Bone and Joint Tutorial
The skeleton is comprised
of over 200 bones and 100 joints. Exercise, nutrition, and stress management
are all critical in the maintenance of their health. This system is a
masterpiece of architecture and performs many functions:
- It supports the
- It protects internal
organs (such as the brain, heart, and lungs)
- It contains and
protects bone marrow
- It provides a structure
by which muscles attached to it can effect motion.
Emotions such as anxiety,
feelings of insecurity, sadness, and even lack of love in our lives plays
an important role in skeletal system disorders. See A
Guided Visualization to Healthy Bones and Joints for a method
you can use to manage these feelings.
There are over 600,000
fractures each year in the U.S. due to osteoporosis, which is brittleness
in bone due to loss of bone density. Osteoporosis is more prevalent in
women than men for two reasons:
- Women are generally
smaller than men in stature; therefore, they have lighter and smaller
- Women experience
a precipitous drop in bone density during menopause due to the loss
of female hormones.
About one-third of
women who are past menopause have some level of osteoporosis.
can be made to optimize bone density over a lifetime:
- A diet rich in calcium
has been found to build bone density. Dairy is a common source (although
some research has recently indicated excess animal protein leaches calcium
Other sources include dark green vegetables, calcium-fortified foods
and calcium supplements.
- Vitamin D is important
for absorbing calcium. We get it quite naturally from sun exposure,
but modern, indoor lifestyles prevent us from getting enough. Regular
exposure to moderate amounts of sun is recommended depending on skin
tolerance. Do not burn!!
Vitamin D can also be supplemented in tablets or through fortification
- Reduce excess alcohol
intake and soft drink habits, which can decrease bone density.
- Quit smoking.
- Weight-bearing activity
across the lifetime is a must. Physical activity, especially during
the teens and early twenties builds bone density, which is drawn on
in later years.
- Stress is thought
to be related to osteoporosis in three different ways: First, stress
can cause physiological changes in the body that may lead to osteoporosis.
Second, poor lifestyle choices resulting from stress such as inadequate
diet, inactivity, or sleep patterns may be factors. Third, the experience
of osteoporosis itself causes depression and anxiety, which is stressful.
All cause inflammation.
None of us is immune to the stressors of life, but we can do something
about the way we individually respond to those stressors (see The
Root of Disease). This can greatly affect the role inflammation
plays in osteoporosis and may be your primary defense against its effects.
Arthritis may result
from a physical injury, infection, genetics, or unknown reasons. There
are over 100 different kinds, affecting an estimated 20 to 30 million
Americans. It is the most common chronic illness in the U.S. and is typically
characterized by pain, tenderness, and inflammation.
In rheumatoid arthritis
(RA). the joints are attacked by an overactive immune system. Unfortunately,
it can affect all joints, which can become swollen, deformed, and inflamed.
Both arthritis and
rheumatoid arthritis are inflammatory diseases. The inflammatory American
diet and psychological stress are the primary areas of concern.
The following treatment recommendations can be made:
- Refined grains and
sugars are inflammatory. Reduce or eliminate grains. Use whole sugars
such as honey, maple syrup, and fruits.
oils such as corn, safflower, and soybean are all inflammatory. They
are most commonly found in deep-fried foods and salad oils. Substitute
olive oil, which is the least inflammatory.
- Eliminate trans-fats.
- Consume Omega 3.
Fish oil contains high amounts of Omega 3, which is anti-inflammatory.
Also, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and eggs, wild salmon, sardines,
and herring are excellent sources.
- Ginger and turmeric
have anti-inflammatory properties. Include them in your diet.
- Eliminate or moderate
alcohol use, caffeine, and nicotine.
- Excess body weight
is hard on joints. Still, an exercise routine should be maintained.
It should be modified, however, to sidestep severe pain in the affected
joints. Swimming and biking are often good choices when done in moderation.
- The recommendations
above address diet and exercise, but may not be the most important treatments.
Stress is another major concern. Even if stress was not a factor causing
the illness, it always becomes one when trying to manage it. While we
cannot always change external events in our lives that cause stress,
we can change our response to these events. See A
Guided Visualization to Healthy Bones and Joints for a practice
you can utilize to manage stress.