(Is there help for brittle bones)

     The U.S. News and World Report on November 6, 1995 published an article titled A drug for fragile bones.  It said: Gretchen Panuzio was furious.  She thought she had done everything she could to fend off the brittle bones that turned her mother’s final decade into lonely misery.

     Grethchen took every precaution to protect herself against osteoporosis.  She has it anyway.

     To prevent osteoporosis, says Panuzio, “I took calcium supplements when I turned 30.  I had a hysterectomy at 44, but I took estrogen right away.  I figured there was no way I could have osteoporosis.”  But a bone density test a year ago, done at an orthopedic surgeon’s suggestion after Panuzio complained of back pain, showed that the 52-year-old woman had the skeleton of a 68-year old.


     Osteoporosis means “porous bones.”  Osteoporosis produces the decrepitness of old age and it leaves in its wake a maelstrom of age-related degenerative conditions.  Osteoporosis results from an insidious process of bone demineralization, which over a period of many years, robs the bones of up to half of their original calcium content.  The bones are left frail and weak.

     Millions of women who are reaching the “change of life” are caught up on the merry-go-round bout calcium and osteoporosis.  In fact, they are almost as frightened of osteoporosis as they are of AIDS.


“Osteoporosis” is atrophy of bone, and it is similar to atrophy of muscles.  It develops from lack of exercise and other poor living habits.  Muscles shrink when put in a cast and are not used, and so does bone.  Atrophy is a shrinkage of the size of the cells.  The atrophied bone contains a normal proportion of protein to calcium and phosphorous; there is just less of it.  The bone cells make less bone.  When muscle cells atrophy, they diminish in size. They do not disappear.  Likewise, bone doesn’t disappear; but bone cells shrink and form less bone.  In time, the entire skeletal structure becomes porous, frail and weak.  As members of that weakened structure, the vertebrae tend to yield to the load of the torso, so the back is wont to become crooked, compressed and painful.  Such are the earmarks of osteoporosis, and with its onset, the individual tends to become stooped and normally loses inches off of his or her height.  Spontaneous fractures of the vertebrae are common, as are fractures of the hips, arms, and legs.  All of the bones are left vulnerable to breaks, which when they do occur, are slow to heal.

     Diminished activity causes a proportionately diminished blood supply to muscles and bones.  Less blood means less nourishment, and less nourishment means tissues shrink. There should be no loss of bone or muscle mass as we grow older, and in healthy races, indeed, there is very little to none.


     The true, natural causes of osteoporosis are, therefore, as follows: a deficiency of exercise; excess dietary protein, (namely in the form of animal foods) which causes a loss of calcium (see below about protein), refined sugar and white flour products which leach calcium from our bodies during their metabolism; a lack of sunshine; insufficient rest and sleep, during which time our bodies must renew, rebuild, and repair our cells and tissues.  These are the true and natural culprits, rather than diminished estrogen supplies.

     Most medical authorities assert that a lack of estrogen in menopausal women  is the cause of osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis occurs in men as well as women and is not caused by lack of or diminished estrogenic activity.


     Research linking osteoporosis and high-protein diets is upending the foundations of modern nutrition.  In the words of Drs. Ammon Wachman and Daniel Bernstein of Harvard, “the association ( of meat based diets) with the increasing incidents of bone mass loss with age is inescapable.”

     In  a protein-calcium study, it was found that a protein intake of 140 grams per day caused young men to lose their bone calcium at 3% of total bone mass per year.  The subjects evidenced no capacity to adapt to the high protein intake, and at the rate they were losing calcium, they would have had no bones at all by their mid fifties.

     Subsequent studies showed young men experienced no bone losses when they were put on diets containing less intake less than 50 grams of protein per day; but when their protein intake was raised to 95 grams per day, their ability to keep their bones intact depended on the amount of calcium and phosphorus, the 95 grams of protein per day resulted in relatively small losses of bone calcium.  But when the diet contained more realistic levels of calcium and phosphorus, the 95 grams of protein per day resulted in calcium losses amounting to 2% of total body calcium per year.  At that rate it would take the young men about 15 years to develop severe osteoporosis.  It should be pointed out that the average protein intake of young American males exceeds 95 grams per day.


     There is, of course, more to “protein foods” than just protein.  Animal products are all high in phosphorus, and with the exception of dairy products, they all have very low calcium-to-phosphorus ratios.  All animal products are high in chlorine and sulfur, low in manganese and magnesium, and with the notable exceptions, they are high in fat and low in vitamin C.  Surprisingly, every one of these characteristics tend to impair bone development and/or retention.

