Teenage dieting and osteoporosis


The seeds for osteoporosis are often laid in the early teens. Osteoporosis involves both the mineral (inorganic) and non-mineral (organic matrix composed primarily of protein) components of bone. In fact true lack of dietary calcium results in a separate condition known as osteomalacia or softening of the bone.

Frequent dieting during the teen years or significant caloric restriction do a couple of negative things to the body. First they shock the body and may disrupt the hypothalamus, pituitary adrenal axis (this is like the main switch board for the hormonal and nervous system center). Next as people fast, they normally use up minerals in the body’s attempts to keep vital functions going. Initially the minerals come from whatever is circulating. Then the minerals stored within the bone matrix are used up.

As this goes on, more and more minerals are used up. If these same women become pregnant, most other their nutrients are used up by their babies as well. If they were supplementing throughout those years, these mineral loss effects can be mitigated or ameliorated. Most young women who typically do yoyo diets, fast repeatedly or have bulimic type behaviours in my experience do not do adequate supplementation.

Caloric restriction without malnutrition is a technique that can be used for effective weight loss as well as for anti-ageing. This needs to be distinguished form the caloric restriction programs that young women on weight loss or yo yo diets go on. On these amazing sounding but quite dysfunctional diets there is no adequate nutritional supplementation. This is what leads to the loss of calcium.

Research done by Dr. Michael Colgan show that maximum permitted reduction in calories is from two hundred to five hundred calories a day. Furthermore such a program must be supplemented by a complete vitamin and mineral supplement program to shut down the body’s malnourishment defenses. If the caloric reduction is more severe than the above, the fatpoint defenses are triggered. The whole cycle of metabolic shutdown and appetite explosion begins anew.

Such a program yields a maximum weight loss of between 1.5 to 1 pound a week. Gradually over the course of a year, the fatpoint edges down as the body remodels itself around the new weight, always on the low side of the existing fatpoint. The minor changes in calories slip by the fatpoint defenses and the supplements keep the nutritional defenses quiet. Within a year, you can lose between twenty-five and fifty pounds. The great difference between this loss and most other losses by dieting is that the ravenous hunger, binging, sickness, nausea and other hazards of dieting do not occur. With normal cell turnover the body adopts its enzyme levels, its muscles, its skeleton, its glands, to the new lower weight. The fat point drops to suit.

Osteoporosis that is not due to disease can develop from malnutrition and malabsorption of Calcium and or Vitamin D. It can also be triggered by a Vitamin C deficiency and a high acid ash (high protein) diet. A high phosphate intake or an iron overload can aggravate the condition as well.

When a group of scientists began to study the incidence of osteoporosis in different countries, they found the highest incidence in countries like UK, Sweden, the United States of America and the lowest in China where the diet avoids all of the risk factors metioned above as well as including all of the protective items that follow below.

The ideal diet for preventing osteoporosis is high in vegetables and fruits, but low in fat and animal products. Refined carbohydrates and alcohol are to be held at a very low level and carbonated drinks loaded with phosphates should be eliminated. Flavonoid rich food like dark blue-black berries, citrus rinds and colourful fruits should be liberally consumed. It should also include exercise. A 45 minute to an hour’s walk, three to five times a week is the minimum exercise that is recommended.

According to Dr Maurine Tsakok, head and senior consultant of Singapore General Hospital’s department of obstetrics and gynaecology, women taking soy bean products from dougan to miso soup to legumes like peanuts and beans were naturally increasing their oestrogen levels.

This is because soya products contained plant oestrogens and if sufficient quantities are consumed (which was about three times more soya products a week than normal). In a retrospective study of 98 menopausal Singapore women only half were found the need Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Dr Tsakokk also found that two-fifths of the women who did not need HRT exercised regularly compared with about one- tenth of those on HRT. This is one of those times when soya in the right amounts is actually useful and helpful.

The supplements below are suggested; Calcium Citrate 1000 mg a day Magnesium Citrate 500 mg a day Pyridoxine 100 mg a day Folic Acid 1000 mg a day Vitamin B12 1 mg a day Phylloquinone (K1) 1 mg a day Boron 3 mg a day Strontium Lactate 100 mg a day Botanical medicines that are useful are herbs like dong quai (Angelica sinensis), liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), unicorn root (Aletris farinosa), black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and false unicorn root (Helonias opulus). These herbs contain phytoestrogens which are suitable alternatives to oestrogens in the prevention of osteoporosis in menopausal women. They will also help with symptoms like hot flushes and mood swings.

Be well

Dr Sundardas

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