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Managing Inflammation Leads to Healthier Bones

By Felicia Reid February 22, 2022 Health and Fitness

Inflammation is your body’s favorite companion, sometimes. Realistically, you can’t live without it, but when it becomes too clingy you can’t live with it either. In the short term, inflammation comes to the rescue when you have a minor infection or injury.

It’s protective and isolates your injury or ailment so that your repair cells can come in, swoop out the irritant and start the repair. When inflammation lingers and won’t leave, that’s when the trouble begins.

Inflammation and Bones

Science has proven inflammation to be the underlying cause of most disease, but only in the last 20 years has it become clear that inflammation can cause osteoporosis. According to research done at the Mexico Clinical Research & Osteoporosis Center, if there’s inflammation in your body it causes bone forming cells to produce a protein that increases osteoclast activity (bone degradation), therefore increasing bone loss.

Other research from The University of Pittsburgh shows a relationship between inflammation and frailty, with an eventual outcome being greater fracture risk.

You may already know that the process of bone building begins to slow down in your 30s, causing bone to breakdown faster than it can build back up. When you add age and inflammation to the matrix, you need to be constantly on the alert.

How Inflammation Develops and What It Looks Like

Toxins are often to blame as a precursor to inflammation, along with other factors like stress, poor nutrition, lack of exercise or daily movement, excess weight, sleep issues, medications, preexisting conditions and simply, age. All these things don’t just flare up inflammation in isolation.

Like with all disease, inflammation goes astray when the right number of factors combine. It’s never an isolated incident. Any combination of things could instigate a continual cycle of inflammation. The perfect storm is different for everyone, but it usually takes several elements to brew a chronic inflammatory reaction.

Do you ache all over, are you constantly fatigued, perhaps you have trouble with memory, trouble concentrating? Maybe you’re always getting colds, bacterial infections, fungal infections like candida or skin rashes on your hands? You may have digestive issues like constant bloating, gas or constipation. These are all signs that inflammation is brewing.

Long Term Use of Anti-Inflammatory Medication

Doctors often prescribe corticosteroids like prednisone and hydrocortisone to manage inflammation when there is chronic disease. The problem with these medications is that if treatment continues long term, they have a tendency to weaken your immune response and mimic cortisol in your body.

This directly impacts bone density, the onset of osteoporosis and in addition, atrophy of lymphatic tissue and the muscle surrounding your bones.

Corticosteroids can also affect aldosterone, a hormone that keeps your sodium and potassium levels in check. Although further studies are needed, a meta-analysis and review published in the Frontiers of Endocrinology Journal in 2020 shows clinical studies looking at the relationship between excess aldosterone and osteoporosis indicating a clear connection causing increased risk of bone fracture.

If you are currently on corticosteroids and have been for a long time, you may wish to have a discussion with your doctor about alternative treatments.

Six Ways You Can Protect Your Bones from Inflammation

#1: Avoid Inflammatory Foods

Because inflammation disrupts the body’s ability to absorb nutrients efficiently, the nutrients that are vital for keeping your bones strong may be depleted; things like calcium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D, K and A, essential fatty acids and proteins.

Lack of nutrients means lack of bone growth and increase of fracture. A healthy anti-inflammatory diet should be your first step toward managing inflammation and maintaining bone integrity.

The easiest way to start is by getting to know what an inflammatory food is. Once you know what causes inflammation you can enjoy everything else that your body’s able to tolerate. By eating a varied whole foods diet with a good amount of fiber, organic vegetables and fruit, wild fatty fish, grass fed and pasture raised meats and poultry, whole grains, nuts and seeds you’re nourishing your body and getting a varied nutrient rich diet.

Sure, there are some foods that are particularly helpful due to their ability to activate certain anti-inflammatory properties. Spices like turmeric, ginger and garlic, fruits like blueberries and pineapple, and vegetables like broccoli and mushrooms are all beneficial.

The list of beneficial foods is endless, that’s why I find it more helpful for people to understand inflammatory foods and remove them first. You’ll find it’s a much easier way to simplify what to eat and what not to eat.

#2: Keep Excess Weight Off

When you’re overweight, inflammation increases because the wrong type of fat tissue reduces a particular protein in your body that works to keep inflammation down. That same fat tissue releases inflammatory cells that proliferate. You can make a major difference in how your body reacts to inflammation by simply managing your weight.

#3: Start a Yoga Practice

Exercise is proven to reduce inflammatory markers; however, if you think you have to push yourself into high intensity exercise in order to stay healthy, you have it all wrong. Too much exercise actually causes stress on the body.

You need to know what is enough for you. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is good, but giving yourself ample rest time along with that is best. Steady movement of any kind, done regularly, is a sustainable way to maintain your physical and mental wellbeing.

To keep your muscles toned and your bones strong combine a movement or yoga based practice with resistance training and weekly weight bearing exercises.

#4: Keep Blood and Lymphatic Vessels Flowing

Your circulation and movement of fluids through your body influences how inflammation manifests itself and can be vital to how inflammation plays out in your body. A sedentary lifestyle will not help you here nor anywhere.

#5: Manage Stress

Chronic stress causes increased blood sugar, insulin resistance, weight gain, poor sleep and digestive issues, all the things that lead us back to an increase in inflammation. Remember that stress can be both physical and emotional, so keep your body in check.

Laughter’s my favorite way to relieve stress, but there are so many ways to let your body unwind. Maybe take a warm bath and throw in some magnesium chloride flakes or Epsom salts. It’s relaxation, a boost of magnesium and a detox all in one.

Find what works for you; whether its baths, meditation or something else, just make it something that lets you fully let go of all the things that weigh you down.

#6: Reduce Daily Toxins

Mold, plastics, household cleaners, cosmetics, GMOs in food, poor cooking methods like frying and using fats that cause oxidative stress are just some of the toxic things that can affect your health and charge inflammation. Sometimes switching up the products used for more natural ones and preparing food differently can make a big difference for someone.

Similar to osteoporosis itself, inflammation begins long before you even know it’s a problem and that’s why it’s so important to practice preventative and restorative measures on a daily basis for best bone outcome.

Is inflammation your constant companion? How long has it stayed with you? When do you feel its impact the most? Are you taking medications to manage inflammation and what is the result? Have you considered other methods for fighting inflammation in your body?

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor to get specific medical advice for your situation.

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The Author

Felicia Reid is a board certified nutritional therapy practitioner and a registered yoga teacher. She’s passionate about empowering others with knowledge about nutrition, movement and lifestyle choices, so that they can thrive and live their best life at every age. Find her at https://thewellnesschair.com and on instagram @thewellnesschair.

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