Why does bone density decline?
Bone density begins to decline in the 30’s. Its cause is a lessening of production of sex hormones and if accompanied with a poor diet, a lessening of vital nutrients. Stress and environmental toxins also take their toll as does a lack of weight bearing exercise.
Chemotherapy, radiation or prednisone treatments as well as other hormone malfunctions in the thyroid and parathyroid can also decrease bone density.
What about Bone-Building Medications?
Did you know that bisphosphonates (like Fosamax); are in the same chemical class (phosphonate) as bathroom cleaners? These types of medications are metabolic toxins that actually kill your osteoclasts, the vital component for the bone breakdown and rebuilding process.
In normal healthy bone, this breakdown (osteoclasts) and rebuilding of bone (osteoblasts) are interconnected processes involved in the normal rejuvenation of bone. When you have osteoporosis, the rate of bone resorption (breakdown) exceeds the rate of bone formation. This results in a decrease in your bone mass.
Bone building medications are designed to kill your osteoclasts so your bone will get denser. However, eventually your bone actually becomes weaker even though it is denser. This is because the way these drugs work is they only break down old bone; they do not help you re-build any new bone.
How to Increase Bone Density?
Whether you have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis or simply want to decrease your risk of losing bone, you can increase bone density through optimizing bone-building nutrients (i.e. Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Magnesium), through a balanced diet that includes these nutrients.
You must also work at reducing and removing toxins, especially bone depleting heavy metals, and reducing mind and body stressors.
Nutrition and Bone Density
Whole foods are powerful sources of nutrients for reducing bone loss and preventing fractures. The food you eat is a very important part of decreasing your risk of fracture from osteopenia or osteoporosis. Limit animal protein as this highly acidic form of protein accelerates bone loss as it excretes calcium through the urine. Non-dairy, calcium-rich plant based diets help correct the pH in and reduce bone loss. Interestingly plant proteins contain over 10 times the calcium and magnesium compared with animal proteins.
Good sources of natural calcium
Collard greens, Kale, Broccoli, Turnips, Garlic, Arugula,Swiss chard,Sun dried tomatoes
Watercress, Okra, green beans
Red kidney beans, Chick peas
Apricots, Figs, Currants, Oranges,
Sardines in oil, tinned
Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, walnuts,
Sesame Seeds (huge), hemp seeds, flaxseeds
Raw cacao, maca, coconut,
Goji Berry, acai berry
Bee Pollen/ honey/ royal jelly/ propolis
Kelp and other sea vegetables (high)
Blue green algae
Oat grass, barley grass, wheat grass
Homemade bone broths are an excellent source of minerals and especially calcium. Traditionally made bone broths can be made from boney parts of chicken, beef or fish. These broths contain many essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium and the beauty is in the combination and synergy these nutrients have when eaten together. They also contain collagen, gelatin, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate. Our ancestors drank these broths. These broths quell inflammation, heal a leaky gut and offer protection against bacterial and viral infections by building up gut flora. Bone broth also strengthens the teeth, joints, bones, skin and hair.
Be sure to use only pastured, grass-fed animals, or wild game, to avoid toxins. A gel should form on top of the broth when refrigerated. This is how you know you’ve made the broth correctly and you won’t get this if you use commercially raised animal products. You can add in any fresh vegetables and meat you like once you have the broth. This is also very restorative for anyone who is recovering from illness or surgery.
1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings* Trader Joe’s sells a package of drumsticks that works well.
4 quarts cold filtered water 2 tablespoons unpreserved apple cider vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped 1 bunch parsley
*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens make the best stock. Many factory-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.
If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on a very low heat for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.
Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.
about 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones 3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
4 or more quarts cold filtered water 1/2 cup unpreserved apple cider vinegar
3 onions, coarsely chopped 3 carrots, coarsely chopped 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together 1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed
l bunch parsley
Place the knuckle and marrow bones in a very large pot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees in the oven. When well browned, add to the pot along with the vegetables. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold water to the pan, set over a high flame and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen up coagulated juices. Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a boil. A large amount of scum will come to the top, and it is important to remove this with a spoon. After you have skimmed, reduce heat and add the thyme and crushed peppercorns.
