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Maximising Bone and Muscle Strength: Essential Steps for Peak Health

Optimal bone and muscle health are crucial for our well-being, particularly as we age. While age, genetics, and gender (specifically menopausal women) are recognised risks for conditions like osteoporosis, it’s important to remember that men and teenagers are also vulnerable to poor bone health. Beyond genetics, our lifestyle choices, nutrition, hormonal imbalances, medical conditions and medications, and environmental factors, play significant roles in influencing our bone health. 

Often, a family history of conditions like osteoporosis can be less about genetics and more about shared lifestyle and environmental factors, such as diets high in carbohydrates and sugar, processed foods, sedentary living, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking.

Research suggests that a staggering 80-90% of our health is influenced by epigenetics, which includes modifiable environmental and behavioural factors. These factors also impact our metabolic health, potentially leading to conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers, all of which can affect our bone and muscle health. https://doi.org/10.1017/thg.2015.100

For bone health specifically, the type of exercise we engage in is crucial. Heavy weightlifting and high-impact exercises are commonly recommended, but osteogenic loading, a central feature of the OsteoStrong® program, is key. This process involves applying specific doses of pressure to stimulate bone growth, a technique overlooked in most traditional exercise programs.

To effectively manage and prevent bone health issues, an integrated approach is essential. This includes participating in a foundational osteogenic loading program such as OsteoStrong®, while also paying attention to lifestyle, environmental, and nutritional factors. This integrated strategy ensures comprehensive care for bone health.

A Comprehensive Strategy for Bone and Muscle Health:

Exercise: Osteogenic Loading at OsteoStrong®

At the heart of optimal bone health is osteogenic loading, based on Wolff’s Law. OsteoStrong® centres use advanced Spectrum machines to apply precise pressure on bones, simulating the benefits of high-impact activities without the risk of injury. This method is essential for strengthening the hip and femur, as shown in a 2012 UK study by Deer and others. 

Unfortunately, conventional exercises like walking, running, swimming, and cycling don’t provide enough stress for new bone growth. OsteoStrong® sessions not only focus on bone health but also improve muscle strength and metabolic health through myofibril hypertrophy, enhancing overall strength and fast-twitch Type II muscle fibres, which are key for quick movements and balance.

Myofibril hypertrophy, stimulated by OsteoStrong sessions, leads to an increase in the size and number of myofibrils, the contractile units in muscle cells. This type of hypertrophy is particularly effective for boosting power, speed, and muscle strength, making it highly beneficial for the fast-twitch Type II muscles, which are crucial for quick, explosive movements and balance. In contrast, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, typical in standard strength training, increases the volume of sarcoplasmic fluid in muscle cells. 

Therefore, OsteoStrong’s unique focus on myofibril hypertrophy not only builds stronger muscles but also contributes to improved metabolic health, as stronger muscles are more efficient at regulating glucose and overall metabolism.

Nutrition: The Foundation of Health

Good nutrition is fundamental for bone and muscle health. It involves not just consuming beneficial nutrients but also ensuring effective nutrient absorption and avoiding harmful foods and drinks. Key strategies include:

  1. Optimise Gut & Oral Health: A healthy gut and oral microbiome is essential for absorbing nutrients crucial for strong bones. A healthy digestive system ensures optimal uptake of essential vitamins, minerals, and protein needed for bone and muscle health. Oral health is essential for gut health and nutrient absorption, as a healthy mouth initiates the digestive process and helps prevent harmful bacteria from entering the gut and bloodstream.
  1. Comprehensive Nutrient Evaluation: Regular testing is recommended to detect deficiencies in key nutrients and bone formation/resorption markers. 

Tests can include;

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Parathyroid Hormone (OTH)
  • Alkaline Phosphate (ALP)
  • Thyroid Function Test
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Phosphate Levels
  • Bone formation markers N-Telopeptide (NTX) and C-Telopeptide (CTX) 
  • Bone resorption markers Bone-Specific Alkaline Phosphatase (BSAP), Procollagen Type 1 N-Terminal Propeptide (P1NP), and Osteocalcin

These tests are useful in diagnosing bone health issues like osteoporosis and monitoring the effectiveness of treatment. It’s important to interpret these tests in conjunction with other clinical assessments and diagnostic tools for a comprehensive evaluation of bone health.

  1. Ensure a Nutrient-Dense Diet: This is essential for sustaining bone strength and muscle health. This means incorporating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats in your diet. Together, these nutrients form the building blocks for robust bones and muscles, underscoring the importance of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet in maintaining overall musculoskeletal and metabolic health.

A word of warning; The 1970s food pyramid, once considered a standard for balanced diets, is now seen as inadequate for optimal bone, muscle, and metabolic health. Its excessive focus on carbohydrates, including processed grains and high-fructose sugars, and the insufficient emphasis on proteins and healthy fats, contribute to issues like obesity, diabetes, and inflammation. This one-size-fits-all approach does not address individual nutritional needs or varying metabolic health, leading to widespread health problems in developed countries. With advancements in nutritional science, the pyramid’s guidelines are now considered outdated and even “upside-down.” Despite medical advancements, poor diet remains a significant issue, as evidenced by over 50% of Australians over 50 suffering from multiple chronic diseases. Although many nutritionists and health authorities have revised their guidelines, some dieticians and food companies still promote a diet based on this outdated pyramid.

