Osteoporosis is a condition in which the normal amount of bone mass has decreased. In osteoporosis the density of mineral in the bones is reduced, bone microstructure is disrupted and the collagen proteins, which are an important part of the bone matrix, are altered. Consequently, people with osteoporosis have brittle bones, which increases the risk of bone fracture, particularly in the hip, spine, and wrist.
There is a serious epidemic of this debilitating disease. Osteoporosis is most common in women after menopause, when it is called postmenopausal osteoporosis, but may also develop in men. Given its influence on the risk of fragility fracture, osteoporosis may significantly affect life expectancy and quality of life.
Osteoporosis affects women more than heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or breast cancer.
Osteoporosis can be prevented with dietary and lifestyle advice and sometimes supplementation. In people who have already developed the disease diet lifestyle and supplements can also play a key role in slowing disease progression.
The initial stages of osteoporosis are asymptomatic. It is not until the later stages that symptoms start to appear. These include:
- Loss of height as a result of weakened spines.
- Cramps in the legs at night
- Bone pain and tenderness
- Neck pain
- Persistent pain in the spine or muscles of the lower back
- Abdominal pain
- Tooth loss
- Rib pain
- Broken bones
- Spinal deformities
- Periodontal disease
- Brittle fingernails
Testing for Osteoporosis
The early stages of osteoporosis are silent, yet identifying the disease early can greatly increase the chance of treatment success. An Osteoporosis Test. This is an excellent way of identifying the disease even before symptoms are present. It measures the level of certain proteins in the urine which are released when bone is broken down allowing accelerated bone loss to be identified earlier on. The test can also be used to monitor how well you are responding to therapy. This test is particularly applicable if your life features any of the risk factors below or you have a family history of osteoporosis.
Genetic predisposition – Inherited defects in bone collagen formation or turnover can interact with other factors to promote bone loss. An osteoporosis genetic profile this evaluates genetic variations in genes that modulate bone formation, bone breakdown and inflammation, including key regulatory mechanisms affecting calcium and Vitamin D3 metabolism, the 2 most important bone health nutrients. Timely identification of osteoporosis risk, allows early nutritional intervention, which can aid long term prevention.
Acidic diet – A diet high in animal protein, sugar, fizzy drinks and processed food creates a lot of acidity in the body. One way your body attempts to mop up all this extra acid is to release calcium from your bones back into the blood stream. Over time, bones become weakened and osteoporosis develops. There was a time when people ate a more alkaline diet based on fruits and vegetables. This supports the naturally slightly alkaline conditions which the body strives to maintain. Getting the acid-alkaline balance correct in your diet can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and help to slow further bone loss.
Nutrient deficiencies -It is well known that calcium is important for building bones but there are also many other vitamins and minerals that are important for bone health. Since nutrition plays such a vital role in keeping bones strong, nutrient deficiencies will directly increase risk of bone loss. Luckily insufficiencies can be identified via A Vitamin and Mineral Screen. If you discover that you do have a potential deficiency Smart Nutrition can advise you on dietary changes and supplements to help restore healthy levels and support bone health.
Sex hormone imbalances – Bone is not a static material. It is constantly replaced and renewed and this whole process is controlled and organised by hormones. In women bone turnover is regulated be oestrogen and progesterone. In men testosterone carries out this job. The sudden drop in female hormones after menopause is thought to be why women are much more likely to sufferer from osteoporosis than men. In men, testosterone production decreases much more gradually. Having A Female Hormone Test or A Male Hormone Test is a great way of identifying any hormonal imbalances that may predispose you to osteoporosis. The results can then be used by a nutritional therapist to put together an effective treatment plan that will tackle any imbalances to support long term bone health.
Thyroid imbalance – Chronically high production of thyroid hormone increases the rate of bone resorption and can result in lower bone density. Typical hyperthyroid symptoms include; fast metabolism, heart palpitations and feelings or irritability or nervousness. If you experience these symptoms or think you may have an overactive thyroid A Thyroid Test can be a useful investigative tool.
Digestive dysfunction – Often nutritional deficiencies are not a result of low intake but simply a matter of inadequate absorption. If food is not properly digested it is very difficult for the body to properly absorb the nutrients in it. The can result in deficiencies of bone-dependent nutrients. The efficiency of the digestive process can be using A Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis Test. Once suboptimal digestive processes have been identified, a nutritional therapist put together a specific protocol for you to get things working properly again and ensure you get the maximum fro you food.
Heavy metal toxicity – Environmental toxic metals such as lead can displace calcium from bones, impairing bone health. If you are concerned about your exposure to heavy metals you may want to consider A Hair Mineral Analysis Test. Hair has the unique ability to concentrate toxic heavy metals and essential elements so this type of analysis can be used as an indicator of long-term mineral levels. If you find out that you do have a metal toxicity a nutritional therapist can advise you on key dietary changes and supplements to assist toxin removal as well as bone rebuilding.
Stress – Only a short time ago in the history of man, stress was usually a physical problem and resulted in the need to stand and fight, we might be injured and bleed to death or have to run very fast to escape the danger. Our bodies natural physical responses are therefore designed to save life in the short-term. For example systems such as digestion that are not immediately vital are shut down and in order not to bleed to death, blood is made thicker. This is achieved by drawing calcium out of the bones. Once the calcium has been removed form the bones it is then in the form of calcium salts and cannot be returned. Consequently long term stress gradually depletes bone calcium and the suppressive effect stress has on digestion means absorption of new calcium is compromised. If you have a particularly stressful lifestyle you may like to consider An Adrenal Stress Test, which can be a really useful way of pinpointing the critical imbalances in stress hormones. Smart Nutrition could then work with you to put together a specific diet, lifestyle and supplement plan to reduce your stress response and protect long term bone health.
Medications – Long term use of certain drugs such as the contraceptive pill, corticosteroids and the thyroid medication thyroxine can interfere with bone remodelling processes and calcium absorption. Consulting a qualified nutritional therapist can help to minimise these effects and in some cases they may be able to support you in dealing with the underlying condition, reducing your need to use these drugs in the fist place.
Lack of physical activity – The body’s remodelling of bone is performed in response to physical stresses such as walking and weight bearing exercise. As exercise increases, bone density is also increased to meet the extra demand. Consequently lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for developing osteoporosis. In addition, with proper advice gradually introducing the right kinds of exercise can be an excellent way to start to improve bone health and counteract some of the density lost through osteoporosis.