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Osteoporosis: 10 Ways to Boost Your Bone Density at the Menopause

Mar 30, 2019

Osteoporosis, also known as ‘brittle bone disease’ is likely to catch up with you once you hit the menopause.

It’s said that an astonishing 1 in 2 women develop this disease which causes their bones to become weaker and more prone to fractures. This is often why so many women end up losing their independence and requiring 24-hour care.

It could happen to you too, and not just when you grow old.

The truth is, calcium starts to deplete from your bones rapidly within the first five years when you reach the menopause- leaving your bones much weaker and vulnerable than ever before.

The good news is that you’re never too young or too old to start taking better care of your bones and to avoid developing osteoporosis at the menopause.

Follow the natural, holistic tips I’m about to share with you in this article and you can decrease your chances of suffering from this silent disease and build your bone density.

First, we’ll take a look at what osteoporosis actually is and what causes it. Then we’ll get straight onto the natural ways you can help protect yourself.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a medical condition which causes your bones to become brittle, developing holes and other weakened areas. Over 3 million people in the UK are said to have the illness and it causes more than 300,000 fractures every year.

It’s often called a ‘silent disease’ because most people don’t realise that they have osteoporosis until they suddenly break a bone. The majority of sufferers are women over the age of 50, although men can get it too.

What causes osteoporosis?

There are many factors which can reduce your bone density and potentially lead to osteoporosis. These include:

Your hormones: The drop in oestrogen experienced at the peri-menopause and menopause can prevent bone-building cells known as osteoblasts from producing enough bone to replace lost bone. This is one of the reasons why osteoporosis is so common for women over 50.

Family history: If you have a parent, sibling or other family member who is suffering from a fracture or osteoporosis, it’s highly likely that you will too.

Thyroid and parathyroid problems: High levels of certain hormones can remove the calcium from your bones, leaving them weaker and prone to breakage.

Digestive issues: Those with digestive issues such as Celiac disease, SIBO, inflammatory bowel disease or other digestive issues may struggle to absorb enough calcium and vitamin D to build healthy bones.

Medication: If you’re taking anti-inflammatories, antiseizure medications, corticosteroids, acid-blockers PPIs, blood thinning medication or you’ve been treated for breast cancer, you’re more likely to suffer from osteoporosis.

Kidney disease: This affects your body’s ability to use vitamin D for building healthy bones.

Lifestyle choices: Smoking, drinking alcohol, an excess of sodium in the diet, a high caffeine intake (drinking more than four coffees per day) and consuming artificial sweeteners can also affect your body’s ability to use calcium.

Stress: Chronic stress can increase the amount of stress hormones in your body. High levels of these hormones can also deplete calcium from the bones.

How to boost your bone density to avoid osteoporosis

However, being menopausal or ‘at risk’ doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop osteoporosis. With careful lifestyle choices, you can naturally build your bone density and maintain strong bones so you stay fracture-free well into your golden years.

Even if you’ve already been diagnosed with the disease, the techniques I’m about to share could help you treat your osteoporosis naturally.

#1. Get your gut health tested (then treat any problems!)

Your gut is where the nutrients are absorbed from your food and where oestrogen metabolization happens, so it’s important that you keep it healthy.

Even if you’re eating foods which help promote bone health and your oestrogen levels are ‘normal’ you’re unlikely to be getting the full benefit if your gut isn’t working optimally.

For optimal gut health, you need to have a thriving community of healthy bacteria in your gut. But it also needs to be in the right place. If you have an imbalance of bacteria, the gut bacteria grows out of control or if it spreads to other parts of the digestive system, you can encounter health problems like SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth).

Gut health issues are often caused by chronic digestive problems, low stomach acid, poor diet, medications such as antibiotics, stress, constipation, immune changes or even exposure to antibiotics via eating non-organic meats.

Whilst there are many symptoms of SIBO or gut health issues such as excess gas, bloating, IBS, diarrhoea, constipation and indigestion, it’s usually best to get yourself tested to check out your gut health.

You can either opt for a breath test (either hydrogen or methane) or upgrade to the Organic Acids Test (OATs) [Please contact me for more information about the OAT test.]

Should you be diagnosed with SIBO, you can treat it with the low FODMAP diet, treat with a short course of antibiotics and use herbs such as biocidin and Oil of Oregano to treat the problem. Always speak to a trained Functional Medicine practitioner before using these herbs.

#2: Eat to promote strong bones

Strong healthy bones start with your diet, so it’s important to include plenty of foods that help nourish them from the inside out. I’d recommend you include plenty of the following nutrients.

Calcium: This mineral is very important for gut health, so make sure you’re filling up on plenty of calcium-rich foods such as green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, tinned fish with the bones in and dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt if you can tolerate them.

Vitamin D: This vitamin helps your body absorb calcium and helps boost your mood, improves your sleep, strengthens your immune system and much more, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough. Great food sources include oily fish, eggs and fat spreads.

Other vitamins and minerals: Vitamin B-complex, vitamin B12, magnesium, vitamin K and phosphorous also work together to keep those bones strong and prevent osteoporosis so make sure you’re eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients. If you’re in doubt, it can be worth taking a high-quality multivitamin and mineral supplement.

#3: Get some sunlight

Sunlight on your skin helps to build up your body's supply of vitamin D to keep osteoporosis at bay.

The cheapest and most effective source of vitamin D is simply the sun! When the sun shines on your skin, your body produces vitamin D naturally.

Boost your vitamin D levels by aiming to spend short periods outdoors each day from late March/April to the end of September without sunscreen. If you have lighter skin, limit yourself to 15 minutes and if you have darker skin, up to 40 minutes is good.

Be careful not to let your skin redden or burn or else you’ll undo the health benefits!

#4: Reduce your intake of caffeine, sodium and alcohol

Several substances can actually prevent your body from absorbing calcium, increase its loss from your body and lower your bone density. These include caffeine, sodium, artificial sweeteners and alcohol.

Here’s what I suggest:

  • Limit your coffee intake to no more than four cups per day and switch to green tea, fruit tea, herbal tea or water instead.
  • Avoid eating salted snacks and processed foods
  • Cut down your alcohol intake or limit it to special occasions
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs!

#5: Get enough weight-bearing exercise

Exercise is an essential defence against osteoporosis because it naturally helps to build and maintain stronger bones.

The secret is to do just the right amount of activity to stress to your bones to stimulate bone-building osteoclasts to build stronger bone. Too much exercise can actually have the opposite effect.

It’s worth including strength exercises too because the action of muscles pulling on bone also helps to increase your bone strength too.

Great exercises include walking, yoga, tai chi, dancing, hiking, tennis and anything that gets you up on your feet and moving.

 

Osteoporosis doesn’t need to be part of growing older, even if you’re genetically predisposed to the disease or have any of the risk factors. By following the natural treatments here, you can build stronger and healthier bones and stay fracture-free and independent for longer.

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