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Maintaining Bone Health:
The Power of Choice

“Our bones are quite literally the structural foundation of our bodies,” observes Alex Kumbar, owner of OsteoStrong in Durham and Raleigh. “It’s also arguable that healthy bones are the critical foundation for overall health.”

Alex Kumbar

The human skeleton serves a number of major functions besides support, he explains. It protects our brain, heart, and other organs from injury, aids in endocrine regulation and manufacture of blood. Our bones also store and regulate minerals—such as calcium and phosphorous—that keep our bones strong and help our entire systems function.

“In short,” he says, “if we’re to maintain health, we need healthy bones. And OsteoStrong is a unique bone-strength training program designed to build and maintain healthy bone density.”

Healthy Bones

“Bone ‘health’ may be described in terms of bone density,” explains Mr. Kumbar. “Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and replaced. In fact, it’s estimated that our skeleton is fully replaced every seven years! But bone strength—density—declines naturally with age. Our bones reach peak density around age 30, and we are engaged in a process of bone remodeling (replacing the outer layer with new bone) throughout our lives. However, after the age of 30 most people lose bone faster than they rebuild it—typically, at a rate of about 1-3 percent per year. The result: bones get weaker, more porous, and more brittle, ultimately resulting in osteoporosis.

“Although that decline in bone density is natural, it’s not inevitable,” notes Mr. Kumbar. “Not only do factors such as exercise and diet influence bone density, but—as the OsteoStrong program demonstrates—you can trigger your body to build more bone than it’s breaking down, at any age, and at any starting ability.”

Osteogenic Loading: How It Works

“OsteoStrong is not a gym, diet, pharmaceutical, or health supplement,” explains Mr. Kumbar. “It’s a system that works for people at all ages and levels of activity to promote skeletal strength. The process is called ‘osteogenic loading’ or ‘impact emulation’ because the devices give you the benefits of high impact force without risk of injury that comes with uncontrolled impacts.”

Specially designed, patented equipment allows individuals to safely apply the exact amount of pressure through their bones to trigger a bone-building response. A weekly session takes about 15 minutes, during which you apply force on four different devices—pushing, pulling, or lifting—in order to reach the point at which you are building bone. The equipment displays how much force you’re using—and whether you have reached the needed level to trigger the body’s adaptive response

The key to building bones is stress, he explains. “A hundred years of research—known as Wolff’s Law—tells us that, when stressed appropriately, the body will respond by building bone. That is the essence of the OsteoStrong program. Using a system of osteogenic loading (see box), special equipment applies sufficiently high levels of pressure to trigger your body to build bone density.”

Beyond Bone Density

“OsteoStrong’s program is a constant reminder,” observes Mr. Kumbar, “that our bodies function holistically—all our systems connect and support each other. For example, although the principal focus of osteogenic loading is bone density, it also causes the body to add lean muscle and strengthen joints. This reduces the risk of getting injured, and more lean muscle also makes every-day activities easier, so you’ll have more energy.”

Strengthening the skeletal system, he adds, also affects calcium levels. “When triggered to build denser bones, our body does a better job of holding onto calcium, which means more calcium reserves are available for numerous regulatory functions.

“It’s often said that bone density is the ‘calcium battery’ for the body. Every time you flex a muscle, the body uses calcium—in muscle firing, blood clotting, regulating heart rhythm, and many more functions. So it’s important to have a large reserve available, and your bones act as that reserve. Building bones also builds that calcium ‘bank’.”

Managing Bone Health: The Choices We Make

Age is not the only factor affecting bone health. “There are many ‘toxins’ that significantly affect bone health and accelerate decline in bone density,” notes Mr. Kumbar. These include poor dietary and other lifestyle choices, some medical conditions, and many medications.

The Bone Density “Bucket”

Beyond age, bone density is impacted by many factors. Some help fill the bone density “bucket.” Other factors are like “holes” in the bucket, contributing to a decline in bone strength. Among the “fillers” and “holes”:

Nutritional Bucket Fillers

  • Needed: 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium daily (can only absorb 500 mg at a time)
  • Needed: 800-2,000 units of Vitamin D daily to process calcium
  • Vitamin K2 transports calcium from the bloodstream to the bones
  • Other trace minerals such as magnesium and phosphorous impact bone health

Lifestyle Bucket Holes

  • Soda, alcohol and smoking all decrease bone density

Medical Bucket Holes
(partial list)

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Alcoholism
  • Cancers
  • Celiac Disease
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Medication Bucket Holes (partial list)

  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • HIV drugs
  • Lithium
  • Methotrexate
  • Steroids

In addition, many external toxins can impact bone health, including some—such as stress— that might not be obvious. Air pollution has the potential, for example, to cause bone to break down faster, and can affect the severity and progression of osteoporosis.

“What’s important to remem-ber,” says Mr. Kumbar, “is just how much power each of us has— through the choices we make—to affect our bone health.

“We share a handout with our members that’s helpful in understanding the impact of various factors on bone density. (see box) It characterizes bone health as a bucket. What fills your bucket and what empties it? On the plus side, good nutritional choices fill the bucket. Problem lifestyle choices—such as smoking—punch ‘holes’ in the bucket. Other holes are created by certain diseases, such as alcoholism and cancer.”

High on the list of recommen-dations to strengthen bone health, is ensuring adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. “Calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K2 are essential for bone health,” notes Mr. Kumbar.

“Another consideration,” he notes, “is maintaining a healthy pH level by keeping your blood very alkaline. The body spends a lot of effort to maintain our blood at a specific pH, and will use calcium to help alkalize the blood if it’s getting too acidic. So, we recommend balancing your pH with your diet, by eating plenty of alkaline foods and limiting acidic foods.

“We also recommend avoiding bone-destroying toxins. Those might be things like excess sugar or the chemicals found in many household cleaners and personal care products,” says Mr. Kumbar. “Because the body burns a lot of bone-related resources when in a toxic environment.”

A Powerful Path to Healthy Bone

Bone density natural declines with age, a process that is too often compounded by poor diet, medical problems, and toxic exposures. “Nonetheless,” insists Mr. Kumbar, “healthy bone density is an option—throughout our lives. That is OsteoStrong’s mission.

“Many choices—about diet, exercise, stress reduction—can have a positive impact on bone health, especially in combination. Nothing, however, matches the power of osteogenic loading—applying the necessary level of stress required to stimulate the body to build bone.