HEALTHY BONES OR HOLEY BONES?
The Choice Is Yours
By Dr. Nancy Appleton
Did you know that more people are getting osteoporosis per 100,000 people in the United States. Osteoporosis is continuing to increase although for the last 10 years we have increased our calcium intake through supplements. The average person believes that taking a sufficient amount of calcium and other nutrients from food or supplements and exercising will prevent osteoporosis. This is an unfortunate error because you might be taking all the calcium you need and exercising and still getting osteoporosis. There are items that we eat, some that even have calcium in them, that pull the calcium out of the bones. It does not matter how much calcium you take or how much exercise you do if you are continuing to leach the calcium from the bones.
If taking sufficient calcium is not the answer, then how can we keep from getting osteoporosis? First, we must realize that we create our own osteoporosis by what we eat, say, think and feel. Yes, some of us are more prone than others to osteoporosis due to small bones, short stature, and light complexion, but none of us need develop this disease, none.
The answer to not getting osteoporosis lies in balanced body chemistry. A balanced body is a body in homeostasis. When the body is in homeostasis, the pH (acid/alkaline) balance is correct, the minerals are balanced with each other, the endocrine glands secrete the right amount of hormones into the bloodstream and all the other elements that make up the body's internal chemistry are in perfect balance with each other.
This state of balance encourages proper performance of those internal functions necessary for growth, healing, and life itself. These include the regulation of mineral ratios, the production of enzymes and the total digestive process.
With an upset body chemistry, the pH becomes either too acidic or too alkaline; the mineral relationship becomes upset, (each mineral can become deficient or toxic), and the endocrine glands secrete too much (or not enough) of their hormones into the blood stream. The body no longer hums, but honks, now and then, with symptoms such as fatigue, allergies, joint pains, headaches, hypertension, yeast infections, boils, cancer sores, low blood sugar, pneumonia, and general malaise.
Only while the body chemistry is properly adjusted can the body work efficiently, so the body has many organs and glands designed to sustain homeostasis. The endocrine glands, such as the thyroid, adrenal, pancreas and pituitary, play a large role in maintaining homeostasis because they secrete hormones into the bloodstream that help the blood stay in homeostasis.
Our biochemical pathways and biological processes have evolved over thousands of years, yet our biochemistry is essentially the same as it was many years ago. The lifestyle of earlier days set the precedent for how much of any given mineral was needed to preserve homeostasis and how much change the pH system was geared to handle. Primitive man did not have access to the refined, and overcooked foods that modern man does, foods that are difficult to digest and that overload the metabolic pathways.
Today, the average person eats, thinks and lives in such a way that the metabolic pathways become exhausted. Usually, the blood then becomes acidic. The blood does not like to be acidic. It wants to be in homeostasis, so the blood has a buffer system to make itself more alkaline. The first buffering mineral is sodium and the second alkaline buffer is calcium. When our blood becomes too acidic, calcium can be pulled from the bones to bring the blood into homeostasis. At this time calcium can be excreted with the urine, and all the minerals become upset. Then our digestion can't function as well because digestive enzymes are dependent on minerals. So, undigested food gets into the bloodstream, which can cause the classic symptoms of allergy such as a runny nose and eyes, scratchy throat, itchy ears, sneezes and coughing. This undigested food can also go to the brain and cause headaches, fatigue, anger, schizophrenia: to the nerves and cause multiple sclerosis, or go anywhere in the body and cause problems.
Finally our immune system looks at this undigested food as a foreign invader, comes to our defense, and escorts this intruder out of the body. Unfortunately our immune system was not meant to do this on a daily basis; every time we upset our body chemistry, homeostasis can no longer be maintained. Therefore we exhaust our immune system which opens the door to infectious and degenerative diseases, osteoporosis being one of these diseases.
