By Jayashree Mani, MS, CCN
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. Bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from minor bumps or simply sneezing. In contrast to healthy bone, which looks like a honeycomb under a microscope, osteoporotic bone contains large holes and spaces as well as abnormal tissue structure. In fact, the word “osteoporosis” is defined as “porous bone.”
Osteoporosis is frequently called “The Silent Killer” because it itself has no symptoms and most folks are quite unaware of their bone loss until they experience a fracture.
So, what causes Osteoporosis?
At a higher macro level, important predictors of bone and body health include gender, age, race, activity level, diet, estrogen/testosterone status, and lifestyle choices. Steroid medication use, smoking, toxin exposures and even the quality of an individual’s emotional relationships can affect bone health.
At the molecular level, osteoporosis can develop as a result of the following:
- Chronic Metabolic Acidosis
- Oxidative Stress (unmet antioxidant needs)
- Neurohormone Imbalance
Let’s examine these three items a bit more closely.
Chronic Metabolic Acidosis
Bone is so sensitive to even small changes in pH that if the pH dips by even 1/10th, vital bone functions can get affected. These pH changes can cause:
- Stimulation of excessive osteoclastic activity (breaking down bone; when at healthy levels. this activity is used for bone renewal and recycling worn-out bone),
- Inhibition of osteoblastic action (new bone-formation), and
- Induction of a multifold bone mineral loss.
The best way to keep this in check is to know your pH level. First morning urine pH assessment provides a good indication of overall cellular/ tissue pH and of overnight Net Acid Excess (NAE). The use of paper pH strips can be useful in the absence of longer (more invasive) urine collections such as the 24º urine collection method using oil and thymol (gold standard in measuring NAE and pH). While inexpensive, this convenient self-test also measures mineral reserve status, particularly magnesium and potassium that contribute to acid/alkaline balance.
Oxidative stress is the result of an imbalance between production and accumulation of free radicals (or oxygen reactive species (ROS)) in cells and the ability of the body to detoxify these reactive products, resulting in cell and tissue damage. Oxidative stress alters the bone remodeling process, causing an imbalance between osteoclast and osteoblast activity. This can lead to osteoporosis characterized by low bone mineral density and decreased bone mass. Bone becomes weak and more prone to fractures. Antioxidants, either directly or by counteracting the action of oxidants, contribute to activate the differentiation of osteoblasts, mineralization process and the reduction of osteoclast activity. To increase antioxidant reserves and to provide a self-assessment of oxidative stress, Dr. Jaffe recommends a C Cleanse self-assessment. He often refers to ascorbate as the “mother antioxidant,” so if nothing else, performing a C cleanse can help assess antioxidant need.
Stress hormone (cortisol / DHEA) and neurochemical (epinephrine/ serotonin) balance.
Overstimulated and under-functioning or exhausted hormonal systems (adrenals, thyroid, pancreas, and ovaries/testes) are all too common in high tech societies. Neurohormonal balance, known as “eustress,” enables bone renewal. In contrast “distress,” i.e., neurohormonal imbalance, downregulates bone renewal. Elevated cortisol levels interfere with osteoblast formation and dramatically decrease bone building, so those with chronically elevated cortisol levels may be at increased risk for osteoporosis. Similarly, estrogen regulates bone remodeling, and with bone being a “target organ” for the thyroid hormone, irregularities in thyroid hormone balance are reflected in bone integrity. Neurochemicals are not far behind — brain serotonin acts via the hypothalamus and influences bone growth. In states of depression and chronic stress, higher bone norepinephrine levels have been associated with bone loss.
Take action against Osteoporosis
- Maintain a healthy first morning urine pH – between 6.5 and 7.5.
- Select alkalinizing foods from the Acid/Alkaline chart
- Choose magnesium with choline citrate supplements. When magnesium reserves are depleted, cells have less energy and “cell energy fatigue” develops.
- Measure and inflammation (hsCRP) and oxidative stress (8-OHgG) through Predictive Biomarker testing. hsCRP is a predictive biomarker for inflammation, also known as repair deficit. The musculoskeletal system is especially vulnerable to inflammation, which is connected to increased oxidative stress and higher levels of hsCRP are associated with increased fracture risk. Flavonoids like quercetin dihydrate and oligomeric proanthocyanidins found in PERQUE Repair Guard™ can help fill the antioxidant requirement naturally.
- Immune hypersensitivity pulls minerals from bones and impairs immune repair responses when tolerance is lost. Substances that trigger immune reactions, to which tolerance has been lost, can be identified by key Lymphocyte Response Assays (LRA by by ELISA/ACT®) and substitution for immune reactive items in the diet can decrease cumulative repair deficits and achieve better results.
Get adequate exercise, sleep and relaxation for bone health
- Even one hour of walking per day is helpful; movement builds bone.
- Be sure to get adequate rest; restorative sleep rebuilds bone.
- Reverse learned patterns of distress (sympathetic hyperactivity) by practicing eustress relaxation responses and mindfulness practices such as tai chi, yoga, walking and other low-impact aerobic exercises, and weight-bearing exercises.
- Consider adding PERQUE Sleep Guard™, which contains tryptophan with vitamin B6 and riboflavin, for adequate serotonin and melatonin production.
- Evaluate stress hormones like Cortisol and DHEA through saliva to ensure daily hormonal rhythms are in balance
Water and Hydration
- Daily intake of four quarts of water is essential for bone health. Sufficient fluids flush water-soluble toxins from all sources out through urine, sweat and stool. Without hydration the trapped toxins further build up in already fatigued cells and do not allow the uptake of magnesium because of the energy required in the uptake process.
Take a deeper dive into Bone Health, with Dr. Jaffe’s new book with Dr. Susan Brown, “Natural Bone Health: A Practitioner’s Guide to Healthy Bone, Joints, and Muscles,” launching September 15th. Preorder your copy today!