Better Bone Health
It’s never too late to begin the process of strengthening your bones against osteopenia and osteoporosis. The process that leads to these debilitating conditions actually begins in our 30’s and continues as we age. By beginning prevention earlier, we can slow bone loss to a minimum and remain active well into our 70’s. All people experience a gradual loss of calcium and other minerals from their bones as they get older. This process normally begins when we are in our 30’s and continues into old age, though in some people it starts much earlier. If the bone does not grow strong enough when we are young (having adequate amount of calcium and other minerals) or if the bone loss starts too early or proceeds too fast, it can lead to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is an extremely common condition in our society affecting both men and women (literally millions of people in the US) with post-menopausal women being the most commonly affected group.
There are a number of things that increase the risk of osteoporosis such as a diet high in phosphorus or low in calcium. Meat, poultry, fish and soft drinks are all very high in phosphorus and low in calcium. Regular coffee consumption can contribute to the problem since it increases the body’s mineral losses. Most processed foods have a similar demineralizing effect. Other risk factors are lack of exercise (exercise increases the strength of bones) and cigarette smoking. White and Asian women have even more reason for you to pay attention to this issue since these groups have a genetic predisposition to having thin bones and bone loss. If you are very thin this also increases your risk to bone loss, as does hysterectomy, missed or irregular menstrual periods, and of course, menopause. To reduce your risk of osteoporosis it is important that you change as many of these risk factors as you can. This translates to you taking the following steps:
1. Regular, moderate weight bearing exercise. Note that heavy exercise, such as body-building or marathon training, can actually increase bone loss.
2. Increase mineral-rich foods, particularly calcium and magnesium (such as green leafy vegetables, seeds, and whole grains. Dairy products can be pro-inflammatory and are not recommended)
3. Limit red meat consumption.
4. Reduce consumption of antacids (these can actually interfere with calcium absorption).
5. Aspirin and other pain killers may increase calcium loss. Unless specifically recommended by your doctor, they should be reduced or eliminated.
6. Reduce or eliminate alcohol, coffee, black tea and carbonated soft drink consumption.
In addition, a proper nutrition program with specific Whole Food supplements (not synthetic) to support normal bone production and repair is recommended. Remember, it is never too late to start!
Dr. Jay Provenzano is the developer of Chiropractic Total Body Care at ISIS Holistic Clinic, Brookline, MA. He was a two time All-American Gymnast and now specializes disability and rehabilitation care through nutrition, soft tissue mobilization and chiropractic. For more information, you can find Dr. Provenzano at www.isisboston.com