Our 20th century lifestyle causes osteoporosis and other diseases. Let's start first with what we put into our mouth that can upset our body chemistry. Research shows that every time we eat sugar, take caffeine, smoke a cigarette, drink alcohol, eat over-processed or overcooked foods, eat too much food, take antibiotics, corticosteroids or many other drugs, we can loose excess calcium in our urine and that calcium can come from the bones.
When we lose excess calcium, we can deplete and/or make toxic other minerals in the body because the minerals only work when balanced with each other. When one mineral drops the other minerals can be there but not all can function. The whole delicate balance of the body's homeostatic mechanisms becomes upset. Osteoporosis is one of the results.
The answer lies in not upsetting your body chemistry, in letting the calcium from the foods that you eat go to the bones and make them healthy. The best way to not upset your body chemistry and to maintain homeostasis is to eat foods that have not been processed, fried, over-cooked, or eaten with sugar. And stay away from over-the-counter and prescription drugs; many of those drugs also can remove calcium from the bones. Eat fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, and small amounts of protein (in the form of meat, chicken, fish, or soy) and fat (in the form of but-ter or olive oil). This diet will keep the body in homeostasis and you will get all the absorbable calcium that you need from the food that you eat. Did you know that a glass of carrot juice has the same amount of calcium in it as a glass of milk does and for many, carrots are far easier for the body to metabolize.
So it is much more important what we don't put in our mouths than what we do. Calcium in the form of food or supplements will not help a body that is out of electro-chemical balance, out of homeostasis.
Now that we have seen what happens when the wrong things go into our mouths, let's talk about what happens when the wrong things come out of our mouths. Of all the culprits that upset body chemistry, change mineral relationships, and cause calcium depletion, the worst single one is distress, both mental and physical.
We all experience stress. We have parents; we have children; we drive on freeways and we work for a living. These situations cause stress, but it is how we view them and how we deal with them that determines whether they become distress. When we get angry, depressed, play the victim, are judgmental, try to get back at people, or experience any other negative emotion, the stress in our lives becomes distress. It is this distress that throws the body out of homeostasis, not the stress.
Physical pain such as exhaustion, severe burns, hyperventilation and being extremely cold or overheated all can upset the body chemistry and cause a depletion of minerals.
To discover if distress would change blood mineral relationships, volunteers arrived at a medical lab after fasting for 12 hours. Blood was taken from each of these volunteers to test for calcium and phosphorus. Then with each volunteer, one hand was immersed in hot water for one minute creating distress on their bodies. Their blood was again sampled and we watched the calcium go up and the phosphorus go down. Whenever the calcium/phosphorus relationship changes, all of the minerals become upset and so does the body chemistry.
Exercise is the only way, short of potent medication, to significantly increase bone mass after you have stopped growing. As with muscles, stress (not distress) strengthens bones. One study showed that those who exercised for one hour, three times a week for one year, actually gained bone mass, whereas a comparison group of sedentary women lost bone mass. The best kind of exercise for healthy bones is weight-bearing exercise; tennis, basketball, dancing and aerobic are all excellent ways to prevent or slow bone loss. Even if you don't over-exercise or under-exercise, exercise is not the only answer. You could be doing all the exercising necessary, but still get osteoporosis if your body chemistry is upset. Remember to keep your body in homeostasis.
It is possible to stop this degenerative disease process. Remove abusive foods from your diet, eat unrefined foods, do not let stress become distress, exercise, and make sure your body is in alignment. This lifestyle will help put your body back in homeostasis and the body will heal itself, not only of osteoporosis but also all of the other degenerative diseases. Stop doing to your body what you did to make it sick and the body will heal itself. It truly is that simple. The choice is yours.
Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., did her undergraduate work at U.C.L.A. in Food and Nutrition. She received her Ph.D. from Walden University in Health Services. She is author of "HEALTHY BONES:, "LICK THE SUGAR HABIT:, and "THE SECRETS OF NATURAL HEALING WITH FOOD:. Learn more about her work on the web at www.nancyappleton.com.
Return to the January/February Index page