Last week I found out that I have osteopenia. Having osteopenia means there is a greater risk that, with the passing of time, one may develop osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, is the loss of bone mineral density and thinning of bone tissue that causes bones to become more porous and prone to fracture. It is very common with one in five women over the age of fifty being diagnosed with osteoporosis and many more are expected to have it, but have yet to be diagnosed. Most people simply don’t check their bone density until they have reached a ripe age as there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. It is also becoming increasingly common among men, but there is very little awareness of this.
Osteoporosis related fractures, especially of the hip and spine, are a leading cause of disability amongst seniors.
What is going on here? How could I have osteopenia? I have not reached the menopause yet, I have been weight training for many years (I’m much stronger than I was in my 20s!), I have been eating a clean diet and I have religiously been supplementing with Vitamins D3 and K2 (more on which below). I thought that I had nailed it.
We often picture our bones as solid and unchanging, but in actual fact our bones are just as dynamic as any other part of our body. The amount of skeletal bone mass increases until approximately thirty years of age. Typically women often experience a rapid loss of bone tissue in the first few years after menopause due to a decrease in oestrogen (oestrogen has a bone protective effect). Osteoporosis occurs when there is an imbalance between new bone formation and old bone resorption. Either the body is not producing enough new bone or too much old bone may be resorbed or both.
Osteoporosis is ultimately a product of how much peak bone mass you can accumulate by age 20 and how much of it you can keep later in life, particularly after menopause for females.
Osteoporosis is sometimes referred to a disease of the young manifested in the old. It takes time for someone to lose bone density, and if optimal bone density isn’t acquired at an early age, then the chance of developing bone fragility in later years is high.
This is where I believe things went wrong for me. I spent many of my childhood years fighting infections on multiple courses of antibiotics as a result of mould exposure. My peak bone density in my twenties was likely not optimal.
So, what causes osteoporosis?
We’ve long been lead to believe that the key to strong bones lies in adequate intake of calcium. In actual fact our diet is likely to be providing us with more than adequate amounts of calcium, it’s just not going to the right place - your bones. Worse still, it might be ending up in your arteries resulting in heart disease. In order to bring calcium to the right place, our bones, we need Vitamins D3 and K2.
Insufficient amounts of Vitamins D3 and K2 play an important role.
We are spending the majority of our days indoors and we have for decades been told to avoid the harmful UV rays of the sun. If we do spend time in the sun, we slap on sunscreen. This translates to chronically low levels of Vitamin D3 even during the summer months. Vitamin D3 plays a very important role in so many bodily functions, one of which being bone health.
Vitamin D3 cannot improve bone health on its own. It needs Vitamin K2, another vitamin that we are typically not getting enough of. Why? Once upon a time it was abundant in our diets. The answer lies in the modernisation of our food production. Vitamin K2 comes in two forms - MK4 (MK stands for menaquinone) and MK7.
MK4 can be found in meat, eggs and dairy products with the caveat that the animals the produce comes from must be pastured (grass fed) as the amount of chlorophyl the animal consumes dictates the amount of MK4 found in the produce (the chlorophyl contains Vitamin K1 which when consumed by the animal is converted into Vitamin K2). The combination of us eating meat and animal derived produce (eggs and dairy) from animals that have been given the wrong diet (grain and not grass), we have also for decades been told to avoid saturated fats and cholesterol. This has made our MK4 intake very low.
MK7 can be found in fermented foods, such as fermented cheeses, sauerkraut, and fermented soy products. The Japanese fermented soy product called natto has the highest level of MK7 available in any food source. In the areas where natto is consumed (eastern Japan, including Tokyo), there are much lower levels of hip fractures than in the rest of the country. They are also renowned for having beautiful skin!
Chronic low-level inflammation is also a possible cause of osteoporosis. Research has established the fact that inflammatory markers in the blood are related to bone loss and broken bones in both women and men.
Cytokines are proteins involved in multiple functions throughout the body. They stimulate or inhibit several biochemical interactions that affect the process of bone remodelling and also aid cell to cell communication in immune responses, stimulating the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation. No matter the origin of the inflammatory response: gut issues, oxidative stress, high blood sugar, the immune system’s response is to flood the body with “pro-inflammatory” cytokines that add to the total inflammatory response. They are the reason for the close relationship between our immune system and our bone health.
So, it appears that the reason why we are seeing osteopenia and osteoporosis rising to epidemic levels, also in younger people, is the same as with so many other chronic conditions that are on the increase. Modern lifestyle! A diet high in sugar and refined carbs, unnatural fats like margarine and highly processed vegetable oils, environmental toxins, chronic stress, disrupted sleep/wake cycles due to late night eating and exposure to unnatural lighting as well as sleep not being prioritised in our Western culture.
This is where the exciting part begins! We live in the best of times, where we can harness the fantastic developments that science and technology brings us. All we need to do is embrace it wholeheartedly and optimum health will ensue.
Pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceuticals are not the answer. At best they can slow the progression of osteoporosis with only a potential slight increase in bone density possible for some. Side effects include risks of abnormal bone fractures and dissolving of the jaw.
Osteostrong. Osteostrong is a US business, with the ambitious but very sincere goal of putting an end to osteoporosis. This can be achieved by using equipment that provides osteogenic loading to the skeletal system. Having made solid inroads across the US, Osteostrong is now looking to rapidly roll out its franchises in Europe and the rest of the world.
Research shows that the stimulus required to trigger osteogenesis (growth of healthy bone tissue) is 4.2 multiples of body weight. Achieving this level of stimulus would be difficult for most people to achieve safely. Dr. John Jaquish, Ph.D, chief science advisor for Osteostrong, invented a device the purpose of which is to trigger the effects of high impact loading without risk of injury. The four osteogenic loading devices called Spectrum, each addressing different parts of the skeleton, allow users to apply forces in excess of four to twelve times their own body weight safely and without injury or pain! The scientific research shows these results are attainable for people of all ages and fitness levels, even the most frail. Users only need to experience brief levels of force to get the benefits. The entire circuit only takes seven minutes to complete and should be done no more than once per week.
Also, apart from the Spectrum system currently looking like the most advanced and effective cure for osteoporosis, any athlete of any age can receive a vast range of performance enhancing benefits from it. When you increase your skeletal strength, it dramatically impacts your total strength output.
Cool stuff! Watch this space as Osteostrong will be coming to London and the rest of the UK in the near future.
Diet and Lifestyle. The above solution is only as good as the raw materials that you put into your body. If you view food as information, then it becomes evident that you need good quality, real, wholesome food to communicate the right messages to your body. The modern Western diet is sending the wrong messages to our bodies. This is why we are succumbing to chronic illness like never before. Add chronic stress, exposure to environmental toxins and unnatural light as well as bad sleep to the mix, and it doesn’t bode well. Sort yourself out!
Osteoporosis is rising to epidemic levels. To reduce this negative trend, we must all begin to address our bone health at an earlier age. Unlike some other diseases, osteoporosis is chronic and slow moving, and there is time to improve your bone density though natural means.
Please get in touch if you have any questions about bone health!