  1. Eliminate Harmful Foods and Drinks: Certain foods and beverages can negatively impact bone health. Inflammatory foods like sugar, processed food, high carbohydrate diets, processed seed oils and eating too much, and excessive alcohol, can cause obesity and affect metabolic, bone and muscle health.  Seeking personalised dietary advice from an integrative healthcare professional can help you avoid products bad for your health and ensure a diet conducive to strong bones and muscles.
  1. Ensure Good Hydration: Hydration is crucial for bone and muscle health as it aids in the transport of nutrients essential for their maintenance, helps maintain joint lubrication, and supports the overall function of these tissues.

Drinks Good for Hydration:

Water: The most effective hydrator and essential for all bodily functions.

Herbal Teas: Herbal teas are a good hydration option and can offer additional health benefits.

Coconut Water: A natural source of electrolytes, great for hydration, especially after exercise.

Milk: Contains electrolytes and can be hydrating but should be consumed in moderation due to its calorie content. Lactose intolerance requires monitoring.

Vegetable Juices: Low-sodium vegetable juices can provide hydration along with vitamins and minerals.

Drinks Not Ideal for Hydration:

Too many Caffeinated Beverages (Coffee, Black Tea): While they do provide some hydration, the diuretic effect of caffeine can counteract this, especially in high amounts.

Sugary Drinks (Soda, Sweetened Juices): High sugar content can lead to dehydration and other health issues.

Fruit-Infused Water: Can be acidic and sipping frequently can affect teeth enamel and oral health. High fructose sugar content can switch off appetite leading to consumption of unnecessary excess calories. 

Alcoholic Beverages: Alcohol has a diuretic effect, leading to fluid loss and dehydration.

Energy Drinks: Often high in caffeine and sugar, they can contribute to dehydration and other health concerns.

  1. Medical Evaluation: Consult with healthcare professionals for a comprehensive health evaluation. This should include checking for medical conditions or medication interactions that affect bone health, with particular attention to thyroid and hormone levels due to their significant impact.

Overall, a multi-faceted approach to nutrition, encompassing gut health, nutrient evaluation, a balanced diet, medical oversight, and avoiding harmful substances, is key to supporting bone and muscle health.

Lifestyle: The Role of Active Living

Optimising bone and muscle health involves a multifaceted approach including healthy lifestyle habits. While osteogenic loading is essential for bone strength, an active lifestyle supports muscle strength, balance, coordination, and metabolic health, countering the age-related decline that can lead to obesity and reduced overall health. Physical activity not only boosts independence and mobility but also benefits psychological and physiological well-being which can affect bone and muscle health.

Good sleep is crucial for muscle recovery and bone health. Stress management through practices like yoga or meditation aids in hormonal balance, important for musculoskeletal health. 

OsteoStrong’s immune-boosting technologies offer multiple benefits for health, well-being, and specifically, bone and muscle health. Scientifically proven to reduce stress and enhance mindfulness, these technologies also support earthing, help decrease inflammation and improve blood flow and cellular energy. This, in turn, enriches bones and muscles with essential oxygen and nutrients. Furthermore, they aid in increasing lymphatic flow, crucial for detoxification, and foster the production of healthy hormones that are vital for maintaining bone and muscle strength and overall well-being.

Additionally, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing highlights the risks of polypharmacy in older adults, including increased fall risks due to medication side effects and interactions affecting balance and cognitive function. Managing medication wisely is therefore another key aspect of maintaining musculoskeletal health in the elderly.

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) (elsa-project.ac.uk)

Environment: Creating a Healthy Space

Environmental factors significantly impact bone, muscle, and metabolic health. Pollutants and toxins can impair metabolic functions, leading to conditions like obesity and diabetes, which adversely affect bone and muscle health. Urban settings with limited greenery may restrict physical activity, vital for musculoskeletal strength. Moreover, noise pollution and stressful environments can disrupt sleep and hormonal balance, indirectly affecting both metabolic and musculoskeletal health. For older individuals, extreme temperatures can strain the body’s metabolic functions, impacting bone and muscle health.

Daily sunlight is essential for Vitamin D synthesis, important for calcium absorption and bone and muscle function. Sunlight exposure, especially during sunrise and sunset, aids in converting serotonin to melatonin, crucial for quality sleep. Melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle, is affected by blue light exposure from screens, potentially disturbing sleep patterns. Maintaining a regular circadian rhythm is important for optimal bodily functions, including sleep, which is vital for bone health. During sleep, the body undergoes reparative processes like bone remodeling and hormone regulation, impacting bone density. Lack of sleep can lead to decreased bone density and higher risk of bone-related problems.

Therefore, ensuring sufficient Vitamin D through sunlight, managing light exposure for sleep quality, and maintaining a consistent circadian rhythm are key for bone health. A healthy environment, minimising harmful exposure and encouraging physical activity and natural sunlight, supports overall bone, muscle, and metabolic well-being.

In Conclusion

Optimal bone and muscle health requires a comprehensive approach, combining specialised exercises like OsteoStrong® with good nutrition, an active lifestyle, and a healthy environment. Understanding and effectively managing these aspects is key to maintaining strong bones and muscles and ensuring overall well-being as we age.

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