Cut your risk of “Breaking Bad:” Natural ways to protect bone health

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osteoporosis-prevention(NaturalHealth365)  Breaking Bad isn’t just the name of a popular program on TV.  For many, the phrase can also summon up a potential consequence of osteoporosis.  An age-related condition in which bones become more porous, brittle, and prone to fractures, osteoporosis affects one out of every five women over age 50 and one out of twenty men in that same age bracket.

In many instances, osteoporosis is a “silent” disease.  You may not even realize you have it until a fracture occurs – and this can result from actions as innocuous as coughing or stepping down from a curb.  Fortunately, research has shown that good nutrition and lifestyle habits can increase bone mineral density and help to guard against this debilitating disease.  To see how you can cut the odds of “breaking bad,” read on.

Red sage can be an ally against osteoporosis

Red sage, botanically known as Salvia miltiorrhiza, has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), where it is known as danshen.  This beneficial herb is believed to act against osteoporosis by helping slow the breakdown of bone.  Salvianolic acids in red sage have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help strengthen bone tissue.  It also contains vitamin K, which helps to ferry calcium out of the blood and into the bones.

In a review published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the authors noted that treatment with red sage improved more than 80 percent of osteoporosis cases – an impressive record.  However, more study is needed to identify optimal amounts.  Red sage is available in tablets, capsules, tinctures, and teas and is typically advised only for short-term use.  Before trying red sage for osteoporosis, get the “go-ahead” from your holistic health care provider.

Silica-packed horsetail reinforces healthy bones

Horsetail, or Equisetum arvense, is a medicinal herb that has been used since the days of ancient Greece.  Scientists have found that it contains antioxidant compounds such as ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, and quercetin.  However, horsetail’s most potent weapon against osteoporosis may be its high content of silica, a mineral linked to improved bone mineral density. (Not all studies have shown results, however).

Horsetail is available in supplemental form in capsules and teas.  Like red sage, horsetail isn’t meant for long-term use, as it can lower levels of thiamine or vitamin B1.  Speak with your holistic healthcare provider about the best way to use horsetail for strengthening bones.

Study with thyme yields promising results

This fragrant, piquant-tasting kitchen spice, botanically known as Thymus vulgaris, has a long history of use in herbal medicine.  Recent research has shown that it may act against osteoporosis.  One encouraging study published in the International Journal of Pharm/Tech Research revealed that consuming 1,000 mg of thyme a day for six months improved bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.  Not only that, but the researchers concluded that thyme was more effective in strengthening bone than a supplement containing calcium and vitamin D.  The team also reported that thyme seems to work even better when used along with sage and rosemary.

The keys to thyme’s protective properties may lie in its antioxidant powers and its wealth of bone-building micronutrients, which include calcium, vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc.  To access the benefits of thyme, use the fresh or dried leaves lavishly in recipes, salads, and sauces.  You can also find thyme in the form of supplements and essential oils but check first with your holistic doctor.

A team of vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals all cooperate to build and preserve bone

When it comes to nutrients that can fortify bones, most people think of calcium – with good cause.  After all, 99 percent of the body’s calcium is in the skeleton – and calcium-rich dairy products are well-known as bone-friendly foods.  But, the truth is that an entire ensemble of minerals and vitamins – including vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, boron, vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, and zinc – are needed to orchestrate bone growth and maintenance.

Polyphenols and plant pigments have been shown to play a role as well.  For example, cranberries contain natural plant pigments known as proanthocyanidins.  A study published in the journal Molecules showed that proanthocyanidins inhibited the function of osteoclasts (cells that break down bone).

Avocadoes are good sources of boron, which helps the body absorb magnesium and increases the bone-building power of vitamin D.  Watermelon, tomatoes, and guava also may help to inhibit bone loss due to their content of a pinkish-red plant pigment known as lycopene.

Another unlikely-seeming bone “hero” is the humble prune.  A recent study published in Nutrients found that 100 grams of prunes daily for 12 months increased bone mineral density in elderly men.  And extra-virgin olive oil – rich in antioxidant polyphenols – is linked with increased bone mineral density as well.

Finally, there are many organic fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, which supports cartilage formation and creates collagen used in bone marrow.  Keep in mind, many people are deficient in vitamin C … so supplementation is a good idea and most holistic healthcare providers suggest several thousand milligrams per day, depending on your health status.

Other natural steps you can take include steering clear of high-salt foods, limiting alcohol, and quitting smoking.  It’s also important to get sufficient exercise, particularly weight-bearing activities like walking, dancing, jogging, and weight lifting.

Remember, it only takes one fracture to threaten mobility and well-being.  With wise lifestyle choices, you can lower the odds of “breaking bad.”

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