The Structural System
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis.
Osteoporosis, (not to be confused with osteoarthritis), is a condition of the bones rather than the joints. In the preceding discussion on the bones we saw that the calcium in the diet is necessary to keep the calcium in the bones. When there is insufficient calcium in the diet the bones will provide the body with an emergency supply. If the body continues to break down more bone than it replaces the bones will eventually become weak and break more easily. This can lead to a crippling disease known as osteoporosis. (We will discuss calcium in a later section of this lesson when we discuss nutrition for the bones.)
Approximately 25 million American women have osteoporosis and one-third to one-half of all post-menopausal women will get the disease. But it doesn't just effect women. Five million American men also suffer from osteoporosis.
Women suffer from osteoporosis more than men, but men are by no means immune to the disease!
It is estimated that one-fifth to one-third of all hip fractures due to osteoporosis occur in men. In fact, one out of every two women and one out of every eight men over age 50 will have a fracture due to osteoporosis sometime during their lifetime. Before the age of 90, 6% of all men will have a hip fracture due to osteoporosis. Out of the 80,000 men who suffer a hip fracture each year, one-third will die within the year.
The preventable risk factors for osteoporosis in women and men are:
In summary, osteoporosis is not a natural part of aging. It is a preventable disease. To help prevent osteoporosis both men and women should:
- Insufficient dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D.
- Long-term use of certain drugs, particularly the steroids used to treat asthma, arthritis, and other diseases (e.g., glucocorticoids such as prednisone); anticonvulsants and cancer treatments.
- Aluminum-containing antacids.
- Chronic diseases that affect the kidneys, lungs, stomach, and intestines or alter hormone levels.
- Glandular imbalances. Low levels of estrogen in women and low levels of testosterone in men.
- Excessive alcohol intake. (Alcohol decreases absorbtion of calcium and has a direct toxic effect on osteoblasts, the cells which build new bone.)
- Insufficient physical exercise.
- Excess consumption of acid-producing foods, particularly animal protein and refined processed foods (white sugar and enriched flour products.)
- Consumption of sodas, particulary colas.
True or False: Whether or not we get osteoporosis is determined by our genes and there is little that we can do to alter it.
- Eat a healthy diet (including plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoiding excess animal protein and refined processed foods such as white sugar and enriched flour products.)
- Supplement your diet with a quality calcium and vitamin D supplement that includes magnesium, phosphorus and boron.
- Engage in weight-bearing exercises such as walking on a regular basis.
- Support the glandular system when needed.
- Avoid drugs.
- Don't smoke.
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than two drinks a day.
- Avoid carbonated beverages, particularly colas.
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