Bone loss begins at 30 … you CAN prevent it

My video on putting an end to osteoporosis has garnered a lot of attention lately, and I’ve received many follow-up questions from viewers seeking to take charge of their health. I’ve highlighted a few of these questions along with my answers all in one page. Let’s keep the conversation going and put an end to this disease once and for all.

 

January 27th, 20015:

This week a person who watched my video on osteoporosis wrote the following question:

“You say if your dexa scan tests show your bone health has decreased more than a normal amount then you could be looking at a problem. What is a normal amount for bones to decrease yearly?”


Here was my response:

“Bone mass normally starts to decrease between 45 and 50 years of age for men and continues at a rate of 0.4% to .75% per year. Females have 3 phases of bone loss- the first phase starts between 30 and 35 years of age at a rate of .75% to 1% per year until menopause. The rate of bone loss increases during and after menopause to between 2% and 3% per year. During the final phase, 5 years after menopause, bone loss continues at about 1% per year.

Most importantly, individuals that exercise and have a high level of physical activity will delay and reduce the onset of bone loss. For example, research has shown that a strength training program can increase the spinal bone mass of postmenopausal women by 9% in just one year. Another study showed that older women who participated in high-intensity strength training twice a week for a year were able to increase their bone density by 1%, whereas the women in the non-exercising control group suffered a bone density loss of 1.8% to 2.5%.

It is a fact that if you do not engage in weight bearing exercise you will not have strong bones. This is why I instruct my clients to focus on improving their overall strength, balance and coordination, and remind them that dramatic improvements are possible at any age. I’ve had the pleasure of training people for close to 15 years and have witnessed these improvements firsthand. It’s a wonderful thing!”

To learn more watch my video on The End of Osteoporosis.

Marc Jaoude
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist


February 3th, 2015:

In response to my video on osteoporosis, a person wrote in the following question:

“Thank you very much for the very informative video. You cleared my confusion about calcium supplements. After entering menopause ten years ago, I had been diagnosed as osteopenia for several years, but recently I was diagnosed as osteoporosis based on the t-score for left femoral neck being -2.6 compared to -1.8 a year ago. A strange thing is that, eight months out of this 12 month period, I have worked on weight-resistence training five times a week. I have the following questions: 1) is this considered a “normal” decrease or something that I have to pay attention to immediately? 2) Why didn’t my exercise efforts benefit to my bone health at all? 3) Can the plant-based diet and exercise programs reverse the osteoporosis or only curb it? I would appreciate your answer, Marc.”


Here was my response:

“Based on studies, 5 years after menopause bone loss generally continues at a rate of about 1% per year. Bone loss can increase due to underlying health issues that have to do with other organ systems. For example, a problem with digestion, especially if taking acid blocking drugs such as Nexium, can increase risk for osteoporosis. Blood sugar problems as well as hormonal issues such as hyperthyroidism can also weaken bones. Therefore, it is best to consult with your doctor to make sure that your overall health is moving in the right direction. As I say at the end of my video, the skeletal system is affected by the overall health of the other 10 organ systems of the body, and we can’t look at osteoporosis as being an isolated health issue.

Having said that, yes, you can reverse osteoporosis with proper exercise and nutrition. The most important factor of your exercise program is not duration or frequency, but INTENSITY. One study that I referred to in a previous comment showed that even older women can increase their bone density if they perform high intensity strength training at least twice a week. I’ve witnessed my clients increase their bone density in under a year just by increasing their resistance training. Osteoporosis, in general, is a weight-training deficiency– and it doesn’t matter how often you are training if the intensity is not where it should be. Take care of your overall health, and reevaluate your training and nutrition in the process. All the best.”

Marc Jaoude
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist


February 3rd, 2015

Comment from viewer:

“Wow I wish I had watched this before I took my first ( and LAST) dose of Boniva! It made me so sick I felt like I had food poisoning, and I am still achy all over. Could I have done damage to my system by taking one dose of this drug?? Thank you for your video– I learned so much. And I guess the best thing also is to return the Calcuim Citrate caps which I just bought.”


