vitamin D/K2
Enjoy getting this essential vitamin from the sun, supplements, or from other raw and organic options. Vitamin K2 can also be found in fermented food such as natto, dark green leafy vegetables like kale, and in trace amounts in various fruits and veggies.
● Calcium/magnesium balance
Contrary to popular belief, calcium is not the main mineral to address with bone loss. Both calcium and magnesium rely heavily on the other, and magnesium is just as important to the bone matrix and to keeping a proper mineral balance within the bones. Make sure you are not overdoing calcium versus magnesium and talk with your doctor about what the proper balance might be for you.
Keep in mind: the more active you are, the more magnesium your body will likely require.
● Trace minerals
Arguably just as important as the bigger mineral requirements such as calcium and magnesium is the need to ensure adequate levels of trace minerals, such as boron, lithium, copper, and the like. Although eating a wide variety of organic and local gently-washed fruits and vegetables helps, the easiest way to ensure you are meeting your trace mineral needs is through supplementation, such as with Sunwarrior’s Liquid Light or their Vitamin Mineral Rush.
Throw a capful in a smoothie, fresh pressed juice, or glass of water and you’re well on your way!
● Support collagen growth
As one of the most abundant proteins in our bodies, collagen often goes overlooked in the fight to gain stronger bones. It makes up much of the supporting structure for our connective tissues, muscles, bones, etc.
Some easy ways to boost collagen production in the body are by maintaining a high intake of vitamin C rich foods such as fruits and vegetables, silica rich foods and herbs such as horsetail, and other collagen stimulators. One can even take hydrolyzed collagen if not following a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Check out Step 2 where we discuss halting bone loss!
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