Keep Your Bones Strong
Many people don’t think too much about their bones unless they break one or their doctor wants to test their bone density. Bone health and fractures becomes a real risk in menopause.
The progression from bone health to disease sounds like this:
Healthy Bones → Osteopenia (mild bone thinning) → Osteoporosis (significant bone thinning)
Conventional Doctors usually prescribe medications for bone loss when someone has been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Bone density testing used to be recommended at age 50. The age was recently raised to 65 years old.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a DEXA scan At age 65 and for any woman over 50 years old with a history of fracture.
I don’t agree with the new guidelines. I feel that waiting to test until age 65 is waiting too long. Women lose the most bone in the first 5 years of entering menopause. This is because estrogen levels are dropping and estrogen has bone protecting benefits. Most women enter menopause between the ages of 50 and 55.
Since I’m a Naturopathic doctor and I specialize in disease prevention I find it helpful to know if bone thinning is occurring.
I prefer baseline testing between 50-55 years old. This depends on what age a woman enters menopause and especially if she is a small-boned.
My goal is to catch bone thinning early so that a healthy bone program can be put in place.
Your bones are constantly rebuilding themselves. They rely on good nutrition, hormones and minerals to maintain their strength. The natural process is to build bone with new cells and then to break down the older bone cells to make way for the new.
Conventional medications interfere with the bone break down process. They prevent the older bone cells from getting torn down.
This initially appears to improve bone density. However, over time it does not improve bone strength. Over a 5-10 year span the bones actually become more brittle and susceptible to fracture risk.
I recently had a friend who experienced this with her grandmother. The woman had been on osteoporosis medication for 10 years and then stepped off her porch wrong and fell down breaking her hip. Although the medication improved her bone density it allowed for a weaker bone matrix over time which resulted in a fracture.
If a woman goes for a DEXA scan (bone density test) and the results are showing bone loss than a follow-up test should be performed every 2 years. Or after the first year of beginning treatment.
Medications to treat bone density have side effects. Many are hard on the gastro-intestinal system and can contribute to gastric reflux and esophageal cancer. Other side effects include jaw bone thinning, fatigue, headaches, irregular heart rate, and increased fracture risk.
Your bones are “living” tissue, that can regenerate and strengthen themselves, as long as they are given the proper building blocks. Each year 5-10% of all your bone tissue is renewed.
The Osteoporosis drugs known as Bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, Reclast, etc. stop new bone from forming and leave you with old dried-up and brittle bones that are more prone to fracture.
With prescription medication, your bones may be harder and denser, but they are also dry and brittle.
It’s important to know that you have options. A lot more options than you think. Natural medicine provides healing from the inside out without the unwanted side effects. When a person is concerned about their bone health this is often what I hear:
“I want an all-natural osteoporosis treatment that works.”
“I want to reverse osteoporosis without taking any drugs.”
“I want to increase my bone density scores naturally.”
“I want to reverse bone loss with no negative side effects.”
Each person has their own unique health profile that has caused them to develop Osteoporosis. There are a few things to keep in mind is you are looking to help strengthen your bones:
1. Drinking soda de-mineralizes your bones. If you are a soda drinker I want you to know that for each can of soda you drink you are losing vital calcium and magnesium and a whole host of trace minerals in your urine within a few hours of consuming it. You are peeing out your bones. I know it isn’t the most appealing visual but it is extremely important for you to understand.
2. Medications interfere with your mineral absorption. Especially the antacid medications- Tums, Omeprazole, ranitidine, Prilosec, Nexium, etc. Taking antacid medications long term will affect your mineral status and can cause you to become deficient.
There are ways to treat your heartburn naturally so you can avoid these medications. This is something I help my patients with.
3. A well-balanced diet helps build healthy bones. Silica is important for bones, connective tissue such as ligaments, and tendons and also teeth. Foods high in silica include melons, artichokes and cucumbers.
When your digestion is absorbing well, more is available for your bones. This is why osteoporosis is a common problem for folks with celiac disease. The damaged intestinal lining blocks absorption.
Foods that help improve digestion also work to build strong bones. These include celery juice, papaya, melons, lemons, kiwi, leafy greens, turmeric, and aloe vera.
4. Weight bearing exercise: “If you don’t use it you lose it,” is how the saying goes. Get out there and move your body, get those legs moving and make sure you are getting your steps in. Some of the most helpful exercises involve those using your own body weight such as lunges and squats. The balancing poses used in Yoga are extremely valuable for building bone and for maintaining balance and stability. These include: tree pose, goddess pose, and warrior poses.
5. Supplements and hormones. There are a number of supplements that are valuable in re-correcting mineral imbalances. They include calcium, vitamin D, Vitamin K2, boron, horsetail, and strontium. You can talk to your alternative practitioner about the correct dosages for you. Additionally, bio-identical hormone replacement can be extremely helpful at building bone for those women who need it.
May You Be Strong, Healthy and Vibrant,
(This post was originally a Facebook Live video. You can watch that HERE)
Or on Youtube:
Thank you. There is so much work to do after menopause!