Today, we’re talking about bones and bone health with The Bone Coach, Kevin Ellis.
Kevin has helped thousands of people heal their bones from the root cause in the most holistic way. He was diagnosed with celiac disease in his thirties after experiencing a myriad of gut and digestive issues, which he realized were pulling minerals from his bones. Soon after, he was diagnosed with osteoporosis (at age 30!) and was told to go on a gluten-free diet and to take medication.
Most people think their bones are just hard static structures that are designed to hold you up and carry you through life. But they also protect our organs. Within our bones, we have bone marrow, a soft spongy material that produces 95% of the blood cells that we have in our body. These cells become either platelets, red blood cells, or white blood cells that support life in many ways.
Osteoporosis literally means porous bone and is a condition characterized by either not enough bone formation, excessive bone loss, or a combination of both. Most people are getting scans done later in life, in their fifties or sixties, but now is the time to start caring for your bones.
Most people are told to take calcium, and Vitamin D, go for a walk, and take their medication, but this is inadequate. Oftentimes, there are even more side effects that come with these medications - and you’re probably having to commit to taking multiple medications long-term.
If you’re going to get a DEXA scan to test for Osteoporosis, that’s going to tell you the mineral content of your bone and the measure of how much bone you have. What it’s not telling you is the quality of the bone, the structural integrity, the microarchitecture, and how that bone is organized. So at the time of diagnosis, most people only have part of the picture – bone density and bone quality combined to create bone strength. If you have the option, get a TBS trabecular bone score to help you understand the quality of your bone.
In women, primary osteoporosis is typically related to a decrease in estrogen in postmenopausal women. Estrogen has a protective effect on bone. As those levels decrease as they do during menopause, that causes an increase in the activity level of cells that are breaking down bone. There’s also secondary osteoporosis which occurs as a result of behaviors, disorders, diseases, and certain medications. What we don't want to do is make an assumption that it's just hormones or that it's a natural part of aging, or that it's “just that time in my life”.
Many men fall into the category of secondary osteoporosis, which can be caused by a GI disorder, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s. All of those things affect nutrient absorption, and your bones need these nutrients. Your bones need calcium and magnesium. If you're not taking them in and you can't absorb them, your body's going to go to its largest reserve of minerals that it has, which are your bones, and it's going to pull from them.
Another cause is medications that people may be taking, like glucocorticoid medications – prednisone and cortisone. If you are considering taking it, or you're on it, or if you have taken it in the past, know that will contribute to bone loss. Also, PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), like Omeprazole, Nexium, and Prevacid, are designed to suppress or reduce the production of stomach acid, and a lot of times, people take these when they actually have too little stomach acid, to begin with. The reason why we need that stomach acid, too, is that you need it to properly break down and extract those nutrients from your food, like amino acids and calcium and iron, and B12.
Magnesium is very important for bone health, and many of us are deficient in it. Supplementing with magnesium can be really helpful! Your bones are 50% protein by volume, so you need protein in your diet. One of the reasons why magnesium is important for bone health is because when you take in protein, your body breaks down that protein then it breaks down protein into amino acids. In order to rebuild those things in your body, you need magnesium. The best magnesium is one that is easily absorbed, like Bisglycinate chelate.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Diet and exercise play a very important role in keeping your bones healthy and strong. An anti-inflammatory diet is going to be the best thing. There are some foods specifically that I think are really great additions to most people's plans. One of them is fish. Think sardines, mackerel, and wild sockeye salmon, but make sure you opt for the ones that have bones in them. These are going to almost melt in your mouth.
The reason I like them is that they have protein. We talked about how you need protein for your bones. They have all of the minerals and nutrients in the right ratios that nature put them in. That's important. And omega-3 fatty acids, which are the dampeners of inflammation. Anything contributing to inflammation, especially chronic and long-term, will contribute to bone loss.
Another food that I really like is arugula. Arugula is a leafy green in the same family of vegetables as broccoli and kale. It's got vitamin C, vitamin K, and bioavailable calcium, so you get calcium from some of these plant foods too, which is great.
Bone broth is great because it can add protein. It can help improve your gut and digestive health too, but that can be an easy addition to soups and different things that you're making.
You can eat all the healthy foods and take all the supplements you want; if you do not exercise, you will not build bone strength. You need two different types of stimuli for your bones: muscle pulling on bone and impact. The most effective interventions are going to combine both of those. Weight-bearing exercise is something we also want to be doing, and this is the type of exercise where our body and our bones are working against gravity to keep us upright, and it's placing good healthy stress on those bones.
The other type of exercise you need to include resistance training and muscle strengthening exercises. The reason for that is when you've got muscle pulling on bone; you've got a mechanical signal that's sending a chemical signal to tell those bones to become stronger. Try compound lifts with weight, like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, and chin-ups with drop landings.
The most important thing to do if you’re told you have osteoporosis or osteopenia is to get some more objective data before you jump into making a decision. It’s OK to ask for more information and to understand what could be contributing to this, because it may not just be a natural part of aging. Aging doesn't have to be this negative thing. We should be viewing aging as this amazing process in that we're the next best version of ourselves, like the next evolution of ourselves.
What's really important is even if you’re on medication, it could be helpful to explore the root cause issues underneath the surface contributing to bone loss. That means taking a look at your exercise, nutrition, stress, sleep, etc.
To learn more about how you can care for your bones visit christaorecchio.com/bonecoach.