THE BARE BONES ABOUT BONES – MYTHS AND TRUTHS Part 2

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In part one, I discussed the many myths as well as misinformation about the causes of osteoporosis as well as the accepted treatments for bone loss.  It is another powerful example of how women have been medicalised and pathologised for profit.

The good news is that osteoporosis is not a medical disease.   It is not a menopause disease.  It is not an oestrogen deficiency disease.  It is not a calcium deficiency disease. It is not a pharmaceutical drug deficiency disease. 

Osteoporosis is not inevitable.   And guess what? 
We can rebuild healthy bone at any age!

Learning the Bone-Building truths will empower us to know that the body can truly heal and repair the living tissue we call bone.

BONE-BUILDING NUTRIENT TRUTHS

There is certainly a problem with bone health in Western cultures. However, other vital factors that determine the complex process of healthy bones must be understood. Bones are affected by: the intake of other bone-building nutrients; consumption of potentially bone-damaging substances like excess protein, salt, saturated fat and sugar; the use of some drugs, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco; the level of physical exercise; exposure to sunlight and environmental toxins; the impact of stress; the removal of the ovaries and uterus; and many factors that limit endocrine gland functioning.

There are at least 20 key bone-building nutrients essential for optimum bone health. If one’s diet is low in any of these nutrients, the bones will suffer. They include phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, silica, fluorine, vitamins A, C, D, B6, B12, K, folic acid, essential fatty acids and protein.

And what about dairy foods for bones? Dr Michael Colgan, a well-known researcher in nutrition, an author and the founder of the Colgan Institute in the US, has said: “The medical advice to drink milk to prevent osteoporosis is self-serving poppycock.” After all we’ve been indoctrinated with, it’s a shocking revelation to discover that dairy products contribute to bone loss. The countries that consume the highest amounts of dairy products also have the highest rates of osteoporosis; the non-dairy-consuming countries have the lowest osteoporosis rates.

In the body’s wisdom, the highest priority is to maintain the proper acid/alkali balance in the blood. A high protein diet of meat and dairy products poses a great osteoporosis risk because it makes the blood highly acidic. Calcium must then be extracted from the bones in order to restore proper balance. Since calcium in the blood is used by every cell in the body to maintain its integrity, the body will sacrifice calcium in the bone to maintain homeostasis in the blood.

In a year-long study of 22 postmenopausal women, there was no significant improvement in calcium levels when their diets were supplemented daily with three 300 mL glasses of skim milk (equivalent to 1,500 mg of calcium). The authors stated this outcome was due to “the average 30% increase in protein intake during milk supplementation”. Since skim milk contains almost double the protein of whole milk, it promotes an even greater rate of calcium excretion.

In a recently published 12-year study of nearly 78,000 women it was concluded that milk consumption does not protect against hip or forearm fracture. Female milk-drinkers actually had a significantly increased risk of fracture, and teenage milk-drinking was not protective against osteoporosis.

There are still other problems with dairy products. They contain antibiotics, oestrogen hormones, pesticides and an enzyme that is a known factor in breast cancer. In addition, another recent study revealed that lactose-intolerant women who drank milk were at greater risk of ovarian cancer and infertility.

THE TRUTH ABOUT VITAMINS D AND K FOR HEALTHY BONES

 One of vitamin D’s main functions is to ensure adequate levels of calcium in your blood.  While vitamin D has been widely acknowledged as an important fat-soluble vitamin for strong bones, Vitamin K is the new kid on the block.

Vitamin K promotes calcium accumulation into your bones, while reducing its accumulation in soft tissues such as blood vessels.

The ideal form of Vitamin K is K2 (MK-7).  It activates the protein, osteocalcin, which integrates calcium into bone. Without D3 and K2, calcium cannot do its job effectively.

Several observational studies have found that inadequate intake of vitamin K is linked to low bone density and increased risk for fractures.

You always want to use this mighty bone building duo as a team. Seek out supplements that include both vitamin D and K so you can effectively utilise calcium for bone health as part of your healthy bone building program.

