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10 Ways to Prevent or Reverse Osteoporosis

Half of all women will have osteoporosis by age 60. One in five women will have a hip fracture in her lifetime, and 50% of them will never walk again. Men are not immune to this problem. 30% of osteoporosis happens in males, and 50% of men who suffer hip fractures will die within one year.

A New Disease?

Osteoporosis which is so prevalent now, was virtually unheard of a hundred years ago. It was a rarity until the turn-of-the-century. So what happened? Did our genes change in a hundred years?

No! Genetic material takes thousands of years to change. The only thing that changed was our environment. Our diet and lifestyle are much different than they were hundred years ago and it has caused an epidemic of osteoporosis. So, what do we do? How can we reverse this process?

Here are 10 ways you can prevent or reverse osteoporosis:

1. Stop the Pop!

Carbonated beverages such as soft drinks, Champagne, and sparkling water leach calcium from your bones. A Harvard study on 16 to 20 year-old women showed that half of them were already showing bone loss as a result of excess soft drink intake. Carbonated beverages also have excess phosphates, which cause even more calcium loss.

2. Cut down on Protein

Excess protein intake causes acidity in the body, which in turn causes calcium to be lost in the urine. Most people need only two to 4 ounces of lean protein, three times a day.  The average American diet contains two to three times this much.

3. Keep Your Stomach Acid!

Many people are on acid blocking drugs, such as Nexium, Protonix, Prevacid, Tagamet, and Zantac, for problems such as heartburn and hiatal hernia. Stomach acid is necessary to absorb minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Blocking stomach acid significantly increases the risk of osteoporosis.

These drugs were meant to be used for six to eight weeks at a time, not for years at a time! In fact, most heartburn symptoms are not due to excess stomach acid. Two thirds of the patients on acid blocking agents have too little stomach acid, not too much!

4. Cut out Caffeine!

Each cup of coffee that you drink makes you lose 150 mg of calcium in your urine. Chemically decaffeinated coffee is not the answer either though, because it contains harmful chemicals that interfere with the detoxification process. Naturally decaffeinated teas are a better option, but if you must drink caffeinated coffee, at least increase your calcium intake by 150 mg for each cup you drink.

5. Get the Right Kind of Calcium

Tums is one of the worst sources for calcium. In addition to being composed of calcium carbonate, which is a poorly absorbed form of calcium, it decreases the stomach acid even further. Calcium citrate and calcium hydroxyapatite are the best forms of calcium to take. They need to be taken on an empty stomach for best absorption, and only 500 mg at a time (that’s all our bodies can absorb at one time). A total dose of 1000 to 1200 mg per day is adequate for most menopausal women.

6. Get Some Sun!

Vitamin D deficiency is also epidemic in our society. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium,  and put it in the bones. It is also important for immune system modulation, depression,  and autoimmune disorders. It is made in your skin when you get out in the sun. The farther you are from the equator, the less vitamin D you make in your skin. Most supplements contain 400 to 800 IU which is inadequate for most people in northern latitudes.

Since a skin cancer is such a concern, most people use sunscreen when they go out in the sun. Sunscreen blocks over 90% of your vitamin D production. But instead of putting yourself at risk for skin cancer, the best solution is to take supplements. Vitamin D levels can be measured by your physician, and the supplements can be titrated accordingly.

7. Have Your Hormones Checked

Hormonal decline is one of the most common reasons for bone loss after menopause in women. Andropause, the male equivalent of menopause, also causes bone loss in men.  Adequate levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are important for bone maintenance.

Excess levels of cortisol, insulin and parathyroid hormone can also cause bone loss.  Most physicians never check for these levels. An elevated calcium level in the serum is a clue that parathyroid hormone might be in excess. Excess refined sugars and starches in the diet cause elevated insulin levels. Excess stress causes elevated cortisol levels.

8. Change Your Diet

Excess refined sugars and starches, elevate your insulin levels and cause an increase in osteoporosis. The ideal diet is one called a “low glycemic index” diet. Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly food turns into sugar in the bloodstream. Low glycemic index foods do not raise blood sugar or insulin levels quickly, and include lean proteins, beans,  vegetables, and good fats (nuts, olives, olive oil, fish, fish oils, avocados).  Increasing fiber intake is an easy way to lower sugar and insulin levels. Fiber taken just before meals helps to slow down the absorption of sugars and fats, and can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as much as medication.

