Osteoporosis is a major health issue in New Zealand with the estimated current cost to New Zealand being $1.1 billion per year… that’s a lot of money. (1)
Many of you will associate osteoporosis with elderly females. However, this is a myth and research estimates that up to 50% of women and 33% of men will experience will experience a fracture due to osteoporosis during their lifetime. (2)
Often referred to as the “Silent Epidemic” due to a lack of warning signs until the disease is in it’s advanced state. Here are some sobering statistics courtesy of Osteoporosis New Zealand (1) about some of the complications that occur from osteoporosis:
• More than 3,000 New Zealanders break a hip each year (expected to be 4,800 in 10 years time as our population continues to age)
• About 25% of those who fracture a hip die within a year from related complications, approximately 30% never return home and those that do lose their mobility and independence
• More women are hospitalised with a hip fracture due to osteoporosis than through breast cancer.
Yikes! Wouldn’t it be good to prevent that from happening?
So What Actually is Osteoporosis?
You are constantly losing bone and the older you get the more you lose!
Essentially, osteoporosis is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced, which leads to weakness of the skeleton and increased risk of fracture and deformity. (1)
What many of you may not know is that healthy bone is dynamic and living tissue that is constantly being broken down (resorbed) and rebuilt. This is a natural and healthy process if it is kept in balance. The more care of ourselves we take, the more our bones will reward us. (3, 4)
Dr Brown, an expert on bone health describes osteoporosis, not as an aging disease, nor a case of estrogen or calcium deficiency, but a degenerative disease of Western culture, which we have brought upon ourselves through poor diet, lifestyle factors and exposure to pharmaceutical drugs. Therefore, we have the power in our hands to return to a healthy, balanced way of life that will enable us to walk tall and strong for the rest of our lives. (2)
You reach peak bone density at around 25 years of age. From there on in, bone loss increases. Typically if you are older than 40 years, you will loss 1-2% of your bone per year. The great news is that you have two allies when it comes to defending against bone loss and supporting the creation of new bone: nutrition and exercise. (5)
So What Can I do to Ensure I Don’t Become an Osteoporosis Statistic?
Fortunately, becoming an osteoporosis statistic does not have to be your destiny as there are two major factors you can use to support the rebuilding of new bone and prevent the resorption (loss) of your current ones.
Rebuilding strong bones requires many minerals and nutrients (from food) and the new bone that is developed requires strengthening through exercise:
How to eat your way to better bones:
Although commonly thought to be just a case of more calcium, there are at least 20 minerals, vitamins and nutrients that are essential to create strong bones, including: calcium, protein, vitamins D, C, B6, B12, folate, and many more. (6)
1. Eat a varied and nutrient rich diet:
Ensure that your diet is high in “real” food that is as close to nature as possible e.g. lots of vegetables and green leafies, protein, fruit, nuts and seeds and good quality dairy. Steer clear of processed, packaged and sugary foods as they increase acidity in the body and mean that the bones have to break down to release calcium into the blood to restore the appropriate acid/base balance. Processed and packaged
2. Supplements to consider:
• Vitamin D: is essential in ensuring optimal bone strength and studies from the Children’s Hospital of Boston have shown that Vitamin D offers more protection than calcium for bone strength, which has been shown by several studies to not offer protection. Lester’s oil not only contains essential fatty acids, but also has good levels of vitamin D to support bone strength. (7)
• A good multi vitamin that contain the above nutrients
• Probiotics: to ensure good gut flora and to help with digestion
• Resveratrol: Recent laboratory studies are showing that this molecule may inhibit the development of osteoporosis as it activates genes that are essential for bone formation and switches off genes involved in bone breakdown. Be sure to stock up on About Health’s Res-V Ultimate. (8)
• Digestive Enzymes: If you have known digestive issues or food intolerances to ensure that you get the maximum absorption from your food.
3. Are you getting the most from your food and supplements?
Your digestive system needs to be functioning well to ensure that you are absorbing the maximum nutrition from both food and supplements. If you know that you have digestive issues or food intolerances then you need to talk to a holistic nutritionist or naturopath who can help you overcome these.
Also essential in maintaining an optimally functioning digestive system is your nervous system. Your nervous system controls and coordinates the function of your entire body. Be sure to get yours checked by a wellness orientated Chiropractor to ensure optimal function.
4. Get Moving:
Now that you are giving your body the nutrients it needs to develop strong bones – now you need to strengthen them. Walking, running, sports such as tennis, netball etc and resistance exercise are the keys here. Make sure you engage in weight bearing exercise regularly as it forces your muscles to contract, which stresses the bone and ensures that the density is improved.
Dr Tamara Hume BChiro, BSc (HuNt)
1. Osteoporosis New Zealand. www.bones.org.nz
2. Brown, S. PhD (1996). Better Bones, Better Body. Keats Publishing, Connecticut, USA.
3. Stevenson, J (1986). Osteoporosis: the silent epidemic. Update Aug 1 1986: 211-216
4. Frost, H. The Pathomechanics of Osteoporosis. Clin Orthop 200 (1985): 198-225
5. National Institutes of Health: Osteoporosis: Peak Bone Mass in Women. www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/osteoporosis/bone_mass.asp
6. Brown, S. PhD. 20 key nutrients for bone health. www.womentowomen.com/bonehealth/20keybonenutrients
7. Moreno, M.A. Furtner, F., Rivara, F.P. Vitamin D and Bone Health. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012: 166(7):684-684
8. www.resveratrol.info (2009) Resveratrol and Osteoporosis