Osteoporosis, which means ‘porous bone’ is a progressive reduction in average bone mineral density, calcium mass, and strength resulting in marked bone thinning and vulnerability to fracture. Although bone mass naturally declines by 1.5 – 2% per year in both sexes after the age of 40. Women are at greater risk since their peak bone mass is naturally less than that of men due to their smaller size and muscle mass.
Osteoporosis is uncommon in men and is typically due to some underlying cause such as longterm use of anti-convulsants or steroid drugs, alcoholism or thyroid problems. In women, osteoporosis is quite common, occurring in approximately one in four women after the menopause and is due, in part, to the drop in progesterone and oestrogen. Both of which play essential roles in maintaining bone mass. Osteoporosis may affect the entire skeleton, but bone loss is usually most significant in the spine, hips, and ribs as these bear a great deal of weight and are susceptible to pain, deformity or fracture.
Bone density test showing demineralisation of the spine and pelvis.
Loss of height
A deformed spinal column with humps
Fractures, especially of the hip, arm, wrist, occurring with a minor injury
Sudden back pain with a cracking sound indicating vertebral fracture
Longterm use of steroid or anti-convulsant drugs
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
Increased parathormone hormone levels
Inadequate stomach acid for calcium to be absorbed in the intestines must first be made soluble and ionised by stomach acid. Sufferers with insufficient stomach acid absorb only about 4% of an oral dose of calcium carbonate. It is the most widely utilised form of calcium for nutritional supplements, being neither soluble nor ionised even people with standard stomach acid absorb only 22% of an oral dose of this form of calcium.
Inability to convert vitamin D to its most active form that stimulates the absorption of calcium and the one which our bodies produce.
It lowers levels of oestrogen as well as progesterone after menopause. When oestrogen levels drop during the 3 to 5 year period around menopause, the osteoclasts become more sensitive to parathormone hormone. This hormone signals osteoclasts to increase their activity. Besides, the drop in oestrogen that occurs during menopause triggers the inflammatory mediator interleukin-6 which stimulates the growth of additional osteoclasts, thus increasing bone loss. Progesterone stimulates osteoblasts
Lifestyle factors like coffee, alcohol, smoking cause a negative calcium balance. Thus, we lose more calcium than take in. Lack of exercise, especially weight-bearing training, stimulates osteoblasts to build more bone. In contrast, inactivity doubles the rate of urinary and faecal calcium excretion. Lack of sun exposure sunlight is the first step in the bodys production of the active form of vitamin D, which controls calcium absorption.
Diet for osteoporosis
Dietary factors include:
Soft and fizzy drinks these drinks contain a large number of phosphates and virtually no calcium. When phosphate levels are high, calcium levels are low as calcium is pulled out of the bones to balance things up.
High protein diets these foods are acidic in the body. However, we need slightly alkaline body chemistry for good bone health.
Refined sugar promotes acidic body chemistry, following sugar intake, the urinary excretion of calcium increases.
The intake of leafy green vegetables is inadequately low. However, they provide a broad range of vitamins and minerals necessary for bone health, including vitamin K and boron.
Inadequate consumption of magnesium when magnesium levels are insufficient, a decrease occurs in the active form of vitamin D. Also, we need magnesium for the proper balance of the hormones responsible for adequate calcium concentration levels in the blood.
The consumption of vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid is inadequately low. Besides, low levels of these vitamins lead to a build-up of homocysteine.
Consumption of vitamin C is inadequately low. However, it is necessary for intercellular secretion substances by all cells, including the formation of the osteoid by the osteoblasts.
Go for regular weight-bearing exercise like jogging, trampoline, brisk walking, dancing etc.
Also, limit alcohol consumption to less than three servings per week.
Dont drink fizzy or soft drinks.
Dont drink more than two cups of coffee per day.
Enjoy some sunshine to ensure vitamin D production, 40-year-old women should spend 10-15 minutes twice each weak in direct sunlight.
Avoid processed foods. Their high salt as well as sugar content make them the wrong choice for bone health.
Consume a nutrient-dense, primarily vegetarian diet, rich in whole, unprocessed, preferably organic foods, mostly plant foods as well as cold-water fish.
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