Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Osteoporosis Treatment

Osteoporosis is an imbalance between bone production and loss. Most loss is due to dietary use of omega-6 vegetable oils. Treatment should focus on elimination of demineralizing oils and minimizing inflammation.

It is hard for me to discuss osteoporosis without the image of Sally Field advocating the use of Boniva (the bisphosphonate Ibandronate, see figure) popping into my head. Advertising is very powerful. Bisphosphonates stop bone loss by killing osteoclasts, the cells that demineralize bone during bone remodeling.

Normally demineralization of bone by osteoclasts is followed by secretion of osteoid containing osteocalcin by osteoblasts. Osteocalcin initiates mineralization. Thus, a large fraction of bone is being rejuvenated by balanced osteoclast/osteoblast action at any given time. Cessation of this remodeling process in bone as in cartilage and other connective tissue, e.g. skin, gives the symptoms of aging.

Osteoporosis, loss of bone density, means that there is a net conversion of bone hydroxyapatite (calcium phosphate crystals) into blood calcium, followed by calcium loss in urine. This means that the continuing development and activity of osteoblasts and osteoclasts is out of control. Osteoblasts develop from stem cells that are also the origin of fat adipocytes. The transcription factor that controls the alternative destiny of these stem cells is PPARgamma. Omega-6 fatty acids are converted into molecules that stimulate PPARgamma and result in adipocyte production in bone marrow instead of osteoblasts. In general terms, vegetable oil (except olive oil) makes fat cells instead of bone cells.  This is particularly true in postmenopausal women.  It is no wonder that the emphasis on the use of vegetable oils to avoid saturated fats has resulted in a pandemic of osteoporosis.

Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) are anti-inflammatory and they do not stimulate the production of PPARgamma. As a consequence omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, enhance bone production and density, and are very important to maintain normal osteoblast production.

Osteoporosis treatments that block osteoclast development or activity can be expected to have long term side effects, because normal renewal of bone is being disrupted. Inhibiting bone demineralization can lead to a slowing of osteoporosis, but it does not get to the cause of the osteoporosis.

Because of the prevalence of diet-based chronic inflammation, one might expect that diet and lifestyle are also the foundation of most osteoporosis.  With both inflammation and osteoporosis vegetable oils appear to be the major culprit.  Aging is also associated with osteoporosis.  Most of the symptoms of aging can be attributed to mismanagement of chronic inflammation.  Now it turns out that osteoporosis is a dietary problem (vegetable oil) compounded by physical problems of inflammation that limit activity.  Loss of muscle mass, i.e. sarcopenia, and replacement with fat around organs and in bone marrow can be explained by diet-based chronic inflammation and inadequate weight-bearing exercise.

A major risk factor for osteoporosis is omega-6-rich vegetable oils, e.g. corn, soy, etc. In simple terms, the first step that I would recommend for anyone concerned about osteoporosis is to shift to an anti-inflammatory diet. Eliminate all vegetable oils, except olive oil, from the diet and supplement with omega-3 fish oils (short-chain omega-3 oils in most vegetable sources are much less effective.)

The biomedical literature is very clear. Osteoporosis is not normal, is not a part of aging and can be avoided. There are some genetic predispositions to osteoporosis, but most can be overcome by meaningful diet and lifestyle changes. An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle (sunlight for vitamin D and exercise) is the cheapest, safest and most effective way to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

3 comments:

Nigeepoo said...

Back in 2003, I had osteoporosis (-2SD) in my lumbar spine, ankle & hip normal. By 2006, my lumbar density was normal. My endocrinologist told me that this was quite impossible. I like doing the impossible. Miracles take a little longer!

In addition to the 600mg/day Ca + 400iu/day D3 that I was prescribed, I took 300mg/day Mg and 15mg/day K2. I was prescribed alendronate but my stomach didn't like it so I stopped taking it after a few weeks.

I think that the K2 helped to get the Ca into my bones rather than into my arteries, kidneys, brain etc. Have you done any research on K2?

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I think that most osteoporosis is poorly understood and the interventions are too aggressive. It seems to me that in many cases vitamin D is deficient and only 400iu/d is prescribed. A study showed that for more than 2/3 of patients that didn't solve the problem. Some drs. recommend 50,000 iu, once per week until the deficiency is remedied and 2,000/d thereafter.
Sunlight is the best idea, if you have osteoporosis. Ten minutes/d (maybe twice daily in UK) on 10-20% of your skin.
I will look into K2.
Thanks for your comments.

Nigeepoo said...

Funny you should mention Vitamin D as my very first blog post is all about that. Most people who live in the UK have sub-optimal serum 25(OH)D levels, according to Hypponen & Power.

For me, 5,000iu/day of D3 is the dose that gives me a serum 25(OH)D near the top of the Reference Range and normal serum corrected Ca. It's vastly improved my Mental Function & Glucose Tolerance.

I never was much of an outdoors person and after I got Broadband Internet access in 2003, I rarely went out during the day.