Bone Health 101

Perhaps one of the most significant and measurable successes that I see in my practice comes in the treatment of bone health. As we get older the risk and incidence of bone related diseases and or fractures increase. And at the age of 65 the medical establishment starts routine bone scan tests to determine bone density and therefore risk of fracture and disability. This is usually when someone will come into my clinic asking about a natural way to protect or heal their bones. My first task is to educate my patients about the particular problem at hand. I feel that this is lacking to a large degree in the standard medical experience. When it comes to bone health there is a lot to know, and once again there is a lot more going on than drugs like Fosamax and Boniva are able to treat. I hope to provide for you here some important facts that you need to know about your bones, and how to go about preserving or even rebuilding any bone loss that you have had already.

The first and most important thing to understand about your bones is that though they are indeed hard like rocks or wood, they are not a static material. By this I mean that they are a living tissue that is constantly changing. A rock is created and then remains basically the same until it is either pulverized or melted again. It is a static material. But bone tissue in contrast is built upon a framework of bone matrix. This matrix is like a cartilage lattice work where minerals are attached to create a hard and strong structure. These minerals and protein lattice structures are constantly being broken down by specialized cells called Osteoclasts. The bone tissue is then rebuilt by cells called Osteoblasts. So there is a constant interplay between bone resorption and formation. You can't build new bone tissue without breaking down the old stuff. This process allows for constantly new bone tissue formation that is healthy and strong. Out with the old and in with the new so to speak. The trick here is to keep things in balance. Too much resroption and you end up with a net loss of bone tissue, weakening and fracture. But remember, some breaking down of bone is essential for healthy bone repair.

When people take one of the many "Osteoporosis drugs," like Fosamax for example the drug is designed to shut down osteoclast activity. This means that the drug is stopping or slowing down the breakdown of bone. This all sounds great, but remember without breakdown of bone tissue there is not going to be any bone rebuilding. So these medications are not stimulating the building of bone. The bones of people who use these medications may remain thicker, but the bone tissue becomes old and brittle over time. And it can easily be said that thick but brittle bone is not much better than thin but strong bone. If it were me I would choose the thinner yet stronger bone. So take this info for what you will. These medications may indeed slow the breakdown of bone, but at what cost. Very little research has shown that these medications have helped to stop fractures in any significant way. And they are very harmful to the digestive tract particularly the esophagus.

On the other hand, there are ways to stimulate production of new healthy bone tissue and decrease bone breakdown at the same time. And what do you know, they are all natural:

· Calcium

· Vitamin K

· Strontium

· Ipriflavone

· Genestein

· Vitamin D

Taking in these compounds on a daily basis is a great way to optimize bone health. But bones also respond to stress. By this I mean weight bearing exercise. When bones experience physical stress they grow stronger. This is really important in your younger years. What you build when you are young directly relates to what you will have when you are older. So young people, get in your weight bearing exercise now! And for those of you out there who are currently experiencing bone loss, now is the time to get in your exercise as well. Walking, jogging, light weights, yoga and tai qi are all good examples of weight bearing exercises. Doing these activities on a regular schedule will help in more areas than just bone health so take them seriously. There is no such thing as a work out in a pill. "Just one pill provides for a whole week of exercise!" No... You have to get out there and do the work!

And as a final note it is important to realize that it isn't really the bone density itself that we are all worried about after all. It is the fall and the bone break that causes the problems. How much is being done to reduce the numbers of falls in the elderly? Do you think that insurance companies are willing to pay for balance training? Or working with a living space to reduce the hazards that lead to falls? I think not. Do not forget this very important part of your concern over bone health. This alone makes activities like yoga or tai qi extremely powerful in reducing bone breaks. Balance and core stability is everything. Find a trainer and regain your balance! Your bones depend upon it.

So putting all of these concepts of supplementation, physical exercise to strengthen bone density and increase balance, and optimizing one's living/work environments will create a powerful and effective strategy for increased bone health and reduced fractures. This goes way beyond taking a pill and hoping for the best. It is something that you need to understand and take action on now. I would be happy to schedule an initial consultation with you to discuss this further and get you on your way to healthier bones!