Researchers estimate that about 1 out of every 5 American women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis and that men over age 70 are at a higher risk for osteoporosis. However bone loss can begin as early as our 30s and may be a direct result of diet and lifestyle.
Calcium and phosphate may be reabsorbed back into the body from the bones to combat acidity as we age, which weakens bone tissue and can result in brittle, fragile bones that are more prone to fractures. Once diagnosed with osteoporosis, one can expect to lose an additional 1 to 2 percent of bone mass each year if they take no action to prevent or slow bone loss. It’s precursor osteopenia has no symptoms, but your doctor can perform special spine and hip X-rays to measure bone density.
While osteoporosis has some well-known risk factors such as a low-calcium diet, inactivity, and bad genes, the following triggers may surprise you.
High Dairy Consumption
A 12 year long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that those who consumed the most calcium from dairy foods broke more bones than those who rarely drank milk. Surprised? Although cows milk contains 118 mg of bone-building calcium in every 100 grams, the problem is that those 100 grams also contain 97 mg of phosphorus, and phosphorus actually blocks the absorption of calcium.
Like all animal protein, milk acidifies the body which in turn triggers a biological correction. Calcium from our bones is used to neutralize the acidifying effect of milk. Once calcium is pulled out of the bones it leaves the body via urine, so the surprising net result is an actual calcium deficit after drinking milk. For more information on the dangers of milk, click here.
All medications–whether they be over-the-counter, prescription, or the very drugs which are designed to help osteoporosis–are acidifying to the body. Just as with milk consumption, your body needs to buffer acidity by pulling alkaline minerals from within the body, primarily calcium from your bones. Long-term use of any drug can therefore weaken the bones. In particular, antidepressants, glucocorticoids (steroids), anticonvulsants and the contraceptive Depo-Provera have been linked to bone loss.
If you are currently suffering from or have ever experienced anorexia or bulimia you are at a higher risk for osteoporosis due to malnutrition, excessive weight loss, calcium deficiencies, severe drops in estrogen, and excess cortisol production. To prevent further damage, those with eating disorders should seek professional help immediately.
Smoking, Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Smoking cigarettes may interfere with calcium absorption and is associated with an increased risk for bone fractures, while large amounts of alcohol can deplete hormones and increase cortisol levels, contributing to an alarming loss in bone density. Fortunately, bone health will return gradually after you stop smoking. It is recommended that you try to limit alcohol intake to a maximum of one drink per day.
Diabetes, Gastrectomy and Weight-Loss Surgery
The bone structure of diabetics is a little more porous than that of non-diabetics, so it’s easier to break.
Some evidence points toward an increased risk for bone loss after weight-loss surgery or the removal of part of your stomach because it could affect the ability of your digestive tract to absorb calcium and vitamin D.
Inflammatory Conditions, Kidney Disease, Hypoparathyroidism, Estrogen Deficiency
Chronic inflammatory conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia put you at risk for osteoporosis, while kidney disease and hypoparathyroidism can also wreak havoc with your hormone levels which ultimately affects your bone health. And anything that causes a drop in your estrogen levels can harm your bones, which is why bone loss accelerates after menopause.
Chemotherapy is extremely toxic and harmful to all cells including bone cells. Fortunately one can generally recoup most, if not all, of their bone mass once treatments are over. However, you might want to consider a plant-based diet as an alternative to conventional cancer treatment.
Steps You Can Take to Help Prevent Bone Loss and Increase Bone Mass:
1. Replace cows milk with one of the following more alkaline alternatives: almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk or goats milk.
2. Adopt a plant-based diet. Research shows that it’s better to get your nutrients from food than from supplements. Consider the amount of calcium your body will absorb from eating 100 grams of the following alkaline foods: almonds (254 mg), broccoli (130 mg), kale (187 mg), sesame seeds (1,160 mg) and kelp (1,093 mg).
3. Drink Chanson alkaline ionized water. Reverse osmosis, distilled, and most bottled waters contain water that has been stripped of all minerals and is actually acidic. Drinking Chanson alkaline ionized water may be a significant source of calcium, providing over one-third of the recommended dietary intake of this mineral in adults. Chanson alkaline ionized water is micro-clustered which makes it easier to absorb at the cellular level and thus improves mineral absorption and overall hydration.
4. Make sure you are getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D. According to PubMed, it is recommended that you get 800-1,000 international units of vitamin D3 daily, which helps your body absorb calcium. The best source of vitamin D is natural sunlight (10-15 minutes a day without sunscreen). If this isn’t possible for you, Vitamin D supplements may be helpful.
5. Engage in weight-bearing exercise. During weightbearing exercise, bone adapts to the impact of weight and the pull of muscle by building more bone cells. Try walking, jogging, dancing, stair climbing, bowling or golf.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The author of this article is not a medically trained physician; therefore, any theories or suggestions put forward are intended to supplement and not replace the advice of medically or legally trained professionals.