(NaturalHealth365) Osteoporosis, also called “the silent disease” is a debilitating bone condition that reduces mobility and quality of life. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about nine million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and an estimated 48 million have low bone density. Although a serious health condition – one can prevent osteoporosis through simple dietary and lifestyle changes, despite what you’ve been told by conventional medicine.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis occurs when we lose more calcium from bone than we add to the bone or when very little calcium is absorbed from the diet. This results in brittle, weak bones that break easily. Although it can occur in any part of the human skeletal system, fractures and weakening of bones are most common in hip and vertebral areas.
Let’s look at some of the causes of osteoporosis…
While there are many agents that cause bone loss – most of us are under the impression that boosting calcium intake can help prevent osteoporosis. But, that’s simply not true, in fact calcium supplementation could be quite dangerous to your health.
Calcium is only part of the issue, the big picture shows many factors associated in preventing bone loss. Bone loss is a conglomerate of several factors such as sedentary lifestyle, acquired habits like smoking, dietary patterns particularly high intake of animal protein and dairy, plus low vitamin D levels.
Before we delve further – it is important to understand the conditions that lead to bone loss.
Understanding bone (calcium) loss
Our bones are made up of active network of connective tissues that constantly renew themselves via osteoblast (bone formation) and osteoclast (removes bone tissue) activity. This is an obligatory process in bone metabolism where the body maintains a delicate balance between the rate of bone formation and bone reabsorption.
When this balance is disrupted it leads to conditions including osteoporosis. Research clearly shows that simply increasing calcium intake will not effectively prevent osteoporosis.
How can I prevent osteoporosis?
Get outdoors: A combination of mild weight-bearing exercise (i.e. walking) in broad day light has a two-fold benefit. Exercise play a key role in bone strength and fracture resistance plus sunlight enables the body to build vitamin D levels which is essential for calcium uptake from diet.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for healthy (middle-aged) adults is 200 IU (5 micrograms) of Vitamin D per day. But, if your vitamin D levels are low, many health experts suggest that 5,000 to 10,000 IU / day will be required to increase your levels into the healthy range of 50 – 80 Ng/ml.
Quit smoking and alcohol: Acquired habits such as heavy smoking and over consumption of alcohol severely impact calcium metabolism and puts your bone health at risk. If you find it difficult to quit – get help because your quality of life depends on it.
Limit animal protein: Years of research has now shown that high consumption of animal protein leaves an acidic residue in the body. Our body tries to balance the acid load by pulling out alkaline buffers such as calcium from the bones, on a long term basis – this results in weakening of bones.
Go plant-based: The benefits of a plant-based diet are numerous, and decreasing the risk of osteoporosis is one of them. Studies associate a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables to high bone mineral density.
Since plant foods are alkaline in nature they create a pH that is suitable for optimal calcium absorption from food and also helps to retain calcium in the bones.
Limit dairy consumption: This may sound contradictory to the conventional recommendation of drinking three glasses per day, but ‘good’ science proves otherwise. Strong evidence from meta-studies and demographic analysis clearly indicate that populations (countries) with heavy consumption of dairy and dairy products have the highest rate of osteoporosis. The World Health Organization calls this “calcium paradox”.
Cut back on sodium: Sodium encourages calcium to be excreted from our body in the form of urine. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), people who reduce their sodium consumption to 1-2 grams per day simultaneously decrease their calcium needs by an average of 160 milligrams per day.
Consume caffeine in moderation: Risk of bone loss appears to be high in women with heavy caffeine intake. (about 18 ounces of coffee per day) If possible, try to start your day with a healthy smoothie.
It is predicted that by 2025, osteoporosis will be the cause for approximately three million fractures and cost $25.3 billion in treatment annually. Why not take the corrective steps necessary to prevent osteoporosis and the financial burden associated with this debilitating disease. Remember, based on the science, osteoporosis is not inevitable and with the right approach – it can be prevented.
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1. Abelow BJ, Holford TR, Insogna KL. Cross-cultural association between dietary animal protein and hip fracture: a hypothesis. Calif Tissue Int 1992;50:14-8.
2. Sellmeyer DE et.al; A high ratio of dietary animal to vegetable protein increases the rate of bone loss and the risk of fracture in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73:118–22.
3. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M Campbell, The China Study: The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss and long term health, Ben Bella books, Paper back edition, 2005
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