THE BONE-BUILDING STRATEGIES NOT DRUGS TRUTH

The drug companies boast one other weapon in their anti-osteoporosis arsenal: bisphophante medication that promises to halt bone loss. In Australia the most commonly prescribed bisphosphante drugs include Alendronate and risedronate, better known as Fosamax and Actonel.  They also have many other names, so be sure to check out the medication that you may be taking.

So, although bisphosphantes will superficially appear to increase bone density, in reality it decreases bone strength. They are, in truth, a metabolic poison and will actually kill osteoclast cells which are required to maintain dynamic bone equilibrium. In addition, they can cause severe and permanent damage to the oesophagus and stomach. It is also hard on the kidneys and can cause diarrhoea, flatulence, rashes, headaches and muscular pain. Rats given high doses developed thyroid and adrenal tumours. Fosamax also causes deficiencies of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D, all essential for the bone-building process.

Side effects for all the bisphosphonates (alendronate, ibandronate, risedronate and zoledronic acid) may include bone, joint or muscle pain. Side effects of the oral tablets may include nausea, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, irritation of the esophagus (tube connecting the throat to the stomach) and gastric ulcer.

According to the TGA, there is a concern that bisphosphonates will cause osteonecrosis of the jaw.  Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) occurs when the jawbone is exposed and begins to starve from a lack of blood. The result is that the bone in the jaw will die. (https://www.tga.gov.au/alert/bisphosphonate-drugs-and-osteonecrosis-jaw-onj).

Seems too crazy to prescribe drugs that actually lead to poorer bone health and increased risk of bone fracture.

BUILDING HEALTHY BONES TRUTHS

It is clear that the osteoporosis treatments doctors most often recommend to women- HRT, calcium supplements, dairy products and bisphosphante drugs-have certainly benefited the medical establishment and drug companies most of all. The real long-term benefit to women is minimal at best, and life-threatening at worst.

Fortunately, there are other options that not only can prevent further deterioration of bone density and poor bone repair but can actually increase bone mass in women of all ages. 

The six intervention areas that form the strongest, surest program for building and repairing bone include:

  • Maximising nutrient intake i.e., Vitamin D & K, Omega 3, Multi-minerals
  • Building digestive strength
  • Minimising anti-nutritive intake – sugar, alcohol, processed foods
  • Exercising (especially with weights)
  • Developing an alkaline diet with lots of organic vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts
  • Promoting endocrine vitality – support adrenals and thyroid

No matter where you are on the bone health continuum and no matter what your lifestyle has been, it is never too late to begin rebuilding healthy bones.

More and more studies are validating the extremely beneficial effects of a regular weight- bearing exercise program in increasing bone density in postmenopausal women. A woman’s lifelong tendency to diet has been an unrecognised cause of bone loss.

At least seven well-controlled studies have shown that when a woman diets and loses weight, she also loses bone. A recent study found that in less than 22 months, women who exercised three times a week increased their bone density by 5.2 per cent, while sedentary women actually lost 1.2 per cent. Effective strength-training includes such exercise as walking uphill, bicycling in low gear, climbing steps and training with weights.

 

Bottom Line – Build A Healthy Body to Build Healthy Bones

Osteoporosis is not an ageing disease or an oestrogen or calcium deficiency but a degenerative disease of Western culture. We have brought it upon ourselves through poor dietary habits and lifestyle factors, and exposure to pharmaceutical drugs. It is our ignorance that has made us vulnerable to the vested interests that have intentionally distorted the facts and willingly sacrificed the health of millions of women at the altar of profit and greed.

The truth is that you can rebuild bones, heal fractures and prevent bone loss naturally at any age.

It is only by your willingness to take responsibility for your body and make the commitment to return to a healthy, balanced way of life that you will be able to walk tall and strong for the rest of your life.


Sherrill Sellman, N.D., Naturopathic Doctor (Board Certified in Integrative Medicine), is an educator, women’s natural health expert, psychotherapist and journalist in the field of women’s health. She is also, a much sought-after international lecturer, host of two women’s weekly radio shows, senior editor and contributing writer to numerous health publications. Dr. Sellman is the best-selling author of Hormone Heresy: What Women MUST Know About Their Hormones. Her website is drsherrillsellman.com.

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