The quality of our bones has been a subject of concern for several decades now. Our focus seems to always be on bone density. What seems to be ignored is bone quality. I like to compare it to a stick: a green stick is flexible and gives when it is bent and bounces back more easily. This is healthy bone; quality bone. A brown, dried up stick when bent will snap. It takes much less force to break it than does a green one. This is unhealthy bone – osteoporosis, or bone which has been forced to be unnaturally more dense (via drugs).
There are elements within our control that either support or deteriorate healthy bone development. Bone is dynamic – it is living tissue that is constantly being broken down, or rebuilt. Old bone gets brittle, so as a result, the body, in its innate intelligence, knows it better be removed. When it discards bone, some of it is broken down and combined with other elements and reused, while other parts are discarded forever.
Bone is more than just the framework for our human body. It stores nutrients that are critical for the nourishment of the body, such as minerals and fats. It also helps protect the body against infection – it is part of our immune system. Bones protect our vital organs from damage and help us move, it produces red and white blood cells in the red marrow and the yellow marrow serves as energy reservoirs. Bones conduct vibrations responsible for hearing, provides storage for growth factors, and produces hormones that control fat deposition and blood sugar. Bones are pretty important!
As a result, it is vital that we take good care of our bones. There are many nutrients important for bone health: calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are the most commonly referred to, but we also need trace minerals such as silica, chromium, strontium, potassium, vanadium, zinc, manganese, copper and boron. Vitamins A, B6, B12, Folate, C, D and K1 & K2, protein and essential fatty acids are also needed. However, the right types, and the right amounts are crucial. Eating high quality nutritious foods are an essential component of developing healthy bones.
Likewise, at the opposite end of the spectrum, we have to protect our bones from excess loss of these vital nutrients. Sugar can inhibit calcium absorption and cause loss of calcium reserves and depletes phosphorus and other minerals as well. Soda is considered one of the most bone-devastating things we can consume. In addition to sugar, phosphoric acid (which gives sodas their fizz) depletes mineral reserves, as does the caffeine. Caffeine leaches calcium from bones, making them weaker. Excess alcohol consumption decreases bone formation and depletes Vitamin B levels necessary for bone health. Phytates, found in grains and legumes, can inhibit calcium absorption (soaking them before cooking them helps). Certain inflammatory foods such as tomatoes, white potatoes and peppers can cause inflammation of the bones.
©2016 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.