Response:

“Happy to know the video made an impact on you. All drugs can serve a purpose- the problem, however, is when a drug becomes the rule as opposed to the exception.

Modern medicine has made incredible strides in certain areas, namely trauma care, but when it comes to chronic health issues traditional treatments do not get a passing grade. Prescription medications are a top leading cause of death in North America even when taken as prescribed (my video on the Leading Cause of Death in Canada tackles this issue in detail). In short, if you actually break your hip or have a heart attack, thank goodness for modern medical care. But, when you wish to avoid that trauma in the first place, it would serve you better to choose a different path than taking drugs without a very strong reason.

Proper nutrition and exercise therapy are the keys to preventing and reversing osteoporosis, as well as a long list of the most common health issues that affect a large majority of the population. Thank you for watching, and all the best.”

Marc Jaoude
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist

 

February 7th, 2015

Here was my response to a question regarding the Recommended Daily Intake for calcium
(posted below the article on the harmful chemicals in commercial almond milk):

“The Recommended Daily Intake for calcium is 1000mg. However, we should not take the RDIs of nutrients too seriously. RDIs are based on isolated or synthetic chemicals and not on naturally occurring nutrients from whole foods. Naturally occurring nutrients are better digested, absorbed and utilized by the human body. So if you supposedly need some gigantic amount of an isolated or synthetic nutrient, you are more than likely to require a smaller amount of this same nutrient if you are getting it from whole food in it’s complete form. Furthermore, the amount of a nutrient we can absorb depends on a variety of factors, one of which is the complexity of nutrient interactions. For example, there are many nutrients that either help or block the absorption of calcium- some of which we may not even know about yet. Another factor is that the body, at any given time, will absorb a different amount of a nutrient depending on what its needs are at that particular moment. It is therefore very safe to conclude that what our overall diet looks like is of much greater importance than the exaggerated focus that we place on individual nutrients.

In short, there are many variables to determine what the ideal amount of each nutrient is for every person, and everything we know today tells us that relying strictly on RDIs is a very foolish paradigm, one that negates facts about overall health, good nutrition, and the complexity of how the human body functions. Discussing nutrition with a calculator to see if we meet RDIs is a reductionist approach, and while it has helped to boost the sale of synthetic supplements, it has done very little to improve our overall health. In fact, more and more research is showing the foolishness and dangers of consuming mega doses of isolated nutrients, all in hopes of meeting the RDIs. This is why I tell my clients, for the most part, to ignore the RDIs as they are transitioning to a healthier overall diet and lifestyle. And when I do talk about individual nutrients, such as calcium, I do my best to paint a more complete picture.”

Marc Jaoude
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist


January 18th, 2015

Comment from viewer:

“Hi, I had my first Bone Density scan 5 months ago at age 56 & was told I had Osteoporosis -2.8 on my spine area. My blood work showed my Vit D level at 28. I started taking Citracal twice daily along with another 1,000 IU Vit D as recommended by my doctor as I did not want to take any prescription meds. I have always exercised by walking on the treadmill & doing some hand weight exercises. I was told to now walk with weights in my hands as well. I just had my Vit D bloodwork done again a few weeks ago & it now shows my level at 39 for which I am glad. Your video however has gotten me scared about taking the Citracal & additional Vit D pills. Can you please tell me should I not be taking these & if not, what should I take instead? I appreciate your help on this. Paula.”


Response:

“Mega doses of isolated nutrients are too often prescribed without enough understanding of the potential risks. Our body benefits from a proper balance of many nutrients, and I am always cautious about taking a big dose of a single mineral or vitamin. Today, for example, many calcium supplements on the market include magnesium- this is because the important relationship between calcium and magnesium is well understood, and there are dangers of having too much calcium and not enough magnesium. In the next few years we may discover even more issues with proper nutrient ratios. In short, often times, and certainly in the history of isolated and synthetically derived supplements, we’ve been guinea pigs taking mega doses that should have been prescribed as the exception and not the rule.

