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A Quick Word About Osteoporosis

As a nutritionist, I feel that osteoporosis, like most chronic diseases, has many contributing factors. Some key causes come to mind.

Immune imbalance: You can in a way think of osteoporosis as an immunological or an inflammatory disorder. Osteoclasts (the cells that breakdown old bone) come from the same source as do many immune cells that fight infections. So they “listen” to the same language: i.e. inflammation. Therefore, too much inflammation in the body can cause overactivity of osteoclasts. Using herbal compounds like curcumin and ginger as well as antioxidants can be very useful for osteoporosis since they strongly suppress too much inflammation, as well as lowering one’s intake of inflammatory foods.

Gut health: Where is most of your immune system located? The answer may surprise you if you. It is in your gut! Therefore having good gut health (by doing things like taking probiotics, taking digestive enzymes with meals, or eating fermented foods like sauerkraut) can lower inflammation and lessen the activity of osteoclasts. Having poor gut health can also hinder absorption of key minerals that make up the bone like calcium, magnesium, and zinc, as well as dietary protein.

Estrogen: In menopause estrogen declines. This also promotes osteoclast over-activity, since declining estrogen actually causes inflammation. Nutritional compounds such as isoflavones like genistein have been shown to function like estrogen and increase bone density. Taking it with zinc shows even better results. Another useful nutritional compound is Cyplexinol, or TRF. It is not involved with estrogen. Rather, it is a bone derived protein and collagen complex that helps initiate the formation of osteoblasts to improve bone quality, and does not just increase bone density.

Exercise: To get the maximum benefits from exercise you want to get your heart rate up (equal or above 70% of your maximum heart rate). This doesn’t mean running a marathon. But the key here is to break a sweat. This could be anything from jump rope to using an elliptical just several times a week. This kind of exercise will then promote release of of growth hormone, which improves anabolic metabolism and increases bone density.

Vitamin D: This one should be a no-brainer. However, many people these days are still grossly vitamin D deficient and don’t take enough. If someone has or suspects low levels they should be taking at least 5000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day.

Okay, I admit there is a lot going on here. The key is to start with the area that you think is contributing to the osteoporosis the most. If hot flashes, night sweats, etc. are a real issue, then work on balancing your hormones like estrogen and taking compounds to mimic estrogen like genistein. If gut issues like gas, bloating and diarrhea, are a major problem then work on improving the health of your gut.

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