Simmer stock at very low heat for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours. Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes. You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good. But don’t despair. After straining you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth that forms the basis for many recipes calling for beef stock.
Remove bones with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer to smaller containers and to the freezer for long-term storage.
3 or 4 whole carcasses, including heads, of non-oily fish such as sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper
2 tablespoons butter 2 onions, coarsely chopped 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
several sprigs fresh thyme several sprigs parsley 1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth 1/4 cup unpreserved apple cider vinegar
about 3 quarts cold filtered water
Snapper, rock fish and other non-oily fish work well, and a good fish merchant will save the carcasses for you if you ask him. As he normally throws these carcasses away, he shouldn’t charge you for them. Be sure to take the heads as well as the body—these are especially rich in iodine and fat-soluble vitamins.
Melt butter in a large stainless steel pot. Add the vegetables and cook very gently, about 1/2 hour, until they are soft. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add the fish carcasses and cover with cold, filtered water. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum and impurities as they rise to the top. Tie herbs together and add to the pot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on very low heat for at least 4 hours or as long as 24 hours. Remove carcasses with tongs or a slotted spoon and strain the liquid into pint-sized storage containers for refrigerator or freezer. Chill well in the refrigerator and remove any congealed fat before transferring to the freezer for long-term storage.
All bone stock recipes by Sally Fallon Morell, co-author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (with Mary G. Enig, PhD.
The question of calcium supplementation is a tricky one and in general I do not like mega-doses of calcium as these have been shown to increase calcification of the arteries and may lead to increased cardiovascular risk. You may wish to include few carefully selected supplements (perhaps a high quality food basedmultivitamin with K2; extra vitamin D3 and magnesium; calcium supplement) without preservatives (i.e.) MgStearate and dyes. A bound calcium such as miscro-crystalline hydroxyapatite calcium which directs only to bone and calcium aspartate. These forms of calcium can build bone at much lower doses without increasing risk.
HORMONES AND BONE DENSITY
Bone density decreases as hormone levels decline. The main hormones in the body that directly correlate to bone density levels are Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA and Estradiol, and these decline naturally over time. When stress is high, the decline is more rapid.
Toxins and Bone Loss:
Toxins, especially heavy metals such as Mercury and Lead are major contributors to fracture risk. There are two main approaches to reducing the body’s burden of toxins.
Reduce exposure to gases, paints, glues, preservatives, dyes, heavy metals, plastics, phthalates, bisphynol-A, electromagnetic radiation, etc.
Enhance elimination of toxins from your body by optimizing the function of bowel, liver, lymphatics, kidney and skin.
Maintain hydration by drinking on half of your body weight in ounces of clean water per day, as this is critical to elimination of toxins. Limit caffeine which is dehydrating.
Consider your Mind stress/ body stress and Bone Loss
When you are under mental stress or body pain over prolonged periods of time, the sympathetic nervous system fires and utilizes hormones (i.e. Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA and Estradiol) and nutrients (i.e. B vitamins, Magnesium, Vitamin C) much faster than usual. Learning how to reduce and manage stress should be a part of your recovery program.
Get 8 hours of deep uninterrupted sleep. Research shows that the more sleep you get the less inflammation and degenerative disease you have.
Exercise in the aerobic range for 20-30 minutes three times a week and incorporate strength bearing exercise. Strength bearing exercises such as weight training, yoga or Pilates are excellent. Other ways you can perform simple weight-bearing activities are by climbing one or two floors of stairs, gardening, standing squats, walking lunges, standing and wall push-ups and climbing stairs.
WORK WITH YOUR DOCTOR
A functional medicine specialist can be helpful in getting an overall analysis of your hormone status. Hormone levels can be in the normal range but not at optimal levels to maintain bone density. By restoring optimal levels of hormones, your body’s ability to maintain bone density increases.
Disclaimer: The materials and views presented here are not intended as diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure for any disease, mental or physical, and are not intended as a substitute for regular medical care. Nor is any claim made to diagnosis, treatment, prescribe or cure for any disease, mental or physical, and as such is not intended as a substitute for regular medical care. Always consult with your personal physician before beginning any new program or making any changes on your own.