If I was forced to isolate a single cause for osteoporosis it would be a weight training deficiency. Walking on a treadmill, or using light hand weights is certainly not sufficient. Today, due to the fact that we do very little hard manual labor, the need to add more intense (heavier) resistance training to our lifestyle is of the utmost importance. It is advised to progress gradually through the help of a personal trainer if you are not comfortable doing this on your own. Vitamin D deficiency is a sunshine deficiency, and it’s also the result of a poor diet- not because the diet is void of vitamin D (vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin because, technically, there is no need to consume it)- but because certain foods, such as animal based foods, can block your body’s ability to convert the storage form of vitamin D to the active form. My next video will be on vitamin D and, time permitting, I hope to post it in the very near future.

In short, I applaud you for doing your research and asking questions. I believe that you are on the right path. The last point I will leave you with, as I mention in my video on osteoporosis, is to remember to take care of your overall health and wellness because if you focus on one issue, such as bone health, you may zoom in on too many details that, in the end, do not result in a healthier you. There are 11 organ systems in your body that would all benefit from better exercise and improved overall nutrition as well as more sunshine. Focusing on just one system, such as your skeletal system, without taking the rest of your body into consideration is what the synthetic supplement industry often sells us on. Your next steps are to increase your intake of nutrient dense sprouted grains and legumes, add green juices to your diet (these are the real multi-vitamins that your body can absorb) and dedicate yourself to weight training. Also look for whole food, plant based supplements with zero synthetic ingredients to help support your overall health and wellness. Our clients consume several forms of algae (such as a blue green algae known as AFA that you can find here) as well as our wheatgrass and other green juices that consist of sunflower micro greens. All the best.”

Marc Jaoude
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist


February 7th, 2015

Here are two comments from a youtube viewer followed by my response:

“I loved your video. I am 57 and have been active all my life. The only changes I’ve had recently was that I went on a 2 month diet of only meat, and veggies, no carbs or fruit basically and lost almost every inch of fat on my body and loved. I am very active and have been in excellent health. So I was shocked (and still am) that I have a 31 on my BMI which put me in osteoporosis of the spine and osteopenia of the hip. It has turned my world upside down. So I’m really excited to change my diet to less protein and begin a high intensity strength training. Do you have a list of exercises, or a video link or some way that I can follow a program that is high intensity enough? thanks for all you do.”

“I should have read all the comments before commenting myself. I saw below someone else who had osteoporosis and thyroid issues. I forgot that along with my osteoporosis, I too was told my thyroid was imbalanced at a 6.9. Are the two related?”


Response:

Hello Lisa,

thank you for your comments. I’ll respond to both of your questions here:

The bad rep that “carbs” have gotten over the past few years is quite unfortunate. There is a huge difference between simple processed carbs (sugar) and the complex carbs that are found in beans, nuts, whole grains and vegetables. Through the science of nutrition, we are discovering more every day just how essential carbohydrates are not only to sustain our energy levels, but also for supporting our immune system. It is no wonder that ancient civilizations depended on various forms of carbohydrates for their survival. I invite you to visit my website to learn more about nutrition as well as recipes that can help you maintain strong, healthy bones.

Regarding weight loss: there are many ways to lose weight, and that’s why there are thousands of diets and weight loss books out on the market. The truth, however, is that proper weight loss should be a side effect of healthy eating. With the type of diet I teach my clients, they can literally eat as much as they want and maintain their ideal weight. However, if we begin with the idea that our main goal is weight loss, we tend to do whatever it takes to achieve this end point only to find out that we compromised our health along the way. Fact- if you focus on health and performance first, weight loss will follow.

