Osteoporosis is a major problem facing both men and women. The way you can tell it is a big problem is to watch television and see how many commercials you see for a specific ailment and drug to go with it? How many commercials do you see for people to drink more milk? And how they want you to think that milk and calcium is the ultimate cure along with some medication.
The simple facts are this. The United States is one of the leading consumers of dairy products in the world but we are also the leader in osteoporotic fractures. Other countries who consume half the amount of dairy and calcium as us, but don’t have near the same number of people complaining of osteoporosis.
I’m not the smartest person, but I do know when two and two don’t add up to four. The prevailing thought that more milk and more calcium will fix the problem is incorrect. It’s a great marketing strategy, but it is not the root of the problem.
One of the biggest contributing factors to osteoporosis is the simple fact that we eat too much food that makes our body very acidic. What I mean by that, is at the cellular level, the environment our cells live in should be more alkaline. The more acidic it is the harder or tougher the environment for the cells to thrive in.
I like to equate it to living up in the snowy part of Montana in the winter with only a small jacket versus living in sunny Texas. The cold temperatures make it harder on us, the same way an acidic environment makes it harder on the cells to thrive and survive.
The way the good Lord designed the body is that when your body becomes very acidic…it will begin to steal calcium and other minerals to neutralize the acidity. The body has to take the minerals from somewhere…they just don’t magically appear. What happens is that the body will begin to pull or leach calcium from your teeth and bones. The longer and more acidic you stay the more calcium will be leached from your bones and teeth.
The acidity or over-acidity of our body is a huge factor that contributes to osteoporosis. What’s the biggest contributor to acidity? Diet!
With regards to diet simply look at what foods make you acidic and what foods make you alkaline. Most of your fruits and veggies make you alkaline. Grains, meats, processed, refined foods, proteins, coffee, soft drinks, basically any type of sugary food or drink makes you more acidic. The question I always ask my patients is which one of those two food groups do you eat more of?
To make your body more alkaline and slow down the leaching of your calcium from your bones, you need to eat more fruits and veggies. Not only will it help with osteoporosis, but it will help in so many other ways. I’m a big fan of the various “green drinks”, because they have lots of fruits, veggies, and grasses in them. This means they provide your body with a lot of minerals to neutralize the acidity in your body. I like the drinks also because you get to taste it, which activates your body’s ability to recognize what is coming down the pipes. The good “green drinks” will give you everything a multivitamin does, plus so much more.
If you are taking any type of antacid or acid blocker be aware that it reduces your ability to utilize the minerals that come in your food or supplements. The good Lord designed the stomach to produce acid and it has a very important role. One of its responsibilities is to activate the vitamins and minerals in your diet so they become absorbable. If you don’t have enough acid in your stomach due to the pills you are taking you are reducing the utilization of not only your minerals, but also your B-vitamins as well. Most of the time indigestion and heartburn is NOT too much acid, it is the opposite, not enough acid!
Exercise is great for making your bones stronger, but don’t forget that the more intense your workout the more ‘lactic’ acid you produce which makes you more acidic. Again, if you consume an adequate supply of fruits and veggies you will be fine. The simple fact that most people don’t eat enough fruits and veggies is another reason why I like the “green drinks”.
The big rock or the take away to help you overcome and battle this or any problem is that you probably will have to change your diet. How much you change it will determine how much of a change you can expect back. It’s not hard, start simple and small. Cut out some of the coffee, soft drinks and refined foods. You don’t have to go 100 percent or nothing. Whether you take three steps or 33 steps towards your goal at least you are heading in the right direction. It’s your choice to decide how fast you want to get there. If you are struggling with your walk for better health I would suggest 5 STEPS Closer, an accountability journal with simple shortcuts to help you see how well you are feeding your body, mind and spirit.
Dr. Len Lopez is a nutrition and fitness expert and creator of The Work Horse Trainer. He speaks extensively on diet, exercise, and how stress can affect your overall health and wellness.