9.  Reduce Stress

Stress raises cortisol levels. If cortisol levels are high for long periods of time it can cause bone loss. Cortisol antagonizes insulin and leads to insulin resistance, eventually raising the blood sugar and causing calcium loss in the urine. As little as 25 teaspoons of sugar can cause calcium to be lost in the urine.

Stress reduction can include specific activities aimed at invoking the “relaxation response” such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, massage and prayer. It may also include getting more sleep, taking a vacation, getting psychotherapy to help with toxic relationships, and making an effort not to “burn the candle at both ends”.

10. Exercise More

When the muscles pull against the bones during exercise, it stimulates the bones and tells them that they are needed. Any weight-bearing exercise such as walking, hiking, climbing stairs and weightlifting can increase bone density. As little as 15 to 30 minutes a day can be helpful.  Weightlifting does not need to be with heavy weights either, it can be with as little as 2 - 5 pound hand or ankle weights. Or you can use your own body weight and let gravity to do the job. Floor exercises such as leg lifts and sit ups, will work just fine. Exercises such as swimming and cycling though great for muscle strength and fitness are not weight-bearing so aren’t the most beneficial for your bones.


30 Responses to “10 Ways to Prevent or Reverse Osteoporosis”
  • I was very concerned to learn about acid tablets. I’ve taken nexium for over twenty years and now Zantac. I don’t know a natural alternative. I do have hiertal hernia, and it’s very uncomfortable when sleeping if I didn’t take something to see me through. I’m really worried about my osteoporosis. I’m even on prednisolone too for rheumatoid arthritis so even worse.
    Thank you for you help!

  • Linda Thomas says:

    Question: I was told that bicycling was not good for your bones because there is no resistance.
    Yet you say it is good for bones? I know it is for cardiovascular.

    • staff says:

      Great question Linda,
      Recent studies involving serious cyclists have raised interesting questions about calcium loss for this group of athletes. For most of us though, moderate cycling represents exerting pressure against resistance so there is some value for our bones. Given the choice between cycling and nothing at all, cycling is a great exercise. If you are concerned about bone health, add some weight bearing exercises into your routine such as walking.

  • LAURA MILLER says:

    Thank you!!! That was very helpful!! I have not been able to tolerate the drugs for osteoporosis.

  • Kate says:

    I use Bone Up from a natural helath food store and Vitamin D3 which help to revert me back to osteopenia. I also exercise and try to follow the 10 steps listed above. Good luck!!

  • Larga Tuscane says:

    Thank you. I’m desperate for a natural and permanent reversal. Unfortunately, I was an individual that experienced an extreme and adverse reaction to generic actonel. I literally thought I was dying. Bravo to those that can take these drugs, but God help us that cannot. Hoping for a more positive way with the above recommendations.

  • jennifer lukawski says:

    I am only 35, getting sent to rheumatologist, my dexa scan came back pretty bad, can osteoporosis be reversed or is it permanent

  • pat says:

    actonel … I had not heard of that! I looked at the side effects and thought NO THANKS …. I am dealing with enough already I do not need more problems! Thank you however for your wonderful article and it sure gives me some places to start! I feel much more hopeful!

  • Tony Roach says:

    I am in Rosemary’s camp, I too like many many Americans have a hiertal hernia and have taken Prilosec and Nexium for over 20 years and now I have osteoporosis … to go off the drugs puts my esophagus at risk … because each time I try the acid comes back 1,000 fold …. and even with an ekevated bed the acid reflux is very problematic. Can you HELP not just me, but the hundred of thousands if not millions in the same situation?????

  • Gary says:

    I am a 58 year old male. I have been stressed at work for at least 25 years. I have been under the care of at least two PCPs. I experienced all of the symptoms related to stress. Neither one of these doctors mentioned the relationship between stress and osteoporosis. A year ago, i received a lifescreen test and they diagnosed me with a potential for osteoporosis. Even then, my current PCP dismissed the results saying the heel test is not accurate. About a month ago, he relented and ordered me to have a scan done to check for osteoporosis. Surprise, I am now on meds to attempt to reverse the bone loss caused by my 25 years of stress. I know some of the blame is on me for not doing my own research but most web sites did not mention the relationship between stress and osteoporosis. Now that I am specifically putting stress and osteoporosis in the search text, I see there is clearly a relationship. Thank you for your site and the information i read here.

