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Functional Approach to the Treatment of Osteoporosis

Written by

Deborah Freudenmann BHSc

We tend to take the strength of the bones for granted without realizing that bone is living tissue, which, just like any other tissue in our body, constantly undergoes degeneration and renewal. Bones have many functions including providing structural support for your body and vital organs.

Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease of the bones which can occur due to aging, inactivity, hormonal imbalances, certain medications, steroids, emotional stress, low vitamin D levels and nutritional deficiencies.

Here is a detailed discussion about what osteoporosis means, why it occurs, and the functional approach to the treatment of this condition.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disorder that occurs when the bones lose too much of their mass, making them weak and porous. It is linked to the loss of bone mineral density due to which the bones become prone to fractures after the slightest trauma, fall, or injury.

The risk of osteoporosis increases substantially after the age of 50 years in men and women. The risk is higher in women due to the hormonal changes occurring during and after menopause.

Let us have a closer look at the causes and risk factors of osteoporosis.

What are the causes and risk factors of osteoporosis?

Sedentary lifestyle

Unhealthy lifestyle habits may increase your risk of osteoporosis. For example; studies have shown that people who live a sedentary lifestyle and spend a lot of time sitting without much physical activity are more likely to develop osteoporosis than those who are active.

Hormone imbalances

Postmenopausal women are susceptible to develop osteoporosis due to the decline in the secretion of estrogens during and after menopause.
The menopausal transition period is marked by a sharp drop in the production of estrogen, a hormone that plays a critical role in regulating bone resorption and bone formation.
As a result, the bones become weaker leading to osteoporosis.

Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)

Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) binds with sex steroids naturally produced in the body such as testosterone, 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone, and 17beta-estradiol, thereby regulating their access and bioavailability to the target cells.
An increase in the levels of serum SHBG is associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis and multiple fractures. Hence, the determination of the SHBG levels is considered a useful biomarker for predicting the risk of osteoporosis.

Insulin Resistance, Blood Sugar, and Glycation

Reduced insulin sensitivity and abnormalities in the carbohydrate metabolism could make you prone to develop obesity and eventually, type 2 diabetes, both of which can trigger bone loss at a younger age when the bone mass should actually be at its peak.
This indicates the importance of preventing insulin resistance and maintaining normal blood sugar levels for reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Oxidation and inflammation

Oxidative stress and inflammation in the bones and joints may promote the expression of pro-inflammatory substances released by the immune cells such as cytokines thus inducing osteoporosis.

The role of nutrients

The deficiency of certain nutrients is commonly linked to the development of osteoporosis.
The deficiency of vitamin D, K and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus can also trigger bone loss by reducing calcium availability and affecting the bone formation processes.

We have been led to believe that drinking milk is the key to bone health, right? So many advertisements and campaigns surrounding “calcium” in milk and how it will help you avoid osteoporosis and fractures later in life. That couldn’t be further from the truth, in fact it’s a marketing propaganda.
Yes, calcium is a major building block of bone tissue. In fact, 99% of your body’s calcium stores are housed in your bones.
However, it is imperative to note that calcium deposition in the body works in tandem with other nutrients (specifically vitamin D, K and magnesium). As a matter of fact, most people don’t need much calcium and should focus on getting plenty of these other nutrients.

Management of osteoporosis

PEMF therapy

PEMF (Pulsed electromagnetic field) therapy has been found to be effective in the management of several disorders including osteoporosis.
The basic principle of this therapy is to expose the damaged tissues to electromagnetic pulses. These pulses can penetrate deeper through the layers of the skin and body tissues to the precise site of the disease manifestation.

The electromagnetic pulses possess biotrophic parameters that are specially developed and regulated to ensure healing with higher precision. The consistency of daily treatment and intensity of the pulse are what count. PEMF is considered a promising alternative to drug-based treatments for managing osteoporosis. Research studies have revealed that PEMF stimulation can minimize bone loss and even improve lipid metabolism thereby inhibiting processes that could accelerate the loss of bone density.

This suggests that PEMF therapy can lead to a long-term improvement in bone density thereby reducing the risk of fractures.
Studies have also shown that PEMF can improve the radius of the bones affected due to osteoporosis in women. This indicates the effectiveness of PEMF therapy in the management of osteoporosis in women through its ability to improve the total bone mass.
PEMF can also be used for treating the complications of osteoporosis such as fractures. It can support faster healing of the non-united broken bones and promote spine fusion healing by improving bone density.

It offers a non-invasive interventional approach that could be suitable even for aging men and women who have suffered a fracture in the hip or spine but can not undergo surgery due to a high risk of mortality and morbidity.

Nutritional supplements

Ensuring your body is not deprived of essential minerals needed to improve bone density is critical to preventing osteoporosis.

Men and women of all ages should consume foods rich in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, silica, zinc, and vitamins D, E, C, and K to improve bone health.

They may also consider using nutritional supplements to support bone formation processes.

You can also use curcumin supplements that have been shown to improve the markers of bone resorption and densitometry indices. It would produce an inhibitory effect on the development of osteoporosis and slow down the progression of this disease.

Resveratrol can improve the bone mineral density and femoral porosity in patients with osteoporosis. The use of resveratrol supplements is also linked to the reduced incidence of metabolic and lipid dysfunctions in patients with osteoporosis.

Nutritional supplements containing isoflavones, collagen, omega-3 fatty acids, boron, quercetin, and berberine can improve the benefits further by reducing inflammation, controlling oxidative stress, and increasing bone density.

Lifestyle interventions

Studies have revealed that smoking and alcohol intake can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Also, not getting enough sleep can accelerate degenerative changes and trigger the development of osteoporosis.

Hence, it is advisable to quit smoking and avoid alcohol intake. Also, making efforts to improve the quality of sleep can help to support bone formation and healing and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Stress also induces behaviors that may lead to osteoporosis such as distorted eating patterns, drinking alcohol, lack of exercise, and poor sleep habits. It is critical to take steps to reduce stress and lower elevated cortisol levels daily.

Staying physically active by performing simple exercises like walking and swimming are also considered healthy ways to avoid osteoporosis.

It is important to eat an anti-inflammatory, healing diet which is full of fresh whole foods and limited intake of processed foods. Enjoy a variety of colourful vegetables and fruits for their abundance in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Food’s rich in omegas help to reduce inflammation such as wild caught salmon, sardines and certain nuts. Sea vegetables and green leafy vegetables also contain vitamins and minerals that support bone strength and bone formation.

Conclusion

The functional approach to the management of osteoporosis is aimed at identifying the causes and risk factors and eliminating them to promote bone formation and improve bone density.
The strategies discussed above would improve bone strength, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and make your bones resistant to fractures.

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