This is the time of year to care for bone health
Bone health is quickly becoming a concern for more and more people. Of course, with our aging population of baby boomers, the number of people who will suffer the brittle bone disease of osteoporosis is already skyrocketing, making hip replacements and orthopedic surgery a very busy and expensive profession. And just like everything else in healthcare, bone health is becoming less black and white. People are suffering more and more with little hope for healthy options to prevent the high cost of diseases like osteoporosis.
It is no longer simply about adequate calcium ingestion (actually, it never was; that was just successful marketing by the dairy industry). We’ve limited our attention to bone health to include only osteoporosis and the reduction of bone density. If you think the only people who have to consider bone health are menopausal women, you are sadly mistaken. New research is opening our eyes to more of what impacts bone health and total health. Our bones are incredibly complex organs, just as complicated as any other system in the body.
A recurring theme in my journey as a natural health care facilitator is the fact that we must expand our knowledge of how our body expresses health. This is because we live in a time where the number of environmental factors that interfere with us living a healthy life has reached a point of critical concern.
Our bones are responsible for so many seemingly unrelated functions. They provide critical feedback to our brain and nervous system, they help to regulate scores of hormones, and they are factories for our immune and blood cells. Therefore it stands to reason that diseases of bone like osteoporosis have consequences beyond brittle bones.
Bone health begins at birth and never stops until you die. Waiting until you are 60 years old and diagnosed with low bone density before you take action or consider bone health is like waiting for your first heart attack before you consider your heart health.
Bone health contributes to many things, from sports injuries in the professional athletes to the folks who just want to work out to be fit and healthy. Some examples:
Chronic joint pain
Sever’s disorder of the heel and osgood schlatters of the knee (apophysitis)
Here are some little known facts about bone health.
Hormones that regulate energy production and hunger, such as leptin, play a major role in bone health. Leptin resistance is a condition of abnormal energy production and storage that is seen in our modern world, too much refined carbohydrates, fizzy drinks, sweets, sugar and even so called ‘healthy’ complex carbs.
Decreased progesterone and high oestrogen levels in all ages contributes to bone loss.(high levels of oestrogenic compounds from the petrochemical industry in our atmosphere ‘mimics’ oestrogen in the body, raising oestrogen and lowering progesterone.) This is often not considered until menopause, but progesterone levels can actually be negatively impacted throughout your life.
DNA transcription factors found in the gut and impacted by diet directly impact the differentiation of cells in our bone to become osteoblasts and osteoclasts. The cells responsible for laying down new bone and remodeling bone. Linking gut health and bone health.
Bone health is directly impacted by the interplay of several key hormones, all of which requires LDL cholesterol for their production. There is a link between taking statin drugs and poor bone health.
Osteocalcin is a hormone produced by our osteoblasts and is involved in creating insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity is the opposite of the pre-diabetic state of insulin resistance. Osteocalcin also helps us to make more testosterone, which improves bone health in both men and women.
Vitamin K2 ( found in pesticide free/organic eggs)and the hormone osteocalcin together are involved with where and how calcium can be deposited in bone, teeth and even arteries. K2 is deficient in our culture due to its loss when processing food. When there is a deficiency of vitamin K2, calcium loses its ability to go where it is needed and may result in calcium being deposited where it is not needed (plaque formation in the arteries) and result in cardio vascular disease.
Osteocalcin needs to be activated by a process of adding a carboxyl group. Carboxylation of osteocalcin is inhibited by insulin resistance and diabetes.(high carbohydrate diet.) This explains the increased risk of osteoporosis for diabetics. The interplay of vitamin K2, blood sugar/insulin regulation and osteocalcin carboxylation make it difficult to do a simple blood test. A clinical picture and AK testing will give us a healthy insight into the risk factors of poor bone health.
Interestingly calcium can also be deposited in teeth as plaque. This may be a better indication of vitamin K2 deficiency and poor activation of osteocalcin.
Vitamin K2 is present in unprocessed foods. Organic green leafy vegetables have vitamin K2, but produce that is exposed to pesticides is depleted of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is indirectly produced in our bodies by the bacteria present in our gut, if our gut is healthy. Poor gut health and microbiome can be another indicator of poor Vitamin K2 levels.
Exercise can be helpful, especially weight bearing and MAF aerobic training, but the positive effect of exercise must be supported by a low carb, higher fat/protein/fruit/veg diet.
Poor bone health does not cause diseases like atherosclerosis, diabetes, heart valve disease, immune challenges, and sleeping disorders. Rather, poor bone density and health are valuable indicators for a dramatically increased risk of all these conditions.
The best steps you can take to begin to improve bone health.
Reduce leptin resistance with a food combination/paleo style diet that focuses on fresh organic vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, organic eggs , healthy meats and healthy animal fats like EPA and DHA (animal source Omega 3 fat).
Limit dairy milk but organic pesticide free butter and cream and yogurt are ok.
Vitamin D. Supplements vitamin D3 in hemp oil and black cummin seed oil during autumn, winter and spring. In summer make sure at least 40% of your skin is exposed to the sun for at least 1 hour per day.(no sun block)
Vitamin K2 at 50-150 mcg per day in hemp oil.
Dietary control of gut inflammation- reduce grains/pulses/beans and absolutely no refined carbohydrates/sugar/junk food.
Practice intermittent fasting. Fasting is a great way to temporarily decrease the antigenic load in the gut where 85% of the immune activity resides. Fasting shuts down much of our inflammatory processes. In other words give the gut a rest.
Gut inflammation is further inhibited by supplementing L-glutamine and Liquorice(DGL) regularly, especially if you are aware the gut dysfunction is a part of your health history.
In 35 years of practice I rarely find the need for calcium supplementation. If you have a diet rich in whole, healthy foods, please do not supplement calcium. This has been shown to lead to adverse outcomes for reasons discussed above.
Regular intake of liposomal turmeric and resveratrol to regulate inflammatory cytokines, increase IGF-1 and at the same time (in the case of resveratrol) increase bone density and decrease bone resorption.
Increasing neuronal and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and decreasing inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) with MAF exercise and L-Arginine supplementation. iNOS will contribute to proinflammatory processes and bone loss, whereas eNOS will contribute to increased bone density.
Sleep is critical to total health, recovery and healing. Addressing emotional and stress issues that interfere with sleep is essential.