Yes, issues with the endocrine system contribute to bone loss. Hyperthyroidism is associated to osteoporosis. In your case, a TSH score of 6.9 would indicate hypothyroidism and not hyper. With women, and even men, we are seeing more thyroid issues than ever before and, due to diet and higher exposure to environmental toxins, it’s starting at a younger age. The good news is that we can do a lot to prevent this if we get educated on the subject. For example, I have a young client in her 20’s suffering from hypothyroidism, but by adapting a proper plant-based diet and starting to exercise she is managing to achieve results that her doctors had once told her were impossible. She has her energy back and is feeling better than ever.

Once again, it bears repeating, you can sucessfully lose weight while destroying the different organ systems in your body- or you can work to improve every facet of your health, and, as a consequence, achieve your weight loss goal as well. It’s a tough sell to educate clients about their overall health when they come in wanting quick weight loss results- but both these things are possible. You CAN achieve your ideal body weight while also improving your health. It just takes stronger dedication and a desire to learn. Today, I refuse any client that is only interested in weight loss. I may be the only personal trainer that does this- and probably not the best business person! But the message is getting through- I’ve witnessed my clients not only make dramatic improvements, but also working to help their loved ones by sharing what they learn.

Regarding exercise: I use a highly individualized approach for training each client. The quickest and most simple advise that I can give you is to focus on larger movements- what we call compound exercises- and, in between “heavy” workouts have one session where you focus more on balance and stabilization exercises in order to make sure that the smaller supporting muscles are being worked. I cannot stress the importance of proper movement mechanics. I only increase the intensity when my client’s movements are fluid and well coordinated.

If you have any specific questions please feel free to contact me. All the best.

Marc Jaoude
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist


March 4th, 2015:

A doctor emailed the following question:

“Dear Markito

Thank you for the wonderful video entitled the end of Osteoporosis.
Sounds logical but going against mainstream information I have received. As a scientist with severe osteoporosis I am looking for an evidence-based alternative drug-free treatment / lifestyle. May I ask if any of the patients following this programme have seen increased bone density by way of increased Dexa scan T-Scores?
There are no publications on Pubmed for me to examine the data………….

Thank you
kind regards”


Here was my response:

“Thank you for your email.

Nutrition alone will not help with osteoporosis. Resistance training is key. Yes, I’ve had clients increase their bone density (tested) in just 6 months- but the only major change they did was adding 2-3 sessions a week of intense exercise. I would like to invite you to read this Q&A page where I include more information regarding resistance training and bone density-

You will be able to find many studies on pubmed showing that consistent and high intensity exercise is the most effective treatment for patients already experiencing bone loss. Too often, health practitioners do not understand what high intensity means- and they simply ask their patients to go for more walks. Walking, if I can be blunt, is just the start- and after a certain time it becomes a waste of time. More mechanical stress is needed to maintain and build stronger bones. The greatest improvements I have noticed are with my clients that are over 70 years old. They get to an age where even though they can walk for a long time without much difficulty, getting up off a couch becomes quite challenging for them. That’s because with age we lose our explosiveness- fast-twitch muscle fibres diminish. Proper training reverses this issue, and now I see these same clients getting up off the couch with their grandchildren in their arms. I wish I had their before and after dexa scans- but I do have their before and after videos, and they are remarkable. That’s something that is accomplished with proper intensity, smart individualized training. Walking is not sufficient.

Also, I am accumulating before and after blood tests of my clients that follow a proper plant based diet. We see reductions in cholesterol (up to 40%) in less than a month, huge drops in blood glucose (we’ve seen clients with type 2 diabetes stop all medications) as well as much improved TSH levels for clients that are suffering from thyroid problems, and clients experiencing a return to their normal lives following years of suffering from IBS (another risk factor for osteoporosis). In the Q&A article I posted I do remind readers that osteoporosis is not just a skeletal problem- the more we look at the science the more we understand that we cannot treat this problem in isolation. For example, the relationship between cholesterol and bone health has been making the mainstream science headlines over the past few years – the fuel to continue examining this relationship will probably be to increase the use of statin drugs- after all, these studies need funding.

