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Herbal remedies for osteoporosis

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What is osteoporosis?

THIS is the reduction of bone mass and density to the point that it can result in bone deformation or fracture. In reality loss of bone mass is a natural process beginning around the ages of 40 or 50. However, it is only referred to as osteoporosis when it reaches a pathological level.

It usually occurs after the menopause, when level of hormones which help keep bones strong, are reduced. Women who are thin and those who smoke are most risk, as are women who suffer anorexia when they were younger and also those who missed period.

Women who exercise to the point where their period stop may also be at increased  risk because of  low hormone levels caused by the excess exercise, excess animal protein in diet, stress, low weight, low calcium consumption, too many fizzy drinks and steroids.

Food for osteoporosis

Calcium: This is the most important mineral in bone formation, although not the only one (magnesium and phosphorus are also involved). Milk and certain other dairy products are good sources of calcium, although plant-based foods such as almonds, cabbage and oranges provide easily absorbed calcium. The oxalic acid in chard, spinach and rhubarb, as well as phytic acid in wheat brain, interferes with calcium absorption.

Milk: Milk is a very good source of calcium (around 120mg/100g). The bioavailability (the portion that is absorbed) of this calcium is quite high (20% to 40%) since lactos (milk sugar) and vitamin D facilitate its absorption. Although milk and dairy products are not the only sources of calcium, their consumption during childhood and adolescence helps prevent osteoporosis in adulthood.

Soy: Soy has been shown effective in halting the loss of bone mass resulting after menopause. This loss is a consequence of reduced ovarian hormone production. Soy and soy derivatives, particularly tofu, provide plant-based hormones (phytoestrogens such as isoflavones) that replace those produced by the ovaries and enhance the mineralization of the skeleton. Soy also provides calcium.

Almond: Almonds are a good source of calcium. They also contain a very well balanced supply of the other two minerals required for bone formation: phosphorus and magnesium. Because they are alkalizing they aid in calcium retention in the body, in contrast to meat, which as an acidifier, promotes its elimination. Almonds and almond milk are very useful in osteoporosis prevention.

Cabbage: All varieties of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are good sources of calcium since they contain approximately 20-50mg/100g (milk contains 119m/100g).

cabbage has the advantage that it contains none of spinach’s oxalic acid or the phytic acid found in grains, two substances that interfere with calcium absorption. As a result, the calcium in cabbages is very well absorbed and contributes to osteoporosis prevention.

Coconut: Both the pulp and the milk of the coconut contain balanced proportions of bone-forming minerals, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Orange: Oranges are among the richest fresh fruits in calcium. A glass of orange juice provides approximately a third because it contains minerals and trace elements in addition to calcium, as well as vitamin C, all of which are necessary for healthy bones.

Leafy green vegetables: All of these are relatively rich in calcium. All varieties of cabbage contain calcium, although in lower proportion than chard or spinach. However, the calcium in cabbages is better absorbed since they contain no oxalic acid.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential to the process of transporting the calcium from foods in the intestine through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream where it may be utilized by the body. Exposure to the sun for a few minutes a day allows the skin to produce enough vitamin D. However, in less sunny regions it may be necessary to take vitamin D supplements or foods enriched with this vitamin.

Reduce or eliminate

Meat: A diet that is rich in meat and meat derivatives helps generate osteoporosis although calcium intake is sufficient. Meat contains little calcium (15mg/100g) three times less than an equal weight boiled beans. Meat also fosters urinary calcium loss, acidifies the body and supplies excess phosphorus, all of which lead to osteoporosis.

Salt: The more salt taken in, the more calcium is eliminated through the urine. Because of this, excess salt (more than 6g daily) and sodium must be avoided.

White sugar: White or refined sugar lacks virtually any minerals, including calcium. Its excess use, reduces the deposits of calcium within the body, which are found in the bones leading to osteoporosis.

Chocolate: Chocolate is harmful to good bone health because it contains sugar, fat and oxalic acid, all demineralizing substances.

Alcoholic beverages: Alcohol alters the function of the cells that generate bone tissue (osteoblasts), causing them to form less bone tissue than that which is destroyed. Research has shown that women who consume 25g of alcohol per day (somewhat more than a glass of wine) are not more than twice the risk of hip fracture than nondrinkers.

Soft drinks: Cola drinks contains phosphoric acid and sugar, substances that lead to bone calcium loss.

Phosphorus: Phosphorus and calcium must be in precise balance in the blood and in the diet, as well as, for proper bone formation and well-being. Meat, fish, shellfish and soft drinks are the products that most contribute to this imbalance.

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