Osteoporosis And Stress Are Linked Because Stress Can Destroy Bones
Osteoporosis and stress are rarely linked as a health risk. But too much stress can destroy your bones.
During the past decade, approximately 30% of Americans and Canadians have consistently reported negative health impacts as the result of the stress in their lives.
While people often associate headaches, indigestion and insomnia with stress, research has shown that stress can lead to the development of chronic conditions within a few years and one of those conditions can be osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis and stress are often linked because sufferers forgo the weight bearing exercises that are so important for bone health. But equally important, they make nutritional choices that limit calcium intake and may even cause calcium to leach from their bones.
People who feel stressed frequently seek comfort foods that lack the proper nutrition to build healthy bones. Sweet snacks and fast food meals rarely contain the calcium, magnesium and vitamin K that are essential for the prevention of osteoporosis.
And a poor choice of beverages can be equally damaging. Excess soda, coffee and alcohol can be particularly harmful to bone renewal.
Sufficient vitamin D is also essential for calcium absorption but is difficult to attain even from a good diet. People with busy schedules may fail to spend time outdoors where they can get enough of the sunshine vitamin.
And in northern regions, the sun lacks sufficient ultraviolet radiation to produce vitamin D during the winter months. Research shows that over 75% of Canadians and Americans are vitamin D deficient for at least part of the year.
Stress affects most organs of the body and the stomach is no exception. Stress can cause diarrhea, decreased absorption of nutrients and an elevated loss of calcium and magnesium which are essential for healthy bones.
Low magnesium also elevates the secretion of stress hormones and makes relaxation even more difficult.
Osteoporosis and stress are also linked through the excess secretion of stomach acids. Acid reflux is now so common in North America that prescription drugs designed to treat the problem are among the most widely-sold drugs in the world.
Unfortunately, these drugs are so effective at eliminating the pain of acid reflux that people are tempted to rely on their medication rather than changing their eating habits and lifestyle.
Few realize that the reduction in stomach acid severely hampers calcium absorption which is essential for bone health.
When we feel stressed, our adrenal glands increase the production of cortisol which in excessive amounts can also cause a loss of bone density.
While Cushings Disease is known to cause bone loss as a result of excess cortisol production, few health practitioners have linked osteoporosis and stress as a risk from too much cortisol.
As bone loss occurs very slowly, the toll of a stressful lifestyle may not be felt until we enter middle age when it is more difficult to increase bone density.
In addition to conducting a lifestyle assessment, there is broad agreement on steps that can be taken to reduce our stress. These include:
- Spending more time in quiet places...sitting quietly or meditating
- Exercising outdoors. (walking, jogging, cycling and swimming)
- Practicing yoga or tai chi
- Feeding our passions. Doing something each day that we absolutely love to do.
- Listening to beautiful, relaxing music
Relaxation and meditation CDs and MP3s are widely available to help us reduce our stress. And the producers of holographic recordings claim that (with the help of a good headset) the special rhythms and tones of their recordings can bring the listener from Beta (high activity/stress) to Alpha (the relaxation response) and even to Theta (an even slower wave length attained during meditation.) Treating ourselves to a wonderful Bose headset might be good for our health!
Osteoporosis and stress do not have to be linked together if we exercise, eat well and take time for ourselves. Our bones can remain strong throughout our long lives... if we live a life of joy and of balance.