The Doctor Speaks - Calcium Needs, Bone Health and Osteoporosis - Part 2

<< back

By: Philip Incao, M.D.

In my last column on bone health I emphasized a broader view: that the elasticity and flexibility of the living protein fiber framework of a bone is much more important than its calcium content in protecting our bones from fractures. DEXA bone mineral density scans are commonly prescribed by doctors to assess one's risk of fractures and to diagnose a mild (osteopenia) or moderate (osteoporosis) low-calcium status of one's bones. However, in an excellent article on bone health in the winter 2003 issue of LILIPOH, Clinton Greenstone, M.D. stated, "Actually, these [bone density] tests alone don't predict fracture rates or show true bone strength in the overwhelming majority of pa­tients." Dr. Greenstone further explained that bisphosphonate drugs like Fosamax cause slight increases in bone density and a slight lowering of the fracture rate only for about two years and that "after five or six years the fracture rates increase because the bone formed while on these medications is actually weaker."

In the narrow focus on calcium that dominates most media stories on bone health today, we are seldom told that the first step in building strong, resilient bone is the laying down of a dense, elastic and well-structured living protein fiber framework, or bone matrix. The second step is the attachment of calcium phosphate mineral crystals to the protein fiber framework, i.e. the protein fibers become calcified. A tightly woven protein fiber matrix will attract more calcium to a developing bone and result in a stronger and denser bone than the bone formed from a loosely woven protein fiber matrix. This explains why osteoporosis never results from calcium deficiency alone but rather from those factors which hinder the formation of a tightly woven protein fiber matrix as our bones continually remodel themselves throughout our lives. In the last LILIPOH I said that the wise forces of life, growth and remodeling in us are responsible for the strength and resilience of our bones, skin, connective tissue and all the organs and tissues of our body. These wise forces of life, or etheric forces, are our inner highly skilled construction crew which builds the protein fiber matrix of our bones and everything else in our body. Yet, these forces need the direction of our "inner architect” to maintain our bones and our body in good health throughout life. Just as an architect knows the materials needed for a building as well as the plans, our inner architect knows exactly how much and what kind of foods are needed to maintain strong bones and tissues. This inner architect is our inner instinctive sense that humans and animals are born with, a “life sense: that guides our food choices as our needs change throughout life. Animals in the wild have a keen instinctual life sense which unerringly guides them to eat what they need to maintain health lifelong.  We humans lose this function of our life sense after early childhood, so that, except during pregnancy or illness or other special circumstances, we are left with only our habitual likes and dislikes to guide our food choices.

Osteoporosis and many other chronic conditions prevalent in developed nations owe their existence to the sad fact that for most of us, our likes and dislikes in food and lifestyle have little or nothing to do with what our bodies need to maintain good health. This keeps doctors busy. The good news however, is that we can educate our life sense to begin wanting the foods that we actually need, if we're willing to make the effort.

I find that many of my patients don't eat enough vegetables, fruits or whole grains. Modern research confirms that vegetables, leafy greens, and whole grains like oats, rye and brown rice, are rich in the forces and nutrients needed by our inner construction crew, our etheric life forces, to build a strong protein fiber bone matrix and to calcify it into a sturdy yet flexible bone.

Perhaps surprisingly, countries with the highest dairy intake have the highest hip fractures rates. In the Nurse's Health Study in 1980 of 761 women aged 34 through 59-years-old who had never used calcium supplements, the women who drank two or more glasses of milk per day had a 45 percent increased risk of hip fracture compared to women consuming one glass or less per week.

Many of the causes of osteoporosis mentioned in my last column, such as tobacco use and excessive intake of protein, (including dairy), caffeine, alcohol, sugar, processed foods and soft drinks have in common an acid-forming effect in the body. An acidic inner environment is also created by stress, nervousness, exhaustion, excessive exercise and by an overactive thyroid gland. All of these factors increase the tendency to osteoporosis by depleting our vital etheric forces. When our life forces are strong and our stress is low, our inner environment becomes alkaline and we slow down and relax and become more cow-like in our behavior. When the hectic pace of life depletes our etheric forces, then our inner condition is acid and, if we have not yet reached the stage of exhaustion, we are tense, nervous, irritable, and generally bird-like in our behavior. Many of our modern illnesses, including osteoporosis, stem from dietary and lifestyle influences that speed us up, make us inwardly acid and brittle and deplete our etheric vitality.

In the natural world, cows are the epitome of strong etheric life forces; that's why they are considered holy in India. Birds are the epitome of strong nerve forces, (which deplete life forces), and which give birds their typical nervous, hyperactive behavior. With their low life forces, birds easily die after shock or injury, not so with cows. The modern epidemic of osteoporosis is linked to our prevailing high-stress, accelerated, bird-like lifestyle. So the bottom line is: to have strong bones, be bovine, not aquiline!


DR. INCAO maintains a medical practice in Denver, Colorado.

<< back

Dynamic Content Management by ContentTrakker