Healthy Bones, Healthy You!

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease that is characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue which can lead to an increased risk of fractures.

Osteoporosis is often called the “silent thief” as bone loss often occurs without any symptoms until there is a fracture. These fragility fractures usually occur when the disease is fairly advanced.

Osteoporosis causes 70 – 90 % of all hip fractures which can be very disabling and can really impact quality of life, especially with advanced age.

General Risk Factors:

Not having enough food with calcium and being deficient in vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin!).

Menopause and andropause also causes bone loss.

Any medical condition that increases inflammation in your body.

Certain drugs such as, seizure medications, steroids taken for more than 2 months, hormone treatments for breast or prostate cancer.

Celiac disease is also a under recognized cause of osteoporosis and osteopenia.

Any other condition that causes malabsorption of nutrients such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Genetics! It often runs in families so please take note if you have a family history and consider early screening.

Other risk factors include: smoking, low body weight, absence of menstrual periods for long periods of time, premature ovarian failure and early menopause, history of eating disorders, or confined to a bed for long periods of time.

Dietary Risk Factors for Osteoporosis:

Excess consumption of saturated fat (the type of fat found in animal products such as butter, cream, bacon and fatty cuts of meat) and an inadequate intake of monounsaturated fat, the types of fats found in olive, peanut and canola oils. As well as the fats in avocados, nuts and seeds. Saturated fats tend to be pro-inflammatory. Monounsaturated fats and omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory. We do need some omega 6 essential fatty acids, unfortunately, we tend to get too much of them from our over consumption of ultra processed foods and from modern animal husbandry practices.

Low intake of calcium and potassium is also a risk factor for osteoporosis. Potassium is found in fruits and vegetables. Another reason to aim for 5 or more servings! Consuming more plants in your diet also promotes an alkaline PH. An acidic PH triggers bone to be broken down and inhibits osteoblasts from building new bone.
Low protein diets also increase your risk of osteoporosis. But so does high protein diets, especially if they are accompanied by a lack of calcium intake.
Excess salt consumption also leaches salt from our bones. If you are eating ultra processed foods, you are likely eating too much salt.

Ultra processed foods have also shown to have a severe impact on the growing skeleton. This does not bode well for those of us who are middle age and younger as we were the first generation to grow up on ultra processed foods. We need to move away from marketing food to children. We are the only culture that has kids’ meals!

How to Prevent Osteoporosis

Exercise to prevent osteoporosis:

Use or lose it! Move your body and exercise. You won’t build bone without building muscle first. Weight bearing exercises activates osteocytes and triggers bone renewal.
Consider working with a physical therapist trained in Bone Fit. Bone Fit is a program aimed at providing those with osteoporosis with safe, effective and evidence-based exercises, movement adaptations and symptom management. Here at Saskatoon Wellness Centre, Laurie Wiens, physical therapist, is trained in Bone Fit.

The best diet to prevent osteoporosis:

Choose a rainbow of nutrient dense, fiber rich foods, fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and some whole grains. Use cold pressed extra virgin olive oil or other cold pressed oils.

Get sufficient protein, but not too much. However, keep in mind our dietary protein requirements increase as we age.

Eat More Greens! Leafy greens are a great source of vitamin K which is very important for healthy bones.

Ensure adequate calcium intake. Check out for a calcium calculator to determine how much you are getting through your diet.

Consider bone building supplements. You may have heard the importance of calcium and vitamin D, but there are numerous other nutrients that are beneficial for bone health; magnesium, vitamin K, selenium, zinc, boron and strontium to name a just a few.

Work with your naturopathic doctor to determine the best nutrients and doses for you.

If you want help on preventing or treating osteopenia and osteoporosis please book an appointment with our naturopathic doctor – Dr. Alana Barmby, or if you want to explore Bone Fit with our Physical Therapist, Laurie Wiens. We also offer acupuncture and massage therapy to help keep you pain free and moving towards healthy bones.