     Boosting intake of conventional calcium sources (dairy products) does nothing to alleviate the situation.  Calcium absorption drops sharply when intake is elevated, so little of the added calcium actually reaches the bloodstream.  Moreover, the dairy products are high in phosphorus as well as calcium, and almost all of the phosphorus does get into the bloodstream.  Thus the addition of dairy products to a diet already high in phosphorus may actually speed up the rate of bone deterioration.  Meat and dairy products account for two thirds of the total phosphorus in typical diets.  Eliminating just the meat would reduce total phosphorus intake to acceptable levels—it would also bring a dramatic increase in calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.

     All so-called “protein foods” including milk, ten to acidify the blood.  In one study in which meat did serve as the protein source, calcium losses were indeed accelerated.

     The addition of fruits and vegetables to the diet of young men taking a 140 grams per day cut their bone calcium losses by 25 percent.  Fruits and vegetables have an alkaline ash, so their addition to an acid-forming high-protein diet would tend to cut the need for bone calcium as a buffering agent.

     Typical diets have a strong acid ash.  The first step to alleviating this situation is to eliminate from the diet those items with really high acid ashes, namely meat, eggs, fish and poultry products and dairy products.

     High calcium diets and supplemented diets have all been unsuccessful in the prevention and “cure” of osteoporosis.

     Common, and supposedly scientific, wisdom has it that upping calcium intake prevents osteoporosis, the disease, most common among postmenopausal women, in which bones weaken and become thinner.  That advice is utterly unfounded.

     Two new studies, one American, one Danish, have discovered no relationship at all between calcium intake and bone brittleness.  The results were revealing in Science Magazine’s research news section.


     Recent studies have shown that dozens of factors—from drugs to sedentary living and cigarette smoking—play critical roles in causing this hidden and rapidly growing epidemic, which results in more than a million fractures a year.


     Lack of exercise or inactivity is still another, and very important, cause of skeletal erosion.  Extended bed rest led to calcium losses at a rate of 6% of total bone mass per year in young men.  On the other hand, exercise tends to enhance calcium retention and it has been shown that low-protein, low-fat diets boost endurance and engender spontaneous activity.  High-fat, high protein diets cut endurance and promote inactivity.

     It is well known that excessive bed rest markedly increased the urinary loss of calcium.  Sitting quietly also does the same.  So, anyone who sits for long hours, getting exercise only by walking back and forth from the kitchen to the television set, are increasing their chances of developing osteoporosis.

      After age 65, when most men retire, and begin sitting in the arm chair more, they develop osteoporosis more rapidly than females.

     But studies by Dr. Everett Smith of the University of Wisconsin, have shown that elderly men and women can gain bone mass if they start exercising.  New bone is formed when bone are subjected to compression stresses during exercise.

     In order to better understand the concept of osteoporosis you must realize that the bone in your body is not inert or inactive- a common misconception that many people hold.  Your bones are as alive as the rest of you.  They play two important metabolic roles in the function of your system—they produce blood cells and they store minerals, especially calcium.  Portions of your bones are constantly dissolving and new bone is being produced to replace it.  It has been calculated that every bone in an active person’s body is completely replaced over a seven year period.  This is quite an achievement.  Indeed, no other tissue in your body has such excellent regenerative powers except  for your skin.  And when bones fracture, they heal back together again without leaving scars.  Not even skin can do that.  Osteoporosis is not a condition that can happen overnight.  It takes years and years for it to become evident radiologically—i.e. on the x-ray or radiograph. 

     Bone loss begins the minute any person—male or female, child or adult—ceases to be active, and the only reason it appears to occur abruptly is because it takes many years for it to become apparent on an x-ray.  It may be discovered only when one fractures a bone.  Indeed, bed rest, or spending much time sitting around has no place in the treatment of osteoporosis because it tends to further weaken the bone’s supporting muscles.

     The only effective therapy is through exercise designed to improve muscles tone and strength and to maintain as much compensatory motion in the joints as possible.

     Bone atrophy can develop at any age; wearing plaster cast too long; or sheer laziness can cause it.  The recovery of bone loss requires six months to several years to become apparent on the x-ray, even though the condition of bone may be improving all the time.

     Finally, some physicians have come to realize that it is not a lack of estrogen which causes osteoporosis—but more of a lack of exercise.  They state, “it has been shown that density decreases with age and at a steady rate not apparently related to any one thing even in the female.  These data suggest that perhaps the most important factor in maintaining bone density is exercise.  Prolonged immobilization from any cause is followed by osteoporosis, and no amount of calcium or steroid avails.  Only the demands of use will increase the bony matrix.”

     The main evidence of osteoporosis is shortened height.  But before this advanced stage is reached, the condition may exist, though in less severity.  This is why the condition may be un noticed by the individual himself or herself—until a fracture occurs from just a slight twist or minor fall.  Eight per cent of all hip fractures occur in patients with pre existing osteoporosis.  Hip fractures usually hasten the death of an older person.

     Normal bone is maintained, whether male or female, if the individual lives within the eight natural laws of health, especially eating natural food, exposes him/herself to the sunshine, and exercises regularly.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31