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Keeping Your Bones Healthy

By Greg Samples


Originally published in Everything Knoxville in July, 2015

Usually, people know when they are sick. Pain, fatigue, and other symptoms are an indication that something is wrong and compel us to seek the nature of the problem and any remedies that might be available. Osteoporosis, however, is a disease that can manifest for decades without any symptoms. By the time we actually discover we have it, the ability to reverse it may be very difficult.

Osteoporosis affects about 55% of Americans over the age of 50, and of those about 80% are women. The steady, progressive reduction in bone density can lead to fractures anywhere in the body, but especially in the hips, vertebrae, wrists, and ribs. Though not usually fatal, these fractures can cause an abrupt downward trend in vitality, especially in people of advanced age.

Bones are not static, rigid blocks of calcium. They are made up of living cells that are constantly changing throughout life. The same function that developed your bones as a child is able to heal a fracture as an adult. Since these cells are continuously changing, our lifestyle and food intake can have a substantial effect on bone health.

The most important elements in generating healthy bones are calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and estrogen/testosterone. As we age, our hormone production naturally declines. We also tend to become less physically active, and may have a tendency to have less exposure to sunshine, which is essential for vitamin D production. But long before these take effect, our utilization of calcium and phosphorus may have put us on the path to developing this condition. Ninety-nine per cent of the calcium in the body is in the bones, but the other 1% is essential and has many functions, including blood clotting, nerve transmission, glucose absorption, and muscle contraction. Being an alkaline mineral, the body also uses it to buffer any acidic toxic waste so it can be excreted safely. If there are not sufficient alkaline minerals readily available to accomplish this, calcium may be leached from the bones to provide substance for this critical function. This is the most common cause of osteoporosis.

The best way to avoid this leaching of calcium is to avoid foods which result in a net acidic buildup, the most common today being simple sugar. Our bodies are designed to make use of carbohydrates, but there is an immense difference in the effect of carbohydrates that encompass calcium and other minerals, such as whole grains, and simple white sugar or fructose. Even dairy, with its high calcium content, can cause a net loss of calcium in the bones because of the acidic fat content involved. The best sources of calcium without adverse components are dark, leafy greens of any kind. Beans and fish can also be a solid source.

If you start now, you can prevent the condition of osteoporosis. You’ll be glad you did in a few decades.

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