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Assessing the Health of Our Bones - Part III: Considering Individual Factors

Updated: 6 days ago

By Rachel Ames, MPT and Owner of Missoula OsteoStrong

When assessing our bone health and how our bodies are going to best respond to a bone health program, we must understand that everyone is unique and there are individual factors that impact our bone health.  


First of all, we need to understand our starting point. There are several factors that contribute to how much bone loss we have each year.  On average, the natural aging process creates a rate of bone loss of 1-3% or greater each year.  This is the baseline of what we lose each year and tells us how much we need to account for with gains.  It also helps us understand that not losing at all or any gain is a major win!  There are many other factors that can be holes in our bone health bucket that are leading to further loss in bone strength.  Some holes we have no control over but some we can help to plug, reduce the size or at least continue to fill the bucket to avoid further leaking.


Age and gender are key factors that must be taken into consideration. In addition genetics play a large role in the average amount of bone loss each individual has over time, therefore varying from person to person. Family history can give us a general sense of where we may fall in the annual loss percentage spectrum and some of the new genetic testing covered in Part 2 of our series can help shed light.  Everyone loses a different amount each year and genetics is one a large part of this.

Genetics can include pre-existing conditions that heavily impact our bone health.  Ones that we commonly think of that impacts bone health include; thyroid disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders/diseases and other previous conditions or illnesses. In addition, these types of conditions often result in use of certain medications (steroids, thyroid meds, anticoagulants, etc) that have negative impacts on bone health.  (1)


Other “holes in the bucket” include the level of inflammation we have in our bodies. Inflammation has direct effects on bone remodeling, can also impact bone through different mechanisms, since it may reduce tolerance to mobility/exercise, the production of reproductive hormones, and the absorption of nutrients, calories and minerals in gastrointestinal tracts, and is the leading cause of immunosenescence and a chronic low-grade inflammatory state, all of which have been associated with bone fragility and low mineral density. (2)


Gut health is another extremely important factor not only in bone density but in overall health and longevity.  It can be a significant “hole in the bucket” if you are not properly absorbing nutrients and minerals. Most of the microbes in your gut are considered symbiotic or “good” and if you’re healthy, both your good and less-good microbes usually coexist peacefully. However, disturbances such an insufficient diet or taking antibiotics for a prolonged period can throw off this balance and disrupt osteoblast and osteoclast activity.  Microbes have numerous important tasks, including aiding your immune system, breaking down potential toxins in your food and combining certain vitamins and amino acids, including B vitamins and vitamin K1.  Therefore, the state of our gut health determines what minerals and nutrients we can absorb properly. (3)


Our daily lifestyle habits are another key factor that play a large role in the health of our bones.  Lifestyle choices such as smoking, soda/sugar intake and excessive alcohol consumption impact our bone health negatively.  Exercise is a lifestyle habit that impacts our bone health positively.  The more we exercise and the stronger we are, correlates to our joints and bone health.  We lose bone together with muscle because muscle and bone are a unit.  Gaining muscle strength relies on a strong skeletal foundation.  If you need a refresher on Muscle Strength and OsteoStrong, we encourage you to revisit our blog from earlier this year.  


Within our center, hitting the growth triggers on our Spectrum Machines, which is research proven, affects our bone building potential. We need you to hit those growth triggers to stimulate bone growth.  Some of our members take longer to get to the triggers and some are able to hit the rapid growth triggers and therefore gains again vary from member to member.  

When looking at your bone health testing results, another important factor is timing of testing.  What was the timing of your last DXA compared to when you started OsteoStrong and/or other bone health program treatments?  As members bring in amazing results, we have to orient all of these factors to ourselves and not to other’s.  At OsteoStrong, YOU are your best motivator!  


Lastly, at OsteoStrong, we strive to provide educational opportunities to teach our members how to optimize their bone program by building a holistic bone regime.  In order to make our best bone density gains, we need to also focus on all the things and how interconnected they all are including:

  • Sleep is important as circadian disturbances impair bone formation, microarchitecture and strength and are associated with lower BMD.  (4)

  • Stress impacts our body negatively in so many ways including our bone health.  If you want to learn more about this, read our blog to learn more about cortisol’s impact on bone health.  This past year, we have shared some information on stress management that we invite you to use as resources including our Strong Talk on Stress Management with Emily Linton (you will need to scroll down to this specific Strong Talk under Past Events) and our blog Calming the April Showers where Session Coach Kathy Sherba provides insight on meditation.

  • Nutrition and Supplements are a large part of the bone health paradigm.  We are continually asked by our members about what supplements they should be using and how they can naturally support their bones through their diet.  Our Strong Talk on “Reversing Osteoporosis” with Valarie Ramsbacher, local pharmacist, provides information on this topic so be sure to watch this Strong Talk and/or reference the handout from that talk outlining this information.(you will need to scroll down to this Strong Talk). In addition, we will be providing more information on what supplements we recommend and offer at OsteoStrong next week in our last educational piece on A Holistic Bone Health Program.


If you want to hear more about individual factors and why some of us are more prone to osteoporosis than others, be sure to join us tomorrow for our Strong Talk with Dr. Mike Hutchins on “Why Me and Not my Neighbor: Root Cause of Osteopenia and Osteoporosis ”. Thank you for RSVPing to this event here.


In the last part of our educational series next week, we will go into more depth on a Holistic Bone Health Program addressing many of our members' questions around “what more should I be doing to obtain the best possible result for my bone health?”.


Your Questions Answered

Question: I saw that someone made a 15.5% increase on the OsteoStrong win board, how did she do that?


Answer:  With our experience after two years, we notice that people who have the best gains are looking at their bone health holistically and have a well-rounded program that includes, prioritizing their weekly OsteoStrong Sessions, getting the proper nutrition and supplements and incorporating cellular level healing with our recovery modalities.  Tune in next week to learn more about what a holistic bone health program looks like.


Resources for this blog

  1. DNA image “Designed by Freepik”

  2. National Library of Medicine I https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8836472/

  3. The Microbiome | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/microbiome/. Accessed 10/3/22.

  4. National Library of Medicine Ihttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5994176/

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