  • Mara Macs says:

    Hi, does chocolate interfer too?

  • Jim says:

    Great tips. Thank you. I am a male and was diagnosed with this bone disease in 2000 at age 49 after fracturing my leg on a gym machine. I have had a lifetime of professional white collar work and had no outside pursuits such as golf or sailing. I lacked sun, vegetables and swimming was not enough. The consulting Professor immediately put me on Actonel. I have had no side effects at all. I gave up swimming and began walking then running. After three years I moved out of the red osteoporitic BMD rating. Last week I moved well towards the green zone and now am marked osteopenic - a much better rating. It has taken five years so far but I will remain on track. It can be reversed.

  • Margie Wright says:

    I’m 56 and was just diagnosed with osteoporosis. I have never stuck to regimen of taking calcium and Vit D supplements as was advised by dr in past. Plus I drink 2-3 cups coffee daily…This article was very informative for life style changes.
    Although my dr suggested I choose one of the drug treatments, is it wise to first try life-style changes and then compare next DEXA scan to current result to see if my changes are working?

  • Penny says:

    You’re right to be concerned, I took various PPIs for years, and eventually they stopped working. I was given a prescription to take one in the morning and one at night. I decided, that since I need acid for digestion, this was not a good idea. I researched the topic, and found a fantastic website. It’s Sherri Brescia Holisic Blends. I followed her regimen for 6 months, and I also eat 1/2 an apple before bed. Problem completely solved. Nieves had reflux again. No more waking at night with pain. Check it out!

  • Darla Stidham says:

    A friend of mine had been on prescription antacid pills for years. She started drinking Kefer Milk and has never took another pill since then. She likes the blueberry flavor.

  • clarise boudreaux says:

    I also have been on acid blockers (nexuum etc) for many years. recently I began making a cinnamon, ginger tea and when I take this every day, I do not need the meds. something worth looking at. Its called an asian ginger tea and sometimes has persimmon in it

  • clarise boudreaux says:

    Try making a tea from cinnamon and ginger. I boil 10 or so sticks of cinnamon, and sliced fresh ginger. I sip on it each day and this helps my reflux.If I take this every day, I can stay away from the meds. sometimes I forget to make the tea.
    there are recipes on the net called Asian ginger tea, and sometimes call for dried persimmon, which is hard to find, so I skip the persimmon.

  • Candie says:

    I have had GERD for many years and have been on Omeprazole without ANY improvement. My doctor finally had me tested for “LACTOSE and FRUCTOSE” intolerance and I came back positive to both. I have revised my diet and take a digestive enzyme with meals and no longer have the bloating, burning and discomfort. I also stopped taking the “Prilosec” The first week that I stopped the generic Prilosec I did have a lot of stomach burning, but it stopped within a few days and has not returned. I do not have a hiatal hernia though, but I think that can be repaired. So for me the answer was not taking the medications but needing to go lactose / fructose free, staying away from “fructose, honey, corn syrup etc. The plus is that I have lost weight too! I am so grateful that I had this breath testing done. They are very simple tests that my gastro doctor ordered and I had the results following the 2nd test. I also noticed that having my bed raised and laying on my back are a plus. Hope this helps someone like it has me. I am post menopausal and was also concerned about osteoporosis.

  • Morgan says:

    Thanks for postin all of these natural remedies!! I would definitely go the natural route. It is the least invasive plan of action, and doesn’t come with a laundry list of side effects. All medications have side effects and most risks outweigh the benefits. For those of you with hiatal hernia, give chiropractic a try, along with the diet change. Many people have gotten great results! As a matter of fact, chiropractic can help anyone by making sure the nervous system is properly functioning, so that all of these great changes you are making will get properly assimilated into your body! Happy healing everyone!!

  • Rose says:

    To treat acid reflux,try pink himalayan salt solution twice or thrice a day especially before you sleep.It works magic to balance your stomach’s PH.I stopped taking acidity drugs completely and am now healed of acid reflux.

