Letter from Dr. Janson
Overcoming Osteoporosis — Natural Remedies to Preserve Your Bones
In the Health News
By the Way
Letter from Dr. Janson
Let’s jump right in to what you need to know to enhance your health, and prevent illness and degenerative disease through diet, lifestyle habits, and dietary supplements.
Although the weather here in the northeast has been unusually warm this year, the stress of winter is bound to take its toll on our immune systems. We are living indoors more, exposed to overheated, dry air, going back and forth from hot buildings to cold outdoors to hot cars, living with less light, and not getting as much physical activity as we do in summer. At the same time, we are in closer quarters with others, exposed to more viruses transmitted by hand-to-hand contact, sneezes, and coughs and those the kids bring home from school. What you need to know is how to protect yourself from all these sources of stress and viral exposure.
This is not too difficult with some basic principles of good health. Don’t give up on your exercise program just because it is winter. It’s important to your immunity, and you have access to many exercise machines, health clubs, aerobics programs, and even at home floor exercises that can give you a pretty good workout. You can try something as simple as jumping rope, which is excellent if you do it slowly enough so you don’t become short of breath, and it is easy equipment to carry with you. You can follow the exercise programs on TV, and record them to fit your busy schedule (I know you can program your VCR). Exercise enhances the activity of our white blood cells, and this increases our resistance to infections, including that flu-bug that seems to be “going around.”
In addition to exercise, you need to maintain your healthy diet year-round (in 15 minutes last night I put together a quick yellow split pea soup with sauteed onions, garlic, celery, and carrots, some curry powder, thyme, and dashes of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar—of course, I had to let it simmer for an hour, but I was out running by then).
Remember to wash your hands frequently, as hand-to-hand contact is the most common way of transmitting a virus (you would be surprised how often you rub your eyes, and those hand-carried viruses readily enter through the tear ducts). Also, wipe doorknobs, telephones, and even TV/VCR remote controllers with alcohol. All this helps when we can’t keep our resistance at its peak.
Avoid those over-the-counter remedies and fluid replacement drinks; they are full of sugar and other undesirable ingredients. Sugar decreases the activity of your white blood cells. Instead, try some of the herbal teas that are available, or simply boil some ginger and add a touch of lemon.
Supplements also help immune function. You all know the importance of vitamin C (I recommend about 4000 to 6000 mg daily) and Vitamin E (800 IU daily—I like those with high levels of mixed tocopherols for their extra beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols, in addition to the basic alpha.
Standardized extract of echinacea can help fight colds and flu, especially in the early stages of an infection (you can take standardized extract, 250 mg capsules 2 to 4 times a day, or for a faster response try the tincture, one or two droppers 2 to 4 times a day.)
Transfer factor is an immune-enhancing substance derived from colostrum, the “first milk” produced during nursing. Transfer factor is remarkable in its ability to reduce infections because it provides an immediate immune response instead of having to wait for the white blood cells to “learn” how to fight a specific bug. For example, in one study from Mexico with severe, complicated measles, which has a high mortality rate, eight of nine patients recovered completely. Evidence is strong that it also helps other viral illnesses (such as Herpes, HIV, and flu), chronic fatigue, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. The typical dose of transfer factor is 600 to 1200 mg daily.
Beta-1,3 glucan (or lentinan) is a chain of glucose molecules that also helps to build immunity. In a Brazilian study of trauma patients, who are prone to infection, patients on beta-1,3 glucan supplements had one fifth the rate of pneumonia, one third the rate of blood infections, and only one fifth as many patients died. In another study on patients with metastatic prostate cancer, beta-1,3 glucan prolonged average survival by one third, and five-year survival by 50 percent. The typical dose of beta-1,3 glucan is 100 to 300 mg daily.
Many other supplements support immunity, but perhaps most important is stress reduction, either through some form of meditation, visualization, breathing exercises, yoga, and laughter.
Calcium D-glucarate is a safe, natural compound that is produced in small amounts in the body and is present in all cells, and in some vegetables and fruits. It is especially important for the organs of detoxification, such as the liver, spleen, and kidneys, and for the intestinal lining, breast, and endocrine glands. It is converted in the body into a potent cancer protective compound called D-glucaro-1,4-lactone. Many toxins and carcinogens such as pesticides, PCBs, hydrocarbons, and drugs are eliminated from the body by attaching to a substance called glucuronic acid. However, an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase can block this detoxification, but D-glucaro-1,4-lactone counteracts this process and facilitates the elimination of the chemicals.
If toxins and used hormones are not broken down, they then promote tumor formation and tumor progression. Calcium D-glucarate is unlike most anticancer supplements in that its activity against cancer is not related to antioxidant activity, but to this influence on enzymes. As a supplement it is used in general detoxification health programs. The main research on calcium D-glucarate is in animals, in which it inhibits a variety of tumors, but it is such a safe compound that it is a good idea to include it in any cancer treatment program, and also for people who are at increased risk of developing cancer.
The typical dose of calcium D-glucarate is 500 to 1500 mg daily for general detoxification, and up to 3000 to 4500 mg daily for people who already have cancer or are heavily exposed to environmental toxins.
