I’m sure you don’t think about your bone density levels everyday, yet it is a major factor for both men and women as you age.
Bone health is crucial for maintaining overall well-being and physical mobility. Your skeletal structure makes up one-fifth of healthy bone weight. This flexible inner framework supports all other parts, organs, brain and tissues which would otherwise collapse.
Bone constantly breaks down and rebuilds itself. It is a result of two bone cells osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Osteoclasts stimulate production of acids and enzymes that dissolve minerals and protein in bone and promote bone breakdown (resorption). Osteoblasts create a protein matrix mostly of collagen that provides the structure of mineralization for bone formation.
An imbalance in this breakdown and formation process can increase bone loss and the development of bone related illnesses. As we age, there are several illnesses that result from bone loss: osteoporosis, osteomyelitis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Bone density is a critical indicator of bone strength and resilience. It refers to the measure of mineral content in bones, specifically calcium, phosphorus and blood cell production made up of specialized cells and protein fibers.
During childhood and adolescence, bone density increases as the body accumulates minerals within the bones, ultimately reaching peak bone mass around the age of 30. High peak bone mass is associated with reduced risk of fractures later in life. Bone density can be influenced by factors such as genetics, diet, physical activity, and hormonal balance.
Bone loss, also referred to as osteoporosis, is a condition characterized by decreased bone density and increased bone fragility. This condition makes bones more susceptible to fractures, even from minor trauma. In a 2019 study, Impacts of Psychological Stress on Osteoporosis, psychological stress can occur in response to an acute event as in a fight-or-flight response, a traumatic event, or a stress that becomes chronic. Stress signaling is initiated through various hormonal pathways. If the stress or trauma becomes dysregulated, it triggers the inflammatory immune response. This all depends on the response of an individual’s coping skills, life history, severity, and duration of the stressor.
Osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent disease” because it progresses without causing noticeable symptoms until a fracture occurs. Common sites of fractures due to osteoporosis include the hips, spine and wrists.
Contributing factors to bone loss are:
Age: as people age, the rate of bone loss tends to increase. Postmenopausal women are particularly vulnerable due to hormonal changes that effect bone density.
Hormonal Changes: Estrogen plays a role in maintain bone density. After menopause when estrogen levels decrease bone loss accelerates.
Lifestyle Factors: Sedentary lifestyle and lack of weight bearing exercises can lead to decreased bone density. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and inadequate nutrition contribute to bone loss.
Medical Conditions: Certain medical onsditions such as hyperthyroidism, certain autoimmune diseases and trauma can affect bone density. Long term use of certain meditations, like corticosteroids can also lead to bone loss.
Genetics: Family history can influence risk of osteoporosis. If a parent or sibling has been diagnosed with osteoporosis there’s higher likelihood of developing it.
What types of prevention will treat bone loss?
Exercise, Stress Reduction, Nutrition and a good night sleep are fundamental for supporting your health span.
Exercise: Increasing your weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, resistance training (using bands and weights) or swimming in water, stimulate bone growth and maintain bone density. Exercise also helps to circulate calcium in the body.
Managing stress is a critical factor that affects every part of your life. As mentioned above in the study, Impacts of Psychological Stress on Osteoporosis, stress contributes to bone loss and sleep. Long-term stress depletes cortisol production and is associated with fatigue, apathy, hypoglycemia and other illnesses.
Nutrition: Increasing calcium-based foods and estrogen foods support stronger bones. Diversifying your dairy products with a mix of sheep, goat and cow dairy. Eating dark leafy greens daily and probiotic fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, (both from quality sources), tofu or tempeh, and kombucha, sauerkraut and fermented vegetables are essential for balancing your gut flora. See list of Estrogen foods.
If you decide to taking calcium supplements, include other vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, D3 and K2 to be absorbed and circulated throughout the body . Other minerals assisting are manganese, chromium, phosphorous and selenium. either way, include Vitamin D3 daily (3000-4000 gels daily), add collagen to your diet (1-2 tbsp a day) and B-complex to calm the mind and regulate oxidative stress. A daily probiotic is also beneficial.
Vegetables, beans nuts and seeds are natural sources of calcium. Other foods high in calcium are apricots, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, peas, and beans (pinto adzuki, soybeans (Non-GMO) nuts (almonds, brazil nuts and hazelnuts) and seeds, (sunflower and sesame) , dried figs, kale, salmon, sardines, spinach and tofu.
Sleep: It is important to have a regular sleep schedule (a regular rising time and bedtime) and to be active during the day. Spending time outside every day regulates the body clock and improves wakefulness and energy. Stay up until you become sleepy and bein bed only when you sleep. If you don’t feel refreshed from sleep; tend to doze off during the day; or feel exhausted all the time ask your doctor for a sleep assessment. (This could be sleep apnea)
Methods used to measure bone loss, also known as bone mineral density (BMD), and to diagnose conditions like osteoporosis is the DEXA method.
Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA): It involves a low-dose X-ray that measures the amount of mineral in specific bones, usually the spine, hips, or forearm. The results are reported as a T-score, which compares an individual’s BMD to that of a young, healthy adult of the same sex. A T-score of -1.0 or above is considered normal, while a T-score between -1.0 and -2.5 indicates low bone density (osteopenia), and a T-score of -2.5 or lower is indicative of osteoporosis.
There are other methods used to ensure bone density such as Qualitative Ultrasound (QUS) to assess fracture risk; Peripheral Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (pDXA) measures bone density in peripheral bones like the wrist, finger or heel or Quantitative Computed Tomography (QCT)is a specialized type of CT scan that can measure bone density in the spine and hip.
It is important to note that the choice of measurement method depends on factors such as the availability of equipment, the specific bones being assessed, and the individual’s medical history.
Regular monitoring of bone health can guide preventive measures and treatment options for osteoporosis and related conditions.
You can make tremendous headway for building your bone density with exercise and nutrition. Start there before beginning medications or in tandem with medications.
Upcoming Events and Weekly Sessions
SPECIAL SOMATIC MOVEMENT WORKSHOPS with Brian Siddhartha Ingle.
Restorative Eye Vision and Biodynamic Osteopathy workshop with the gifted somatic movement teacher Brian Siddhartha Ingle from India. The workshop is Saturday August 26th and Sunday August 27th at the 5Elements yoga Studio in Georgetown.
Friday August 25th workshop An Introduction to Somatic Movement, Kensington Market, 21 Nassau Street from 7 to 9 pm
The events are happening and its a pay what you can opportunity! See more details here.
EATING MINDFULLY TOGETHER on Monday, August 28th at 7pm
Topic: What does Satisfaction Feel Like When Ending Your Meal?
What are the body sensations that tell you when are satisfied and is it a signal or not to stop eating?
Join us for a virtual Eating Mindfully Together at 7pm. We chat, meditate, laugh, play, eat and discover how “being” can calm the mind and body from “doing” to better nourish your relationship with food.
Eating together is based on selections from FEED THE BRAIN: A mindful eating approach to nourishing the body, heart and mind.
Register for Eating Mindfully Together here.
Mindful Tuesdays at 7pm and Wake Up Wednesdays at 9am. Each week you are invited to join in and participate in gentle movement (qigong and somatic movement) and meditation. Click and Register on the days you wish to attend.
FYI, I will be away travelling from September 6th to October 3rd. I will be providing weekly videos and recordings. If you are interested, please continue to register on the dates you wish to attend and you will receive them.
I’m excited by the events I will be offering in the fall. I look forward to seeing you there. Any thoughts, questions or consultations, please contact me at email@example.com.
My best in health,