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The three keys to preventing osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that results in the thinning of the bones to the point where there is a risk of fracture, and it affects one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50. The most common sites of fracture are the vertebrae of the spine, particularly the upper back, the wrist, and the top of the thigh bone where it joins the pelvis (neck of the femur).

Our bones are basically a storage site for minerals, and minerals are needed for many functions in the body. For example, calcium is needed in order to be able to contract your muscles. Our body will probably prioritize muscle contraction over bone density so that we can go about our daily activities, and will take calcium from the bones in order to help you contract your muscles, if you do not have enough calcium in the blood.

In order to maintain or increase our bone mass, we need:

  1. Most importantly to plug the drain. We need to stop using stimulants like sugar and caffeine, which results in our bones leaching minerals. Stimulants wreak havoc with our adrenal glands, causing systemic problems in the endocrine system. Systemic stress or anything else that can disrupt endocrine function is hazardous to bones. For healthy bones we need a healthy hormonal/endocrine system that is actually secreting adequate amounts of the enzymes and hormones at the right times and in the right ratios necessary to prevent mineral leaching, and to deposit the minerals into the bone matrix.
  2. The raw materials that our body needs to mineralize our bones in the form of whole food. The exception is vitamin D, which may need to be supplemented in the winter.
    1. Calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, cholesterol, saturated fat, protein etc.
    2. Supplementing with calcium without knowing one's metabolic type can be risky, as some metabolic types need an acid form (parasympathetic dominants), whereas others need an alkaline form (fast oxidizers) for success, and the catabolic types like slow oxidizers and sympathetic dominants actually have adequate calcium and need the synergistic factors to absorb calcium into their bones.  Taking additional calcium will make their situation worse. This is why whole food is the safest bet.
  3. Adequate mechanical stress exerted on the bones to make the body realize that it is important to strengthen the bones to be able to handle the mechanical stress. The more kinds of forces applied to the bones, and the more unusual the movement patterns for the bones, the greater the likelihood of increasing bone mass.
    1. Weight-bearing activity puts a compressive load through the bones
    2. Strength training, depending on the nature of the exercise, will put torsion or bending forces through the bones
    3. Stretching along the axis of the bones will put tension forces through the bones.

Most people are quite familiar with the importance of good nutrition and quality exercise for improving bone mass, but if we do not have an endocrine system that is functioning optimally, good nutrition and exercise won’t work, as we need our hormones to actually get the minerals into the bones.

Calcitrol is an important hormone that is involved in calcium deposition into bones. The raw material from which calcitrol is made is cholesterol, so low cholesterol levels may affect the synthesis of calcitrol. Our thyroid, which sits in the front of our neck, secretes a hormone called calcitonin, and when the thyroid is not functioning as it should, calcitonin secretion may be affected, which will have a direct impact on the state of our bones. Proper functioning of the thyroid is very tied in to proper adrenal and cortisol function. Cortisol is your stress-response hormone, so if you are suffering from chronic stress, either physical, emotional or spiritual or any combination of the above, or if you are feeling fatigued on a daily basis, you may be losing bone mass due to endocrine dysfunction.  It is also well established that corticosteroid drugs, both oral or inhaled, cause a decrease in bone mass just like excess endogenous cortisol does, probably through its affects on the thyroid, so if you are on these drugs it may be wise to talk to your doctor about safer alternatives.  If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, get your physician to order saliva circadian rhythm adrenal and thyroid hormone tests, and then do whatever is necessary to rectify any issues through functional-medicine protocols and by adjusting lifestyle. So although osteoporosis, like almost all the degenerative diseases faced by society today, is a complex disease physiologically speaking with a variety of “causes”, it can also be viewed as a very simple disease that is caused by living a lifestyle that breaks the laws of nature (eating fake food, inadequate amounts of quality flesh foods, not exercising enough or inappropriate intensity, not enough dark time, and being chronically stressed).

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Wilson, James Adrenal Fatigue, 21st Century Stress Syndrome Smart Publications, Petaluma, CA 2001.
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