Fall is in the air, at least here in the U.S.. And as days are getting shorter, nature signals that it’s a time for retreat and renewal in preparation for the restorative rest of winter that will bloom into a spring awakening.
Deciduous trees change color and shed their leaves, creating a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors (as well as piles of leaves to be raked). If this didn’t happen, there wouldn’t be any room for new leaves and blossoms, and we’d just end up with trees crowned with old, wilted leaves. Fortunately, nature is much too smart to let that happen!
The retreat/renewal cycle also happens with our bones, except that the cycle of bone remodeling occurs year-round rather than seasonally. Just as the brilliant foliage of spring would not be possible without the paring down process that happens in the fall, new bone growth can only happen when old bone tissue makes way.
Your Body Knows What to Do
If we give our bodies what they need, they function beautifully as designed. It is only when the resorption/deposition process becomes unbalanced that there is a problem.
Just as spring leaves are stronger and healthier than fall leaves at the end of their life cycle, new bone is stronger and has more tensile strength – the ability to resist stretching or pulling – than old bone. And as you probably know by now, tensile strength is a primary concern when it comes to preventing fractures.
Bones typically don't break because they are not thick enough; they break because they are not resilient enough (in other words, they lack tensile strength).
Your DXA score (T-score), which is so heavily relied upon by the medical establishment, focuses mainly on density, which does not necessarily translate as strength; it simply translates your results into a number. Not surprisingly, several studies point to the inexact science of measuring bone density.
But mainstream medicine focuses disproportionately on density because it needs numbers (i.e. fixed parameters) to prescribe drugs, thus ensuring most doctors end up following the same protocol.
While density is one indicator of bone metabolism, the main focus of bone health should be to prevent fractures, and as I explain in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, less dense but healthy and renewed bones are less prone to break than thicker, denser, older bones.
To learn more about the remodeling process, take a look at ‘How Your Bones Renew Themselves: An Inside Look'. If you haven’t already read it, I think you’ll enjoy this lighthearted but informative post starring Oscar the Osteoclast.
Don’t Mess With Nature
Putting aside the potentially devastating side effects of the osteoporosis drugs, a larger issue is that they only work temporarily – at best – during the short decoupling of bone resorption and deposition. You see, most prescription drugs kill off osteoclasts, those necessary destroyers of old bone to make room for new, healthy, and resilient bone. The drugs take the hazardous view that by eliminating the ability of osteoclasts to destroy bone tissue, they’re helping bones maintain their density.
The glaring problem with this approach is that by killing off osteoclasts, the drugs interfere with the normal bone remodeling cycle and make it practically impossible for newer, stronger bone tissue to be built. This might explain the recently discovered side effect of atypical femur fractures, by the way. While purporting to improve “density,” these drugs do nothing to improve bone strength — resulting in dense, brittle bones that are even more prone to fracture.
As I write in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, picture a thin but supple and moist tree twig that has been saturated in protective oils. Then compare it to a thick slab of old dried-up wood. Of course this isn’t an exact comparison, but it might help to clarify why a thick, hard outer bone layer can actually be more fragile than a thin but well-integrated whole. Prescription drugs are obviously not the solution.
So What’s the Answer?
The Osteoporosis Reversal Program, with its eating guides, Foundation Supplementation guidelines, exercise and lifestyle recommendations, is designed to facilitate the natural bone remodeling process. Even if your system has gotten out of whack through medication or diet, you can get back on track and regain your bone health.
So as winter approaches and you curl up in front of the fire, close your eyes for a moment, and picture those osteoclasts doing their work so you can build stronger, healthier bones. And for now, I'll leave you with this breathtaking video — enjoy: