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Dr Kathleen Hartford

Dr Kathleen Hartford

HOW TO ACTUALLY IMPROVE BONE DENSITY (HINT: IT’S NOT CALCIUM)

Those who know me might be shocked to hear me say that I completely agree with the newest study stating that Calcium from supplements or dairy does not strengthen bones.

As a licensed Chiropractor and Integrated Wellness Practitioner, I will be the first one to tell you NEVER take a calcium supplement and unless you are a baby cow DO NOT drink milk! I’m going to tell you the ONLY way you can maintain a healthy bone density no matter your age!

There is typically an age-related decline in bone mineral density that leaves older adults with weakened bones and at risk of disability and life-threatening complications. I say “typically” because it seems to be related to a sedentary lifestyle that no longer includes weight-loading the spine during purposeful exercise.

The later stages of bone mineral loss are called “osteoporosis.” Osteoporosis is accelerated in menopausal women, but contrary to popular belief, it affects men, too. Peak bone density is reached between the ages of 28 and 35 in men and women; studies show that, thereafter, bone mineral density typically declines by one percent each year.

This condition is beginning at an earlier age in current generations of children, due to lifestyle habits that create acidity and inflammation in the body. The acid/alkaline balance in your bloodstream is critical in maintaining healthy bones. What makes this a challenging area for teens and young adults is their excessive consumption of carbonated soft drinks and sugary so-called energy drinks.
If you are eating mostly an inflammatory “acid ash” diet, your body will leach calcium from your bones to neutralize the acidity. “Acidic” in this context doesn’t refer to the pH of the food (such as oranges), but rather the pH of the “ash,” which is the substance left when food is metabolized by the body. “Acid ash” foods are meats, processed carbohydrates, soft drinks and sweets. By contrast, fruits and vegetables are alkaline foods (refer to the Acid and Alkaline Food Index in my program Fit Fun & Fabulous At Any Age). When you start to push the level toward an acidic pH, the body will respond by releasing a very effective buffer; unfortunately, that buffer is calcium from your bones. When this buffering process goes on for years, it diminishes the density of the bone, leaving you osteopenic and ultimately osteoporotic.

Something called Wolff’s Law is also at play here. It states: “If the loading on a bone decreases, the bone will become weaker due to turnover. [Remember, you create a new skeleton every 11 months.] It is less metabolically costly to maintain and there is no stimulus for continued remodeling that is required to maintain bone mass.” In other words, what you don’t use, you lose. So, to maintain healthy bone density, eat an alkaline plant-based diet and do weight resistant exercise. 

Osteoporosis is not determined by age or menopause but rather is preventable through diet, exercise and stress management (stress is horribly acidifying for your body). Without weight resistance exercise and an alkaline plant-based diet, however, postmenopausal women are more at risk. After menopause, typical bone loss increases two to three percent per year; for some, it can be as high as 15 percent. And now we come to the reason I agree with this study:

The worst thing that women can do is to follow a doctor’s advice to take calcium supplements alone. Calcium alone does not enhance bone growth; in fact, when taken on its own, it will create a magnesium deficiency, leaving a woman constipated, depressed and with deeply sore muscles.This targeted nutrient component must include adequate levels of associated bone building nutrients including but not limited to Magnesium, Vitamin K, Vitamin D and a whole host of minerals, not just calcium. (Refer to Chapter 10 of Fit Fun & Fabulous At Any Age for more on targeted nutrients.)

It may shock you to learn that your rate of bone loss increases 50-fold during prolonged bed rest. Research shows that two weeks of bed rest can cause as much bone loss as one full year of aging!Once again, as with the previous biomarkers, the very best prescription for the prevention and treatment of bone loss is supportive nutrition and proper exercise, particularly in the form of weight-resistant exercise. Wolff’s Law states that bone matrix (new bone) is deposited in the bone in direct proportion to the amount of stress placed on the bone. If we are not stressing the bone with purposeful movement and weight resistance, the body no longer sees a need to strengthen its skeletal structure. It is important to monitor this before you become osteoporitic.

As with most biomarkers, there is a simple test, which many alternative health care practitioners utilize, to assess whether you are losing significant bone density. It involves an analysis of your urine to determine the levels of byproducts of bone breakdown; when elevated, these byproducts can signal an accelerated loss of bone. Corrective measures can then be initiated and a retest done several weeks later to ensure resolution of the condition.

Related: Fit, Fun & Fabulous At Any Age program

If you want more support for your bone density, call our office 1-800-893-5000 as supplementation is based on their individual need. We can help you if you are Premenopausal/Postmenopausal, already diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis or looking for basic prevention and support.

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