I would also like to invite you to read my article entitled The Truth About Cholesterol on my nutrition website.

In short, when it comes to bone loss the evidence for resistance training is quite clear, and when it comes to creating a healthier lifestyle that allows the body the best opportunity to heal, the preponderance of the scientific evidence- as well as the results I have witnessed with my own clients- should serve as motivation for anyone choosing to take full responsibility for their health.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to write back.”


Marc Jaoude
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist


March 18th, 2015:

A kind lady emailed the following question:

“Thank you so much for this information. I am 68 years old and was diagnosed with spinal Osteoporosis and hip Osteopenia. I was prescribed vitamin D and Boniva once a month. I took my first tablet of Boniva a week ago and I have been experiencing daily hip pain. I did have some pain before taking it but it wasn’t as painful as it is now. I came across your 30 minute lecture and have found it extremely helpful.

I eat what I considered a healthy diet but my Cholesterol is now 215 so I intend to limit my red meat consumption or completely eliminate it.You have been an eye opener, thank you so much.

My question is how I can deal with my hip pain without taking medications.
Thank you so much.”


Here was my response:

“Thank you for your question. High cholesterol is associated to bone loss. One possible explanation is that cholesterol has been found to block formation of new bone cells and encourage the activity of mechanisms responsible for breaking down bone. To lower your cholesterol you will have to eliminate all animal based food, and not just red meat. Fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, and dairy all have to be eliminated from your diet. We’ve seen clients reduce their cholesterol from over 200 to below 150 in just a few weeks following a proper plant-based diet. I encourage you to read my articles on cholesterol.

Regarding your hip pain: it is helpful to include gluteal exercises to your workout routine- this will help to add stability to your hips and pelvis, reducing stress and pain in this area. Exercises such as the fire hydrant target the area quite well. In addition to focusing on strengthening the gluteal muscles, it is important to conduct proper full body resistance training sessions that focus on good movement mechanics, helping to balance out your entire body and improve your posture.

Intense resistance training along with a diet that reverses inflammation is your best solution for improving your health and not being limited as you enjoy the rest of your life.

All the best”

Marc Jaoude
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist

 

May 2nd, 2015:
A subscriber submitted the following question:

Thank you very much for the great information on osteoporosis. In your video you mentioned chia seeds as a great source of calcium and other nutrients.

I’ve been a big fan of dry and sprouted chia seeds for a long time and was upset by the article I recently found online which said that ‘chia seeds contain numerous antinutrients which reduce their nutritional value’. The article also mentioned that ‘chia seeds are concentrated sources of phytate, an antinutrient that binds many minerals (calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper) thereby making them unavailable for absorption’. Can you address this issue? Here is the link to the article if you wish to read it: http://thepaleodiet.com/seed-fatty-acid-composition/.
Thank you.


Here was my response:

Dear Ina,

I would not be too upset by any article written from a paleo point of view. The misrepresentation of the science is sometimes so amusing that I often use such articles to teach my clients how to look up the science directly, as opposed to blindly trusting the author. Yes, all seeds, nuts, legumes and grains have phytic acid. Phytic acid is reduced significantly with sprouting, and absorption of minerals increases. Furthermore, phytic acid has shown to be an anti-cancer as well as having anti-oxidant properties- you do not want to remove it entirely from your diet.

Quickly glancing at the article you sent me from the paleo website, I noticed several more gross misrepresentations of the science- but again, it is more efficient to address the actual research as opposed to articles or misrepresentations coming from people with a very specific agenda. This is not a matter of opinion- it is a fact that some articles, including the one in question, often state the opposite of what a study concludes, hoping that the reader will not look up the study- or perhaps just regurgitating information without reviewing the research. For example, the paleo article you sent me referenced Neiman’s study as evidence that chia seeds cause inflammation. Neiman set out to see whether 50g of chia seeds per day could help obese people lose weight. What a terribly flawed study and hypothesis with a tremendous amount of confounding variables. Regardless, here is the actual conclusion of the study:

“Pre-to-post measures of body composition, inflammation, oxidative stress, blood pressure, and lipoproteins did not differ between CS [chia seed group] and P [placebo] for both sexes. In conclusion, ingestion of 50 g/d CS vs P for 12 weeks by overweight/obese men and women had no influence on body mass or composition, or various disease risk factor measures.”

