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Osteoporosis and bone health, part 1 Deborah Miller.  18/09/18

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Osteoporosis can take up to 30 years to develop.  Bone Mineral Density scans are usually done later in life and often there is advanced osteoporosis or osteopenia by that stage, so we need to know decades earlier if we are at risk of developing osteoporosis and put measures in place to prevent and reduce the risks that occur later in life.

Osteoporosis as defined by Dorlands Illustrated Medical Dictionary, edition 28, 1988 is 


 'Osteoporosis is the reduction in the amount of bone mass leading to fractures after minimal trauma' .

Osteopenia as defined by Miller and Keane, Encycolpedia of Medicine, Nursing & Allied Health, 5th edition, 1972

'Ostepenia is reduced bone mass due to a decrease in the rate of osteoid synthesis to a level insufficient to compensate for normal bone lysis.'  Meaning, that the rate of bone formation/remineralisation does not match the breaking down of bone.

In Western society we tend to have more of an acidic diet and lifestyle rather than alkaline which contributes to loss of bone and chronic disease.

The body is continually creating an acid/base (alkaline) balance as the arterial blood supply needs to have a pH between 7.35 and 7.45 at all times.  A blood pH above 7.8 is fatal.   Minor deviations from this range can cause life threatening problems and can severely affect the health of the brain, heart, muscles, arteries and more.

As the blood needs to have a pH of between 7.35 and 7.45 so we can stay alive it will take minerals from the bones to keep the pH of the blood between those reference ranges.

What causes acidity in the body that requires buffering substances to be released from in and around the bone to neutralise excess acid components ?

  • Animal protein, all meats and fish

  • Dairy foods, particularly cheese as it is a highly acidic food

  • Anorexia/eating disorders

  • Gut health issues leading to malabsorption of minerals and vitamins 

  • Low levels of Vitamin D

  • Leaky gut and inflammation

  • Consumption of soft drinks/soda/carbonated water

  • Processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, lollies, sugar

  • Smoking

  • Excessive exercise

  • Pharmaceutical medications

  • Chronic health issues e.g autoimmune illnesses

One of the first things you can do to help reduce the acid burden on your body is to minimise your intake of animal protein and increase your fruit and vegetable intake.  Fruit and vegetables are alkaline and will help to buffer and reduce the acid in your system.  Drinking vegetable juices are a fantastic way to get lots of veggies into your diet easily.  Smoothies would be fine too, just leave out any dairy milk and replace with a little almond, macadamia, or coconut milk if you need to, otherwise just use water.

If you eat meat try and reduce it to once a day, add lots of vegetables and fruit to your plate, don't make the meat the main event.

I have included a link here to a PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load)  food list indicating what foods are alkaline forming and which are acid forming.  The alkaline forming foods are on the green list and have negative values against their numbers and the acidic forming foods are on the orange list.  Click here to view the PRAL list.

In my continuing article next time I will discuss:

  • What food, supplements and herbs to incorporate for bone health 

  • What tests that can be done to identify bone loss 

  • Blood markers that can give  information in relation to bone turnover and acid levels

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