Are You At Risk For Osteoporosis?

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

As many as 54 million Americans have low bone density, and many of them don’t even know it. Ten million Americans have such low bone density they actually have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. Advanced osteoporosis usually presents with symptoms such as bone pain, backache, curvature of the upper spine presenting as a hump, and loss of height from vertebral compression fractures. 

However, osteopenia (characterized by low bone mineral density that is not extreme enough to be called osteoporosis) and early-to-middle stages of osteoporosis are silent diseases that have no symptoms. A diagnosis of osteopenia or osteoporosis is often found accidentally, such as when a bone is being x-rayed to determine the existence of a fracture. Typically, when low bone mass shows up on an x-ray, as much as one-third of the person’s bone mass has already been lost.

You could be at risk for low bone density and osteoporosis if you:

  • Are a woman – especially if you’ve had a hysterectomy or are postmenopausal
  • Are over 50 years old
  • Have an inactive lifestyle
  • Have amenorrhea because of extreme exercise
  • Have a history of an eating disorder or under-eating for many years
  • Are a heavy user of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, sugar or carbonated beverages
  • Have a chronic health disorder such as diabetes, malabsorption condition, celiac disease, or hyperthyroidism
  • Are small-boned and consistently below normal weight for someone your size
  • Are, or have a history of, taking certain prescription medications long-term, such as steroids (cortisone and prednisone), certain birth controls and anticonvulsants
  • Have a history of cancer treatments, including chemotherapy or radiation
  • Are deficient in certain key nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium
  • Have a low level of testosterone – even if you are a woman
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis, fractures or bone disorders

The only way to truly detect the bone loss associated with osteopenia is with a bone scan – most commonly a low-radiation DEXA scan (Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) of the hip and spine. A bone scan can detect even small changes in a person’s bone density.

Our bodies are constantly making new bone, however, as we age, we tend to start losing more bone than we create. The good news is, it’s never too late to focus on bone health. Here are a few simple ways you can help increase your bone density naturally:

ExerciseExercise, especially “weight-bearing” types, is needed to keep muscles strong, sustain skeletal strength and help maintain bone density. Weight-bearing exercises include any type of exercise that forces you to work against gravity.  Weight-bearing exercises require your bones and muscles to support your body weight, while also enhancing coordination and balance. (Coordination and balance are important for preventing the slips, falls and accidents that wind up causing a serious fracture or injury.) Examples of weight-bearing activities include walking, dancing, yoga, skiing, tennis, body weight exercises using resistance bands/cables, or even lifting soup cans. Aim to do weight-bearing exercises at least 3 to 4 times per week for 30-60 minutes in duration.

Eat a Bone-Healthy Diet – Focus on eating bone-healthy foods that are high in vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium. Incorporate a variety of green leafy vegetables like kale, bok choy, broccoli, and cabbage. (Spinach should be avoided as a source of calcium, because it is high in oxalates that bind calcium.) Fish, such as sardines with small, edible bones, are an excellent source of calcium and oily fish, especially wild-caught salmon, are a good source of vitamin D. Other great sources of magnesium and calcium include: almonds, sesame seeds/sesame butter, beans and legumes, avocadoes, and dark chocolate.

Keep in mind that while eating foods high in vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium and magnesium is encouraged, it can be difficult to get the ideal amounts from your diet alone. This is primarily because the amounts of these nutrients in foods can vary widely. For example, a study of the vitamin D content of salmon found an average of only 240 IU of Vitamin D3 in farmed salmon compared to an average of 988 IU vitamin D3 in 3.5 ounces of wild-caught salmon. 

Optimize Vitamin D Levels – Vitamin D helps the body improve calcium absorption. Spending most of your time indoors and avoiding the sun may mean that your body isn’t making the vitamin D it needs to help maintain bone mass.

It is best to obtain Vitamin D naturally by exposing your bare skin to sunlight for about 15-20 minutes every day.

If you are at high risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about having a bone density test (DEXA) and check your vitamin D levels. No matter the current state of your bone health, incorporating these simple tips today can help you prevent fractures or complications in the future.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Apples

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Red_Apples“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – it’s a saying we have all heard at some point in our lives.  Caroline Taggart, author of An Apple a Day: Old-Fashioned Proverbs and Why They Still Work, says this saying came from Wales in the 1860s. The original verbiage was, “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”

So, does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? A JAMA Internal Medicine study sought to find out just that. The result? Evidence does not support that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Data showed only 39% of apple eaters avoided physician visits versus 33% of non-apple eaters. But don’t let a lack of firm scientific evidence cause you to completely overlook the humble apple. Turns out this American favorite actually boasts many health benefits.

Apples contain a large number of phytochemicals including quercetin, which is a flavonoid. Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant chemicals found in almost all fruits and vegetables and are what give flowers and fruits their bright colors. Flavonoids provide many health benefits such as antioxidants, which help to protect against cancer, and other anti-inflammatory agents. Quercetin flavonoids are thought to protect against “bad,” LDL cholesterol and could help to lower blood pressure.

Dr. Alyssa Picking ApplesAdditionally, results of a study published by the Journal of Food Science, suggest that fresh apples, bananas and oranges in our daily diet, along with other fruits, may protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

When I conduct nutritional consultations, one of the topics I always discuss is gut health.  As it turns out, apples have a place in that discussion. Apples provide pectin, a soluble fiber that is also a prebiotic. A prebiotic is a non-digestible dietary nutrient, which beneficially influences intestinal bacteria by stimulating their growth. These “friendly” bacteria fight inflammation and prevent a host of digestive problems. In essence, apples provide your gut bacteria the food they need to do their job.

Within the last year, half a dozen studies have touted the benefits of apple peels.  One study in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found the peels of organic Gala apples, “showed a significant decrease in growth and survival of human prostate carcinoma and breast carcinoma.” The study concludes, “Apple peels may possess strong anti-proliferative effects against cancer cells, and [they] should not be discarded from the diet.”

Red AppleApple peels have the highest concentration of nutrients, so keep the peel on. But, when eating the peel, remember that organic is the best choice.  The Environmental Working Group has listed apples on its annual “Dirty Dozen” list for the last several years. Moreover, while it might be easier to “drink” your apples in the form of fruit juice, you may be better off sticking with the whole fruit. A study in the British Medical Journal found juice drinkers were at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, while those who consumed three servings per week of whole apples, blueberries, grapes, raisins or pears reduced their type 2 diabetes risk by 7%.

Healthy to the core, but that’s where it stops. Why? Well, inside the core of an apple lies its reproductive component — the seed, or pip — which can release cyanide, a powerful poison, when it comes into contact with your digestive enzymes. Not to worry too much though. One or two of these seeds will not be harmful to an adult, but if a child swallows a large number of seeds you should seek medical attention immediately.

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.