And somehow the paleo article cited this study as evidence that chia seeds raise disease factors such as inflammation? That’s not what the study concluded! Furthermore, Neiman was involved in another study that concluded by promoting the intake of chia seeds due to their high ALA levels and excellent overall nutritional content.

The consumption of chia seeds goes back thousands of years – by now we would have very clear evidence if there was cause for concern. Yet the best that this paleo article could use as evidence that chia seeds are bad is a small, flawed study on weight loss involving a tiny sample of obese people, and even then the author misrepresented the results of the study. The study was not anti-chia seeds in any way, shape, or form. As is usually the case, when “debating” (not really a debate) “paleo believers” it is often quite easy to use their own evidence against them. Their claims are extremely weak and overreaching at best.

There are many other points I could elaborate on regarding the proper absorption and ratios of minerals, but these are topics better left for another discussion. Rest assured that the preponderance of the scientific evidence supports a plant-based diet, and the foods most associated with health and longevity in every so called Blue Zone around the world are grains and legumes. I’m not sure how “paleo believers” can reconcile that fact, although I can only imagine!

All the best,

Marc Jaoude
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist

 

July 24th, 2015:
A subscriber submitted the following question:

Are you familiar with a fairly new osteo drug, Forteo?

It is prescribed for people with severe osteoporosis (ex. -3.5 -4) It is supposed to actually build bone but they don’t now exactly how. It was reported to have caused osteosarcoma in some lab rats that were given extra high doses for more than two years, so it is recommend that pts. not take it for more than two years.

Are there alternative ways to deal with severe osteoporosis as opposed to pharmeceuticals?


Here was my response:

I think you answered your own question regarding Forteo. I would not feel comfortable with any medication that comes with a black box label. The only proven way to deal with osteoporosis is through nutrition and exercise. I would talk to your doctor and get referred to a specialist who can help guide your progression so that you can begin to incorporate movements and strengthening exercises into your daily routine. At the same time, look to increase your consumption of plant based whole foods, lots of leafy greens, and even green juices (these serve as your “multi-vitamin”)- Nutrition, exercise and sensible exposure to sunshine are considered “alternative” treatments- but they are the only 100% safe and 100% proven to work solutions. Drugs and hormone therapy have their place in rare instances, but even then they are never the complete answer- you cannot heal a chronic condition with medication.

All the best,

Marc Jaoude
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist

 

February 18th, 2016:
A viewer posted the following comment:

This was the most logical, helpful, and accurate lecture I have ever heard on osteoporosis! My doctor has been trying for years to get me on hormone replacement because I’ve been in the osteoporosis zone for over 10 years (since my mid-40’s). However, my T-score has barely changed, even though I am now post-menopausal. I refuse to go on hormones or any other drug. I have changed my diet to include more greens, seeds, and nuts, and I do Ashtanga yoga, a form of yoga that incorporates a lot of weight bearing postures. I also take a whole food, organic calcium supplement and mutli-vitamin. THAT’S IT! That is my recipe for bone health. Every woman should listen to this lecture and take Marc’s advice. Do not be scared of osteoporosis! And DO NOT listen to your doctor if he/she tries to scare you with statistics of how many women break hips and end up in nursing homes. It is all just a scare tactic, and unfortunately shows how uneducated the medical profession in the U.S really is.

 

More questions and answers regarding bone health have been posted in the comment section below the video The End of Osteoporosisand more email questions will be added to this page as time goes on – so stay tuned. If you are interested in having a customized exercise program designed for your goals, or need support with your nutrition, the first step is complete your client profile form (please note that you have to be logged in to view the form).

Share this pageEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest