by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
One factor that’s often overlooked in the prevention of osteoporosis is reducing chronic inflammation. It’s important to take a look at this, because inflammation can interfere with your own body’s natural ability to repair bone mass. Over time, this leads to brittle bones that are common in osteoporosis. You have several choices to help you limit the damage caused by chronic inflammation. Let’s look at them together.
A closer look at your bone health
Let’s look at some of the small changes you can make in your lifestyle and dietary habits to help maintain your bone health. Whether you are concerned about maintaining bone health, or you’ve already been told you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, it’s always a good idea to take good care of yourself. Symptoms of an inflammatory condition, including osteoporosis, can be managed in safe and natural ways which are effective. Changes you make today help shape your future!
1. Nurture healthy bacteria. Your gastrointestinal system is the source of nutrition for your cells daily functioning. If your cells are having trouble absorbing nutrients from the foods you take in, you are at risk for inflammation and osteoporosis.
Part of the problem we often have with absorption starts because we don’t have enough of the “good” bacteria that helps in digesting food and absorbing nutrients. This necessary bacterium also helps us to fight off substances like systemic yeast. Some steps you can take to help keep maintain good levels of gut flora are:
- Get plenty of fiber in your diet. Friendly bacteria love fiber.
- Add foods to your diet like yogurt, kefir, kimchee and sauerkraut. These are “living” foods.
- Try to gradually decrease your intake of red meat.
- Try taking a probiotic supplement on a regular basis if you have digestive troubles. This can help restore the natural bacteria in your GI system.
2. Pursue a high-alkaline, anti-inflammatory diet. An anti-inflammatory diet has a lot in common with an alkalizing diet that supports bone health. Consider these suggestions:
- Try adding extra servings of alkalizing fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and high-quality fats to your daily diet.
- Try cooking foods slowly or simmering, instead of frying. Foods retain more nutrients when they are cooked slowly; deep-fried foods are more difficult for our bodies to digest.
- Try to avoid red meat and processed foods. Other things to limit in your diet are refined sugars and grains as these often contain high amounts of additives, artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives.
3. Take gluten off your menu. Research has shown a direct link between gluten reactivity and bone health. Whether you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or just have a mild intolerance to gluten, it sets off an inflammatory process which places your bone health at risk.
It’s much easier to implement a gluten-free diet now that there is such a wide variety of a food available. Many stores have whole sections dedicated to gluten-free foods. There is an extra benefit in eating gluten-free: since many foods which contain gluten are acid-forming, removing these will naturally lead you in the direction of a more alkaline dense diet.
4. Detoxify. Sometimes we don’t realize a certain food is making us feel sick until we eliminate it. Food sensitivities and allergies place our bone health at risk by stimulating the body’s inflammatory process. To help identify foods you may be sensitive to, experiment by removing a suspected substance from your diet for two weeks. Then reintroduce it and see how you feel.
5. Add omega-3′s to your diet. I really can’t overstate the importance of these fatty acids. They stop inflammation and reduce the risk of complications in many areas of our health, including our bone health.
Foods which are especially rich in omega-3′s include wild-caught Pacific salmon, mackerel, flax seed and walnuts. It’s easy to include these in your diet and reduce inflammation. You may also want to think about supplementing with an omega-3 supplement.
6. Vitamin D. Nature provides us with Vitamin D through sunlight, but not everyone spends enough time in the sun. It’s been estimated that up to a billion of the world’s population is Vitamin D deficient!
Vitamin D is important, not just for bone health. Low levels of this important vitamin have been linked to diabetes, increased risks of cancer and to heart disease. All of these diseases have a component of inflammation.
Vitamin D is important in helping our bodies absorb calcium and also aides in the removal of old bone tissue. At Women to Women we recommend 2,000 IU of supplemental Vitamin D3 daily to ensure your health.
7. Vitamin K. Vitamin K has been somewhat of a mystery until recently. Now we have discovered that there is a whole family of these K vitamins. We know that they help limit the loss of calcium from the kidneys, and help to retain several of the proteins needed for bone production. Certain plant foods contain vitamin K1, and some traditional fermented foods contain vitamin K2 (sauerkraut, natto and kimchee). Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin K in our diet.
8. Magnesium (Mg). Research has shown low magnesium levels to be associated with decreased bone mass, which leads to brittle bones. Foods to include in your diet which are high in magnesium include spinach, almonds, avocados and soy. Taking a good multivitamin with minerals, including magnesium is also a good idea.
It’s good to know there are steps you can take now to help support your bones. You don’t have to let inflammation disrupt your body’s natural balance as it processes healthy bone tissue. You can calm inflammation and feel healthy and whole today and in the future.