Natural remedies to preserve your bones
Bones are dynamic, living tissues containing calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and other minerals, and they are constantly being modified and rebuilt through a balance of mineral deposits and mineral loss. A complex interaction of cells called osteoblasts that build bone and osteoclasts that break down bone (to move calcium into the blood) creates this balance, but as we age the balance shifts toward loss of bone minerals and bone strength. Early stages of bone loss are called osteopenia, and later it becomes osteoporosis.
After the age of 30 to 35 men and women lose bone at about one percent a year. After menopause, bone loss in women increases to about three percent a year, leading to a 20 percent loss of bone density within the next five to seven years.
The overwhelming majority of the 25 million Americans with osteoporosis are women, although men also lose bone every year (but they start with a higher bone density.) This thinning or weakening of the skeleton leads to bone fractures, often the first outward sign that a problem exists. The most common sites of fracture are the hip, the spine, and the wrist.
Weight-bearing exercise is essential to the prevention of osteoporosis. It appears that the impact or stress on the bones increases bone density, so although walking is good, jogging or sports is probably better because of the extra impact. If you prefer walking, spend a few moments at a slight jog several times during your walk
Diet is also critically importance. Milk is not a cure for osteoporosis. It appears from population studies that milk does nothing to prevent osteoporosis. This is contrary to the popular myth fostered by the milk industry. Countries with the highest milk consumption have the highest rates of osteoporosis and hip fracture. After weaning, milk is not a healthy food, but small amounts are not likely to be harmful.
Good sources of calcium are green vegetables such as kale, collards, broccoli, almonds, navy beans and tofu. (Instead of milk on cereal, try soymilk or rice beverage.)
Dietary habits that increase bone loss are high amounts of protein (especially animal protein), phosphorus (found in milk, meat, and especially sodas), sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Changing this to a mostly vegetarian diet of unprocessed foods is very likely to help prevent osteoporosis (and many other health problems).
Supplements also help osteoporosis
While it is important to have adequate calcium, better diet may decrease the amount needed, and supplements are actually better than milk. I recommend 500 mg daily of calcium citrate (the best absorbed form). Another essential is adequate vitamin D (400 to 800 IU, assuming you are not getting too much from processed foods with added D). Other important supplements for the bones include magnesium (500 mg), boron (3 mg), trace minerals, flavonoids such as proanthocyanidins that promote good connective tissue strength, and natural progesterone.
Ipriflavone is a relative of the isoflavones found in food sources such as soybean products. Its chemical name is isopropoxy isoflavone, and although very small amounts are found in food, the major source for supplements is synthetic. Recent studies show that ipriflavone supplements both retard bone loss and increase bone density up to six percent a year, even in people who already have osteoporosis. The effective dose of ipriflavone is 300 mg twice a day.
I recommend this to anyone over the age of 45 for preventive medicine. Although with proper health habits you don’t have to lose bone, it is such a safe supplement, and bone loss is so common that I think it is good insurance. I take it myself, although I exercise and eat carefully.
In the Health News
Physical activity appears to confer benefits to post menopausal women that goes beyond the help with bone density. Women who get regular moderate to vigorous exercise more than four times a week are half as likely to get diabetes as those who do not exercise. Even less exercise, as long as it is regular, reduces the risk of diabetes by about 30 percent. Of course, diet also helps by maintaining a normal weight, and high fiber helps to control blood sugar—even in those who are already diabetic, a vegetarian diet of unprocessed, high-fiber foods helps.
Diet and Disease
•We’ve all heard about red wine and prevention of heart disease. It turns out that not only the alcohol is of benefit, but substances in red wine called catechins are protective, and non-alcoholic red wine confers even more benefits because of a higher level of catechins (these are the compounds in green tea that are helpful with heart disease and cancer prevention). Independent of catechins, up to one alcoholic drink a day also seems to reduce mortality.
•Enhanced nutrition helps critically ill patients. A study showed that adding the nutrients L-arginine,L- glutamine, omega-3 fatty acids, and nucleotides (RNA) significantly enhanced the health of these patients. They had one third fewer infections, fewer days requiring a ventilator, and shorter hospital stays. L-arginine, L- glutamine, and omega-3 fatty acids, are available to anyone wanting to enhance their own immunity and general health.
By the way:
It appears that the FDA is now loosening up the restrictions on health claims for dietary supplements. It will be easier for you to find out that ginkgo helps memory, that coenzyme Q10 improves heart function, and that chromium helps diabetes. This is a breakthrough in informing the public about the benefits of dietary supplements. Although you can find out much of this by reading this newsletter, it is better to have as many sources of information as possible.
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See DM, et al., In vitro effects of echinacea and ginseng on natural killer and antibody-dependent cell cytotoxicity in healthy subjects and chronic fatigue syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome patients. Immunopharmacology 1997 Jan;35(3):229-35.
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In the health news
Folsom AR, et al., [Physical activity and diabetes.] Am J Public Health 2000;90:134-138.
Bell, JRC, et al., [Dealcoholized red wine and heart health.] Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:103-108.
Gaziano JM, et al., [Moderate alcohol consumption reduces mortality.] J Am Coll Cardiol 2000;35:96-105.
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