  • Michelle says:

    Hi, you say take fibre before meals, in what form? I am 52 and have just been told I have osteopenia, I do walk a lot and thought I eat a good diet but will now make more changes and take calcium and vitamin D every day to help.

    Thank you for the information

  • Veronica says:

    Hello, I’m going to try all of these! I’m 37 and I was told I have Osteopenia. We found out after 3broken bones. Since I was very vitamin D deficient dr decided to do a Dexa Scan and thats how we found out I have Osteopenia. Now I have 2 additional stress fractures from just stepping down a little to hard ;(
    So in 7 months , I’m at 5 broken/fractured bones! Please help! If anyone has had luck to reverse Osteopenia please let me know. Bad thing is I am immobilized for the next 2 months again! Not easy with a 4 month baby and 2 toddlers. (Yes I was pregnant with the broken bones)

  • Nancy says:

    Hi, I just got a call from my Dr. Saying that my osteoporosis has gotten much worse! I took Fosomax for about 15 yrs. then he took me off of it for 2 years. Now I’ve been on it again for about 6 months. I’ve missed 2 doses. That can’t be the reason it’s gotten so much worse, can it? I am so upset, I hope I can take some of these suggestions and improve the numbers. I am 61 years old, and my mother and grandmother had it. My grandmother didn’t get any fractures until very late in life, and my mother never had any. I have a bad feeling that mine is worse than theirs!

  • Nicole says:

    @ Tony Roach. I am a 26 year old female, and I too have osteoporosis due partly to taking ppi’s for 4-5 years. I only took them that long because I like you, could not get off of them, even when i tried to “wean” off. And doctors always told me that I don’t need to wean off.. but YOU DO. This is how I did it.. I did it after I read someone else did this. I’m SO SO SO SO SO glad I ran across their comment. So to start off, you need to be taking a PPI that has the little granules inside a capsule. I counted out the total number in one capsule (it was like 270) and i reduced the number by 2 granules everyday, and sometimes I’d jump back up or stay at the same level to give my stomach some time to settle. The osteoporosis has continued… But I am now free of the PPI and my stomach has seriously never been in better shape… I eat a paleo/gaps diet. Mostly meat, vegetables, eggs. No more acid reflux. Hardly ever any digestive discomfort.. and nothing like before. I got on PPI’s because I was miserable.. I think changing my diet would have fixed it. Meat is something I digest the easiest now.. While on ppi’s, meat was a death sentence. I had gastroparesis while on PPI’s. I’m so glad to be off. It’s possible if you do it this way. Now I am just dealing with the aftermath.. pain and damage to my self esteem as a 26 year old losing her smile I am sure it will stabilize at some point. I’ve been off PPIs for maybe like…10 months or something.

  • Amy says:

    Nancy, you need to Google the “Dangers of Fosamax” and equivalent generic medications in the same class!

  • Brian says:

    Rosemary Bennett, Take bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water

  • mays says:

    I am diagnosed with GERD and I have been taking Nexium for the last 3 months. My Dr.asked me to take for 2 more months.Would this affect my ostioponea if I continue the treatment for 2 more months taking one tablet 20 in the morning and the other at night.

  • Jerri Lynn says:

    I am a 55 year old female with severe osteoporosis. I’ve had it 10 years. I’ve tried 2 rounds of reclast which did not work and made me very sick. Now they want me to try prolia. Anyone tried this yet? I’m
    Very frustrated as I exercise, eat healthy and have no idea why I keep getting worse any suggestions would be helpful I was on nexium for 5 years and had several rounds of steriod shots in my 20s due to a sports injury. Can this really be reversed?

  • Kim says:

    I was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis 18 months ago. After a year of exercise, supplements, healthy eating, and extra rest, I had a second scan and was worse! No one (primaries, ob/gyn, two rheumatologists) knew why. I went to see an endocrinologist, who said it was menopause (I was 55 when first diagnosed-not even menopausal yet!). I did a ton of research and learned that if you blood calcium is in the high normal range and you are over 30, you may very well have hyperparathyroidism. No meds or lifestyle changes will help if this is what is causing your bone loss. I had two (out of four) diseased parathyroid glands removed. The great news is that now my body will begin to reverse my osteoporosis, and I won’t need medication to do it.

  • sarah says:

    can osteopenia be reversed what is the best natural supplement to take

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