By Spomenka Bizic, ND
A disease of the bone where the body is either losing bone faster than it can make new bone, thus making it “porous” or not making enough bone. These causes can be either genetic, hormonal, dietary deficiencies, or related to medication use.
Am I at risk?
Your doctor will look at clinical signs and symptoms and use those to further assess your bone health. Fracture risk is calculated by doing a bone mineral density scan (DEXA) – if your doctor suspects you at risk they may decide it is time for you to have a DEXA scan. Some people may notice: bone pain, frequent falls or instability, decreased height or a “slouched” back.
The two most common risk factors are being female and over the age of 70. Estrogen (important female hormone) declines with age and especially in menopause. Decrease in estrogen is not only cause for some of the symptoms of menopause but also decreases bone resorption – meaning it causes bone loss, causing weaker, more porous bones.
Other causes or considerations are long-term medication use. Certain medications such as PPIs (acid-reflux medication) and steroids (used in auto-immune or anti-inflammatory conditions: Chrons/Collitis, bursitis, asthma, etc.) are associated with osteoporosis, especially when used for a long period of time. Lack of exercise, a diet that is not rich in necessary vitamins and minerals for bone and overall health are also contributors.
A more natural approach:
Diet should focus overall on more fruits and vegetables, less processed food and less sugar. That being said for osteoporosis you especially want to be eating foods that are rich in important nutrients for your bones. Some of my favourite go-to’s are:
-sardines – yes! Eat the bones. They are a great source of calcium as well as omega-3 fats
-green leafy vegetables: kale, chard, spinach, collard greens ( all high in vitamin K and calcium)
-pair calcium rich foods with vitamin-D rich foods and extra benefit with fats! (such as salmon with spinach)
-make bone broth or just have home-made soup with a bone-broth base
Overall diet should focus on whole foods versus processed foods with plenty of vegetables and fruits.
As a Naturopathic Doctor I will want to make sure that you’re not only getting the food you need but that you can absorb the important nutrients from your food. Proper digestion is just as important. We may consider your stomach acid, food pairing choices, and overall health of your gut.
Weight bearing exercise (lifting weights, yoga, or even walking up and down stairs) all strengthens your muscles which help the integrity of your joints and bones. This provides your body the stability and strength to keep bones strong, as well as prevent b one loss.
Even just walking daily, improves many health outcomes so you can start there!
If you do have osteoporosis or are at risk you may also consider supplementing under the supervision of your naturopathic doctor: calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K are all really important for bone health.
And as always – a note on mindfulness. Practicing some form of meditation daily or just creating a habit to notice your health and behavior can be life changing! It can promote better eating habits, being in tune with your body, and avoiding slips and falls. For osteoporosis mindfulness also means knowing your limitations: can you shovel the driveway safely this winter or should someone else do it? Making sure you salt or sand steps and driveways. Having a clear tidy space to walk around the house to prevent slips and falls.
Yours in health,
Dr. Spomenka Bizic Naturopathic Doctor